A Doubting Believer Guide to Masks

Wearing a mask is the official way to love your neighbor in 2020. Studies (many studies) have shown that if everyone wears a mask, the risk of transmission is ridiculously low. Some even say as little as 1.5%. In NYC, where masks have been mandatory for weeks (months!) now, we just hit the lowest death rate since March–while the rest of the non-masked country is experiencing rapid expansion of the virus.

Nobody loves wearing a mask. So you are not alone in wishing you didn’t have to. But as people who are called to love our neighbors, we gotta do it. Why not make the best of it?

Our family (my husband, daughter and me) have tried many different masks. We’re fortunate to have friends who made them for us at the advent of this crisis. As the need for masks continued, we ordered more from retailers. It’s been a great way to combine supporting small businesses and keeping our neighbors safe.

We have a number of masks because we know they are going to be a part of our lives for some time now, and we don’t want to have to wash masks every night. Plus, some situations call for different kinds of masks.

Since we’re such mask experts now, I thought I’d share with you what we’ve learned.

For exercise or sport

Neck Gaiters from Etsy.com

If you exercise indoors or in a crowded outdoor setting, your best bet is a neck gaiter. Often used by fishermen and hunters for sun and bug protection around the neck, gaiters can be pulled up and down easily. For example, you can put it around your neck to go running, and if you hit a crowded area, just pull it up around your nose and mouth until you get to an area where you can distance again.

For convenience and safety

For those with a car, consider keeping a stash of disposable masks for those times when you end up stopping to run in a store for a gallon of milk…or a six-pack of beer. If you keep a cloth mask in the car, chances are you won’t bring it in to wash after each use, so disposable masks are a good idea.

For Comfort


The homemade tri-fold pattern made with quilt-cotton on the outside and soft jersey on the inside feels pretty good–and you can put a filter inside for extra protection.


The most comfortable and best-fitting mask we’ve found so far is from PJ Harlow–a small sleepwear company out of California that pivoted to make masks when the pandemic started. Super soft and excellent fit. They offer solid colors, prints and a handful stitched with sassy messages. They carry sizes for women, men and kids.

For fun

Think of masks as the latest accessory to hit your wardrobe. Have fun with it. Celebrate your alma mater, your fav sports team, your mantra. I saw a woman recently whose headscarf and mask were the same material. She looked fabulous!

My husband’s favorite is his PBR Bull Riding mask. (Yeah, he totally blends in New York City.)

Other tips

Wash your masks! Most can be tossed in the washing machine, but it’s also really easy to hand wash them.

Dawn dish liquid is the best for getting lipstick stains out of your masks.

If you wear glasses, a mask with a flexible metal insert in the nose bridge will help prevent fogging.

Carry a second mask with you. You know, in case something happens. Like you forget you have on a mask and try to drink a glass of water…or something like that.

Love your neighbor, y’all. Let’s keep each other safe and work together to get back to doing life…together.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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