When the scarcity of affordable, accessible N95 masks became apparent, the CDC’s “anything-is-better-than-nothing” proclamation demanded that we downgrade our expectations from “safer” to “safe-ish” and don, well, whatever was handy. For some, that’s a non-medical kerchief or fabric face covering, a DIY job involving a cut-up T-shirt, or any number of other fabrics affixed to the face for the purpose of saying, “I care about you enough not to spit on you while I talk about my sourdough starter/foster dog/victory garden/Zoom backgrounds/homeschooled genius twins.”
Once it became clear that we were going to occupy this socially-distanced space for a while, it was only inevitable that the devolution would travel further down the path to perdition. The latest incarnation takes the shape of masks that can be opened to allow the wearer to drink through a straw. Yes, a mask for drinking!
Mind you sipping through a hole in a mask–or simply putting a hole in your mask–immensely lowers the device’s efficacy. And, putting that hole in directly in front of you mouth serves to especially decrease protections for yourself and others. We do not recommend the practice, but if you must buy “drinking mask,” here’s the rundown of options.
The designer of the most high-profile drinking mask is bona fide Korean pop star U Know Yunho of the band TVXQ is … well, it’s odd. But haven’t we just accepted Odd as a new, unwelcome housemate during quarantine? Nothing truly shocks anymore, does it?
Yunho’s mask is pretty simple. It’s the standard N-95-style mask but with one important upgrade (downgrade?) in that you can use your dirty digits to open a crucial valve on the front to allow for
anything opportunistic a straw. Less than useful during a global pandemic, the design seems better suited to a celebrity who says he frequently wears masks and would probably prefer to take a sip of water without revealing his identity. Although the patent was submitted to the Korean Intellectual Property Office on March 3 and accepted less than two weeks later, it seems there are already similar masks available on the market.
The DrinkThru Mask by Dr. Aurora Fernandez de Castro, for example, allows the wearer to stay hydrated without touching or removing their mask with the aid of a valve that can be opened up to a curious stated limit of eight times per wearing session. The clearly Google-translated website also boasts an inspiring quote from Ben Franklin, reminding us that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Which begs the question, what does horseshit weigh?
We’re pretty positive that this mask is not N-95 certified. In fact, not much info about the filtration is provided beyond “protection from allergens and airborne diseases.” However, the price of two for $19.95 or 12 for $96.00 does include a complimentary plastic straw and wet wipe with every mask. Sooooo…
Samira Boon is a Japanese-created, Dutch-based design studio. The company primarily sells boutique-y items like card cases and window mosaics. Their mask section features some cool designs like realistic looking animal prints… and a zipper mask.
The “very sterile looking white gauze mask” features the outline of a pair of lips with red fabric lips displayed within the cutout. A zipper bisects the opening. Although the press photo shows a woman eating sushi through the opening, we’d stick to a straw. Each mask sells for €16.00 ($17.33).
Surprising no one, Etsy is ground zero for drinking masks. Most of the offerings are exactly what one would expect from the platform: hand sewn DIY masks made of fantastical fabrics with small slits to allow a straw through. This leopard print offering from JillBlingAndBeyond is a relatively representative offering.
However, we were impressed by maker LeotardsByUmma who took the base design one step further by including a closable flap to cover the opening. The masks are “100% cotton , well fitted and in variety of highly fashionable fabrics and colors.” A “40 peace” [sic] set goes for $175.12.
If you don’t like those, search around Etsy; the site has plenty of variants.
No matter who’s name is on the mask, this idea that you still must touch the mask and break the barrier keeping you safe is scary, but not as scary as the guy who used a soda bottle to achieve the same hack of all hacks.