At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, we all don’t leave our house unless we have our face mask with us. It’s an essential part of going anywhere in public these days in order to help protect others and ourselves from the virus.

However, it’s not enough to simply throw the mask over your face and call it a day—HOW you wear your mask is more important than simply wearing the mask for the sake of wearing the mask.

You may notice that, depending on the type of mask you’re choosing to wear, that it fits loosely around your cheeks or doesn’t cover your nose. Now, some communities are requiring that your mask fit snuggly and that it covers both your nose and mouth securely.

Fit and placement are crucial when wearing a mask. Good Morning America recently teamed up with researchers at Florida Atlantic University, Good Morning America got the scoop on just how important this really is.

Researchers used a mannequin that can simulate a cough or sneeze wearing the ever-popular blue surgical mask to test their theories. They made sure the mask was loose-fitting around the mannequin’s face and didn’t cover the nose.

The phenomenon is called “half masking,” something that’s become a norm around the country—and something that could potentially raise cases of COVID-19 if we continue to ineffectively wear masks.

“We noticed that there were droplets escaping primarily from the gap along the top edge of the mask,” said Dr. Sid Verma, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ocean & Mechanical Engineering at Florida Atlantic University.

They then pushed down the metal strip around the nose to seal that gap. However, while fewer particles were able to escape than when the seal was opened, more particles began to leak from the sides of the mask by the cheek area.

“Any metallic wires or strips that are present, you should always try to press it down,” Dr. Verma explained.

Additionally, researchers tested cotton masks with multiple layers—ones without a metal strip, and in these cases, particles tended to escape backward, behind the person wearing the mask, which can easily get carried around depending on airflow conditions. That’s why social distancing is still required, even when you’re wearing masks.

In the report, researchers also tested the escape of particles on what they now deem the safest type of mask: The N95 mask. However, these are typically reserved for healthcare workers.

To learn more about the report, as well as how to ensure you’re properly wearing your masks and what types are best, check out this Good Morning America segment below.

What type of mask do you prefer? Are you ensuring you’re wearing it as safely as possible?