Experts Weigh In on Whether or Not It’s Beneficial to Wear Two Face Masks at the Same Time

In the age of COVID-19, wearing a face mask in public has become the norm. Of course, you’re always going to have a few of those people who throw tantrums in Costco because they refuse to wear a face mask.

However, you also have people on the opposite end of the spectrum: people who wear not one, but TWO face masks over their nose and mouth, in hopes that the double layer will keep them and others doubly protected.

But is it true? Does a double mask work better than a single mask? And is it even necessary? Experts weigh in.

First, let’s remember the reason why we’re all wearing face masks in the first place—to block the virus from entering, and to block the virus from leaving. “The goal of using a mask is to create a barrier,” says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

So when you think about it that way, a quality mask is important. If you’re wearing a thinner mask, then doubling up might actually have some benefits. “If you’re using some kind of flimsy mask, then having a double mask may help.” However, he adds that, “it’s not something that every person needs to do.”

Other experts agree—wearing two face masks at the same time may be better than one in some cases, especially if you work in a high-risk area, like in a hospital or doctor’s office, or if you have the virus yourself and are in contact with someone, says Aline M. Holmes, D.N.P., R.N., a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers University School of Nursing.

“Double masking adds an extra layer of filter, making it even more difficult for the drops of moisture ridden with the virus to get to you or to spread to others,” she explains.

However, wearing the two is not a general consensus among everyone, and more research is needed to fully recommend the use of two masks over one.

“I’m glad there are some people doubly committed to wearing a mask, but it’s not been studied,” says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Double masking may provide some additional protection in both directions—out as well as in—but it’s not officially recommended by anyone at this time.”

Some good food for thought! Are you someone who wears two masks at a time, or do you just stick with one?