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Cloth masks, medical masks and FFP2 masks - what really makes the difference?

New corona rules have been in effect since January 19, 2021. Only medical or FFP2 masks may be worn on public transport and in shops until February 14th. Of course, that hits startups like swapface hard.

But does that even bring anything? According to scientific study from the USA you can achieve a filter efficiency of 98% with a double-layer cotton mask - 1% less than with a medical mask. In addition, the fit of the mask is actually much more important than the small filter difference between the different makes, because as the study found, even small gaps between mask and skin can reduce the filter effect of the mask by 50%. And then what difference does it make whether 49% or 49.5% of the harmful particles are filtered out? Because let's be honest: almost no mask is 100% airtight on the face ...

We also think that there is another important aspect of wearing a mask: the influence of being together. Many people report aggression and dissatisfaction with the requirement to wear a mask in everyday life. We can say from experience over the past seven months that we and our customers only had nice encounters with the likeable masks from swapface. We received compliments every day - even mask opponents came up to us and said: "If a mask, then this!"

These soft and yet very important factors are completely neglected at the moment. No solutions are developed for the social component in order to counteract the increasing dissatisfaction and aggression in society. We recognized this aspect early on and founded swapface with this motivation.

So why not strengthen the joy and togetherness? And above all, support those small companies that have kept their heads above water with cloth masks? In the beginning, these stores contributed to the fact that there were enough masks on the market within a very short time. With the new regulation, all those companies will be dumped - overnight!

Of course, our startup also has to struggle with it. But what hurts us a lot more: The joy, compliments when shopping, in the subway, on the street and the communication that our mask wearers were allowed to experience should now be banned in large parts of public life. Instead, anonymous masks without a face - but disposable masks with microplastic on the face! And a huge mountain of plastic garbage! One wonders how this is possible in the times of Fridays for Future and more than three years after the introduction of mandatory plastic bags ...

That the WHO cannot rule out that small microplastic particles (so-called nanoplastic particles, < 0.15 millimeters) can be deposited in the human body, does not speak in favor of breathing through microplastic masks. Isn't the supposed protection of health becoming a new health problem here? According to Stiftung Warentest the "European Food Safety Authorities (Efsa) (...) even described the data on the consequences of the ingestion of microplastics in the human body as insufficient for a risk assessment."

Even that Robert Koch Institute (RKI) warns of side effects of FFP2 masks, such as breathing difficulties and facial dermatitis. It is also very worrying that "outside of the healthcare system, no studies have yet been carried out on the health, possibly also long-term effects of its use (e.g. in risk groups or children) (...)". Based on this, how can the risk groups in particular be encouraged to wear FFP2 masks? The RKI also says that "(...) an occupational medical check-up [should] be offered before wearing in order to medically assess risks for the user individually (...)" and that the FFP2 masks are not worn for longer than 75 minutes at a time should. That leaves us speechless where these masks have to be worn by employees for up to eight hours a day!

We have therefore decided to keep our sustainable, skin-friendly designer masks made of 100% OEKO-TEX®-certified cotton. Because we are convinced that we are on the right track and create added value. With our friendly face prints, which are designed by artists, we want to continue to spread joy and lightness and bring "by far the greatest closeness" into everyday mask life. With this in mind: swap your face and spread smiles! ♡