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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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The Beard/Mask Interface

Figure 1: The telltale sign of dust leakage
After writing last month about woodworkers' collective sartorial propensity toward facial hair, reader Carl eloquently commented,

"...but a bearded man is an unprotected one? being as I am bearded myself I am concerned by the lack of protection afforded by our...dust masks..."

And Carl is so right. We all have the experience of donning our dust masks and ginning up dust, only to later find our mask has leaked around our beards. Noses full of the noxious stuff, we look for better and better ways to arrest the clouds at the source, but no dust remediation system can be 100% effective.

Figure 2: A liberal dollop of Vaseline or Waxelene
spread around the edge helps seal any mask to
your face...beard or not!
My father was possibly a bit ahead of his time in the 50's and 60's, wanting his construction site employees to be safe, and I suddenly remembered, after all this time, a trick they used, beard or not, to get a better seal around their face masks. Good old-fashioned, all-American Vaseline Petroleum Jelly.

Rub a generous amount around the circumference of a mask and the jelly helps form a tighter seal around the face. At first it may feel a little "icky," but it definitely helps. If you are like many and concerned about smearing a petroleum-based product on your skin, I just recently found a more natural alternative called Waxelene. It is advertised as an "all natural" alternative to petroleum jelly and contains just soybean oil, beeswax, rosemary oil, and vitamin E. It feels a little different, smells a little better, and seems to work just as well. Either product will help any type of mask form a better seal, even on a smoothly shorn face, but especially on us bearded breed. Check it out!

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