The CDC is now recommending people wear some sort of face covering when they leave the house

By Eva Thomas
April 10, 2020 11:00 AM
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fashionable face mask
Credit: Jared Siskin/Getty

Social distancing has been key in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the CDC now has an additional recommendation for how more people can help flatten the curve: Wear some sort of face covering when you have to leave the house.

The guideline was put in place after new data revealed that a “significant portion” of those infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic — meaning they never show symptoms but could be “silent spreaders” of the virus. Wearing a face covering helps ensure that asymptomatic people don’t spread it unknowingly, which is the primary concern, and also protects the wearer from potentially catching it from others. It’s important to note that the CDC has advised against the general public using surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which should be reserved for healthcare workers and others working on the front lines. Instead, the CDC suggests using a simple cloth covering, like a bandana or scarf.

When it comes to finding the most effective and protective fabric to use as a makeshift mask, tightly woven materials that still allow you to breathe are best, as they’re less likely to let respiratory droplets out (or in). But whatever you choose, experts seem to agree on one thing: Something is better than nothing at all.

According to data aggregator Lyst, searches for scarves have increased by 12 percent this week, a spike that’s likely related to the CDC’s latest recommendation. Scarves, especially those made from silk or another tightly woven fabric, make for great DIY face masks. (This video offers a great tutorial on how to fashion a mask from a scarf, as does the CDC’s website.) All you need is the scarf, two hair ties, and if you want extra filtration, a coffee filter.

With scarves ranking as one of the most in-demand accessories of the moment, it’s likely they’ll start to sell out soon. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 pretty options that can be used as a simple face covering. Bonus: Many are on sale and can be worn in other ways, too, like tied into your hair or on your handbag.

people are buying scarves as masks

Buy It! Kate Spade New York Pop Dots Silk Bandana, $28.80 (orig. $48); nordstrom.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Treasure & Bond Print Square Silk Scarf, $17.40 (orig. $29); nordstrom.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Free People Across the Universe Printed Bandana, $19.95 (orig. $28); freepeople.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Treasure & Bond Print Square Silk Scarf, $19.43 (orig. $29); nordstrom.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Talbots Echo Floral Neckerchief, $20.14 at checkout (orig. $39.50); talbots.com

people are buying scarves as masks

Buy It! Kate Spade New York Gradient Dot Silk Scarf, $48; nordstrom.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Treasure & Bond Print Scarf, $19.60 (orig. $49); nordstrom.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Talbots Square Floral Neckerchief, $20.14 at checkout (orig. $39.50); talbots.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Free People Voyager Block Print Bandana, $28; freepeople.com

scarves with which to cover your face

Buy It! Talbots Blooming Toile Diamond Scarf, $20.14 at checkout (orig. $39.50); talbots.com

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