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How to wear a mask comfortably, wherever you travel

Wearing a mask is mandatory on all Finnair flights. Masks are proven to help lessen the spread of novel coronavirus, especially in spaces where it’s not possible to social distance, such as on airplanes.

Woman wearing a face mask on board a Finnair flight
Joe Minihane

Although HEPA filters help to clear viruses from the air within the cabin, masks provide another barrier against the disease. 

When everyone wears one, the chances of becoming infected are lowered. One study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has found that masks and face coverings can cut transmission by 50 percent. Another, in the UK medical journal The Lancet, suggests it could as much as 85 percent. Their importance cannot be overstated.

“Masks protect us all and by wearing them we are able to safely continue our flights,” says Nina Kalttonen, a key member of Finnair’s cabin crew. “By wearing masks we are caring for and showing respect for everyone on our flights.”

“First you learn how to live with the mask – how do you wear a mask the right way, how do you remove a mask safely while avoiding touching your own face, as well as making sure you constantly wash your hands hand washing. This all is done together with our customers, who are also learning about face masks and perhaps wearing them for the first time in their lives.”

So, how do you choose the right mask for you? What can you do to stop them steaming up your glasses or ruining your makeup? And how do the rules on face masks differ around the world? Read on and we’ll show you how to make wearing a mask as comfortable as possible.

Pick the right mask for you

Masks are much easier to get hold of now than at the start of the pandemic. It’s possible to buy boxes of disposable masks from major online retailers, although there are concerns about the environmental impact of throwaway masks.

The fashion industry has stepped up to start making masks that match outfits, meaning this now essential accessory is stylish as well as mandatory for travel. And choosing a face mask to match your outfit has other benefits too, making sure you feel comfortable and confident, rather than clinical, when boarding a plane and settling in for a flight.

Japanese high street chain Uniqlo’s AIRism masks have made headlines recently, proving so popular that people were queueing in Tokyo just to get hold of them. In fact, masks have become such a cornerstone of the fashion world that even Vogue has compiled a Top 100 list of the most fashionable masks to buy right now.

Scientists in the U.S. recommend having at least two masks and washing them regularly. They should be put on and taken off by the ear loops, making sure not to touch the front of the mask as you do so, and remembering to wash your hands after doing so.

Finnair customers have responded really well, says Nina Kalttonen. “Everybody is wearing a mask and sometimes we just have to politely remind them how to wear it the right way.”

Eating and drinking while wearing a mask

When flying with Finnair, you are allowed to remove your mask when eating or drinking. Make sure you remove it without touching the front, using the ear loops to lift it off and fold it. Use hand sanitizer once you’ve done so. 

It’s worth carrying a second mask to put on after your meal, as this will ensure cleanliness. However, if this isn’t possible, place your mask back on using the ear loops and without touching the outside covering.

Wearing a mask when you wear glasses

If you wear glasses, the warm breath you exhale when wearing a face covering is likely to cause them to steam up. The extra moisture this creates can also lead to your glasses sliding down your nose.

To stop this from happening, try to use a mask or face covering with a secure fit across the nose and cheeks. This will stop any breath from escaping at the top, preventing your glasses becoming fogged. 

Masks which are contoured around the nose are the best option for glasses wearers. It may even help to move your glasses further down your nose – this boosts airflow if the face covering won’t fit tightly across your nose.

This has become such a hot topic that opticians Specsavers has even created a dedicated guide to help glasses wearers ensure they can see whenever they slip on a mask.

Masks & makeup - what to consider

Face masks can cause makeup to smudge off easily. Fortunately, there’s a growing number of YouTube tutorials aimed at those wearing masks for prolonged periods, such as when taking a flight. In fact, YouTube says there have been more than 1.8 million views of videos related to applying makeup before wearing a mask.

Vloggers such as makeup artists Manny MUA and PONY Syndrome have lots of excellent tips, including using translucent powder above a light moisturizer to prevent excessive moisture created by the mask from causing makeup to come off.

Masks for kids and other exemptions

Those with medical exemptions do not need to wear a mask on board. You need to let Finnair know about this at least 72 hours prior to your flight.

Children under 7 do not have to wear a mask on Finnair flights. However, Nina Kalttonen says the best she’s seen were worn by two boys aged 5 and 7. “They were extremely proud of their costumes – they were dressed as dragons and had dragon masks to cover their faces. It was very cool!”


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