Wearing a face covering of some form is compulsory on all public transport in the UK and as of 24 July, they have also been mandatory in shops. Those aged over 60 are already advised to wear a medical-grade face mask in situations where social distancing is not possible, and the majority of public-facing workers, both in the NHS and elsewhere, have to wear them for the duration of their shifts. In short, face masks have become an integral part of modern life, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
However, wearing a face mask comes with its own set of teething problems, most notably for those who wear glasses daily. In fact, Specsavers has seen an increase of 242 per cent in searches online regarding the issues of steaming glasses and slipping masks.
Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director explains: ‘There are a few difficulties people face when it comes to wearing a face mask while also wearing glasses. One of the most common complaints is that glasses can get steamed up, making it more difficult to see.’
He continues: ‘Wherever possible, particularly for NHS staff and other key workers, our advice is to wear contact lenses. But we appreciate this is not the best option for everyone.’
If you are someone who is unable to wear contacts or would prefer sticking to your glasses, these top tips from Specsavers experts will help:
How to make your face mask fit when wearing glasses
Whether you wear glasses or not, you’ll want to find a mask that works for you, in terms of shape, fit, and material. This can involve some trial and error, but eventually you’ll find one that suits all your needs.
We’ve found 54 of the very best face coverings to suit all budgets, and in all shapes, sizes, and fabrics, so you’re sure to find one in there that’ll do the job. You can also buy medical grade masks from the likes of Amazon.
When it comes to face masks that tend to slip more when wearing glasses, Edmonds has a top trick to keep things on track: ‘Stop slipping by wrapping the string of the face mask around the sides of your glasses, rather than your ears,’ he suggests. ‘Just make sure you’re careful when taking off your glasses, as your mask will be attached!’
For those who find they are experiencing gaps at the sides of their face mask, you could try this viral TikTok hack.
How to stop your glasses from steaming up when wearing a face mask
The most common problem those who wear glasses are experiencing is their lenses steaming up. This is caused by hot breath rising up from within your mask, but there are some relatively simple steps to take in order to prevent this — and fit is the most important element here.
‘You need to make sure that the face mask fits tightly around your nose and cheeks as this reduces the amount of breath escaping and causing condensation on the lenses,’ notes Edmonds.
He suggests the following: ‘If you can (and it’s comfortable), pull your mask further up your nose and place your glasses on top. This will help seal the mask around your nose, stopping the warm air from your breath escaping and steaming up your lenses.’
‘You can also try using a piece of surgical tape to hold your mask in place on the bridge of your nose and give your specs additional grip.’
Many masks also come with shaped nose wires, meaning you can tighten the tops of them up to get a better fit.
Glasses designer Tom Davies says he has been inundated with people asking for solutions to fogging glasses and he has a really handy tip: ‘Rub a bar of soap directly onto the inside of your lenses in the morning. Then use a lens cloth to clear the lens. The glycerine in the soap helps prevent your lenses fogging.’
He explains that we should avoid putting water and sprays on some frames because ‘if you have a horn frame, then moisture can critically damage the material. Some soaps and hot water can also damage the coatings on your lenses.’
Another trick could be to use Cabeau Tape – small strips of dermatologist-approved medical-grade tape used to seal the gaps around the edge of a face mask. Just £8 for a box of 200 pre-cut strips, by using the tape on the top edge of the face mask either side of your nose, you’ll stop your breath coming upwards and fogging your glasses.
The best glasses styles to wear with face masks
Face masks aren’t intended as a fashion statement, but if you wear glasses as well, you could feel like it looks a little bit ‘much’ with everything going on on your face. But fear not, you can most definitely look chic when doing so, says Specsavers frame stylist Bianca Swan.
‘Masks are fast becoming an outdoor essential – something we grab on the way out with our mobiles and keys. But for glasses wearers they can present some challenges, not least how to best showcase your specs,’ she says. ‘How do we wear our glasses with panache when they’ve been chosen to complement face shape, colouring and personal style?’
Swan says the easiest way to stand out is to consider colour. ‘There are no hard and fast rules on how to pair your face mask with your glasses, but a good starting point is to consider the overall aesthetic and colour,’ she explains.
She recommends picking out a bright or patterned face mask if you want to make a statement, or going bolder with your glasses this time round if you’re looking to buy a new pair. Just make sure they go together.
‘Red glasses will complement monochrome, a tonal print, blue and green,’ she says. ‘Or a summery yellow will look chic with most colours — pair with a royal blue, lilac, grey or black mask. For a more subtle look, opt for a pair of tortoiseshell specs and style with pastel colours or a neutral beige.’
Swan adds: ‘Of course – classic black will go with anything. So bold, Buddy Holly-style frames will look fab with every colour across the spectrum.’
‘Alternatively try neutral, clear glasses. Consistently on-trend, they complement the majority of face shapes and can be accessorised with a variety of colours and prints.’