Asian Face Masks Debunked

Why do people from Asian countries where face masks? I used to ask this question when I lived in the States, but when I first moved to Asia a year ago and saw that face masks weren’t just an occasional fashion choice, like a hat, but a near mandatory adornment for going outside, I thought it was time to find out the real truth about why Asians wear face masks.


1. Avoiding pollution

This seems to be one of the most common reasons given for wearing a face mask. If you’ve seen the sky in a big Asian city, you’d believe it. But don’t put too much stock in your handy new face mask. The masks don’t actually protect you hardly at all from pollution. You might look cool, but you’re breathing the same air as everyone else. Unless you spring for a pricier face mask, that bit of cloth over your mouth is not going to protect you from harmful emissions.

2. Keeping disease at bay

Similar to pollution, avoiding illnesses is another common reason given for wearing face masks, but guess what? It’s not that useful. Like I said, that little bit of cloth over your mouth isn’t going to do much to keep you from breathing in microscopic germs.

3. Preventing the spread of your own sickness.

Similar to number two, often sick people will wear face masks to keep others from catching their cold. Although the mask might help to keep you from touching your face too often, it doesn’t do much to keep your sneezing/coughing germs out of the atmosphere, so yet again, not that useful.

4. Providing warm, moist air to help a sore throat and nose

Sick people will also wear face masks to keep the air around their face warm and moist. This helps with a scratchy throat and dry nose. This is one practical reason for wearing a face mask.

5. Sun protection

This I believe is one of the real biggest reasons for a face mask. In most Asian cultures, clear, white skin is a big deal and sunscreen clogs pours, so why not go the cloth route instead? If you’ve seen an Asian woman wearing a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeves, and a mask on a sunny day, then you’ll know what I’m talking about, and I believe this is one of the most practical reasons for wearing a face mask.

So there you have it. That’s why people wear face masks. If you’re living in an Asian country and want to ward off the sun or just want to fit in, go ahead and buy a mask at a Seven-11 or a night market. If you really want to protect yourself from illness and pollution try one of these pricier masks.

I hope this answered all of your face mask wearing questions! Let me know if you know of any other reasons for wearing a mask and whether you wear one yourself.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. A says:

    Your article is good, yet please note that it is wear mask, not where mask! Where is to ask about place or destination!😊

    1. shybackpack says:

      Oopsies. That’s what happens when you try to write a post late at night. Typos :p Thanks.

  2. A Hearty Nomad says: uses! I saw the other day a guy in Madrid using one. Everyone looked at him. 😉

  3. Robert says:

    The disposable masks do work very well in preventing all of the above. Also, I was told that japanese girls where them when they don’t have makeup on.

    1. shybackpack says:

      I believe it. I’ve certainly been tempted to do that somedays.

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