The Pros and Cons of Fashionable Antimicrobial Masks; Can They Really Protect You From the Virus?

We need to be optimistic and hope for the best regarding the coronavirus and its impact on us but let’s be realistic we’re not moving forward that much. We’re still waiting and waiting till we find some real solutions and try to stay home and safe. One of the things most of us are focusing on is the consistency of wearing masks as it’s one of the things that might protect us and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Face masks became a trend now, from having different colors to patterns and now the biggest fashion brands are planning on creating their own antimicrobial face masks. Face Masks are the new fashion clothes maybe? All fashion and sportswear brands have been quickly adapting their lines to include face masks decorated with logos and stylish patterns.

Some of the top luxury brands are adding new accessories and in some cases entire clothing lines that antimicrobial properties and applications that inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria or reduce viral activity. But what does antimicrobial fashion do, and can it provide extra protection during a pandemic?

Burberry announced an upcoming line of antimicrobial masks in their signature check textile. Let’s take a look at who else is creating trendy face masks to fight the coronavirus, and whether or not they actually work.


Diesel is selling denim that it claims is “virus-fighting.” The Italian brand announced that it will use a technology called ViralOff which claims that it “physically halts 99% of any viral activity” in a number of items in its Spring-Summer 2021 collection. ViralOff works “by interacting with key proteins, inhibiting the virus from attaching to textile fibers” reads Diesel’s press release. No brands can claim that they will protect us from the coronavirus but they can certainly add extra protection, though the small print often reveals that antimicrobial treatments are only intended to inhibit bacterial or viral growth, not protect the user from pathogens. Washing garments with soap once a day is recommended by the World Health Organization as this can also kill bacteria and viruses.

American Eagle’s Reusable Denim Face Mask

Amy Price, a senior research scientist at Stanford Anesthesia Informatics and Media (AIM) Lab, studied the effectiveness of fabric masks alongside AIM Lab’s director, Larry Chu, said there are a number of variables that determine how much protection a product offers. “Oftentimes, bacteria and viruses have different ways of reproducing, and different things are effective against them,” she explained. “With antimicrobial products it’s important to know what you’re dealing with, what it’s been tested with and if it’s safe for human skin,” said Price.

Polygiene recently partnered with Diesel and is the maker of ViralOff, saying in a press release that the antimicrobial textile treatment technology can successfully kill 99% of SARS-CoV-2 (which is the virus that causes COVID-19) from textile surfaces within two hours. While Price has not tested Polygiene’s ViralOff technology, as she believes two hours is “a lengthy disinfection time,” explaining that the garment could contaminate skin, food, water, or mucous membranes during that period of a time if it makes contact.

Antiviral fabric is one factor in keeping people safe, but it needs to go hand in hand with other measures, such as keeping a social distance, wearing face masks when in crowded areas, and washing hands regularly. Remember hygiene is your number 1 safety guard. The possible benefits of antimicrobial fabrics are even less clear for costumes or apparel that don’t usually come into contact with the face, like jeans, Price said. “Unless you’re going to just be sitting there, rubbing your legs and then rubbing your face, then what’s the point?” she asked. Plus, even if a textile treatment is proven to reduce certain viral activity, that doesn’t necessarily make it practical for all types of garments. So what’s the solution now? Do you think the antimicrobial masks are reliable enough?

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