Does Facial Hair Prevent a Respirator from Working?

When fitting a respirator, it is important to have a good seal in order to inhale and exhale correctly. Respirators rely on having a good seal in order to function properly. But what about facial hair? Will it stop a respirator from working properly? Keep reading to find out.

Do you have to shave your beard to wear a respirator?

In order to comply with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134), no person may be subjected to a respirator fit test if they have facial hair growing in between the skin and the sealing surface of the facepiece (Appendix A.I.A. 9.).

Can you wear a respirator with a mustache?

If there is a gap between the respirator and your face, unfiltered air will be able to enter through that opening.

Beards, sideburns, and certain mustaches, which grow along the sealing region of a respirator, might interfere with the tight facepiece seal required by some respirators to provide optimal protection. A typical reason why a person cannot be fit tested is that they have facial hair.

According to the 29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection standard, a respirator cannot be used if facial hair interferes with the sealing surface of the facepiece or with valve performance.

Can I have a mustache with an N95?

The seal of the respirator will be compromised if facial hair is trapped between the skin and the face seal. If the seal of the respirator isn’t compromised by the wearer’s beard or goatee, they may be fit-tested and issued a respirator.

What type of respirator can be used with facial hair?

No facial seal is required for the Powercap Active PAPR to filter 99 percent of particles down to.3 microns. Anyone with facial hair may now operate in risky areas without risking their health or their beard.

Do you need to be clean-shaven for n95?

Having facial hair will make it more difficult to achieve a proper seal. Fit testing and using the respirator need a clean shaved face where the seal is formed between it and the wearer’s head.

Related Questions and Answers

When should you not wear a respirator?

Employees having facial hair that gets in the way of the facepiece’s sealing surface or interferes with the valve’s performance will not be allowed to use respirators with tight-fitting facepieces by their employer. In addition to beards and sideburns of the ’70s-style kind, this features lengthy stubby stubble.

Can I use a mask on a beard?

Most people may just put the mask over their hair and expect it to stick to their skin if their hair is short. However, for people with thicker facial hair, you’ll need to separate the hair into sections and massage the mask into the skin.

Do nurses have to shave?

Even if your beard is well-kept and well-trimmed, it may still be a safety risk. General med-surg nurses, on the other hand, may not be subject to the same restrictions. As a general rule, beards are permissible unless they are explicitly forbidden for safety concerns, even if you can’t go full-on Grizzly Adams.

How do you wear a face mask with a beard?

Nose clips or mask fitters are important if you don’t want to shave or trim your beard. In order to stamp it onto the part of your mask that covers the bridge of your nose, you must first peel off the rear of the nose clip.

How much does a beard affect a respirator?

Workers with beards saw a 330-fold decrease in their level of protection. Respirator face seal leakage is exacerbated by the presence of a beard, and this leakage should not be tolerated when respirators are necessary.

Can you wear a full face mask with glasses?

If you wear glasses, you may wear a full-face mask if it fits snuggly.

Does facial hair affect half mask fit?

This video has the answer:

How long can you wear a half-face respirator?

After 40 hours of usage, you should swap out the filters in your respirator, which should always have two filters, one on each side of it. You should never use these respirators since they do not protect against carbon monoxide. Modifications or alterations to the respirator are strictly prohibited.

How can I protect my nose from an N95 mask?

Cosmetic cotton pads (MCPs) are recommended as a practical solution for protecting the nose and cheek skin from the pressure of N95 masks.

How do I keep my N95 mask from hurting my nose?

Pressure sores are commonly treated with hydrocolloid dressing, which is pasted to the bridge of the nose before the mask is worn. However, we observed that the dressing’s high stickiness would likely worsen an existing pressure sore when the mask is removed and the dressing is ripped away.

Can I use a peel-off mask with facial hair?

Yes. Peel-off masks successfully adhere to your skin’s tiny facial hairs and gently remove them when you remove the mask.

Should I shave my face before using a face mask?

As soon as you’ve finished shaving, you can apply a mask. Take care to properly cleanse your skin and facial hair. Using a face mask over your short facial hair is the best way to ensure that the mask reaches your skin.

Can I wash N95 mask filters?

By cleaning in soapy water, the N95’s intrinsic electrostatic charge may be broken down. They may diminish the efficacy of a mask by a third to a half. So, you must wash an N95 mask by following the manufacturer’s instructions.


Facial hair may cause a problem with fitting a face mask properly. Just remember that your safety should come first, so consider trimming your beard or mustache so you can wear your respirator correctly in dangerous environments.

The “acceptable facial hair for fit testing” is a question that has been asked in the past. The answer to the question is yes, but only certain types of facial hair are acceptable.

NEXT UP: What Are CBRN Agents?

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Rebecca Ross
About Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) consultant who runs her own occupational safety consultancy. She focuses on hazardous materials, warehouse safety, fire safety, lab safety, fall protection, head protection and other workplace safety topics. Learn more about Rebecca here or connect with her on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium