Twitter Users Mock CDC Safety Poster About Beards and Face Masks

In the wake of the coronavirus, a CDC guide for facial hair and styles that may render a face mask useless began making the rounds on social media.

To beard or not to beard. In the wake of the #CoronavirusOutbreak the @CDCgov has come out with a chart help people understand which facial hairstyles might get in the way with face masks. 🧔👨

— Kassandra Sepeda (@KassandraSepeda) February 26, 2020

As previously reported by Newsweek, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the U.S. need nearly 300 million face masks, but according to the CDC infographic from 2017, bearded folks may need to shave off their facial hair lest the face masks be rendered useless.

According to the CDC's blog, because beards don't filter out particles, gases, and vapors and hair isn't dense enough to keep tiny particles from passing through, even stubble puts individuals at risk more than a clean-shaven person. The chart shows the area that an N-95 face mask will cover on a person and where a beard or mustache may interfere.

The chart shows 36 classic facial hair stylings and says which are more likely to render a respirator defective. For example, ducktail beards, chin curtains, and long stubble are all included in facial hair that may easily poke out of a face mask. Meanwhile, soul patches, pencil 'staches, and handlebar mustaches are all okay. It also warns that some styles may cross the seal if not monitored properly, like a goatee, the "villain," horseshoe mustache, and anchor. The CDC also assigned names to each, referencing famous wearers of the stylings like the Zappa, Van Dyke, and Dali, which are all no's.

Salvador Dali
Spanish Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dali photographed in Barcelona on May 24, 1966, around about the time he produced the etching "Burning Giraffe." Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

On Twitter, the mask stirred up more questions about the names of each style than the potential risks posed. One man even said that the CDC helped him realize that he'd been wrong about the type of beard he had for years.

I am 100% convinced the CDC made up some of these facial hairstyles. Where did French Fork come from??

— Deni Kamper (@WLKYDeni) February 26, 2020

If you didn’t know there is a type of facial hair called houlihee, coronavirus induced the CDC to address this gap in your knowledge. A propos face-fitting masks.

— Stavros Garantziotis (@sgarantz) February 26, 2020

The CDC has really helped me out today! After all these years of thinking I had a goatee, they have identified it as a circle beard!

— Carl Hughes (@HughesCarl) February 26, 2020

People also couldn't help pointing out that the "toothbrush" style mustache, which has the CDC's safety stamp of approval, bares resemblance to the mustache that Adolf Hitler wore in Nazi Germany. One person tweeted that if you instead use the chart as a guide for facial hair names, he would also change the toothbrush mustache to a "no," even though it doesn't interfere with the mask.

...why is a Hitler Mustache one of the options?

— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) February 26, 2020

The CDC has just come out in favor of Hitler mustaches. (Because they don’t interfere with the seal on respirators) the infographic is interesting because it provides names for facial hair styles I hadn’t known.

— Linnaeus (@linnaeus_tweets) February 26, 2020

Glad to know the Hitler mustache is a CDC approved facial hairstyle for respirators #CoronavirusOutbreak

— Matt Lipton (@mattliptoncomic) February 26, 2020

The CDC’s guide to facial hair interference with respirators is also a handy guide to facial hair names! Though I would amend it by listing the “toothbrush” also as a “No (doesn’t interfere, but...ya know...just don’t)

— Pete Akers (@PeteScientist) February 26, 2020

Other people embraced the CDC's acceptable list, with some Twitter users writing that they were going to grow soul patches.

This CDC guide to which facial hair styles are acceptable during a pandemic is my excuse to grow a youth pastor soul patch

— gregory (@popLOCKEdropit) February 26, 2020

the CDC has issued a list of facial hair styles that are compatible with filtering face masks

i regret to inform you that you are not allowed to make fun of my mask-safe soul patch when it arrives

— peter hess (@PeterNHess) February 26, 2020

Despite the chart, the CDC does not recommend routinely wearing a respirator outside of workplace settings. To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, the CDC recommends avoiding sick people, not touching your eyes or nose, and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

face mask
An Algerian medic adjsuts his protective mask in front of El-Kettar hospital's special unit to treat cases of novel coronavirus in the capital Algiers on February 26, 2020. The CDC guide shows that even just a little stubble may render face masks useless in preventing particles from entering. RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty