Say the words slap bracelet to any ’90s kid and they’ll wax nostalgic about the once trendy accessory. Well, slap bracelets are back with a very 2020 updated function.
They’re called Slapmasks, and they’re taking off. These two-layer polyester masks use the same technology as good old slap bracelets to allow you to wrap your mask around your wrist when you’re not wearing it.
The creators developed slap masks because they were simply tired of losing their masks. Boasting form-fitting design and addicting slap functionality, Slapmasks are “perfect for the on-the-go mask wearer,” according to the website. There are currently three colors (black, gray, and paint splatter)and two sizes (youth and adult) of Slapmasks available for $17.99 each.
“They’re doing a public service here, they’re advocating for mask wearing and they’re driving innovation, and I think that’s a public health need,” says Anita Gupta, MD, adjunct assistant professor and anesthesiologist at John Hopkins Medical. “Kudos to them for putting forward an opportunity that’s innovative and really driving people to think about wearing masks.”
But, is it actually safe to wrap your mask around your wrist whenever it’s not on your face? Women’s Health tapped multiple infectious disease experts to answer that question.
When the Slapmask is on your face, it’s very similar to any cloth mask.
Plus, the “slap” portion inside the mask may help it sit closer on the face according to Kate Boulter, nurse manager of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. “When that’s applied when it’s opened up, it may actually hug the face a little bit better,” she says. “It may stay on the face the way a mask is supposed to be a lot better than we see with other cloth masks out there.”
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Just make sure your mask doesn’t poke you the way the OG ’90s slap bracelets sometimes did. “I remember a lot of metal popping out, some scars, scratches on your skin, wounds, and pain when it snapped,” she notes.
Gupta also notes that it’s important to be aware of what your mask comes into contact with, too. “The design of the masks, the fact that it’s being moved from the face to the hand raises the question of spread,” she says. “When we’re looking at that back and forth and the fact that it’s actually being slapped you have to be concerned that you’re not indeed spreading virus and other particles.”
Easy does it is your best bet with the slap transition. “The safest way would be to do it gently,” says Boulter. Plus, don’t forget to sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.
So, how should you handle your Slapmask between wearings?
There are expert-approved ways to handle your mask and store it safely. “When you put your mask on and take it off, only handle it by the straps, the ear loops,” Boulter says.
She says to sanitize or wash your hands before picking up your mask and covering your face. Then, sanitize your hands before removing your mask. “It’s a really good idea to hang it someplace to let it dry. Another good place to put it is in a paper bag. What I don’t like to see is people stuffing their mask in the pocket or stuffing it in their bag. That mask, if it’s contaminated, is just going to get other items in your bag or your pocket contaminated.”
Most important is to wear your mask. “Masks definitely work,” says Boulter. “If we can just get people wearing them properly, it will be a big help. I like the idea of making the masks really popular, so that people will wear them.”
Slapmask is encouraging that. “I think they are promoting a product that does have public health benefit,” says Gupta.
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