Should I wear a face shield without a mask?

No, if you decide to wear a face shield, you should also wear your mask. Face shields may seem more convenient and airy, but that’s exactly the problem! The CDC states that a face shield is primarily used for eye protection, but it’s currently unknown how well they provide protection from respiratory droplets. They do not recommend using them as substitutes for face masks. Some people think face shields might offer an extra layer of protection on top of a mask, but we don’t know for sure yet.

The best way to minimize your risk of COVID-19 is to avoid closed indoor gatherings, crowds, and close-contact with people outside your household. But if you do have to be near other people, like in the grocery store or pharmacy, wearing a mask can reduce your risk of spreading (and maybe getting) COVID. 

For people that are unable to wear a mask for any reason, the CDC suggests some face shields might work better than others. There is some evidence that face shields that extend below the chin and wrap around the head and hooded face shields offer more protection than other types of face shields out there.

When using one, make sure to wash your hands before and after removing the face shield and dispose of them after one use if they’re disposable. Reusable face shields should be disinfected properly according to manufacturer guidelines.


Last update: September 4, 2020, 2:11 pm ET

Science review: ERS, JAB