If you’ve reached this article, then your facial hair is part of who you are, or you can’t be bothered clean shaving each day. Whichever it is, we’ve got some solutions, so you can keep being you, while breathing safely.

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The hairy problem – why is facial hair even an issue?

Traditionally respirators have been tight-fitting and negative pressure. What this means is they require a seal along the face to ensure the air you breathe is filtered. This means the lungs have to draw in air through the filters. Respiratory hazards can be incredibly small and for the most part we cannot see them. To put this into perspective, a human hair is around 100-150 microns and for those with really good eyes you may be able to see down to 25 microns, and anything less than that is no longer visible to our eyes. Particulates like silica dust and bacteria can be between 0.3-10 microns. Now, if you’ve got facial hair then this creates small gaps between the seal and prevents the tight seal from happening. Anything smaller than the facial hair now has a chance at slipping through and into your lungs as you breathe.

I don’t want to die - Are there respirators that are facial hair friendly?

Luckily for you, some innovative thinkers have created a type of respiratory protection that lets you keep your facial hair without compromising your safety; and thats loose-fitting respirators. These work by supplying air (either by a PAPR or supplied air system), where air is filtered prior to entering the headtop. Because the air is being supplied at a greater rate than ambient air is able to enter the headtop, this creates positive pressure, preventing any external ambient air from entering. This means a tight seal is no longer required and allows for the loose-fitting head top design, ultimately making it safe to have facial hair.

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