Even after the Circuit Breaker has ended, we have to wear a face mask when we step out of the house to do most things. Now that we have to put them on regularly, we’ve discovered something healthcare workers have known for a long time: The elastic cords of a mask can really hurt our ears.
If you couldn’t get your hands on this Japanese hair ribbon clip to prevent the soreness, we have seven DIY tips to help relieve ear pain the next time you don a face mask. For those who have family or friends working in the medical field, lend them a hand and put these hacks to use.
DIY hacks to relieve ear pain
1. Sew buttons on caps or headbands
Strategically-placed buttons on both sides of a cap or headband make great stand-ins for your ears. All you have to do hook your mask’s elastics over them and you’re ready to roll.
To do it yourself, find two buttons that are half an inch or an inch in diameter. Then, sew them onto the sides of your cap or headband. Make sure the buttons are located above your ears, so the elastic cords won’t be stretched uncomfortably over them.
If you can’t get suitable buttons, you can also search for independent sellers who offer ready-made caps or headbands. This Etsy store offers baseball caps with buttons (above) attached to them, while this shop has colourful headbands to keep your hair neat and tidy. For surgical caps, try these ones, which come in different fabrics and sizes.
2. Make ear guards out of fabric scraps
Ear guards are one of the best ways to prevent behind-the-ear irritation. To make one, you’ll need to sew two buttons on each end of a fabric strip. This allows you to play up the colours and patterns of your fabric, and you can adjust the length of the strip to your preference too. Simply wrap the mask’s elastic straps around the buttons to take the load off.
If you’d like to purchase one, try these knitted ear protectors for size. For those with kids, you can buy these silicone straps with adjustable hooks (above). The adorable straps also come with cute cartoon characters in the middle of them, so they’re perfect for the young and young at heart.
There’s also this plastic strap clip that’s already a bestseller on Etsy. The double-sided clip has four hook levels to account for different head sizes while ensuring your mask hugs your face comfortably.
3. For those who wear glasses
Here’s an easy mask hack for our bespectacled friends out there. Grab two buttons and two small rubber bands. Pinch one rubber band and thread it through the buttonholes, then repeat it on the other button. Using the rubber band loops you’ve created, slide the button through the temples of your glasses. This way, you can put your mask’s elastic cords over the buttons instead of your ears.
4. Loop elastic cords through an old T-shirt or a scarf
This is one of the quickest ways to relieve ear pain. Plus, it’s the most cost-effective. All you need is an old T-shirt or a thin, lightweight scarf you can tie around your head. If you’re going with the old tee, cut an even strip of fabric that’s long enough to go over your head like a headband.
Put your hair in a ponytail or bun, then place the strip of fabric on top of your head. Grab your face mask and put the ends of the strip through the elastic cords. Finally, position the mask up to your face as you tie the ends of the fabric strip together behind your head. Cut off the excess tails of fabric if you need to.
5. Use paper clips to connect the elastic cords
If you’re out of materials, a pack of large paper clips can also work in your favour. Simply fasten the cords of your mask to the back of your head with a paper clip. To loosen the mask, all you have to do is connect more paper clips together, so they form a chain.
Hairstyles for face masks to relieve ear pain
6. Try Princess Leia buns
If you have long hair but don’t have access to buttons, an old T-shirt, or paper clips, then try this out. Secure your hair into two buns à la Princess Leia and fasten the elastic cords over your buns instead of your ears. That way, you won’t feel any pressure.
7. Put your hair in a high bun
Another hairstyle that works the same way is a high bun. This hairstyle is a tried-and-true method of a healthcare worker, who secured her mask’s elastic cords over her bun at the top of her head instead of her ears. The trick may not be the most comfortable of the bunch, but it’ll help your mask fit better to prevent germs from entering.