The typical quarantine routine consists of overeating, sleeping, and skin care. I don’t know about you, but I’ve mastered the overeating and sleeping segments and am now ready to take on skin care. Since spa getaways are a no-go these days, the assumption is that we have to forgo certain luxuries, like facials. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case. Take it from Halle Berry—she’s doing the quarantine life just like the rest of us and hasn’t sacrificed a second of her skin care. Seriously, her glowing skin is what dreams are made of. (Just look at her.) But how does she do it?
Turns out she gets by with a little help from her esthetician. Berry recently treated us all to a special self-care Sunday with an inside look at her at-home facial routine. The 15-minute tutorial features a fresh-faced Berry applying face masks to her already flawless skin, guided by her go-to skin guru. Since we haven’t all become master estheticians in quarantine yet, I figured it was time to turn to a specialist—specifically, Halle Berry’s skin specialist—to get the insider secrets on everything skin care.
The woman behind Berry’s glowing complexion is celebrity esthetician Olga Lorencin. Olga, aka The Acid Queen, breaks down Berry’s skin care regimen, telling Betches, “Her standard routine is very simple, but it’s consistent.” If I’ve learned anything in all my years, it’s that simplicity is key in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to your skin. So is consistency (things I whisper in the mirror to force myself to wash off my makeup after a night out). Lorencin says, “She uses a rehydrating cleanser morning and night along with a rebalancing toner and a lactic acid hydrating serum.” She also adds that Berry is “very in tune with her skin”, something I hope to say about myself one day.
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This is an EXTRA special #SelfCareSunday, you know why? Because I’m finally introducing you to my ultimate skincare secret. Her name is @Olgalorencinskincare, and today? We’ll be showing a facial you can DIY with one of her at-home kits! During COVID I haven’t seen her in forever so I’m VERY excited. 😂 I definitely stand by the investment of Olga’s at home kits, BUT if you’re looking for a more affordable option? Olga loves a simple at-home recipe – 𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐑𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒: 1 tsp Full-Fat Greek Yogurt (vegan option = coconut yogurt) 1 tsp Honey For Dry Skin – add a slice of avocado + a few drops of avocado oil For Acneic Skin – add a bit of powdered charcoal. Option – add a few drops of Chlorophyll to fight breakouts and reduce inflammation 𝐃𝐈𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐒: 1. Mix ingredients together into a bowl 2. Massage into clean skin (face AND neck) 3. Leave on for 15-20 minute Note: for best results, relax in the bath or in a steamy shower for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off. This mask is rich in probiotics, which are very helpful with skin balancing and congestion. The honey is a natural humectant – it attracts water from the air to your skin. Enjoy and happy Sunday!! ☀️
While having a crazy amount of skin envy over celebrities is fine, it’s important to focus on and figure out your own skin needs. However, that’s often easier said than done, and according to Lorencin, figuring out what your skin needs is the most difficult part for most people. It can be especially tricky to nail down what your skin needs if you don’t have any particularly concerning issues. But whether you have clear skin or not, nobody is immune to the frustrations of establishing a successful skin care routine. So, like all those brand marketing emails we received in April, we’re all in this together! The Acid Queen recommends, “If the products that you are using are working, stick with it. However, if you have a skin condition or concern, see an esthetician so they can figure out what you need.” When in doubt, always seek out a specialist.
And the secret to flawless skin care is—drumroll please—it depends. (Sorry, that probably wasn’t worth a drumroll, but it was fun, wasn’t it?) On anti-aging, Lorencin says, “It can vary vastly from person to person, but de-aging ingredients are universally the same. It just depends on how we use them and in what combination.”
When it comes to how many products we should be stocking up on, Lorencin advises, “As little products as possible, anywhere from 4-10. Don’t overdo it! Layers upon layers will just cancel each other out or cause your skin to be confused.” Lorencin continues, “Buying random skin care products produces random results.” This probably means that the bucket of youth promising serums under my bathroom sink isn’t quite as effective as I had initially hoped.
Lorencin also breaks down the different products that we should be using in the morning versus at night. “At night, it’s a good time to use retinols and exfoliating products that contain AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid). In the morning, it’s a good time to use antioxidants like Vitamin C, whereas hydrating and collagen building products can be used both day and night, such as peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acids, etc.”
In addition to applying the proper blend of serums and lotions, your face can also benefit from an occasional massage. Facial massages are an effective measure for pampering yourself with some much needed TLC. Lorencin explains that, when done properly, facial massages can reduce puffiness and help prevent wrinkles.
Move over, cucumbers—the at-home facial has received a serious upgrade. From professional kits to DIY recipes, there are endless possibilities to soothe your skin and turn any day into a self-care day. According to Lorencin, step one of doing a facial at home is “making sure you are using facial masks on exfoliated skin, or they won’t do very much.” Help yourself get the best results by allowing the mask to easily find its way to your clean skin. Once your skin is prepped, you can then opt for either a homemade or professional facial mix, depending on your budget.
Weighing the pros and cons of each method, Lorencin says, “Homemade masks are nice and won’t cause side effects, but they also most likely won’t produce very transformational results.” For more noticeable results, you may want to consider investing in a professional facial kit. It may be more pricey, but getting skin like Halle Berry? Priceless. (Actually, it’s more like $98, but you get the idea.)
While Lorencin has created facial kits for Halle Berry-level results, she also favors an easy and delicious at-home recipe that you can make with ingredients found in your kitchen (or borrowed from your hot neighbor). All you need is 1 teaspoon of full-fat Greek yogurt (substitute coconut yogurt for a vegan option), and 1 teaspoon of honey. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can also add in a slice of avocado and a few drops of avocado oil to soothe dry skin or a dash of powdered charcoal for acneic skin. According to Berry and Lorencin’s IGTV video, adding a few drops of chlorophyll to either mix can help fight breakouts and reduce inflammation. The next step is to apply the mask (obvi) to your face and neck—don’t neglect your neck!—and leave on for the standard 15 to 20 minutes. Lorencin also advises limiting homestyle facials to once or twice a week. Treat yourself, but don’t overdo it. Balance, baby.
Honestly, when it comes to skin care, just do whatever Halle Berry does.
Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; halleberry / Instagram
When it comes to weddings, we’ve come a HELL of a long way since March and April. Less than six months ago, we were crossing out every special occasion in our planners for the foreseeable future, hunkering down at home, and limiting the extent of our socialization to comments in passing with our roommates, but the wedding world has come alive as of late. Thanks to slightly loosening state restrictions and the rise of scaled-back celebrations like elopements, microweddings, and minimonies, couples are getting their “I Dos” done and happily moving on with their lives. At present, love is not canceled, but that can all change if soon-to-be-weds start going rogue and cases start spiking.
Earlier this month AP unmasked a disturbing reality about COVID weddings, writing, “No-mask weddings, no social distancing and dance floors prohibited in many states have been the talk of online groups for vendors around the country.” And when we consider that these vendors are pretty much living on Purell and a prayer as they return to the soirees that used to fill their calendars and pay their bills, it hits as especially inconsiderate. We get it, couples want their weddings to be as close to their pre-pandemic dreams as possible, but the fact of the matter is the risk of a wedding-related outbreak should necessitate some simple precautions like mask-wearing, maintaining six feet distance, ditching the dance floor, etc. While we get that you probably never pictured getting married surrounded by a sea of masked faces when you were seven years old planning your wedding, you probably didn’t plan for a global pandemic either.
In an effort to curb all the potential bride Karening before it becomes a thing, we chatted with a number of wedding professionals (including a photographer who was a corona bride herself) on the subject of mask-wearing and common sense safety during these (say it with us) unprecedented times. It’s the year 2020, folks, and the official wedding mood involves a mask, so here’s how you can embrace the novelty of these nuptials and have a great day.
Set Up Expectations
Whether you’re eloping, having a microwedding, or exchanging vows with a minimony, the best way to make everyone comfortable is to be transparent about expectations. This can be done easily through a “what to expect” insert included in your invitations. Betches co-founder and coronabride Sami sent something to her own wedding guests to give them a heads up on the ground rules for her upcoming wedding, including the steps she and her fiancé would be taking to keep everyone healthy and happy.
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ok so the #1 question we’ve gotten from microwedding brides lately is “how do I invite my guests while letting them know we need to be extra safe?” (2020 is so weird). so we’re giving you a sneak peek at what @sami’s including in her microwedding invitations. DM us with your invites, custom masks, or any other social-distance-safe wedding touches and we’ll share on our story!
In addition to being transparent with your guests, you should be open and honest with your vendors, too, about what you’re envisioning for your wedding photos, overall experience, and flow of the day. Nicole DeTone, the face of Nicole DeTone Photography, says that now, more than ever, it’s critical to discuss expectations before the wedding day. She and her second shooter will always wear masks and remain six feet away, but if her couple wants to omit face coverings for their (keyword: their) portrait sessions of the day, she’s okay with it—there just needs to be a plan in place to ensure safety for everyone.
“If my couples prefer no masks for group photos, I recommend going over the plan with their wedding party and family members beforehand to make sure they’re comfortable taking photos without masks,” she explains. “It goes both ways, too: I’ve had some awkward situations where family members were asked by the couple to either not be in the photo or, reluctantly, have them join without their masks.”
For DeTone, it’s imperative that brides and grooms discuss the dynamics with their photographer and planner, so that everyone is in the know about any people who are uncomfortable wearing masks or, conversely, who feel good about getting together for a group shot. That way, it’s much easier to plan certain poses, the number of people in a photo, and the location of portraits. Working together to plan out these “photo pods” can be a major relief.
Gift The Goods
We won’t lie, in the earlier part of this pandemic, we were quick to shake our heads at the mere suggestion of wedding or bridal masks. In our defense, at the time, having ANY kind of wedding was a bad, bad call and there was a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the people who needed it the most, our health care workers on the frontlines. So, yeah, we weren’t exactly pro-bedazzled facewear, especially when the costs were kind of hard to justify. Now, though, things have changed, and it’s hard to imagine a wedding without any sort of masks in sight.
Shameless plug, I ordered a pair of Plum Pretty Sugar’s face masks earlier in the pandemic, and they are so comfortable and so pretty. They also just came out with a white embroidered mask for brides. And they’re just $30 ($20 for two, for the bridesmaids), which is definitely a lot easier on the wallet than the hundred-dollar bedazzled ones out there.
Now that things are much better on the shortage front (we seriously have so many cool masks to buy from both big and small businesses), and weddings are cautiously ramping up, we’re all for mask wearing at the main event. Our take: If you have to wear a mask on your best day ever, then it might as well be pretty. Claire Pettibone, the LA couturier responsible for some of the most stunning gowns on the planet, first felt a little conflicted about making something beautiful for this ugly virus. But her dissonance was quickly resolved when she realized that she could contribute to the cause, donating a mask for each one sold, and make brides feel comfortable on the day they need to most.
“Brides have been ordering our masks for themselves, and even more, for their wedding party and guests. We’ve also had a lot of people purchasing them as gifts,” she reports. “Most brides planning a wedding right now have very limited guest lists, and depending on where they live the regulations may be different, but of course, keeping family and friends safe is a top priority, so outfitting their guests with attractive masks is something to consider.”
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Our Slate fabric (bottom of these 3), sold out in less than a week! Sets will now be your choice: all Taupe, all Ivory, or a combination of the two. For every mask sold, we are donating one to healthcare and front line workers. Your purchase enables our Los Angeles based team to keep working while helping our community. Thank you for supporting our small business!💕 #clairepettibone #lovemask #facemask #bridalstyle #handmade #fineartwedding #fineartbride #smallbusiness #smallbusinesslove #localbusiness #smallbusinessowner
Claire says that most of her brides are choosing her classic solid ivory with lace butterflies option to wear themselves, but looking at her printed floral patterns for their guests. And since adding new child sizes for the flower girls and ring bearers to rock, she’s gearing up to go all in for the entire group—grooms included.
“We recently added a child size, and had a wedding where we outfitted all of the kids with custom plain ivory masks for the boys and butterflies for the girls, while the adult guests wore a variety of the prints,” describes Pettibone. “We’ve just had some requests for men’s, so that’s something we have in the works. Our masks are really well-made and comfortable, plus the adjustable silk ties have a more formal look, so they do work well for weddings.”
If You Mask Them, They Will Come…
All it takes to have uniform classy photos is consistency in the masks your MVPs are wearing. Jennifer Larsen, lead photographer at her namesake, Jennifer Larsen Photography, put her camera down for the day to have her own minimony last month, and she couldn’t be happier with the way she made masks work. In her opinion, there’s nothing wrong with leaning into the COVID circumstances. Just because masks are necessary for safety reasons, doesn’t mean they have to be ugly!
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“We provided our guests with white masks that read ‘Quarantined for Life: Jen and Ryan are Married!’ in rose gold foil,” she recalls. “We wanted to make the masks less of a burden and more like a party favor that would bring a little joy and commemorate this season. I love the way they came out, and so did our guests!” Perhaps because Larsen is a photographer herself, she had total confidence in her own photographer to document the day like she wanted; nevertheless, being able to trust in her photographer was such a key to her staying calm.
Lean On Your Photographers
We promise, a few masked moments aren’t going to read as a documentary of the pandemic, but if you’re truly concerned that your photos and video will be plagued by the state of affairs more than they already are, then opt for your couple portraits and those with close family to be done sans masks—in wide, open-air spaces. For Larsen, being flexible and inventive can be what turns a COVID-curated group shot into an avant-garde, glossy mag kind of vision.
“For situations where you’d like to take a group photo, but still keep distance, I think getting creative with your setup makes the photo feel a lot less awkward. Group people together by couples/households, and space them out in clusters to create balance on either side of the bride and groom,” she says. “You can incorporate some chairs, to improvise a dynamic sitting and standing, staggered look, and it will feel like an intentional, creative choice rather than an awkward restriction. You can even try mixing in some fun cheering or stoic expressions to change it up from a typical ‘just smile at the camera’ shot to a more spacious Vanity Fair-esque portrait!”
You’re The F*cking Bride, But You’re Not Above The Rules
As Alexis Alvaraz, a wedding planner from Chicago, tells AP, “There’s just so much emotional baggage that has come with weddings this year that the idea of masks at their weddings is the last straw… but there is danger in that.” That’s especially true if people aren’t following state mandates and CDC codes of conduct. That’s why vendors, especially wedding planners and caterers, are doing even more to help couples navigate the nuances of wedding safety. Dance floor be damned, there’s a way to do it.
Emily DeLoach, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sincerely Yours Events in Savannah, GA, has seen DJs and bands doing really cool things to make sure the guests have a good time, but safely. “I’ve worked with DJs and bands who have made QR codes that guests can scan at the event to submit song and announcement requests without having to have contact with their booth,” relays DeLoach. “This has been effective and fun, really engaging the crowd, curating perfect dance floor vibes, and getting loving announcements made to help bring the whole crew together!”
An outdoor silent disco? We’re down.
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This couple had a socially-distant silent disco at their microwedding as a fun alternative to regular dancing. Congrats Laura and Will! 🥂 “Obviously a reimagined ceremony during Coronavirus! But we were able to pull off a mini wedding with 40 family & friends in Will’s parents backyard on Cape Cod! I converted to Judaism during our engagement and Will and his two brother’s built the chuppah in the days leading up to the wedding. It was an epic evening with heartfelt speeches that ended with a silent disco with two channels – one of wedding classics and another live DJ’d by a friend with our favorite EDM mixes.” @theshensation 📷: @nicoleellengowan
And when it comes to food and drink, very easy ways to cross contaminate, caterers like Main Course Catering + Marketplace in New Paltz, NY, are adopting new ways to wow their couples. During the planning process, the Captain of Catering, Hogan Popkess, says that he and his team have conversations with clients about some of the options they have for events, including glass dome coverings on passed hors d’oeuvres trays, exclusively-served plates instead of displayed or family-style options. When it comes to masks, MCC’s staff is coming dressed in in-house made masks that match the ties they wear with the uniforms, plus black disposable gloves, so they look sleek while still being safe—if you care about that sort of thing.
Popkess also says of masks, “Some of our clients prefer everyone to have masks on the entire event unless of course they are seated and eating. Others have been comfortable without masks for the duration of the event. Our staff wears them the entire event as well as gloves to ensure our own safety and also make everyone feel comfortable.” He acknowledges, “The tables are turned when you enter a client’s home and you are a stranger. We have to keep our staff safe while also respecting the safety of the client and their guests.”
Following The Rules Can Be A Legit Piece Of Cake
Jen Larsen and her handsome hubby made sure that their wedding cake could be done safely for their July “I Dos.”
“We served cake after the ceremony, and that boiled down to little things like having hand sanitizer readily available for our guests, having a dedicated server to carefully cut and plate each slice, and pre-rolling individual sets of disposable utensils, etc.” she remembers. “I tried to think through any areas that would make guests feel uncomfortable or would be a high germ-spreading point of contact.”
The bottom line is that planning a wedding safely requires more thought and planning than before (as if planning a wedding wasn’t hard enough). But it can be done, and the extra effort of keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your vendors safe is well worth it.
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Images: Courtesy of Jennifer Larsen Photography; Courtesy of Tori Kelner Photography; betchesbrides (3), clairepettibone, plumprettysugar / Instagram
If your Facebook timeline looks anything like mine, you’ve spent the past few months scrolling past pictures of your friends’ houses, a lot of politics, and that one freaking person who will not stop posting misinformation and conspiracies about masks. Whether this person is screaming into the void that masks are yet another tool for government control (if only we would just OPEN OUR EYES), or this well-meaning but ill-informed friend is trying to convince you that masks themselves are a danger to your health, there is no shortage of misinformation out there.
As frustrating as it is to see post after post about the horrors of masks, it isn’t entirely surprising. According to a paper by psychology professor Monika Grzesiak-Feldman, increased fear and anxiety make it more likely for a person to believe conspiracy theories and misinformation. When you feel threatened, you often feel out of control—belief in conspiracies, regardless of how baseless the theories are, gives you the (misguided) sense of control that you’re so desperately seeking. A need for control over your surroundings combined with a deep need to make sense of the world around you can lead to misinformation spreading like wildfire, simply because people are fiending for answers.
Imagine you’re standing up against a wall with nowhere to run, and a hundred little kids with water balloons show up and just start firing. That’s us, every single day, with the incredible amount of information (both accurate and inaccurate) being lobbed constantly in our general direction. We can’t avoid the information tornado that we exist within, but we can cope with it. How? Well, by doing the equivalent of wearing a raincoat during a water balloon attack. We have to protect ourselves. This isn’t easy, it involves treating every piece of information thrown your way like a telemarketer trying to sell you a problem-solving pill. Repeat after me: NOT EVERYTHING YOU READ IS TRUE. Ask yourself a few simple questions to figure out if whatever you’re reading is reliable. Who is writing this article, are they credible? Do they have some sort of expertise in this area of study? Why are they writing this article, what are their motives? And perhaps the most simple, yet inexplicably complicated question, does this even make logical sense (looking at you, “5G caused a pandemic people)?
One of the most prevalent subjects of conspiracy theories and misinformation in the past few months is none other than the ever-present face mask. Again, this whole situation is extremely stressful. Anxiety is high, and truthfully, we don’t know exactly what’s going on. I hear you, that’s scary. However, failing to use masks (or failing to use them effectively) is going to keep us in this situation for even longer. It’s ok if you’re glaring at me through your screen right now. Stick with me—I promise to act as your information poncho for the next several paragraphs, and we’re using trusted experts to debunk some of the most common mask myths.
Myth #1: Wearing A Mask Reduces Your Oxygen Levels
Before we get to the experts, please remember that medical professionals have been wearing masks for hours at a time long before the pandemic started. The very people responsible for understanding and helping us take care of our bodies are using masks every single day with no serious issues. I say “no serious issues” because there are absolutely non-serious issues. For example, masks are uncomfortable. They get sticky and humid and it really might feel like your mask is inhibiting your breathing. Spoiler, it’s not. In an interview with Animal Político, Dr. Daniel Pahua Díaz, an academic from the Department of Public Health at the National Autonomous University of Mexico medical school explained, “This misinformation may arise from the feeling of lack of air due to mechanical obstruction depending on the type of mouthpiece we are using. But the feeling of obstruction is because we are not used to using the mouth mask. But as such it will not cause us any kind of hypoxia.” Hypoxia, meaning lower levels of oxygen.
If you need more proof, a doctor in Ireland set out to disprove the myth himself. He put on not one, not two, but six face masks. His oxygen levels were unchanged. Assuming you’re not wearing seven face masks, or using a mask made of some sort of metal, wearing one for a few hours at a time isn’t going to impact your oxygen levels.
“Does wearing a face mask lower your oxygen levels” repeatedly by patients today!
Based on what they are reading on social media
*Face coverings / masks don’t reduce your oxygen levels!*
I managed to get six face masks on + it had no effect on my oxygen levels! pic.twitter.com/qNKYa8pejx
— Maitiu O Tuathail (@DrZeroCraic) July 14, 2020
Myth #2: Wearing A Mask Causes Carbon Dioxide To Build Up In Your Body
I, for one, have seen more than my share of posts claiming that wearing a mask can cause you to drop dead of carbon monoxide toxicity. As with the oxygen myth, it’s important to remember that MASKS WERE CREATED TO ALLOW US TO BREATHE THROUGH THEM (I’m not screaming, you’re screaming). It is true that too much carbon dioxide can cause hypercapnia (a fancy word for having too much CO2 in your blood), but it’s really unlikely to occur from regular use of a mask. A CDC representative explained to Reuters, “The CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time. However, the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache but you most likely not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2.” A simple solution to even a small buildup of CO2 in your mask is to take it off (in a safe place, with clean hands) every once in a while.
Myth #3: If My Mask Is Covering My Mouth, I’m Safe
Ok, I’m taking some creative liberties here because I’m not sure that anyone consciously believes that a mask covering your mouth is effective. Here’s the thing, though, I have seen countless people in stores, in memes, all wearing masks with their noses still completely exposed. With all due respect, f*cking what? We know that this virus spreads through droplets, ones so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. These droplets leave our bodies when we talk, sing, or even breathe. If we inhale someone else’s droplets, through any hole (mouth or nose, relax), we invite potentially infected particles into our bodies. An article from the Cleveland Clinic explained, “A mask should cover your mouth and your nose. It should be snug but comfortable against the sides of your face, and you should be able to breathe without restriction. Choose one that secures with ties or ear loops. Don’t wear your mask around your neck or chin, or over your head—that doesn’t protect anyone.”
Myth #4: I Don’t Need To Wear A Mask Around Healthy People
A few of your friends want to have a little get-together. Just the four of you. I mean, you’ve been cooped up for so long—and it’s your birthday! You deserve a little treat, right? Just one day of pretending the world isn’t crumbling is exactly what you need to keep your sanity. I say this with all the love in the world: don’t trust your friends. Regardless of how careful your friends think they’re being, there is room for error. An almost imperceptible scratch of the nose after opening their contaminated car door, forgetting a mask once while walking their dog, there are so many ways to contract COVID that the safest bet is to assume that everyone (including yourself) is infected. Even more frightening than the ease with which the virus spreads is the fact that seemingly healthy people may not only be infected, but incredibly contagious.
Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases physician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco clarified some things about asymptomatic transmission (the spread of COVID by people who aren’t even showing symptoms) for The Conversation. She explained, “Researchers have found that pre-symptomatic people shed the virus at an extremely high rate, similar to the seasonal flu. But people with the flu don’t normally shed virus until they have symptoms.” She continued, “When people cough or talk, they spray droplets of saliva and mucus into the air. Since SARS-CoV-2 sheds so heavily in the nose and mouth, these droplets are likely how people without symptoms are spreading the virus.”
Even if your friends seem completely healthy, there is just no way to know for sure, short of having everyone flash their negative COVID test results on their way inside. Symptoms can appear as long as two weeks after infection, or sometimes not at all. This means that people walking around looking perfectly healthy can be huge transmitters of the disease, since they’re under the assumption that they’re not even infected. Assume everyone you encounter is sick. End of story.
Myth #5: Cloth Masks Are Ineffective
According to the most recent research, scientists say that cloth masks are just fine for the general public. While they are not as effective as masks with filtration elements such as the N-95, they do an adequate job at blocking particles from entering or exiting to protect both the wearer and those around them. According to a recent study, cloth masks provided about half the protection of medical-grade masks. Practicing social distancing and staying away from large crowds will provide the wearer with even greater protection.
Infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD explained in a University of California San Francisco article, “The concept is risk reduction rather than absolute prevention. You don’t throw up your hands if you think a mask is not 100 percent effective. That’s silly.”
He continued, “Nobody’s taking a cholesterol medicine because they’re going to prevent a heart attack 100 percent of the time, but you’re reducing your risk substantially.”
Part of the reason there is so much mistrust and confusion about masks is because for a while, we were given conflicting information. The experts were trying to figure things out as quickly as possible in an urgent situation—this means that some of the information we may have received initially is no longer valid. (Like when experts were initially concerned wearing a mask would do more harm than good because it would cause people to touch their faces more.) Dr. Moshe Lewis, a San Francisco doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation explained to Healthline, “Science is complex, and when the public sees it unfold on a grand scale in front of their eyes, confusion ensues. Various recommendations were put forth and then retracted, leading to mixed messaging. From these embers, fear, facts, and fiction get spliced into controversy.”
The best plan? Stay up-to-date on research from trusted experts to get the most accurate information and, for the love of God, please stop getting your medical advice from Facebook memes.
Images: Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock; drzerocraic / Twitter
As coronavirus cases climb in the United States, American passports appear to be losing their value. But America is GREAT AGAIN, haven’t you heard? Thanks, Donny! As if a raging pandemic, lack of accessible healthcare, and systemic racism weren’t enough, you can say au revoir to your European summer holiday, as well as vacations in a bunch of other places around the globe. Great. As the European Union prepares to reopen, U.S. travelers did not make the 15-country safe list and have officially been blocked from entering. So, where else can Americans travel right now? And better yet, should they travel or cancel trips this summer?
“You Can’t Sit With Us”—The EU, Probably
When the EU closed its borders in March, it was no small decision. The same goes for continuing the ban for Americans, considering the fact that 15 million U.S. travelers visit Europe each year, and the industry creates jobs for 26 million people. Clearly, the bloc’s economy will take a substantial hit as the travel industry’s normally bustling summer season comes and (likely) goes without its usual international visitors. The decision was based on epidemiology as opposed to the economy, with the New York Times reporting that the EU “sought to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy and the desperate need for tourism revenue.”
Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are on the list of approved countries, and that list will be reviewed every two weeks. However, it seems that the U.S. will have to make a serious reduction in new cases in order to be reconsidered, so we won’t be holding our breath. Unlike Americans, travelers from the approved country list will be permitted access to all EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. So if you had hoped for some thirst-trap pics for your grid in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon this summer, you’ll have to keep your posting closer to home.
There’s good news for some Americans, as the ban pertains to your residency rather than your passport. This means if you’re an American living in one of the approved countries and can prove your residency there, you may be able to enter. Congrats—it’s like a get out of jail free card!
Cruel Summer—The Countries Americans Can’t Visit
In addition to the EU, there are also a number of other countries not allowing Americans in. Canada’s
regulation hottie Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced the continuation of its border closure with the U.S. until August 21, with the possibility of another extension. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China’s borders also remain closed to all international arrivals.
honestly it’s surprising that the Bahamas are just now banning Americans when Fyre Festival was like three years ago
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) July 20, 2020
As of July 22, the Bahamas has once again closed its borders to the U.S. due to the recent rise in cases stateside. However, if you’re bougie enough to have a private plane or yacht, you can keep planning your vacation as long as you can provide a negative COVID test… but you may get roasted by the internet for being a covidiot if you do.
Countries Open To American Travelers
Dreaming of the beach? You might be in luck, as a number of Caribbean countries are open to visitors. Belize, Barbados, and Jamaica are all open to international travel, as well as St. Barts, St. Lucia, and Antigua. However, each country or territory has its own COVID restrictions upon entry. Some include providing a negative COVID-19 test no more than a week old, or temperature and health checks upon arrival.
Mexico is also an option, even though the land border between the country and the U.S. remains closed. You can still arrive in certain areas by plane, but keep in mind that states are opening in varying degrees, so not everywhere in the country is ready for visitors.
Despite the ban, Europe is not completely off-limits to Americans this summer; the open countries just might not be the places you have at the top of your bucket list. Albania and Serbia are European countries not yet in the EU that are currently allowing international travelers, so start your research on their tourist destinations if you really want to book a trip. Apparently Serbia has a killer wine region—who knew? Additionally, Croatia has decided to issue its own travel requirements outside of the EU’s restrictions, allowing for non-EU citizens to visit, but requiring proof of pre-booked accommodations. Meanwhile, in the UK (no longer an EU member, as you may recall), international travel is permitted; however, all American arrivals must quarantine for 14 days upon entry.
“Just Because You Ameri-can Doesn’t Mean You Ameri-should”
I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but even though some countries are open doesn’t mean you should be booking the first flight out. The CDC and the U.S. State Department still have travel advisories that warn against non-essential travel. You know what sucks more than wearing a mask during your staycation? Being on a ventilator.
As much as you’re eager to take new travel Instagrams, we are still amidst a pandemic, and there are still a lot of risks associated with travel. Air travel may increase your exposure to the virus due to difficulties with social distancing and being near people indoors for an extended period of time. If you do decide to fly, take the common-sense precautions we’ve been talking about for the last five months: wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, cover your face when you cough or sneeze, and stay six feet apart when possible.
Travelers should also consider the practical risks, like obtaining health insurance. Some travel health insurance becomes void when there is a government travel advisory, so be sure to always check to see that you will be covered in case you get sick or injured during a vacation.
Many countries are not as lax as the U.S., with nations like Canada and New Zealand still keeping their borders completely closed to visitors even though they have drastically fewer cases and deaths than the U.S. The countries are also enforcing mandatory 14-day quarantine to anyone who enters the country. Additionally, countries like Australia have issued a complete ban on overseas travel, and any exemptions must be approved by the government. Given that the success of flattening the curve in these countries has far outweighed the efforts (or lack thereof) of American officials, it might be wise to take a page from their book.
Party In The USA, Because You Won’t Be Going Anywhere Else
Yes, 2020 has indeed been a horror show, with the U.S. as its main character. For now, let’s hope that next year gets a whole lot better and we can resume our partying in Mykonos in 2021. On the bright side, where other than America can we see a Karen go postal in a Trader Joe’s because her CoNsTiTuTiOnAL rIGhTs are being violated? Plus, there’s still an election that could go horribly wrong! Seriously, just so much to look forward to this year.
Do everyone a favor and find a friend with a beach or lake house, and just stay the fuck home/in said vacation house and drink margaritas until Florida feels like Florence. Good luck.
Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels
Apparently, I had no idea what being “stir-crazy” actually meant until we entered this indefinite solitary confinement they call quarantine. Even as a proud introvert, it feels like the universe is shoving all the plans I’ve ever canceled in my face and screaming, “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED?” This is absolutely not what any of us wanted—as any introvert will tell you, part of the thrill is canceling plans. With no plans to cancel, this endless abyss of plans that could have been (canceled) feels like a discount version of Groundhog Day. Not only are we mourning the closures of our favorite restaurants, stores, and bars, but many of the activities that kept us sane are no longer an option. One of the most difficult aspects of my quarantine has been the closure of my gym, and not only because of the sense of community it provided. Physical activity has been one of the only things I’ve found in over a decade of pretty severe anxiety that actually helped keep it in check. According to the CDC, reduced anxiety isn’t the only noticeable benefit of regular physical activity. Just 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week (that’s like 7 episodes of Schitt’s Creek which, realistically, you’ve done in one day) can improve both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regular exercise can also reduce your risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. So yeah, TL;DR, exercise is good for you and I’m sorry for all the times I pretended I had cramps to get out of gym in high school.
During this time of incredible stress and uncertainty, the anxiety-reducing aspects of physical activity are more important than ever. Being trapped inside a small space with no end in sight is stressful, to say the least. Exercise is definitely helpful, and nothing makes me feel quite as calm as the aftermath of a heart-pounding sweat session. There are plenty of workouts that can be done from the comfort of your own home, but when running is your go-to, working out while quarantined can be a little more complicated (unless you have your own treadmill, you lucky b*tch).
At the beginning of quarantine I was running four miles a day ….. Now I’m proud because I did a single squat
— Donese (@donese22) July 9, 2020
It’s SO tempting—outside is literally right there. You can see it and hear it screaming at you to lace up and get out there. So what’s stopping you? If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ve seen countless people jog by, headphones in, totally oblivious to the fact that we’re in the middle of a freaking pandemic. If they can do it, why not the rest of us? Well, because we both know we’re smarter than that. Yes, it’s tempting to squeeze in a quick 3-miler and be back inside before the coronavirus even has a chance to notice we left our bubble. Unfortunately, this isn’t some high-risk game of tag and we really can’t afford to take any chances. Here’s the great news, though—experts say that it is fairly safe to run outside, as long as we take the proper precautions. Family Medicine Physician Doctor Mike Varshavski—or as he’s known on Instagram, Dr. Mike—tells Betches that running “is considered a low to moderate-low risk activity based on the new chart put out by the Texas Medical Association” and notes that “throughout this pandemic, almost all shelter at home orders have continued to allow and encourage solo exercise like hiking, walking, and running.”
So that’s the good news! And as long as you follow these pretty easy guidelines, you can rest easy knowing that you put your safety and the safety of others first.
1. Jog Alone Or In Small Groups, But Make Sure You Maintain A Safe Distance
I get it, running with your best friend or your running group like you’ve done for years is a blast. However, just because you have been extremely cautious about protecting yourself from the coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean your running partners have done the same. Make sure whoever you’re running with is also taking the proper precautions, and continue to practice social distancing even when running outside. Dr. Mike tells Betches, “any time you are exposing yourself to other individuals, it raises the risk of catching the virus,” reminding us, “those who look healthy can still be spreading COVID-19. If you have to go with a group (for safety reasons, perhaps), try and be with the smallest group possible.”
Brian Labus, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada Las Vegas told Runners World, “If you deem running with a small group is something you’re comfortable with, you’ll want to ensure that these few people have been properly careful over the past few months, same as if you’re running with one other person. Additionally, your small group should run somewhere you know you won’t come in close contact with others.”
Labus also emphasizes that if you live with someone in the at-risk age group (over 65) or someone who is immunocompromised, extra precautions are necessary, and running with a partner may not be the best idea. He explains, “There have been over 182,000 cases (as of June 10) and over 77,000 COVID-19 deaths (as of June 6) in those age 65 and over since February 1, according to provisional data from the CDC. It is safer to run solo until disease transmission is low in your community.”
2. Bring A Mask With You When You Run
It’s probably not necessary to wear a mask while you run outdoors (and realistically, it would be really tough to wear a mask during any exercise that leaves you gasping for air) as long as you maintain the proper distance between you and anyone you encounter outside. Indeed, Dr. Mike tells Betches that “a mask should not be worn while running as sweat will make the mask wet and create other problems.” He advises, “The best protection is to wear the mask until you’re ready to exercise, take it off, and stay at least six feet away from others as best as possible.”
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That said, it’s probably not a bad idea to bring a mask with you when you run just in case. You may end up lost and needing to grab an Uber back, you could desperately need to run into Walgreens for a drink of water, or you might end up running into your ex and needing a disguise. Point is, there are a lot of reasons you may need a mask when leaving your house, so make sure you have one with you at all times.
Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health explained to the New York Times, “Outdoors is relatively safe, and masks would only be important if you are exercising in crowded areas or indoors in space shared with other people.” According to Milton, as long as you’re keeping your distance, you should be pretty fine running outside with your mask at the ready in case of an emergency.
3. Scope Out Your Street During Different Times Throughout The Day, Or Find A Different Street Altogether
Please withhold all “duh”s, because from what I’ve seen firsthand it apparently needs to be said—the easiest way to keep your distance when running outside is to run in a less crowded area. Now, this doesn’t mean driving 38 miles to the middle of the forest to knock out your run. This honestly may be as simple as spending a few days looking out your window every hour or two to see how many people are out and about. Peak hours in your neighborhood may also vary between weekdays and weekends, so also take that into account when planning your run. Ideally, you want to find both a time when not too many people are out, and a place where you have plenty of “escape routes.” This means not running next to a busy street that you can’t cross if you see a group of people on the sidewalk. If you’re running on a forest path, it means being able to step way off to the side if someone else is approaching (and, see #2, don’t forget your mask in case this isn’t an option).
Dr. Benjamin D. Levine, a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, explained to NPR the importance of keeping an even greater distance when exercising outside. He advises, “The greater volume and rate of breathing that occurs during exercise has the risk of spreading droplets farther. I think it’s reasonable based on the known changes in breathing during exercise.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve been out walking and out of absolutely nowhere, a jogger runs by me so close that I feel a small gust of potential plague-wind as they pass. This isn’t okay, guys. First and foremost, if we can’t be considerate to other people who have just as much of a right to use the sidewalk as we do, we shouldn’t be out running in the first place.
That said, if you’ve been keeping an eye on your street and it really doesn’t seem like there’s much of a break in the constant stream of people passing by, check out some other side streets nearby. Chances are, within a mile or so of where you live, there are some quieter residential streets that will be far less congested.
4. Make Sure That It’s Actually Okay To Run Outside In Your Area
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now everyone else can hear me heavy breathing too? cool. credit/permission: @itslaurentbtw
As we’ve discussed, it is more than tempting to grab your shoes and just GTFO. But even if you’ve thoroughly read through these important tips and feel confident in your ability to run outside safely, please hit pause for just a hot second. Because of the constantly evolving nature of how we’re handling this pandemic, running outside without a mask may not even be allowed in your area. Make sure you’re constantly checking mandates from your state health departments to ensure you’re adhering to your area’s current requirements. These mandates are changing fairly regularly in some areas, so it’s a good idea to check them daily before your planned run. Your state will most likely have a dedicated coronavirus page with all of the latest information, from things like the number of confirmed cases to reopening guidelines.
Dr. Mike emphasizes, “Know that there is no such thing as absolute safety when outdoors. The guidelines of wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing hands will certainly reduce risk but not eliminate it. Know what is an acceptable risk for you.”
If you’re still hyped up to go for an outdoor run, more power to you. Just remember the four M’s, and you should be good to go. Maintain your distance, Mask (in your pocket/bra/around your neck/whatever), find tiMes of the day that are less crowded (ok that was a stretch, who cares), and Mandates (check your local mandates to see what rules are in place in your area). Happy running!
Images: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels; donese22 / Twitter; notskinnybutnotfat, dietstartstomorrow / Instagram
After 95694845 days of quarantine (I lost count), our collective #QuarantineClub efforts have not been in vain. And now I’m actually seeing other humans IRL (yay!) out and about. We’re getting our lives back in this so-called “new normal” and cautiously doing all right in Phase 3 with non-essential businesses opening up. Parts of New York are allegedly even entering Phase 4, but that seems too good to be true.
The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be within our reach, but remember—it’s a marathon, not a sprint. All things considered, we can keep up our momentum so long as a few bad apples don’t f*ck over the entire cart. Unfortunately, parts of the U.S. are experiencing just that—sheer amounts of stupidity (i.e. COVID-19 parties… seriously, WTF Alabama??).
Extreme cases aside, I understand that at this point, you’re saying to yourself “omg, I’m so over COVID-19. O-VeR. IT.” And I get it. 2020 is canceled. The pandemic was not exactly what we wanted for summer. But think about how the frontline workers must feel? My close friend Mira MacLeod, a Registered Nurse who works in the COVID-19 ward of a major Toronto hospital (which was also the same converted facility used to treat the first SARS patients) said, “hell (lol) I’M OVeR IT. If anyone has COVID fatigue, it’s me, girl.”
So for her sake and for every one of these caregiving heroes, when it comes to our collective health, reckless behavior is inexcusable. In fact, it’s NOT okay when you decide to be a d*ck by not wearing a mask in a shared public space and jeopardize the lives of others. Additionally, I honestly feel like the warm weather must be frying off some of the common sense in some people’s brains. I guess when you throw sunny skies and balmy weather into the mix, it’s like everyone suddenly forgot that there’s still a deadly pandemic in our presence which, may I remind you, still has the power to come back to bite us again (like it did to South Korea and their second wave) and force us back into our homes.
Do the people begging for stuff to reopen not realize that means having to wear a bra on a regular basis?
— The Salty Mamas (@saltymamas) May 17, 2020
In light of people filling up their social calendars once again and taking to the city streets, the Department of Health released some guidelines on how we can all be safe when gathering together and dining out. However, what these documents neglect to state or inform us about is how the heck these rules will be consistently enforced. Mayor Bill de Blasio is essentially telling us all of this is based on “trust” and calling people out when you see them breaking the rules. Basically like “if you see something, say something.” While that’s definitely one way of approaching it, despite reporting the situation, the damage will have already been done.
Dr. Sidney Chiu, an emergency doctor at North York General Hospital, reminds us that we must each do our part and continue to take initiatives in safeguarding our community. Furthermore, we made it this far in flattening the curve—let’s not f*ck it up folks! Here are useful guidelines to keep in mind:
When In Doubt, Wear A Mask
MacLeod says that if you want to be safe, you should wear a mask indoors—even if the business doesn’t state that it’s mandatory. “You should be wearing one in confined spaces like at the grocery store, on the transit system, or at a retail store—places where you’re touching a lot of things.” You should be wearing disposable rubber and/or plastic gloves for this as well (think clothing items, transit railing, etc).
Wear A Mask When Walking On The Sidewalk
MacLeod says her major pet peeve is when people don’t walk around each other on the sidewalk: “It irks me that some just don’t care and/or take liberties. They walk by you in close proximity, and this is particularly troublesome when there are small children nearby.” As a mom of two kids, this is especially triggering for her. So she advises that when you see someone approaching, go around them, if you can. Remember, social distancing means you should be six feet apart, which is further than you think.
There Is Still NO Vaccine
“Just based on how I’m seeing some people behave, I think many believe that the pandemic has mostly passed—and that’s certainly not the situation. The reality is that although we’ve passed the first wave, we are constantly at risk of new cases,” MacLeod says. She adds that precautionary measures should be as routine as checking for your wallet, phone and keys before leaving the house. “A mask, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer (making sure that it contains 60-95 percent alcohol), and disinfecting wipes should all be a part of your ‘toolkit,’” which means that these items should be considered part of your “new normal” for the foreseeable future. If you’re forgetful, a good strategy is to set up a daily pop-up alert on your phone to remind yourself of these essential items. Or consider keeping it all in a stylish bag near your door.
No Hugging Or Shaking Hands
“This is tough, understandably, because we are by nature, social creatures,” explains Dr. Chiu. He adds that “in lieu of physical touching, air hugs/air high fives, or toe tapping is better than exposing any part of your body to someone else. You just don’t want to run the risk.” As a friendly reminder, he says that COVID-19 is spread through droplets and/or physical contact. “Just think that when you’re embracing someone and that close face-to-face, any number of things could happen: coughing, sneezing—even talking and breathing could aid in transmission.” He adds that what could then theoretically occur is that even though it appears that “nothing happened” during the hug, since you effectively touched that person, you could then absentmindedly touch your mouth, nose and eyes, thereby spreading the virus.
Just Because They “Look Healthy” Doesn’t Mean They Are
“We always assume there are obvious visual cues to someone being ill. However this is certainly not the case when someone is asymptomatic and can transmit the virus to you,” says Dr. Chiu, who adds that these individuals may not even be aware they have COVID-19. “So for your sake, it’s better to err on the side of caution and to wear a mask whatever the social situation may be.” Another scary and not-so-fun fact from him: “the chance of a test detecting COVID-19 is very low if you are asymptomatic, and it is unlikely to be helpful in determining if you have COVID-19 if you have zero symptoms.”
Invest In Anti-Technology For Your Sunnies
Dr. Chiu says that “I’ve heard some people complain about their sun/glasses getting fogged up due to the mask wearing.” To remedy this, he says to do the following: “mold your mask to the bridge of your nose, tighten the mask, or simply invest in some anti-fog spray or wipes which will do the trick nicely (and you should be prepping all of this before you leave your home).” This is an overlooked issue but an important one, and he explains that “you want to minimize the amount of time touching your face. If your glasses are fogged/smudged, etc and you’re constantly readjusting them, you’re increasing your chances of exposure.”
Invest In An Automatic Soap Dispenser
When returning home, immediately wash your hands with hot soapy water before doing anything else (the CDC advises you do this within 20 seconds of entering your home.). To avoid contamination, MacLeod advises people to get one of those automated hand soap dispensers.” Additionally, she says that bar soaps are a big no-no because bacteria and germs CAN survive on them (ewwww).
And in terms of venturing out in the world à la Oh, The Places You’ll Go Post-Pandemic (!), here are a few tips and best practices to be mindful of in the following social scenarios:
If available to you, always opt to use the restaurant’s QR code, which allows you to see the menu on your smartphone rather than touching paper. An exception to this is if you have a visual impairment and require a hard copy.
Wearing a mask while dining in a patio/restaurant space isn’t required (cuz um, how else can you eat that food if your mouth is covered?!); however, you should absolutely wear one when walking to your table and using well-ventilated washroom facilities (which are 99% of the time located inside of a confined restaurant space).
Another food-related issue is regarding pick-up and take-out: you just grab the order and go. Don’t linger and/or congregate on the sidewalks.
The CDC recommends that if you’re welcoming people into your home for, say, a BBQ cookout (specifically an outdoor space like the backyard) to consider keeping a guestbook of attendees for contact tracing needs. Disposable but recycle-friendly cutlery, plates, and cups should be used in lieu of the silverware you have at home.
Both Dr. Chiu and MacLeod say that if you can, visit these spaces on a weekday when it’s less crowded. “Because it’s an outdoor setting, it’s technically safer than, say, a shopping mall because these types of places are conducive to offering more room and fresh air.” For any communal seating (such as park benches and beach chairs), use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes prior to use.
Individual Appointments (Including, But Not Limited To, Dental And Medical Offices, Nail Salons, And Hair Salons)
Ensure that it’s not a walk-in situation, and whenever possible, book your appointment in advance. If you’re feeling uncertain, ask what sorts of protocols the business or service has implemented, such as adequate HEPA filters/ventilation, PPEs, and plexiglass barriers to minimize the risk of exposure. When you do arrive for your appointment, wait outside and arrange for the staff to text or give you a call when they’re ready for you. Lastly, if you know you have to fill out any documentation, bring your own pen—don’t use the communal ones supplied at the office/salon.
With all the news and Karen-shaming, I’d like to think that the majority of us are better than that. However, we’re all human and can still be prone to slipping up once in a while. So I recommend screenshotting this handy color-coded infographic to act as your “pocket guide” if you are ever uncertain about venturing into a specific social situation. It’s nice that we can FINALLY see our loved ones IRL again, so let’s not take any of it for granted and remember to be considerate of each other by adhering to these practical and safe protocols.
Images: Gustavo Fring / Pexels; Giphy (2); Twitter / @saltymamas
It’s now been a few months since we supposedly started taking coronavirus seriously in the U.S., and honestly, things aren’t going great. While case numbers are down in certain areas, many states have seen spikes in the last couple weeks, and on Thursday, the number of new cases reported nationwide hit a record high. But even with hospitals inundated with new patients, and states pausing their reopening plans, some people refuse to take the pandemic seriously. Karens across the country have decided that instead of COVID-19, the real enemy here is the face mask. This week, we saw angry Floridians arguing against laws requiring masks, with one woman claiming that lawmakers demanding people wear masks “want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door.”
But the anger about masks isn’t limited to Florida, and now the anti-mask folks everywhere are getting crafty. I was perusing Twitter this morning, when this tweet from Lance Bass popped up. It shows a laminated “FACE MASK EXEMPT CARD” that supposedly exempts the holder from “any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public.” The card declares that forcing this person to wear a mask is a violation of the “Americans with Disability Act”, and that penalties for violating the ADA can be as high as $150,000. Furthermore, the card states that turning mask-less customers away from your business will be “reported to FTBA for further actions.”
HEADS UP fellow businesses…. This is not a thing. This is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands. We will throw it in the trash and send them on their way. pic.twitter.com/VKACSA3pRU
— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) June 24, 2020
Lance, who owns a bar in West Hollywood, tweeted that the exemption cards are “not a thing”, and that “this is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands.” LOL. Even at a quick glance, the card looks pretty fake, but upon doing some further digging, it gets even worse. Right off the bat, there are multiple typos, including that the actual name of the ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pretty sure the government isn’t misspelling their own legislation on official documents.
Just because I was curious, I called the phone number on the card, which is supposedly the number to report ADA violations. False. The number is actually for the ADA Information Line, which is mostly meant for businesses to get “technical assistance” about complying with the ADA. The Information Line can provide information about filing claims of discrimination, but actual claims can only be filed online, by fax, or through the mail.
But at least the ADA is a real thing. The card also mentions the FTBA, which stands for Freedom To Breathe Agency. This definitely sounds like something that an avid Fox News viewer created two weeks ago, so I went to check out their website. Here’s the homepage:
Oops! Guess something went wrong! I’m not sure if this website ever existed, but various sources, including Newsweek, refer to FTBA as a Facebook Group, one that has no government affiliation of any kind. So basically, someone in this Facebook Group used their graphic design skills (but not spellcheck) to create this fake graphic that people can print out, laminate, and use as a way to own the Libs who are scared of, you know, a deadly virus. Great.
It’s unclear how many people have made use of the fake Exempt Card, but it received enough attention to warrant an official statement from the US Department of Justice, which enforces the ADA. In an alert posted to their website, the DOJ warned of “Fraudulent Facemask Flyers,” saying that these “postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department.” They stopped short of telling these idiots to wear their f*cking masks, but essentially made it clear that they’d like to be excluded from this narrative.
So yes, the exemption cards are obviously fake. But beyond that, why are these people so mad about wearing masks? Are there legitimate health risks that would make it unsafe for all these people to wear them? Turns out, the answer is not really. According to the CDC recommendations, the only groups who shouldn’t wear face coverings are “Children under age 2” and “Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.” Translation: pretty much anyone who can take off their mask without needing help can (and should) wear one.
Is wearing a mask fun? Not really. Can it cause obnoxious acne? Possibly. Can it also potentially save you and others from a life-threatening illness? Yes!! No one is happy that we’re still in a pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are STILL IN A PANDEMIC! Those surging case numbers are no joke, and at this point, wearing a mask is the least you can do. As for me, I’ll be staying my ass in the house for now, but to each their own.
Images: Matt Gush / Shutterstock.com; lancebass / Twitter; FTBAgency.com; Facebook
As we approach week 9 (58? 102??) of quarantine, many of us are noticing that our skin is reverting back to its acne-riddled high school days. Seriously, what the hell? We’re not spending much time outside getting attacked by free radicals and pollutants, and we have more time than ever to do our involved skin care routines. So, what gives? Dr. Shari Marchbein, a New York-based dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, spoke with us about why our skin is still not behaving even when we’re in quarantine, and what we can do about it.
Why Quarantine is Causing You to Break Out
According to Dr. Marchbein, hormones are a crucial reason our skin is breaking out rn. There’s no way to pinpoint just one culprit, she says, since our sleep, work, and skin care routines are all out of whack from sheltering in place. The key ingredient in all of these, she says, is stress.
When we think about hormones, our minds typically wander to testosterone, progesterone, and like, things that relate to the pill or middle school health class. However, Dr. Marchbein explains, the hormone causing our current skin woes is cortisol, “which increases in the blood at times of stress or with lack of sleep and can trigger acne breakouts by stimulating sebaceous glands to make more oil.” Increased cortisol, she says, “can worsen other skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis, as well as cause an increased breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which is the good stuff that gives skin its glow and plumpness.” Yeah, no thanks.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Flare-Ups
To avoid flare-ups in the first place, Dr. Marchbein recommends several ways to de-stress. “First and foremost, get plenty of sleep,” she says. When our body is sleep-deprived, it makes more cortisol, causing inflammation and bodily stress. Staying active is also important, according to Dr. Marchbein. Her go-to ways to de-stress are meditating and taking a yoga class. To help reduce your cortisol and stress levels, you can also go for a socially distanced walk, if possible.
And just like your mom’s been telling you for years, “maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are key.” By following this advice, which tbh you should be doing anyway for your general health, you can be like that meme that’s like, “my skin is clear, my crops are flourishing, my depression is gone” (but like, with actual, non-sarcastically clear skin).
How to Treat Acne Flare-Ups
If you’ve got a particularly aggressive breakout, don’t freak out, because here are a number of treatment methods to try. Under normal circumstances (lol what are those), Dr. Marchbein would advise visiting your dermatologist for a steroid injection. These injections “reduce the pain and inflammation of cystic breakouts,” she says, but at this point, “most medical visits are being done by telemedicine, and in-person visits should be for true emergencies only.” So that’s out.
Then what to do about the acne glaring back at you in your reflection? For starters, Dr. Marchbein recommends certain over-the-counter products to treat existing flare-ups. Retinoids are one useful treatment for acne breakouts—Differin 0.1% gel is the strongest non-prescription one available, she notes. Salicylic acid, a type of acid that can unclog pores, is also helpful.
“I like St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub with salicylic acid and green tea as a gentle scrub, and I use a St. Ives salicylic acid gel cleanser once daily,” Dr. Marchbein says. She also recommends stronger 1-2% salicylic acid gel for spot treatment. Products with benzoyl peroxide, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, can help calm irritated skin too. Dr. Marchbein likes 10% Panoxyl wash and 4% CeraVe wash.
Finally, acne patches deliver active ingredients to a pimple. “By occluding the pimple, these active ingredients are able to penetrate the skin more deeply allowing them to potentially work better,” she explains. Watch out if you have sensitive skin, though—acne patches might be too harsh for you and could make the situation worse.
“Most importantly,” Dr Marchbein warns, “do not pop or squeeze a pimple, as this will cause even more inflammation and can make a potentially bad situation even worse.” I know Dr. Pimple Popper videos can be satisfying, but seriously, don’t do this to yourself.
Skin Care Advice in the Time of Public Face Masks
As much as we’ve been staying indoors these days, we occasionally have to venture out into the real world to stock up on supplies or grab our curbside pick-up order of pad thai. For those of us responsibly following the CDC’s recommendation to wear cloth face masks in public, our skin might be suffering. Dr. Rajani Katta, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Baylor University, warns against using masks made of irritating materials like polyester that trap sweat, in a blog post for the Baylor College Of Medicine. She suggests masks made of absorbent materials like cotton, which can help absorb sweat and prevent breakouts.
If you’ve got dry skin, Dr. Katta advises moisturizing before putting on your mask, but if you’re particularly acne-prone, she recommends skipping greasy products like foundation. “These products can get trapped under the mask and possibly cause more skin issues,” she explains. For healthcare workers on the front lines, Dr. Marchbein recommends avoiding retinoids and exfoliants. Wearing abrasive N95 masks daily, she says, “could cause further irritation and shearing of the skin.”
If your quarantine = breakout central, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of products and habits that can help repair your skin and prevent further flare-ups. Plus, it’s not like many people are seeing you these days. If you’ve got a particularly nasty zit, just turn off your video on Zoom.
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