TORONTO -- The Centers for Disease Control offers grooming advice for men with facial hair to help make sure respirator masks get a perfect seal – advice that has gained new attention thanks to the coronavirus outbreak.

The CDC released an infographic in 2017 with 36 different styles of facial hair ranging from stubble and soul patches to more eccentric styles, such as the French fork and the Zorro.

Each style was assessed for how likely it was to interfere with facepiece respirators. Of particular concern, according to the CDC, are facial hair styles that can potentially interfere with the respirator’s exhalation valve.

However, the old guide may not be relevant. The CDC does not advise the use of respirators outside of workplace settings as a preventative measure against COVID-19.

Among the guide’s approved facial hair styles are the soul patch, side whiskers and the pencil moustache. More common styles, such as stubble, full beards and extended goatees, are considered potentially problematic.

coronavirus facial hair

COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people worldwide and infected more than 80,000 others since it emerged in China earlier this year. In Canada, at least 11 cases have been confirmed in B.C. and Ontario.

So far, no deaths have been reported in Canada.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested Tuesday that the outbreak may soon be classified as a global pandemic.


A previous version of this story did not specify the CDC facial-hair infographic was first posted online in 2017.