this thing's incredible

This Plastic Shield Keeps Me From Touching My Face (And Keeps People Away)

Photo: Courtesy of the author

There has long been a group of older Chinese ladies who gather on the sidewalk in front of my house to do Tai Chi every morning, and since I’ve been working from home for the past month or so, I’ve seen them still diligently practicing (while following proper social-distancing protocol). They sweetly encouraged me to follow along from my porch, and after two weeks of joining in, they gifted me what they’ve all been wearing while they practice: this black bucket hat with a clear face shield. I’ve since learned this is called an “isolation hat” or “anti-pollution hat,” and it’s basically a regular person’s version of the face shields worn by doctors in hospitals. At first, I thought it was a bit crazy — but then I saw photos of Courtney Cox wearing a similar one at Whole Foods in Malibu, and I figured maybe there was something to it.

After looking deeper into the concept of wearing something to cover your face to protect from spit, dirt, or other pollutants that may be in the air, I decided to expand my collection and get this visor version. I still appreciate the bucket version, but this one keeps the top of your head cool and doesn’t mess up your hair. I wear either my clear face visor or the original bucket hat — along with a mask — anytime I have to go into a store or am in a situation where I fear others might not be able to properly social distance themselves. I’ve found that people tend to naturally keep a six-foot radius when you’re wearing what amounts to a dog “cone of shame.”

Is it really preventing me from being exposed to germs, bacteria, and viruses? I’m not sure, but I feel the same way about it as I did masks in the weeks before the CDC changed course and recommended everyone cover their face: it can’t hurt, and it most definitely keeps me from touching my eyes, nose, and cheeks while I’m wearing it. And as someone who struggles mightily with scratching my face due to suffering from rosacea — my face is always vaguely itchy — it’s especially helpful to have a reminder not to touch.

I’ve since scoured the internet for variations of the hat to share with my family. I ordered this baseball hat version for my boyfriend and dad, this straw-cloche version for my aunt, and this futuristic, metallic silver version meant to protect your face from the sun for my mom to wear when she’s out gardening. I even got a kid’s version for my nephew, and his mom reported back that he loves wearing it — and that moms on the street are constantly asking where she got it.

All the face-shield hats Alison has bought