How to Pick Out a Respirator for Beards

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This is How to Pick Out a Respirator for Beards. Beards are super fashionable right now, especially among woodworkers. Here’s how you stay safe in the shop and still keep that killer beard. Enjoy.

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Respirators for Beards

How-to-Pick-Out-a-Respirator-for-BeardsRespirators and beards just don’t get along very well. It’s one of those things in woodworking where in order to finish properly and safely, you need to wear a respirator. Having a beard though may be a little bit of a challenge.

Now, there’s no reason to shave off everything in the name of woodworking safety. There are some things that you can do, and some things that you can look out for in order to have the best of both worlds.

I’ll show you what you need to know coming up, as well as a couple different methods that will allow you to keep the hair, and also keep the safety. In the end, I would always choose safety over facial hair, but we’re all a little different.

See Also: How to Pick the Best Respirator for Wood Finishing

Problems With Facial Hair and Respirators

The big problem with facial hair with most respirators is that you can’t create an air tight seal around your face when you have facial hair. The hair gets in between the mask and the skin, and allows air to come through.

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The problem isn’t necessarily in the air that comes through it’s in the stuff that’s in the air that comes through. As you’re working with finishing chemicals and breathing inwards, the vaporized chemicals pass right between the mask and your face…and into your lungs.

Since there’s no seal, there’s no barrier. When there’s no barrier, there is less protection than the manufacture intended. Instead of cheating yourself out of your full dose of safety, you need to take alternative steps to protect yourself.

See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – Woodworking Safety

Alternatives For Beards

One of the biggest alternatives for breathing protection when you have a beard is a full face and helmet protection system. These are much bigger than a respirator, but also offer a lot more protection for the size.

These systems go all the way around the face, and can offer a different seal than a common respirator. In a case where your beard isn’t quite as big, a solution like this can be appealing for a lot of reasons.

Even though these are a little more expensive, one of the big advantages is that the system is far superior, and produces a lot more clean air. It also comes with a face shield built-in, which means your mask can protect you from flying objects as well.

There are a number of different offerings on the market, and there are some that seal a little bit differently around the face that may work well with your beard. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re not keeping your beard and letting airborne particles into your lungs.

See Also: How to Pick the Best Dust Mask for Woodworking

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Shaving Options to Meet Half Way

Another thing that you might want to look into is the way that you shave your beard. If you go for the natural look down on the neck, you might be interfering with the seal. In contrast, if you shave just that area, it might seal perfectly.

This is the kind of compromise solution where you can keep the general look, but also reserve part of your face for stealing against the respirator. You still get to look great, and your insides still get to look good too because bad air isn’t getting into your lungs.

You might even consider doing this in conjunction with a nicer respirator system like I mentioned above. This is a great solution, and you will have a lot more protection for your face and body then if you used a regular respirator without shaving.

You can use one for dust and airborne particles, and the other for protection from chemicals.

See Also: 50 Woodworking Tips

Beard Finishing Tips and Tricks

There are a few things that you can do when you’re finishing in order to minimize the amount of chemical that you are inhaling. Here are a few, just make sure that you do everything you possibly can to keep yourself safe in the shop.

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  • Make sure to finish in an area that is well ventilated, so that way chemical solvents can’t build up in the air.
  • If you can smell the chemicals through the mask, then your respirator is no longer functioning properly.
  • Make sure to change out the filters as recommended, because old filters are not as effective.
  • Don’t choose beauty over safety. If you are doing a lot of finishing and sucking in a lot of chemicals, you’re hurting yourself quite a bit.
  • It may be a little extra money, but using a nicer breathing system is a one time cost that can significantly improve your life and your woodworking.

See Also: Why I Wear Safety Glasses

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know all about respirators, masks, and beards, it’s time to take action. Don’t sit on the sidelines anymore thinking you can’t protect yourself because you have a beard. It’s not the truth, now you know it.

Order one of the nicer systems online, and when you get home, take a look at the areas where it seals against your face, and make some adjustments in your facial hair. You’ll be happy that you did, and you’ll breathe a lot better.

If you have any questions on respirators for beards, and picking out the best for you, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer. Happy building.

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