How to avoid wet face while wearing face-covering winter things.
January 7, 2015 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I like to cover my face in the winter winds. The problem is that my face gets wet because I'm breathing through the fabric. I've tried polyester, fleece, and linen. Am I missing something? Or is wet-face inevitable?

I walk to work, about 25 minutes (outside) in each direction. I like to pull this balaclava up and over my face, just below my eyes. It’s 100% polyester.

When I’m breathing through the layers, the fabric collects the moisture from my breath and holds on to it. The consequence is that I get a wet face after about half my walk is over.

I have tried wrapping a linen scarf on the outside of the polyester balaclava to see if that would absorb some of the wetness. I’ve also tried an added fleece layer. I’ve also tried the linen and fleece layers on their own. No success.

Is there another kind of fabric that I can use that can prevent or reduce the wet face? A different laying technique? Or is this inevitable?

I did see this question but the poster said that overheating/sweating is the root cause and the answers talk about the sun being available to dry up the sweat.
posted by cranberrymonger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wool holds its warmth even when damp, so that's what I use. My scarf is merino because I don't like scratchy, and I recently got a merino buff which also works well. It doesn't feel wet because it's not cold, but yeah, the actual water condensing on the material is inevitable.
posted by shelleycat at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015

Best answer: I crocheted a scarf using pima cotton and I have never had any moisture problems so, maybe cotton is the answer. It also helps that it is an open weave. I wind it around a few times to avoid drafts but the little holds allow for air flow.
posted by myselfasme at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2015

Some balaclavas have an opening for your nostrils but still cover the bridge of your nose. Maybe try one of those?
posted by deludingmyself at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have an older version of this balaclava I use for winter cycling - You're definitely aware of the plastic insert (and it's, shall we say, not all that fashionable) but it's pretty comfortable and does work to both distribute warmth and limit the moisture build up as advertised, though extreme exertion tends to overwhelm the moisture prevention bit. This may be less of a problem if you're walking and not cycling/skiing, etc.
posted by jalexei at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

A neoprene face mask should help but, in my experience, any time you have anything over your mouth you're going to have some moisture issues. The key is to use fabrics like fleece that will keep you warm even when wet.
posted by bondcliff at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2015

Best answer: Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth or both? Attempt to breathe solely through your nose and you might get less moisture. I've even found my nose runs a lot less in the cold weather when I control and slow my breathing and use only my nose.
posted by GregorWill at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2015

Response by poster: Quick note. I am indeed a dreaded mouth-breather and I take your point that I might try nose-breathing instead to cut down moisture.
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: i knitted myself a scarf (out of cheap polyester yarn) that i used double yarn for on the part that goes over my face when i wrap it. the open weave keeps the wet from collecting, but it still works really well to warm the air enough to not trigger my cold weather asthma.
posted by nadawi at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2015

Try an Airhole mask perhaps? They have various designs, not just Star Wars.
posted by Iteki at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2015

I use this neoprene mask. The open nose hole lets me do nose breathing and the mouth area doesn't get that wet, perhaps because of those little holes.
posted by Area Man at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't live in the cold any more but I used to. I found it much warmer to wear a knit hat -cashmere is awesome- pulled over my ears and a scarf of cotton or silk or cashmere long enough that I could wrap it over my head, then over my nose-mouth chin, then around my neck once or twice. If it got sweaty I just loosened it a bit. I really only needed this much coverage when the temp was below 15 F or there was a strong wind.
posted by mareli at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015

I don't think there's any real solution to wet face, especially if you're exerting yourself at all. I just alternate having the face covering up and down. So, make sure your scarf/whatever is easy to put up and down, and put it up and down often. The thing I use most often is a wool buff.
posted by mskyle at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2015

I'm a mouth-breather as well and have had much better luck with wool than other fabrics. It sometimes still gets damp, but not as wet.
posted by notjustthefish at 11:50 AM on January 7, 2015

I minimize this by using a big square Merino scarf. By tying it on like a bandana, so it's open on the bottom, some of the vapor escapes without condensing.
posted by metasarah at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2015

Also, a tiny bit of moisture probably helps. Extremely dry/cold air can be a problem.
posted by amtho at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2015

Inhale thru your mouth, but exhale thru your nose.
posted by at at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2015

Wintersilks makes silk balaclavas.
posted by brujita at 2:09 PM on January 7, 2015

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