Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Respirator for man with facial hair

My husband helps me cast silver. We are having a hard time finding a
respirator that fits him snugly because he has a beard and mustache.
He also wears glasses, so a full-face respirator won’t work. Can
anyone recommend a specific brand (and model number if applicable) of
respirator, rated for use with investment powder-sized particles,
that is meant for hairy faces? Thanks, and happy holidays, Orchid!

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

I use this:

Ric Furrer

respirator, rated for use with investment powder-sized particles,
that is meant for hairy faces? 

You mean short of a full diving helmet or space suit? I don’t know
if there is one. When I visited chemical plants and refineries for a
living, if you had a beard you didn’t get inside the plant.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

Glasses with a full face respirator is better than no respirator. I
ware glasses and can do ok with full face units. Another option is a
forced air face shield, much more expensive but no need to have a
seal against the skin, just fresh air being pumped into the shielded
area, keeping any “stuff” from getting into that area and supplying
fresh air to breath. A thought just popped for me, what about using a
"food handlers beard guard" then a face respirator over thate? What
you are trying to keep out, the investment dust, is relatively a
large particle, and the beard guards may do the trick. I use a forced
air respirator (high column/low pressure air pump being a squirrel
cage type pump) for some of my welding operations, having a supply
hose hookup to my welding helmet and I can change the supply line
over to full face masks and also shields as needed. The initial unit
cost about $700.00, the motor, air pump/fan, hoses, fittings, initial
face mask (made in China and somewhat a piece of you know what, like
so much of the stuff these days), but the air pump deal is good.
There are other units that work off of compressed air lines that have
major filtering to take out oil mist, water and what ever in the high
pressure air supply, but these are in the $1000.00’s of $$$$$$ range
BUT they work well and are used in a lot of areas in industry. A
razor is the cheapest way around this problem, but I realize the
PROBLEM with this “suggestion”!!!

john dach

Has far as I know no respirator (Other than a full space suit) would
be rated by a manufacturer for use with a beard.

Now that we have the legalities out of the way. A couple of thoughts

No non-positive pressure mask is 100% effective all the time, there
are always small leaks as the person moves their face and has the
rubber ages. This is why Positive pressure masks are used for real
dangerous stuff.

Cheapest, smear a thick layer of Vaseline on the sealing edges of
the mask and you will get an effective seal if the straps are tight.

A method from out in left field usable if he doesn’t have to cast
too often, Get him a nose clip, a Scuba tank and regulator. .

:wink: now if your assistant doesn’t like washing up after, or a scuba
tank, then the next type that would work would be a positive pressure
mask. Not cheap but effective, and is what most professional
sandblasters use to protect from the same silica you are trying to
protect against. There are some that only cover the mouth and nose,
so he could still wear his glasses

That’s what should work and keep the nasty dust 99.99% out off his

If you are willing to settle for less than that then any mask with a
rubber seal on tight should do.

The paper masks never seal 100% so that being said and the fact a
lot of people use them (or no mask), I think your hubby should be
safe. And you can both enjoy his facial fur

Just my politically incorrect 2 Cents worth


PS Just remember for any toxin or irritant the danger is
proportional to toxicity, time, concentration and frequency. The risk
for a person casting 2 or 3 times a month, a small batch, and wearing
a mask that is 50% effective is better off than the guy Casting 6
batches a day 5 days a week and doing 100 flasks with a mask that is
99.99% effective

Hi Kathy,

Back when I got my respirator fitted, (and had a beard) I was given
to understand that you can’t get a respirator to fit over a beard,
period. The only question is how much bypass there is through the
beard. The good news is that generally, it isn’t much, and if you go
to forced air, it’ll all be outbound, which should solve your problem
with investment dust, but that’s the long and short of it. Want a
perfect seal? Lose the beard.

Wish I had better news.

There are no respirators that will seal against a beard. There are
positive pressure systems that will work, they are not cheap. At the
low end they are in the $500.00 range. But what is his health worth?

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hi Kathy,

There are full head respirators that you can buy, but they are a
little on the pricey side.

Here’s an example :-

A standard fume mask can be used by a man with profuse facial hair,
but this method gets a little messy, you need to use a lot of
Vaseline in the beard to create a seal around the mask.

Regards Charles A.

One other “thing” I forgot to mention, is using a some sort of
positive draft unit to pull any “stray” powder, smoke, vapor away
from the person person doing the particular work. A vacuum table so
to speak, with high cf movement low vacuum. Any way to get the
contaminant away from the workers face.

john dach

Here is to one I got and was talking about

Pretty cheap parts, all “made in China”. If I would have known what
all is (really isn’t) in the unit, I think I could put one together
for far less $$ with much better components and materials. Here is
one using air compressor air that I mentioned

What you have mentioned is another “way” to get supplied air but
again costs to set up and you are going to have to be buying refill
air all the time (not cheap for these high pressure tanks {scuba

john dach

For total protection for men with beards you need a positive
pressure respirator (supplied air respirator). That being said when I
used to scuba dive I sealed my mustache to mask area with Vaseline.

My understanding is that Israeli gas masks are built for men with
beards. best charles

I have to sleep with a cpap machine they are required to be replaced
every 2 years by the insurance companies. What a waste. They produce
a positive pressure and work with a beard or without. Just have to
adjust the pressure allow for the pressures. 

Ric, thanks for this. You reminded me that I got one of these years
ago that I completely forgot about! Tool junkies will relate. My
memory is dim, but there must have been some drawback that led me to
put it aside, probably the comfort of the mouthpiece. I’m digging it
out and trying it again!


Uh, it may be time to shave those beards - why are you covering up
those pretty faces anyway?

Jeff “The Jokester” Herman

Here is one using air compressor air that I mentioned 

Do not be tempted to use a standard air compressor for a home made
version. You must have an oil free air compressor with a proper
filter or you risk poisoning yourself with the air compressor oil.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

In my previous life, we had to wear a fit tested respirator to
prevent exposure to TB. No person with a beard can be fit tested and
achieve a seal. Of course these regulations only apply to shops with
50+ employees. We had 250 paramedics in the field, so we also had a
policy that no facial hair could extend beyond the edge of the mouth.

If you want to be protected and are using a N95 or N100 NIOSH
approved respirator, then you need to be fit tested to insure proper
fit/operation of the mask. The alternative is to invest in the
positive pressure hood, and here as has already been alluded to,
homemade does not fit the bill.

I do have N95 respirator to use in my shop, which I was fit tested
to this make/model while working in the medical field.

Stay safe, and remember you do not score until you are safe at home.