Why do Asians wear surgical masks?



  • 1 It became popular during the SARS outbreak

    Since the 2002 SARS outbreak, and the spread of bird flu in 2006, the practice of wearing surgical masks became very popular even to immigrant Asians across the US and other countries. 

  • 2 Because of the massive pandemic of influenza

    In the early days of the 20th century, over 30 million people died because of the the spread of the massive pandemic of influenza around the world, including places in Asia (it killed 5% of the population in India). 

  • 3 It's initially worn by sick people

    Recently, if a Japanese person with an illness couldn't take the day off work, they wear the surgical masks in order to avoid the spreading of their illness to other people.   

  • 4 The spread of cheap masks made it easier

    In 2003, a medical supplier released a new type of surgical masks that were designed specifically for hay fever sufferers. The mask is made from cotton and is reusable. 

  • 5 Youth use them to avoid direct communication

    Psychologist Jun Fujikake found out that many young people wear masks to prevent direct communication, and that this trend has roots among youth culture, as they're more used to indirect communication through social media.  

  • 6 Some people wear them for warmth

    Many Asians use the surgical masks for warmth. Japan, for instance, gets very chilly during winter; however, those masks can keep people's faces warm.  

  • 7 Models find them useful

    Some Asian models wear them after they wash off their make up after a photo shoot. Models think that wearing masks can be useful when they want to go out in public in order to keep their neutral face away from the public. 

  • 8 Women use them to hide their faces

    Some women use masks to hide their faces when they don't feel spending time on putting on lipstick or blush. 

  • 9 Some people use them as an accessory

    Some Asians find masks a fashionable accessory. An online search for masuku bijin (beautiful masked girl) would bring out many fashionable colored/patterned masks worn by Asian women. 

  • 10 Some masks help people lose weight

    There are masks in Asia whose seller claims that they're able to help people lose weight. This mask, T-Garden, has plenty of scents that can help people boost their metabolism.

  • 11 It's useful in different things

    Masks can prevent people from passing their cold around. It keeps faces warm, cuts off unwanted social interaction, and removes the necessity of wearing make up on a daily basis.