We recently received a question about face shields (aka face shield, face mask and face mask). Not a specific question about our face shield, but a general question.
This individual wanted to know if they should even get one. While we certainly didn't invent them, we know more than enough to give you the high points and help you decide if you should buy one. While we think ours is a great choice, it may not be the best choice for you.
1. A Face Shield is Only as Good as Your Helmet
A face shield is designed to compliment your helmet - not replace it. This is an important distinction because the face mask, at least the majority of designs, attaches to your helmet. Thus your face protection is only going to be as good as the sparring helmet it's attached to.
2. FaceShields are NOT Designed for Intentional Contact
We're not aware of any faceshields that are designed for intentional contact. Given the possibility for them to crack and shatter, they're best saved for accidental contact. If you're in a situation with intentional contact, there are full-face helmets designed to handle those blows better.
3. A Faceshield Will not Block For You
As we mentioned above, a faceshield is not going to completely absorb all strikes to your face. Which is why you need to continue blocking! It sounds silly, and obvious, but we've seen plenty of people gain a false sense of confidence from wearing a facemask.
4. A Face Mask May Invite More and Harder Contact
While not universal, some people will subconsciously strike harder when their opponent is wearing a facemask - or even aim to make contact when they otherwise wouldn't. While you can't be sure who will and won't act this way, it's something to consider.
5. Take Care of Your Facemask
Make sure to keep your mask clean and stored in something that will keep it from scratching. All designs of facemasks will alter your vision - even if they're completely clear. Having scratches all over them can be like wearing scratched prescription sunglasses, but worse!
If you're in the market for a facemask, and you've read these five points, you should have a pretty good idea whether or not a mask is right for you. Give yourself and your training partners some time to adjust, but if it's not working, don't be afraid to pull the plug. Safety is key.