Fact check: Two-tone medical masks should be worn with color side facing out

Social media users have been sharing an image online that explains the difference between the blue and white side of a medical mask. The claim incorrectly advises to have the colored side facing out if you are sick and the white side out if you are healthy.

Pentagon Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force Vice Director of Logistics Rear Admiral John Polowczyk adjusts his protective face mask as he testifies before a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on "The Administration Response to Ongoing Shortages of PPE and Critical Medical Supplies" during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool

Examples can be seen  here  and  here  . 

One post reads: “While at the doctors office today, we were informed by a Nurse the proper way to use a medical mask... When using a medical mask you’re supposed to use as follows: Colored side out if you’re sick and do not want to spread your germs around. White side out (this is the filter part) for when you’re not sick and you want to stop germs from getting in... The Nurse said the entire doctors office never knew either, until the supplier sent them “proper directions” for them this past week! Hope this helps!”

The image does not give any information about the name of the nurse, the doctor’s office or the supplier. It also does not credit any health organization or office for these directions.

A video released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows Dr April Baller, who works with the Infection Prevention & Control in the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, explaining how to wear a medical mask correctly. In the video she says: “identify the inside of the mask, which is usually the white side.” ( here

An infographic that WHO has available on its website explains how to wear a medical mask safely. It says to “ensure the colored-side faces outwards.” (

Seto Wing Hong, a co-director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, also explains in a Bloomberg QuickTake News video how to correctly wear a medical mask ( here ). He explains: “You see it has a blue color on the outside because it’s waterproof. And then you have white on the inside which is absorbent. So, if I cough, it absorbs it. So, you got to wear it like this, the blue on the outside, the white on the inside.” 

While the blue and white sides of a medical mask serve different purposes, they don’t need to be worn according to one’s COVID-19 status.

Medical mask producers confirmed this claim is untrue. Mike Bowen, Executive Vice President of Prestige Ameritech, told Reuters via email he was unaware of any official guidance in “which each side has a different function” and that the blue side of the mask faces out. A spokesperson for 3M told Reuters via email that their experts advised, “Surgical masks should be worn with the white cover web against the face and the colored side of the mask facing outward.”


False claim. Users should identify the inside of the mask, which is usually white. It should be worn with the color side facing out and the white side facing in.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here  .