What is airsoft eye and face protection?
Eye and face protection is critical when playing airsoft. The first piece of airsoft gear to get is your goggles. Goggles need to be ANZI Z87+ or greater to withstand the impact of airsoft BBs. In addition, they also need to have a full seal against your face, as well as a retention strap to keep them in place. There are many different brands and types of goggles on the market. The most important thing when selecting a goggle is to ensure that it meets the safety requirements mentioned above and is comfortable for you. Impact rated goggles will be a requirement at all airsoft fields.
The next piece of gear is your face shield. Some goggle options come as a full mask with a face shield installed. The other option is to purchase a mesh face shield separately. These are designed to protect the soft tissue on your face as well as your teeth. Recently there have been other offerings that can protect your ears and more of the soft tissue that is not covered by a traditional face shield.
Next to purchasing a quality airsoft gun, investing into good protective gear is an absolute must if you are going to be actively playing airsoft.
Q & A:
Q: Are paintball masks acceptable for airsoft then?
A: Yes. Any legitimate paintball mask company will make designs that meet and exceed the minimum safety requirements for Z87 ANSI.
Q: Why do airsofters choose goggles and a mesh mask over a full mask?
A: This is mainly for comfort reasons. As explained earlier, fog is an issue with any kind of eye protection and can be a big liability. Even some of the best masks may still have this issue as everyone's body is different. The mesh mask allows you to breath freely and not trap your hot breath which is what makes your goggles fog in the first place.
Q: Can I run just the goggles in that case?
A: This depends on your local field rules if you can or cannot. If you have the option to go without it, just keep in mind you have zero protection of your face now and your teeth could get chipped or shot out or your face might receive some welts. If you care about your face you should cover it up.
Q: How do I deal with fog if I do cover up my face?
A: There are sprays and wipes you could use to wipe your goggles down to prevent or minimize the fogging.
Q: How do you put on the mesh mask?
A: The typical order we'd recommend is put on your goggles first and your mask second. This might be tricky if you add helmets and ear protection to the mix so this is something you'll have to practice on your own.
Q: The mesh mask is too big for me, how do I make it fit?
A: The standard models of the mesh mask tend to be an all steel mesh unit that is designed to be a one size fits all application. However being they are steel they have a preformed shape. One trick we found to make these masks work better for us is to bend the mesh until it fits the contours of our face better. Keep in mind though that any modifications done to the item including bending it to take a new shape would void your ability to return the product. A new solution has recently become available and that's the hybrid mesh masks. They still have a steel mesh over the mouth and nose area for the most protection but now feature soft sides which not only adds comfort but makes it conform to your face better, small or large faces alike. For a few dollars more we highly recommend the hybrid mesh mask over the standard ones.