“This Is Not an Approved Mask” Challenge

HeroX wants to see your images of the silliest and least practical masks from the early days of the pandemic. Join this mini-challenge!

This challenge is closed

HeroX Mini-Challenge Badge

This challenge is closed



Let’s look forward to a healthier future by first looking back and having a good laugh at the creative ways that people addressed the face mask and respirator shortage in the early days of the pandemic.  Submit an image of you, or taken by you, from around the time of the pandemic that shows an impractical or otherwise humorous solution to this shortage.  Up to 10 submitters of the top funniest images will each receive a special HeroX badge to display on their user profiles.




We all remember the mask and respirator shortage in the early days of the pandemic: desperate times called for desperate measures!  But now that the supply chain is catching up with demand and legitimate products are plentiful and easy to obtain, we’re taking a light-hearted look back at how people used to create their own masking solutions. Help us build a collection of the craziest, most innovative, and just out-of-this-world examples to hit the streets.

All you have to do is submit an image of you, or one taken by you, that shows a chuckle-inducing alternative to the masks and respirators that are so readily available now.  

HeroX mini-challenges are fast and furious.  You have just a few weeks to get your submission in, so don’t wait to get started!

And if you’re interested in another more serious challenge about identifying counterfeit N95s, check out the NIOSH Counterfeit N95 Challenge.


This challenge will recognize up to 10 individual winners.  In addition to general glory and bragging rights, winners of this challenge will receive a special HeroX Mini-Challenge Badge that displays on your user profile.

Multiple submissions are permitted, but participants may only submit up to 5 different images, with each image being a separate submission.  Submissions from the same participant are expected to be substantially different from one another, and duplicative submissions will be screened out.  Images must be of you or taken by you and you should have the consent of anyone else appearing in your image for the purposes of this challenge.  Images simply taken from the internet will be screened out.  Participants may only win one prize.

Submissions will be evaluated and winners selected by a HeroX judging panel.


Open to submissionsSeptember 22, 2022
Submission deadlineOctober 27, 2022 @ 5pm ET
JudgingOctober 27, 2022 to November 3, 2022
Winners AnnouncedNovember 10, 2022


How do I win?

To be eligible for an award, your submission must, at minimum:

  • Be an image of you, or be taken by you.
    • If this is a photo taken by you, please get permission from the subject!
  • Show an alternative to surgical masks, N95s, or KN95s.

Judging Criteria

Section DescriptionOverall Weight
HumorThe alternative mask/respirator design is silly or the picture itself is humorous.50
NoveltyThe alternative mask/respirator design is unexpected, clever, or unique.50


Submission Form

Your imageUpload one image 
PermissionDo you have the permission of anyone appearing in your image for this picture to be submitted to this challenge? You must acquire their permission for your entry to be eligible.
Supporting description (optional)Optional - provide a description about what inspired your mask or respirator alternative, or why you took the submitted image.



Participation Eligibility:

The challenge is open to all adult individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English. Teams may consist of no more than 3 individuals.

Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see:

No specific qualifications or expertise in the field of personal protective equipment is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions. 

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement

Final determination of eligibility is at the sole discretion of the Challenge Sponsor.

Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the website, on or before 5:00pm Eastern Time on October 13th, 2022. All uploads must be in an accepted image format. No late submissions will be accepted.

This challenge allows up to five submission[s] per individual/team. Should you have multiple entries to submit to this challenge, they will be considered separately. Whether or not multiple entries from the same individual or team may be chosen for a prize is up to the discretion of the Challenge Sponsor. You are not required to submit multiple entries, if that option is available.

Intellectual Property Rights:

As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – Innovator will retain all intellectual property rights to their ideas.

Awarding of the Prize:

The Individual Submitter or Team Captain is automatically designated as the Recipient of the prize. Where possible, the HeroX official user badge will be awarded to all eligible members of the winning team(s).View our Knowledge Base article here for how to change Team Captains.


Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by a group of judges from HeroX.


Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to adhere to the HeroX Intellectual Integrity Policy and promises to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law. 

Challenge Updates

Congratulations to the Winners!

Nov. 10, 2022, 10 a.m. PST by Shane Jenkins

We are excited to announce the winners of the "This is Not an Approved Mask" challenge! HeroX wants to thank everyone who participated in the challenge and shared their creative solutions. The very first days of the pandemic were a concerning time for people all over the globe, and many responded by assembling masks with the materials around them. Thankfully these make-shift masks are becoming less and less necessary as time goes on, so let's look back at the winners' creations with gratitude and good humor, acknowledging the function they served, whether literal or comical.

The challenge winners will all be the inaugural recipients of HeroX's  mini-challenge prize badge, which will soon be viewable on their user profiles. This special badge was made specifically for rapid-pace challenges that are hosted directly by HeroX.


  • "COVID-19 IS NOT THE END AS WE KNOW IT" by Ken & Judy O'Neill

    The inspiration was from Dr Who and the "Cyberman".
    The "glasses" and "eyes" is what happens when you take the "air' out of the mask.........not a good idea but all in good fun from the folks in Australia . (Down Under).
  • GET OFF ME by Vale & Aranza

    "Get off me", a project inspired by all the challenges that Covid-19 brought to our lives. From living with a distance between all of us, not being able to see our loved ones, not being able to hang out with our friends and enjoy life as we were used to. “Get off me” in Spanish “Aléjate de mí”, is aimed at this virus that changed our lives. Because we don't want it back, but for it to know that if it comes back, it will find us stronger than ever.
  • Sponge job mask by Isaac Mugabi

    I met this construction worker on 15th June 2021 after picking his lunch from the local trading center. I was inspired to take this picture because the first thing that stood out to me was my thought that he might have had difficulty breathing in this mask. I also had questions about why he wasn't provided a proper mask by his employers. Anyway, we had a good chat and I politely asked to take this photograph, to which he obliged. It was a difficult time for him, but we shared some humor.
  • Water Bottle Mask by mbarek elayboud


  • POT's Covid by Jessica Naranjo

    POT's Covid, like "POSTCOVID", it's just a word game and humor. Wearing a pot on my head so I won't catch virus. You can listen around you, without take the pot up from your head; walk while you watch your steps, and speak too. This may be a silly idea though, but crazy and funny.
  • Seamless Combination by RuthEA Name

    The below piece of my initial PPE was my neck warmer. And the top… Well I know that it looks like a winter cap. (Actually, it is…) But at the time, I had no idea if my hair could keep the virus… Anyways, I hooked both around the back, and I did my best to make it seamless.
    This photo was taken on March 6th, 2020, and I used it to inform my parents of the possibilities available to protect themselves. Since France had prohibited all sales of masks before I could buy them, this was my plan B.
  • Palm Mask by Sara Elsafty

    A man used palm fronds and made his own distinctive mask.

A warm "Thank You" again to everyone who participated, and let's give the winners a round of applause!

Thank you for your submissions!

Oct. 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

Just like that, it’s over! Thank you to all of you who sent in submissions. We can’t wait to finally see what kinds of crazy ideas each of you created.

Crowdsourcing would be nothing without the crowd — that’s you! So thank you for your time and effort.

Congratulations on completing your submission. This is not an easy process, and you deserve a pat on the back for your hard work and dedication. Thank you!

Eight Hours Left

Oct. 27, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

You now have less than a day left to submit to the "This is Not and Approved Mask" challenge. Now’s the time to make final changes and send it off!

Please remember that the deadline is October 27, 2022 at 5:00pm Eastern Time. We don’t accept any late submissions, so do your best to get it in ahead of time.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with! Best of luck and be silly!


Two Day Warning

Oct. 25, 2022, 10 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

The time has almost come! You now have two days left to finish your "This is Not and Approved Mask" submission. The final submission is due on October 27, 2022 at 5:00pm Eastern Time.

We don’t accept any late submissions, so now is the time to make sure that everything is good to go. We are also more than happy to answer your last-minute questions about the submission process. Post a question in the forum or leave a comment on this post, and we will be in touch with you.

We can’t wait to see the final photos. Good luck!

One Week Warning

Oct. 20, 2022, 10 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

This is your one week warning! The final submission deadline is October 27, 2022 at 5:00pm Eastern Time (New York/USA). No late submissions will be accepted, so make sure to give yourself plenty of buffer time.

If there’s anything you’re unsure about, there is still time to ask for help. Post on the discussion forum or leave a comment on this post. We’ll keep an eye out for your questions.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. Best of luck finishing up your submissions!