The 16 Best Face Masks You’ll Actually Want to Wear
Because masks only work if you wear them, here are the ones you'll reach for every time.
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Wear your mask
Because face masks can help prevent you from getting or spreading COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.” In fact, face masks have become part of the new normal.
According to Denzil Seedial, MD, a board-certified doctor in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care at PCSI in Florida, “Mask wearing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and stem this public health crisis.”
There are so many masks out there, though, and, according to Dr. Seedial, not all masks are created equal. “Look for a cloth mask with at least three layers,” he recommends. “If it has two layers, make sure there’s a filter inside a pocket between them to add that extra dimension of protection.” Dr. Seedial warns against single layer masks, gaiters, and masks which have openings for you to eat or drink—all of which have been proven to be not very effective.
Also, a face mask is not going to be effective if it’s not worn properly. Your mask should fit snugly but comfortably over your nose, mouth, and chin. A moldable nosepiece can improve the seal, and sturdy elastic ear loops will securely anchor it. Dr. Seedial recommends switching out masks every day and storing them in a paper bag until they can be washed. Ideally, they should be washed with hot water and dried on high heat after each use. Be sure to avoid these 11 common mask mistakes, too.
Here are some of the best masks we’ve found to keep you comfortable while keeping you safe.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
Best basic face mask: SonoMask by Sonovia
Yes, this mask is expensive. But it’s also been proven to have a remarkable 99 percent success rate in eliminating the virus, making it worth every penny. Plus, it lasts 55 washes without losing potency, it’s super comfortable—which means you will wear it—and it comes with its own protective pouch to keep it fresh. You can buy it in multi- and even family packs so, ultimately, it just may be the most cost-effective—and actually effective—mask you can buy. Make sure you always follow these etiquette rules when wearing a face mask.
Best breathable face mask: Sea to Summit Barrier Face Mask
This unisex mask is available in three sizes and is thermoformed for a seamless profile that allows you to breathe so comfortably, you may forget you’re wearing it. Made with brushed and quilted 50D polyester stretch-knit fabric, it fits like a second skin. Its quilted three-layer construction is designed to be ultra-breathable so you can literally breathe easy. Here are some eye-opening facts that will convince you to wear a face mask.
Best fitting face mask: Marcellamoda Designer Face Mask with Filter, 2-pack
Marcellamoda clothing and accessories are known for their “Minimalism with an edge,” and they’ve brought that same design aesthetic to their well-tailored face masks. Made with two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric that is OEKO-TEX Certified (which means that no harmful-to-human chemicals were used in its production, dyeing, and finishing processes), they also come with a washable filter to insert into the pocket. The perfect fit is made possible by a nose wire made of a non-corrosive nickel twist tie for stability on your face and round elastic ear bands, which have extra length so you can tie a knot wherever it feels best. They come in packages of two so you’ll have a clean one to wear while you’re washing the other one.
Best budget face mask: Universal Thread Women’s Fabric Face Masks, 2 pack
At $2.00 apiece, these Target-brand masks are a deal. Made of two layers of woven, 100 percent cotton fabric with a pocket for a filter, they’re available in two sizes and a handful of colors. They can be machine washed and tumble dried and are great for keeping in your car or purse so you’ll always have a mask available when you need one. Here’s how to make your own DIY face mask.
Best face mask for cold weather: Masks2helpNYC Knit Fall Winter Face Mask
This bestseller is like the mask version of your favorite sweater. Handmade of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent acrylic, the double-layer fabric is available in nine different colors and features an insert for a filter. You’ll feel even warmer and cozier knowing that a portion of sales is donated to charity. Here are more of the best cold weather face masks.
Best face mask for acne-prone skin: CILQUE 100% Mulberry Silk Face Mask
Masks can be harsh, with many fabrics too abrasive for sensitive skin. This luxurious face mask, on the other hand, is a real treat for your face. Hypoallergenic and breathable, it’s made from 100 percent Mulberry Silk, allowing it to glide over your skin, preventing acne and breakouts. It features a filter pocket as well as an adjustable ear loop and nose clip for a custom fit. Because silk keeps you cool in the summer and warm during the winter, it’s a great mask for all seasons.
Best face mask for a dressy occasion: Nicole Miller Velvet Face Mask
If you’re attending an intimate, socially distant affair this holiday season, you need a mask to match the occasion. This sophisticated two-layer velvet mask by designer Nicole Miller features a moldable nose wire and pleats to ensure a snug fit, and it has an internal pocket for a filter. It comes in black, navy, and burgundy, and a portion of sales goes to the fight against COVID-19. Here are more stylish masks you can buy online.
Best face mask for narrow faces: Graf Lantz Petite Zenbu Organic Cotton Face Mask
Graf Lantz’s Zenbu masks include a dart at the side for a closer fit, making it ideal for narrower faces. Its petite size is unique among masks, allowing those with smaller faces to buy beautiful adult masks that actually fit rather than have to settle for those made for kids. These come in a dozen colors, from neutrals to brights.
Best face mask for long-wear: Livinguard Safety Mask 3-Layer Face Mask
Designed to be comfortable for extended periods of wear, this durable cloth mask provides three layers of protection and can be used daily and washed weekly for six months without losing its efficacy. Adjustable straps with closures ensure a perfect fit of this mask, which has passed extensive skin safety testing in both the United States and Europe, and which is available in four colors. Wear one when shopping because these stores won’t let you in without a mask.
Best face mask for kids: Happy Masks Kids Pro
It takes a lot to get a child to wear a mask without complaining but Happy Masks have a lot to offer. Aptly named, they feature a trademarked “parrot beak” shape which leaves extra space in front of your child’s nose and mouth so they don’t feel closed in or claustrophobic. They’re lightweight and comfortable and come in adorable designs. Most importantly, they’re designed by a scientist so you know they work, providing over 99.9 percent filtration against viruses and other pollutants down to 0.3 microns in size. Luckily, they also come in adult sizes. To add a little levity, here are some funny face masks.
Best faces masks for toddlers: School MaskPack Crayola Kids Face Mask, set of 5
With an attached bead, even little hands can adjust these child-size masks for the perfect fit. They’re soft and breathable, made of 100 percent cotton, and have a built-in nose clip to prevent masks from slipping off, even when they’re tearing it up on the playground. Best of all, as one would expect from Crayola, the masks come in a rainbow hue of colors; they come in a set of five so there’s one for every school day. They even come with a mesh bag for laundering.
Best face mask if you wear glasses: Outdoor Research Face Mask Kit
If you wear glasses, you’ve probably had them fog up when you wear a mask, causing a whole different set of issues. This mask, from the designers who created masks for the Department of Defense, essential workers, and hospital staff, lets you adjust for your unique face size, shape, ears, and glasses, preventing fogginess and allowing you to breathe as though you weren’t wearing a face covering at all. In addition to the roomy design and nose wire for custom fitting, the mask boasts a filter that surpasses ASTM lab testing standards, filtering greater than 95 percent of virus, bacteria, and particles. You can also buy an inexpensive spray to keep your glasses fog-free.
Best face mask to buy in bulk: Vida Protective Mask, set of 8
Vida’s Protective Mask is made of two layers of 100 percent cotton and comes with a five-layered PM2.5 activated carbon filter with two layers of melt-blown polypropylene. Adjustable straps and a hidden, integrated metal nose piece ensure a snug fit for solid protection and comfort so you’ll want to buy these in bulk for your whole family. Choose from a single mask, a pair, a four-pack or eight-pack, in your choice of warm, classic, or pastel hues. Buying in bulk is a great idea so you can wash your face mask after each wearing.
Best reversible face mask: Martex Health Cozy Cabin Reversible Triple Layer Face Masks with Silverbac Antimicrobial Technology, set of 3
This trio of masks is really the equivalent of buying half a dozen since each one is reversible. Triple-layered in cotton and silver-infused polyester, and featuring a 100 percent polypropylene inner layer, each one gives you the option of wearing a solid or pretty print. They’re available in youth, standard, and oversized and come in a variety of designs. Be sure to stay away from the worst masks for COVID-19 protection.
Best face mask for giving back: Graf Lanz Shinyu Organic Cotton Face Mask
This simple, sophisticated mask features two layers of 100 percent organic cotton and a built-in filter pocket, and for every mask sold, Graf Lantz donates ten meals to Feeding America. “Shinyu” translates to “close friend” in Japanese, and, even when you can’t get close, the name reminds you why you’re wearing it. The masks are available in seven colors and your choice of over-ear or overhead straps. Charity minded shoppers will want to check out these gifts that give back.
Best face mask for working out: AirPop Active
Providing a serious line of defense while allowing for unparalleled breathability, this mask from the award-winning brand, AirPop, was designed for high-intensity activity. It’s got a patented seal and frame to ensure a tight but comfortable fit, plus four layers of industry-leading filtration material that helps block 99 percent of harmful particulates. Its superior performance will translate into your own.
- Denzil Seedial, MD, a board-certified doctor in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care at PCSI in Florida
For more ways to stay safe and sane, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.