Need a mask? With so many different options on the market, it’s hard to tell which ones are best suited for the job. There’s lots to consider: fabric, fit, number of layers, breathability and more.
Luckily, Amazon has a bunch of its most popular face coverings in stock, from disposables and KN95 masks to washable cloth versions and cooling options.
It’s important to know what kinds of fabrics work best, though. According to a study from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, cloth face masks made from fabrics with tight weaves, like cotton, natural silk, flannel and chiffon, can provide significant protection by filtering out aerosol particles.
Combining fabrics—high thread count cotton with two layers of silk or two layers of chiffon, for example—is also effective, according to the study. What’s not great? Porous fabrics and low thread count cotton (80 thread count was tested). Fit is critical, as well. The study found that big gaps can lead to a 60 percent decrease in filtration efficiency.
Experts say that N-95 masks are the most effective against coronavirus, but since those should be reserved for frontline workers, they recommend their little sister, the KN95 mask, for high risk situations, like traveling, when social distancing is not possible.
“The sense is that these are better than the common surgical mask, which filters anywhere from 40 to 75 percent of particulates, depending on type and fit,” says Dr. Kavita Patel, managing director of clinical transformation at The Brookings Institution’s Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform. “Compare this to cloth masks, which optimally can filter about 60 percent of particles.”
We found the best masks in each category, so scroll down and mask up.
Best disposable: Jointown Face Mask, Pack of 50
A 50-pack of these disposable masks costs just $20—that’s 39 cents a pop. They sport three layers, and include a metal nose clip to keep them snug and protect your glasses from the dreaded ‘breath fog.’
N-95 masks are in short supply and reserved for medical workers, but one nurse says Jointown face masks do the trick. “Exact same masks we use at the hospital,” says the shopper. “Checked the box, literally the same brand.”
Shop it: Jointown Face Mask, Pack of 50, $19.50 (was $27), amazon.com
Best KN95 with breathing valve: Wenime KN95 Mask, Pack of 10
For those of you who struggle to breathe in standard masks, this cone-shaped KN95 mask with a filter is for you. It’s made with multiple layers of non-woven material, allowing for breathability and optimal filtration. A layer of activated carbon filters out dust, pollen, gas, odors and other fine particles — and they are incredibly similar to N-95 masks.
The only difference is KN95 masks are authorized by the Chinese government, while N-95 masks are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
This one’s also great to wear in high temperatures or high humidity without sweating or feeling suffocated. Get geared up for summer.
Shop it: Wenime KN95 Masks, Pack of 10, $33, amazon.com
If you want a reusable mask that won’t overpower your face (or outfit!), we found a four-pack of minimal face masks that fit perfectly into a simple, chic aesthetic. Plus, over 880 reviewers say they go with everything.
Amazon’s Quality Durables 4-Pack Reusable Face Covering comes in sizes for adults and kids and is made from 100 percent cotton. The masks feature two layers of lightweight jersey, per the CDC’s recommendation, and a 3D shape for a snug but comfortable fit that doesn’t hinder breathing.
“I work in real estate so I've been ordering different masks until I find the right coverage to prepare me once I get back to work,” writes a reviewer who’s found their perfect match. “These are cotton and the L/XL size is definitely comfy for a plus size gal with a fuller face.”
Shop it: Quality Durables 4-Pack Reusable Face Covering, $18, amazon.com
Best antimicrobial: WD37U Reusable Cotton Face Mask, Pack of 50
This reusable face mask from WD37U features an antimicrobial coating, super-soft material and ridiculously low price. You can snag a pack of 50 (yes, 50—and they’re not disposable) for just $31. That breaks down to 62 cents per mask.
With elastic ear loops, the masks are made from 100 percent jersey cotton and feature three layers, so they comply with the CDC’s guidelines for face masks. The antimicrobial finish kills germs and bacteria on contact for added protection. Since they’re machine washable, you can reuse them again and again — and the antimicrobial coating lasts up to 10 washes.
“They are very comfortable to wear. The size is good for an average adult face and the masks fit me nicely. I can breathe through them without too much effort,” shared a five-star shopper. “The masks also passed the light test that doctors recommended. If you hold up a cloth mask and light can go through all the layers easily, it’s not protective enough.”
Shop it: WD37U Reusable Cotton Face Mask, Pack of 50, $31, amazon.com
Best cooling #1: Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter
When temperatures rise, that’s when the self-cooling gaiters really spring into action. You read that right: self-cooling. On those really brutal summer days, just carry a water bottle around to douse the cloth accessory, then wring it out and snap it three times to activate it. Just think: a mask you won’t be itching to rip off. And one that blocks out 98 percent of UV rays to boot.
The machine-washable gaiters can be worn in 12 different configurations, including as a head wrap and a makeshift hood, so they’re great ‘anytime’ investments.
“This is now my go to face covering when I go out for a walk or a hike. I can put it down around my neck and quickly pull it up over my face whenever I encounter someone,” confirmed one pleased shopper. “It’s easier to breathe through than some other masks. I certainly wouldn’t rely on this in a hospital setting, but it’s great for being out in public and being respectful of the need to protect everyone.”
Shop it: Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter, $20 (was $25), amazon.com
Best cooling #2: Tough Headwear 12-in-1 Cooling Face Mask UPF 50
Reviewers swear by this face covering for keeping cool in the summer. It’s designed to be soaked in cold water and then snapped, which activates cooling. It retains its chill even on extra-hot days.
“If you sweat too much while wearing a face mask, this product is for you.” writes a happy shopper. “We now have to wear a face covering at work and I sweat A LOT. Not only does this work to keep me cold, it's also very comfortable to wear...and it works for several hours.”
Shop it: Tough Headwear 12-in-1 Cooling Face Mask UPF 50, $12 (was $17), amazon.com
Best face shield: Sunzel Face Shields Set
Public health experts are arguing that face shields may be a good tool in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. A cough simulator study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that 4 percent of particles produced by a cough can get under a face shield right after the cough happens. However, 96 percent didn’t.
While it’s possible to wear a face shield alone, it’s especially effective when you pair it with a face mask, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. “A face shield with a mask is better than a mask alone for decreasing the risk of COVID-19,” he says. “When I see patients with COVID-19, I always wear eye protection.”
Meet the No. 1 best-selling face shields on Amazon. The Sunzel Face Shields set offers 10 anti-fog face shields and five reusable glasses for additional eye protection. The shields easily tack onto the glasses for a snug fit, and wrap around your face to guard against droplets and saliva.
Shop it: Sunzel Face Shields, Set of 10, $35, amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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