Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended everyone wear a face mask in public to slow the spread of coronavirus. The guidelines caused a surge in demand for face masks, which brands met by launching their own variations of the new daily essential—and it quickly became clear not every mask was the same.
Depending on the construction of the mask, it fell away from your face or hugged it tightly. Some designs caused pesky behind-the-ear irritation, while others left skin inflamed and acne-prone. But the worst offenders were masks created with thick fabrics that barely allowed any airflow, turning your breath into a blazing furnace.
Luckily, there's a revolution of breathable face masks that take into account high summer temperatures. These designs use lightweight or sweat-wicking fabrics that don't restrict airflow to keep you cool and comfortable during hours of wear. They also come in less traditional constructions—like scarves—that expand the surface area of fabric filtering your breath to prevent heat from building up around your mouth and nose.
There is one downside to these breathable picks: They typically offer less filtration, and according to Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network and clinical assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, this could increase your chances of contracting COVID-19 or an upper respiratory infection. However, she says, "a breathable mask is still better than no mask."
It's also worth noting most cloth face coverings won't prevent you from contracting the novel coronavirus. (Only an N95 design, which should be reserved for medical professionals, provides that level of protection.) Rather, face masks prevent the wearer from infecting others when asymptomatic, making it just as important a precaution as social distancing and washing your hands.
"Surgical masks and cloth coverings can reduce viral transmission by 70% if everyone wears them and wears them correctly over [their] nose and mouth," Dr. Parikh adds, emphasizing the importance of not only wearing a mask, but wearing it properly.
As a result, if you're wearing a mask with added layers of filtration but keep dropping it to your chin for a breath of fresh air, you're better off opting for a more breathable choice. Not only are they more comfortable, so you fidget with them less, but many are also lightweight enough to wear during outdoor workouts. Shop our top breathable face masks below.
1. EnerPlex Premium Face Mask
enerplex breathable face mask pack of 3 , the reusable face mask has stretchy ear loops and comes in 4 different sizes to ensure it properly fits your face.
Available at amazon.com, 3 for $19
2. Koral Netz Face Mask
Face Masks Koral launched its first face mask last month with a sleek design that maximizes comfort and breathability. It's made with the brand's unique Netz performance fabric, an antimicrobial blend of polyamide and spandex that's fast-drying, stretchy, and breathable.
Available at koral.com, $20
3. VTER Cotton Breathing Mask
Face Masks couldn't stop raving about how easy it is to breathe wearing these affordable masks. They're made with a blend of 35% cotton and 65% polyester that blocks dust, dirt, and pollen while also absorbing excess moisture. Better yet, reviewers agree the fabric is extra soft—and it's even used to craft the ear loops to prevent uncomfortable behind-the-ear irritation.
Available at amazon.com, 5 for $20
4. Onzie Mindful Mask
Face Masks it's the "best mask" they've purchased during the pandemic.
Available at onzie.com, 2 for $24
Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask or thenxtstop.com, $10
6. StringKing 3-Layer Face Mask
Face Masks , 50 for $38
7. The Purple Face Mask
Face Masks to create the face covering. It then takes temperature-neutral Hyper-Elastic Polymer from the ergonomic neck-support Purple Pillow to create shape-holding elastic ear loops that won't chafe your ears. The result is a lightweight, machine-washable option that promises the same level of comfort as the rest of the brand's lineup.
Available at purple.com, 2 for $20
8. Sanctuary Summer Lightweight PPE Masks
Workout Face Masks to include limited-edition summer masks. The new lightweight style emphasizes breathability, with a 2-layer design made from cotton and muslin fabric in fun tropical prints. Expected to ship the week of August 3, they're made with an adjustable nose wire and elastic ear loops.
Available at sanctuaryclothing.com, 5 for $28
9. Reebok Face Covers
Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask , 3 for $20
10. Perry Ellis Woven Face Mask
Perry Ellis Cotton Face Mask 6 Pack , 6 for $30
11. Vida Protective Mask
Workout Face Masks —made with a meltblown polymer filter and carbon activated fabric—or skip it altogether for unrestricted airflow. The standout design also has adjustable cotton ear straps, so you can avoid painful behind-the-ear-irritation.
Available at shopvida.com, $10
12. Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask
Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask first launched its face masks back in April, but gave them a colorful upgrade last week with a new tie-dye design. Luckily, the new release doesn't just look like summer, but is actually ideal for hot weather, too. It's made from 100% cotton that's safe to wash and gentle to the touch. Better yet, a portion of all proceeds from each mask purchase goes to the ACLU.
Available at everlane.com, $10
13. Old Navy Triple-Layer Face Mask
Face Masks .
Available at oldnavy.com, 5 for $13
14. Etsy Face Masks
Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask from sellers around the world—and the top pick is from ToughCookingClothing. It's made with a soft cotton-blend material that comes in 10 colors, from a light purple to a burgundy. Shoppers say it's comfortable, durable, and affordable.
Available at etsy.com, $6
15. Athleta Made to Move Mask
Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask , 3 for $25
16. UA Sportmask
Workout Face Masks , $30
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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