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- It’s been over a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
- Vaccines are becoming more available, but the CDC recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks.
- We rounded up the all of best places to buy them, how to properly wear them, and how to clean them.
- This article was medically reviewed by Aimee Desrosiers, PA-C, MS, MPH, a practicing infectious diseases physician assistant in Washington, DC.
It’s been a year and four months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Although vaccination numbers are increasing daily, it is still super important to have proper face masks. According to the CDC, it’s recommended that unvaccinated people continue to wear face masks in public. It’s also worth noting that some places like public transportation and private businesses may require you to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
To help you stay healthy, we rounded up all of the articles we’ve written about cloth face masks so far. Below, you’ll find the best places to buy them online as well as what to look for and how to wear them effectively.
Where to buy cloth face masks online:
Etsy has a large selection of homemade masks for sale. It’s a great place to find quality cloth face masks if you haven’t found one by a well-known name brand that you like. Buying from Etsy is also a great way to support small businesses.
Amazon offers a handful of brand name masks, along with generic face masks in large bulk and one-time use surgical masks. Previously, Amazon limited purchasing surgical masks and other medical-grade equipment to verified healthcare workers, but as supply and demand have evened out, you can now pick them up here too.
The Uniqlo Airism Face Mask was a major hit when it launched in Japan early last year. By the end of 2020, it became available in the United States — and it was clear why they were so popular. The masks are lightweight, breathable, and washable. They’re great for wearing in hot weather as well as for double-masking over a surgical mask. They’re available in sizes for adults and kids.
Everlane makes a variety of face masks, from basic cotton options that are great for running quick errands to more fitted options with a contoured nose. The masks are sold in packs of two, three, or five, and each purchase benefits the ACLU.
Best face masks we’ve personally tested
Over the past year, we’ve collectively worn a bunch of masks, whether for personal use or for product reviews. Here, you’ll find all of our favorites and why we like them.
Best masks for double masking and how to do it
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, doubling up on face masks is a good idea and “makes common sense.”
If you already have single-use surgical masks, you should still invest in a good cloth face mask for doubling up. Here, we’ve rounded up the best masks for double-masking and a full explainer on why it’s a good practice.
Kids’ face masks
In some instances, kids need masks too. If you’re searching for masks that fit the faces of your little ones well, you’ll find many affordable options here.
Lightweight face masks
If you’re particularly interested in masks that are easy to wear in the summer, you’ll want to go with one of these lightweight options. Materials like linen or lightweight cotton are still protective but a bit more comfortable to wear in the heat.
Best face masks for working out and running
Whether you’re working out outdoors or in a gym operating at minimal capacity, you’ll want to wear a mask that’s breathable and secure. These are the best options for running and workouts.
Stylish face masks
Many of your favorite brands in the textile industry (including those that normally make clothes, shoes, bags, bedding, and more) are using some of their resources to produce masks. Whether you’re a brand loyalist, you want a mask that matches some of your other wearable items, or you simply want a mask from a brand you’re familiar with, you’ll find it here.
How to solve common annoyances associated with face masks
From eating and drinking to concealing your mouth from those who read lips, there are some annoyances that come with wearing masks. Fortunately, there are also solutions to these problems — and none of them include skipping a mask altogether.
Should I wear a mask even if I’m vaccinated?
According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:
- Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
If it has been less than two weeks since your single-dose shot, or if you still need to get your second dose of a two-dose vaccine, you are not fully protected and should continue all safety precautions outlined by the CDC.
Why is it important to wear a face mask?
Wearing a face mask decreases the likelihood of you potentially transmitting the virus, but if everyone in the community around you wears a mask, then it decreases the likelihood of them transmitting it to you.
According to the CDC’s most recent estimates, 40% of people infected with the new coronavirus may be asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
Whether you’re asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or showing mild symptoms that could be brushed off as a common cold, there’s still a possibility you’ve contracted the new coronavirus and can unknowingly spread it to others. For this reason, the CDC recommends that everyone, not just those who show symptoms, wear a face mask outside the home.
Note that cloth face masks are not medical grade and that additions like filters have not been proven to be any safer or more effective.
What to look for in a face mask, according to the CDC
A snug fit that sits comfortably against the side of the face and does not gap; ties or ear loops that keep it secure; completely covers the nose and mouth, and fits securely under the chin; two or more layers of fabric; breathability without restriction; and the ability to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to its shape.
How to measure your face for a face mask
While most masks are designed to fit most faces, some will come in more specific sizes like small, medium, and large. If you’re stumped on which size to order, the best way to figure it out is to measure your face and then choose based on the brand’s size chart. You’ll want to use a garment tape measure to get these two measurements:
Measurement #1: Across your face — Going over the bridge of your nose and under your eyes, measure the width of your face.
Measurement #2: From nose to chin — Start from the bridge of your nose and go down to the bottom of your chin.
How to properly wear a face mask, as recommended by CDC’s Dr. Paige Armstrong