Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first advised Americans to wear face coverings whenever and wherever it’s hard to maintain social distancing, it has released updated information about the types of face masks people should wear — and which ones to avoid.
Are face masks with valves safe?
The CDC’s most recent guidance focuses on exhalation valves: “Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others,” the CDC posted on its site. According to the agency, the purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others, thus decreasing the possible spread of coronavirus. But masks with one-way valves allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, the updated guidance notes, adding this can result in expelled respiratory droplets reaching others. Overall, the CDC says masks with exhalation valves don’t prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.
- Masks must fit snugly (but comfortably) against your face
- Masks must be secured with ties or ear loops
- Masks must include multiple layers of fabric
- Masks must allow for breathing without restriction
- Masks must be washable without damage or shape change
Reusable cloth masks are sold by many brands these days (and counting) like Crayola and Athleta, as well as at retailers like Amazon and Etsy. If you’re considering replacing your face mask given the CDC’s new guidance or looking for a new one regardless, we’ve compiled the most purchased face masks we’ve covered, in addition to filters and face shields to use alongside them.
Most purchased face masks, shields and filters
Adidas Face Covers (sold out, in stock “soon”)
These dual-layered polyester face masks are made from 40-percent recycled materials. The machine-washable masks come in two sizes – extra small/small and medium/large – and are sold in packs of three so you always have a backup.
Anthropologie Sanctuary Reusable Face Mask (available Sept. 3)
Anthropologie’s face masks have an adjustable metal nose bridge that can conform to your face. They come in packs of five and each mask boasts a different design, from cheetah print to floral patterns. The masks are made from lightweight cotton muslin, have elastic ear loops and are machine-washable.
Athleta Made to Move Face Mask (ships Aug. 25)
These lightweight face masks were designed to be worn while exercising and feature a mesh pocket to insert a filter. The masks have soft elastic ear loops, as well as an interchangeable heap strap that you can position at the nape of your neck and the crown of your head. You can also wrap the head strap around a ponytail, which helps hold the mask in place during high-impact activities. Masks are sold in sets of three, and come in two color combinations: Oceanic Teal/Becca Blue/Serendipity and Agate Purple/Canyon Red/Flora.
The inner layer of Back Mason’s face masks is treated with an anti-microbial coating. The masks are machine-washable, and the antimicrobial coating lasts up to 30 washes. They’re sold in packs of five, or you can buy them in a bulk pack of 250. For each mask sold, Buck Mason will donate one to those in need.
Casetify’s face masks are made from breathable cotton and have elastic ear straps. They come with two filters you can insert into the built-in pocket, too. The masks come in four colors – Black, White, Pink and Blue – and can be purchased singularly, in packs of 3 and 10, or in bulk. For each mask sold, Casetify will donate one to a health care worker in need.
Anna Davies, a research facilitator who previously worked in the Infectious Diseases department at the University of Cambridge, previously told NBC News Shopping that getting a child-friendly mask probably increases compliance with wearing one. These masks feature designs like cats, mustaches, dogs and princesses, which add a touch of fun while still being protective. Masks are made from two layers of cotton and are machine-washable.
Hedley & Bennett designed these face masks with the help of medical professionals, and recently improved them by adding reinforced stitching and a flexible metal nose insert. The masks have a pocket where you can insert a filter and are made from cotton fabric. These masks must be hand-washed. They are sold singularly, as well as in packs of three or 20. Masks come in a variety of colors, from Grey Chambray to Red Oxford.
These filters can be inserted into cloth face masks for extra protection. They’re made from five layers of activated carbon, non-woven and melt-blown filter cloth, which are designed to filter out about 99 percent of particles like pollen, smoke, dust, chemicals, particles and fumes. This pack comes with 20 filters, plenty to use with your collection of face masks.
These face shields are made of transparent, recyclable plastic and can protect your face from spray, splatter and dust. They cover your entire face, and feature a soft sponge material that sits on the headband for added comfort. The shield’s elastic band can be easily adjusted to fit different size heads, too. Shields can be washed with water or disinfectant, and they come in packs of two.
These machine-washable masks come in packs of three. They have a tight fit that conforms to the face, as well as stretchy ear loops. The masks are made from two layers of recycled polyester, making them soft and breathable. Reebok’s face masks come in size medium/large.