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If someone had told you this time last year that you’d be regularly sporting a face mask in 90 degree heat, you probably wouldn’t have believed them. But here we are.
There are so many factors that go into finding the perfect face mask, and breathability is obviously one of them. Still, while you’re searching for the best mask for your needs, you want to make sure you get one that’ll offer the right level of protection.
“Not all masks are created equal,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. “The point of the mask is obliviated if it doesn’t provide a proper barrier.”
In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines on the best kind of fabric face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The WHO recommends that masks have at least three layers, and ideally contain the following:
An inner layer made from absorbent material, like cotton
A middle barrier or filter layer, made of non-woven material like polypropylene
An outer, non-absorbent layer, made of a material like polyester or a polyester blend
The WHO discourages the use of masks made of stretchy materials, silk or gauze due to their poor filtration. But, again, “you need to be able to breathe through it,” Suzanne Willard, a clinical professor and associate dean for global health at the Rutgers School of Nursing, tells Yahoo Life. She recommends looking for breathable masks made with close-weave fabrics, where you can’t see through the mask.
And, of course, once you have your mask, Adalja says it’s important to wear it correctly, making sure that it covers your nose and mouth.
Keep in mind that wearing any kind of mask is going to be less comfortable than wearing no mask—but it’s still important to wear one. With that in mind, here are eight breathable masks that’ll protect against COVID-19.
At five masks for $12.50, this set from Old Navy is a steal. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, they’re crafted of soft, breathable 3-ply cotton poplin and are secured with elastic ear loops. Old Navy also has face mask sets for kids, in case you want to stock up for back to school.
You probably don’t think of Vistaprint when it comes to face coverings, but the company has been churning out durable, reusable and breathable masks practically since the pandemic began. The masks, which come in a slew of different designs, have an outer polyester layer and an internal filter for added protection. Adjustable ear loops help you get the perfect fit.
These breathable three-layer face masks from athleisure company Athleta are hugely popular. They contain a polyester and spandex outer layer, as well as a cotton inner layer for extra protection. Adjustable ear loops and a built-in wire around the nose allow for a tight-yet-comfortable fit. Keep in mind that this five-pack is currently on backorder, but it’ll be available to ship around August 17.
Vida’s mask is made up of two layers of breathe-easy cotton. It also has a multi-layer fiber and carbon mask for added filtration. (Vida recommends replacing your filter every seven days.) The mask has a hidden metal nosepiece for a snug fit, along with adjustable ear straps.
Each mask in this two-pack is made from Onzie’s up-cycled activewear material. The masks have two layers—a protective spandex outer shell and a breathable inner shell—along with a filter pocket for the option to add in a third level of protection. Spandex ear loops make it easy to secure, and a slew of different patterns ensure you’ll find the mask pack that’s right for you.
Crafted from organic quilter’s cotton, these masks help block respiratory droplets while still remaining breathable. Each mask—there are three in the pack—contains an adjustable strap and nose wire for a good fit. There’s also a pocket for a filter, a feature you’ll want to use, given that these masks only have two layers of fabric.
Sanctuary’s face masks are made of muslin, a highly breathable, lightweight fabric. They also have a removable filter, along with a metal nose bridge and elastic ear loops for a tight fit. Heads up: This three-pack is on backorder, but will be available to ship by August 7.
This breathable mask is an Etsy bestseller. Crafted of three layers—a soft inner cotton, outer denim and non woven, filter-like fabric in between—it meets the WHO’s criteria for masks. The masks also have a metal nose bridge and adjustable ear loops for a snug fit.
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