However, as several experts pointed out in May, shields have some advantages over masks in particular situations, and certainly they provide added benefits when people wear them in addition to masks. If the ear-loop elastics hurt your ears or interfere with hearing aids or headphones: After you’ve worn ear loops for a few hours, that pressure can be painful. Wash your hands afterward. “The fit was already good,” said study co-author Loretta Fernandez, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern. If you consistently find headband and ear-loop fasteners to be too tight, or if they get in the way of hearing aids, consider ties (as on the Rendall Co. mask we like); the drawback, of course, is that ties tend to loosen more easily over the course of the day. The New York Times has a video tutorial. A face shield can protect your eyes and block big droplets from direct-to-the-face coughs and sneezes. Masks with see-through panels (such as these masks) may help with lip reading. Supermarket twist ties can work, too, said Juan Hinestroza, an associate professor of fiber science at Cornell University. We’ve also linked to in-stock masks with design details that the experts we interviewed said they looked for when shopping for themselves, and that we found greatly impact fit and comfort. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you can dry your cloth mask in the dryer or allow it to air dry. As Leonardo Trasande, a professor of environmental medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine, pointed out about cloth masks in general, “If it adds to comfort and more consistently gets people to wear a mask than they otherwise would, that’s an important factor to consider.” See Wirecutter’s guide to the best cloth face masks for kids for our recommendations. That Healthy Skin Glow’s mask, another “Amazon’s Choice” item, satisfied all of our criteria, including ear toggles, yet left side gaps that we couldn’t easily adjust for. For longer-term wear, you may want a mask with ties or headbands, which put less pressure on your ears. We’ll continue to take notes as we slog through supermarket runs, workouts, and (for some of us) daily commutes and eight-hour workdays. Given that it’s one of our shorter masks vertically (6 inches), those with a larger face or higher nose bridge may do better with the masks from Baggu, Graf Lantz, or Rendall Co. Construction: two-ply; organic cotton twill outer layer, organic cotton poplin inner layerSizes and dimensions (height by width): 7 by 8.5 inches (regular, expanded), 3.75 by 8.5 inches (regular, flat); 6.5 by 7.5 inches (petite, expanded), 2.5 by 7.5 inches (petite, flat)Filter: sold separately. We’re currently testing a handful of anti-fog sprays, gels, and wipes against household surfactants (like baby shampoo and bar soap), and we will report back with our findings. In the meantime, view any specific filtration claims with a healthy dose of skepticism. An easy-access pocket in this mask accommodates a filter (not included). Masks also help filter out incoming droplets—including small ones, called aerosols—from other people, thereby protecting the wearer, too. All of these interventions work in tandem to give us the best chance of gaining control of the situation.”, Scientists are in the midst of determining what materials and construction, exactly, make for the most protective cloth face masks. We’ve added two more recommendations—the Baggu Fabric Mask (ear loops) and the Graf Lantz Zenbu Face Mask—as well as our testers’ feedback on the Under Armour Sportsmask. Wash your hands after touching a worn mask and before touching anything else. No need to use hot water: Heat can shrink some natural fabrics, and it can also hasten wear and tear over time, particularly for synthetic materials, said Cornell fiber scientist Juan Hinestroza. Our staff writer for fitness, who took the mask on runs, appreciated the way it tented up over the nose but didn’t find it particularly moisture-wicking (in fact, it felt clammy at times). Wash your mask according to the label. Flaws but not dealbreakers: One panelist reported that the disc-shaped bead toggles felt uncomfortable against their ears, though most of us weren’t bothered by them. For everyday use (say, working in an office), we prefer the lighter-weight plaid fabric version with a filter in it. “I do not have exact data,” he said, “but my feeling is that the wearer will be tired of using a particular mask faster than the mask becoming unusable.”. Just because a mask isn’t one of our picks doesn’t mean it’s no good. Similar in shape to the Baggu, the Graf Lantz has extra material at the top and bottom that provides additional coverage of your nose and chin, even when you open wide. Filter pocket: Some masks, including those we like best, include at least two layers of cloth and a pocket that allows you to bolster your mask with an additional layer or two of your choice, whether it’s another piece of cloth or a sheet of nonwoven material. There are almost as many nonwoven options being studied as cloth-face-mask filters as there are masks. In early summer 2020, when we started our original draft of this guide, we couldn’t recommend the vast majority of masks sold online because they didn’t satisfy our basic criteria—at least two layers, a filter pocket, a nose-bridge wire, adjustability around the head or ears, and machine washability. Use the enclosed back-of-the-head hook, if you like, to relieve ear pressure. The solid-color versions of this two-ply cone mask have the substantive, tight-weave feel of cotton-canvas painter’s pants; the plaids are made of the lighter performance fabric used in the cycling apparel this company is known for. The coronavirus has made face masks a must-have accessory this year. With mask wearing being the new normal, you should have a few on hand. Ear loops made with elastic cords hang more easily on less-rigid ears but may make your ears feel sore after a few hours, especially if they’re too tight. Wear a well-fitted two-layer quilting cotton mask, and those droplets, on average, stop short at a mere 2½ inches. That’s probably why the Northeastern University researchers have found that nylon-stocking seals often make less of a performance difference when layered over cone-shaped masks than when layered over masks of other shapes (though exactly how much of a difference may vary for different people; only one person took part in the study). Moreover, who knows what might have happened had different people with facial shapes and ways of speaking worn the masks. (Microfiber may be more tolerable, though cotton, she said, “is the best material in terms of irritation prevention.”) The American Academy of Dermatology has additional tips. Like the above mask, this pack of three face masks also have nose wires to help keep the fog at bay. Keep your masks accessible. A filter pocket accommodates additional layers of your choice (none included), and there’s a sturdy nose-bridge wire. Notably, the 2-layer heavy flannel mask blocked more sound than the 4-layer light flannel mask. Understandably, most people would prefer a mask that fits like a proverbial glove, traps all incoming and outgoing viruses, lets you gulp in fresh air with abandon, and feels as if it isn’t even there. To add a filter to the pocket, you’ll have to cut your own from sheets of your chosen material. Take note, though, that these work only with generously cut masks, which maintain a good seal even as the central portion is propped up. Masks are typically non-refundable; to ensure a reasonable fit, note a mask’s dimensions and then measure your face, including the inches added by any facial hair and the height of your nose, with a soft tape measure to confirm that the numbers correspond. Nevertheless, the respirator works by providing the user protection from airborne particles, including pet dander, pet hair, leaves, flour, sawing dust, smoke, and other particles. If you find a mask you love, buying multiples of that style may be best. Joanne Chen is Wirecutter’s senior staff writer reporting on sleep and, on occasion, other lifestyle topics. Flaws but not dealbreakers: As with the Kitsbow and Graf Lantz masks, the filter-pocket opening is very small (about 3 inches), and slipping in the filter requires both dexterity and patience. Staying home or staying at least 6 feet apart from others is the best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. ... speaking about her beautiful beaded mask. The latest iteration of the Banana Republic mask still has the same swimsuit-material-like outer layer as the first Banana Republic mask we recommended, but the inner layer is now a cotton-like polyester. A recent trend is cloth masks with clear windows, which let listeners see the talker’s lips and facial expressions. We love that the filter is also generously sized to span the entire mask, more so than that of any of our other picks. Shopping for a cloth face mask is an exercise in compromises. Unlike respirator masks, surgical masks are not meant to create an airtight fit on your face. On average, these masks have garnered a 4.4 out of … A preliminary analysis of 194 countries found that places where masks weren't recommended saw a 55 percent weekly increase in coronavirus deaths per capita after their first case was reported, compared with 7 percent in countries with cultures or guidelines supporting mask-wearing. 2. Masks can be uncomfortable for people who … Slipped in between two or more fabric layers, a nonwoven material complicates the existing maze a virus needs to get through before it can reach your nose and mouth. Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some panelists complained that the fabric popped in and out with every inhale and exhale (a common trade-off when you have a good seal); another said the fabric felt too stiff. “The mask is like an obstacle course for the virus to get through. Thanks to pleats and a spaghetti tie looped into a drawstring system, it can adjust to fit most heads and facial features, including those more generously sized. The mask comes standard with a speech diaphragm. But it’s snagging the 1-micron-or-smaller droplets—which can come from you or others breathing and talking at regular volume—that’s tough. Amplification systems can help people hear and also reduce fatigue for the talker, which will be especially important for teachers dealing with what is already a stressful situation. (Adjustments to the top band are especially crucial for helping the mask fit snugly around your cheeks.) After all, what good is a highly efficient filter if your kid refuses to wear it? It should fit the curves of your face without gaping, and it consists of special material that filters out at least 95% of airborne matter the size of 0.3 micron. This triple-layer poly-cotton mask is lingerie-material light but office-appropriate sleek. “You need to balance comfort and risk,” said Virginia Tech aerosol scientist Linsey Marr. For instance, the height of the Rendall Co. Sentry mask we like is 3 inches pleated and 6½ inches expanded. For advice on the best cloth face masks for children, see our buying guide just for kids. As Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Program at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute, explained: “In the absence of randomized controlled studies for SARS CoV-2, you have to look at principles that have been found by clinical effectiveness and lab studies, put it all together, and make sensible recommendations.”. Gather a range of materials and mask shapes. We also wished that the filter pocket stretched horizontally across the mask for added filtration efficiency. The worst cloth masks for sound transmission were those made of denim and bedsheets, which are both tightly woven cotton fabrics. Clear face masks are also vital when speaking with people who have hearing impairments, as well as children and non-native speakers. Consider the mask’s shape. The solid varieties seem more tightly woven and feel heavier than most of our other cotton picks. To mitigate lip irritation, before donning a mask, slick petroleum jelly onto your lips—it’s better at staying put and sealing in moisture than lip balms, said Philadelphia dermatologist Carrie Kovarik. There’s a filter pocket, but the mask’s unusual shape means you’ll need to custom-cut filters (none included) for optimal additional protection if desired. From shop EverydayGloryArt. Compared with less generously cut cone masks, pleated masks may also feel more comfortable to some people because they allow for space between the fabric and your cheeks. Flaws but not dealbreakers: Made of relatively thick synthetics, this mask is less breathable than most, even without a filter. This particular masks is available in a range of basic and cute fabric patterns, so you can have some fun while wearing as mask that’s easier to talk through. Face shields may also be useful as extra protection for those who are wearing a cloth mask in other close-range situations. “When there are large gaps for the droplets to come out, it doesn’t matter how good the filter is or how many layers you have,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. Note, too, that a pleated mask expands when you adjust it to cover your face. The science is clear: Face masks can prevent coronavirus transmission and save lives. The best cloth face mask for kids is the one they’ll put on and keep on. Do not remove your mask to speak. The New York Times has tips for creating a better seal between a mask and your face, leaving less room for air to escape your mask and fog your glasses. © 2021 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company, an outsize impact on how a mask fits and feels, Hardy layers paired with a strong nose-bridge wire, Herschel Supply Co. Classic Fitted Face Mask, Heavy and lightweight options, secure headbands, Lots of choices and a puffed-up silhouette, What to consider when buying a cloth face mask, Wide coverage, good tenting: Baggu Fabric Mask (ear loops), Dense and somewhat stretchy: Banana Republic Face Mask, A mask you can yawn in: Graf Lantz Zenbu Face Mask, Ear loops and headband options in one: Herschel Supply Co. Classic Fitted Face Mask, Heavy and lightweight options, secure headbands: Kitsbow Face Mask, Lots of choices, a puffed-up silhouette: Proper Cloth The Everyday Mask, Generous pleats, adjustable drawstrings: Rendall Co. Sentry, How to improve a mask you already own (plus, mask accessories we like), doubled over (as explained in this non-peer-reviewed preprint PDF), addition of a paper towel (as described in a non-peer proof-of-concept study), Cottonique Elite Hypoallergenic Face Mask, infectious disease physician and assistant professor of medicine, George Washington University, director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment at Texas A&M University, director of the Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University, professor of molecular engineering at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, associate professor of fiber science and director of The Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory at the College of Human Ecology of Cornell University, assistant professor of fashion and disability at The New School, Parsons School of Design, New York City, and CEO of Open Style Lab, adjunct professor at FIT and founder of Michael Kaye Couture, associate professor of dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, associate professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, associate professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Virginia Tech, associate professor of integrative physiology, University of Colorado Boulder, head of the Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, and principal research fellow at Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, dermatologist at Anna Meyer Children’s University Hospital in Florence and at the Wound Research Unit at the University of Pisa, assistant professor of textile engineering, Textile Protection and Comfort Center, Wilson College of Textiles, North Carolina State University, professor of individualized medicine and of microbiology at the Mayo Clinic, past president of the American Society for Microbiology, senior research scientist, Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, former chief of research at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, associate director of infection prevention and control, division of infectious diseases, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Cincinnati, professor and vice chair of pediatrics and professor of environmental medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine, author of Sicker Fatter Poorer, associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, The Best Respirator Mask for Smoke and Dust, Why We’ve Taken Down Our Outdated Coronavirus Mask Coverage, The Best Surface Cleaners, Wipes, and Disinfectants. 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