“So, while you are wearing a mask, you still need to social distance and practice good hygiene (handwashing). Various respiratory-medicine groups issued a statement on this very concern. “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. We prefer to wear this mask with a substantial filter (like Kitsbow’s) or to stick with this model for outdoor-only outings. Early in the pandemic, health officials considered these tiny aerosol droplets to be less worrisome. Although I thought the thin material would make the mask more breathable, it actually felt a bit suffocating to wear. To test wearability and comfort, I first evaluated how easy it was to put on and take off each mask. Also, due to the thickness of the fabric, it can be hard to breathe in high heat and humidity, making it is a better mask for cooler temperatures. We did not test any filters with masks because currently there is no evidence if filters offer better protection and if they are safe to use. Stuffing a filter into the pocket’s opening (a slit cut vertically, top to bottom, at one side) can be frustrating. An easy-access pocket in this mask accommodates a filter (not included). Adjustable nose wire: Yes Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: No Different sizes: XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL, XL/XXL How to wash: Hand wash or machine wash and dry flat. It also does not have an adjustable nose wire or ear loops. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The solid version is similar in weight to the Graf Lantz mask but doesn’t tent up as much. That being said, it’s no surprise we love the brand’s masks. A moldable wire helps a mask do that. Photo: Sarah Kobos, The Banana Republic Face Mask in navy blue. By “generous,” we don’t mean a mask that’s too big for you. Key selling points: Pleated design for … These add-ons are also iffy for sensitive skin types: Made from plastic or silicone, they can cause friction and irritation if they don’t fit properly, said Philadelphia dermatologist Carrie Kovarik. But the new features mean that the mask as a whole is less stretchy compared with the first version we tried. When you’re considering the delicate balance between comfort and protection, keep in mind that for children, comfort tends to win out. Headbands with ridges can grip hair better without sliding, especially if your hair is straight, said Kaye. Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: No Different sizes: One size How to wash: Machine wash. Koral makes high-fashion activewear that has been spotted on celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift. Adjustable nose wire: Yes Ear loops or ties: Both options available Filter: No Different sizes: One size How to wash: Hand wash only. Flaws but not dealbreakers: Even with its three-ish layers, the mask looks more porous against the light than others we recommend. If you use one, make sure the filter covers the entire expanse of the mask and that it stays put. The relatively expensive polyester-polyurethane Under Armour Sportsmask is well constructed and available in five sizes, but if you over- or underestimate your size at the time of ordering, as some of our panelists did, it’s difficult to adjust. 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). The Take Care mask is good for someone who prefers to tie their mask around their head. A September 2020 Northeastern University paper (PDF) reports that a surgical mask sealed to the wearer with a band cut from a pair of nylon stockings went from blocking out 50% to 75% of small (less than 0.3 micron) particles to blocking 90%. 1,030 global ratings. Shop Vida Mask Reviews say that the site is doing exceedingly well by venturing new artists and encouraging buyers to purchase fashionable PM 2.5 Masks online. Photo: Sarah Kobos, The Graf Lantz Zenbu Face Mask in olive. Adjustable nose wire: Yes Ear loops or ties: Ties Filter: Yes—Filter pocket; no filters included Different sizes: XS, S/M, L How to wash: Machine wash and dry. But past and current findings, plus common sense, can provide clues. If your ears get sore, the enclosed plastic fastener, with hooks at both ends, attaches the two ear loops to each other behind your head to relieve pressure. This is because ear loops can become uncomfortable after a while. However, masks with pleats provide more leeway for higher nose bridges, said Michael Kaye, who teaches draping and sewing as an adjunct professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Just because a mask isn’t one of our picks doesn’t mean it’s no good. The Herschel Supply Co. Classic Fitted Face Mask in black and white. Adjustable ear loops and bendy nose-bridge wire should allow most wearers to create a good seal without stifling their breath. For instance, even if a face shield isn’t as effective as cloth face masks, wearing one is better than wearing nothing at all. Multiple layers: According to a June 2020 meta review, “multilayer masks are more protective than single layer masks,” and specifically “12- to 16-layer cotton masks” are associated with protection. A Texas A&M University paper currently under review (here’s the preprint) notes that non-fiberglass premium anti-allergen air filters—which, like Oly-Fun, also consist of polypropylene—seem promising. An included clip turns this mask’s two ear loops into one headband. A fabric face covering for use when going out in public. Even a bandana tied around your head is better than nothing. Its part-pleat, part-cone design leaves more room between the cloth and your nose compared with most other masks. Hana Akselrod, MD, MPH, infectious disease physician and assistant professor of medicine, George Washington University, phone interview, July 1, 2020, Sarah Brooks, PhD, director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment at Texas A&M University, phone interview, June 19, 2020, Lawrence Chu, MD, director of the Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine, Zoom interview, June 26, 2020, Loretta Fernandez, PhD, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University, phone interview, June 19, 2020, Supratik Guha, PhD, professor of molecular engineering at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, phone interview, June 26, 2020, Juan Hinestroza, PhD, associate professor of fiber science and director of The Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory at the College of Human Ecology of Cornell University, Zoom interview, July 10, 2020, Grace Jun, assistant professor of fashion and disability at The New School, Parsons School of Design, New York City, and CEO of Open Style Lab, phone interview, June 23, 2020, Michael Kaye, adjunct professor at FIT and founder of Michael Kaye Couture, phone interview, June 17, 2020, Carrie Kovarik, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, phone interview, June 29, 2020, Ryan Lively, PhD, associate professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, phone interview, July 3, 2020, Mark Losego, PhD, associate professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech, phone interview, July 3, 2020, Linsey Marr, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Virginia Tech, phone interview, June 26, 2020, Robert Mazzeo, PhD, associate professor of integrative physiology, University of Colorado Boulder, phone interview, June 29, 2020, Raina MacIntyre, PhD, 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, Zoom interview, June 28, 2020, Teresa Oranges, MD, PhD, dermatologist at Anna Meyer Children’s University Hospital in Florence and at the Wound Research Unit at the University of Pisa, Zoom interview, July 13, 2020, Bryan Ormond, PhD, assistant professor of textile engineering, Textile Protection and Comfort Center, Wilson College of Textiles, North Carolina State University, phone interview, June 12, 2020, Robin Patel, MD, professor of individualized medicine and of microbiology at the Mayo Clinic, past president of the American Society for Microbiology, phone interview, July 6, 2020, Amy Price, DPhil, senior research scientist, Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine, Zoom interview, June 26, 2020, Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, phone interview, June 17, 2020, Ron Shaffer, PhD, former chief of research at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, phone interview, June 29, 2020, Felicia Scaggs Huang, MD, 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, email interview, June 22, 2020, Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, professor and vice chair of pediatrics and professor of environmental medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine, author of Sicker Fatter Poorer, phone interview, June 30, 2020, Eric Westman, MD, associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, phone interview, August 12, 2020. 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