These plots were generated by placing the head-shaped speaker on a rotating turntable. Flaws but not dealbreakers: Even with its three-ish layers, the mask looks more porous against the light than others we recommend. 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. Many health experts consider the use of face masks to be key in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Best Face Masks for Cold Weather to Keep You Warm. Depending on the placement of the straps, cone-shaped masks can fit quite nicely on the cheeks. It took several washes to dissipate the synthetic smell, and the removable filter (three included) sits in direct contact with skin. Stash a spare or two in your tote or car. Construction: cotton duck outer layer, cotton muslin inner layer (solid colors); polyester-cotton inner and outer layers (plaids)Sizes and dimensions (height by width): 5.75 by 9.25 inches (small), 6.5 by 10 inches (medium), 7.25 by 10.75 inches (large/XL)Filter: two included; replacements available. But if you’d like to err on the side of caution, wearing a well-fitting mask with good filtration efficiency can help. That way, you’ll always have a backup at the ready, as well as some leeway if you don’t get to the laundry as planned. (The Banana Republic, Herschel Supply Co., and solid-color Kitsbow masks we like all have some level of water resistance. Why we like it: Our fitness writer’s top pick to jog in (thus far), the Herschel Classic Fitted Face Mask feels like a lighter, more breathable version of the Banana Republic mask. The human talker wore extra microphones on his lapel, cheek, forehead, and in front of his mouth to test the effects of masks on sound capture systems. 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. Of the masks I had on hand, Cariloha's thick, four-layer bamboo masks did the best job of filtering out the smoky smell and soot, without taking valuable PPE from first responders. All the masks we opted to test are machine-washable, designed with at least two layers, and highly adjustable—both in terms of having a filter pocket to bolster protection as well as in offering some way to fine-tune the fasteners. A mask should gently hug the lines of your cheeks, dip along the sides of your nose, and curve over its bridge. That feature can be great during wildfire smoke conditions. A recent trend is cloth masks with clear windows, which let listeners see the talker’s lips and facial expressions. BLScode Sport Mask with Exhalation Valves, Carbon Reusable with 7 Filters and 2 Valves Personal Protective Adjustable Nylon Dust Sport Mask for Men and Women 4.0 out of 5 stars 400 $11.99 $ 11 . The bands are also thick, and they feel more comfortable worn well above and below the ear lobes to avoid crushing them. The performance of the masks appears to depend mostly on material and weave, rather than thickness. A microphone was placed at head height about six feet away, to simulate a “social-distancing” listener. “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. As research at Northeastern University suggests, a mask that conforms closely to the face can enhance performance by as much as 50% over the same mask that doesn’t. Without that close fit, droplets can sneak in and out along the sides of your nose. One disadvantage of wearing a gaiter is that removing it can be tricky. Surprisingly, the flat three-layer cotton/spandex mask affected the sound less than the more form-fitting two-layer cotton/spandex mask, suggesting that the number of layers is less important than the material and fit of a mask. The newest iteration features a cotton-like polyester inner layer that feels gentler on the skin, and the mask is lightly padded with polyurethane, which provides some added protection. From shop EverydayGloryArt. 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. Remember, though, that heat accelerates breakdown, particularly with elastics, said Michael Kaye of FIT. Even a bandana tied around your head is better than nothing. Here are some of 2020's best face masks, from the pretty, to practical, to political. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Each mask includes a machine-washable filter. 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. “The more thread in a given area, the more solid the barrier, the harder it is to get through,” explained North Carolina State University textile scientist Bryan Ormond. The best a non-medical mask can do is align closely to the curves of your face, cover your nose and mouth, and feel comfortable enough that you won’t fuss with it as you go about your day. Start with the features below—keeping in mind that no mask is guaranteed to provide complete protection. 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. Include a mix of fasteners. The best masks overall were the surgical mask, which is made of nonwoven polypropylene fibers, and the KN95 respirator. If you have a mask you can’t return that doesn’t fit well or feel good to wear, you may be able to improve it with a few inexpensive accessories. But it’s hard to predict whether social distancing will be possible in any given situation. Its perforated texture enhanced breathability but had us wishing for a more protective feel. (An increasing number of states and businesses are mandating exactly that.). “The fit was already good,” said study co-author Loretta Fernandez, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern. The dapper Royal Jelly Harlem Adult Mask, which we ordered in a sturdy pink seersucker, had the same height issue; also, its third “filter” layer is non-removable, and the mask doesn’t have a nose-bridge wire. (Adjustments to the top band are especially crucial for helping the mask fit snugly around your cheeks.) They were followed closely by the lightest cloth masks, which were made of 100% cotton with plain and jersey weaves. Browse a wide selection of speaker mask and face coverings available in various fabrics and configurations, made by a community of small business-owners. (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. Construction: two-ply (plus nearly sheer partial layer to secure filter); polyester outer layer, cotton inner layersSizes and dimensions (height by width): one size; 6 by 9 inchesFilter: none included. Too-wide masks can affect how the elastic fasteners fit around your ears or head. We’ll throw the masks into the wash again and again and field feedback from our readers and long-term testers. “But in an everyday environment you can basically clean your (non-work) cloth mask as you would your usual laundry.”, Predicting the durability of different mask fabrics is “challenging,” Hinestroza said. The mask has been tested to resist mustard gas penetration for nearly 30 hours and comes with a hypoallergenic inner mask that prevents fogging so you’ll never lose critical visibility. With low-risk situations and social distancing, face shields may make communication easier; otherwise, texting can also be helpful. Wash your hands afterward. The performance of the masks appears to depend mostly on material and weave, rather than thickness. The mask comes standard with a speech diaphragm. The cloth face masks made of a cotton/spandex blend – similar to underwear – absorbed more sound than the loosely woven 100% cotton masks. Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Masks are an important tool … When the mask arrives, hold it up to the light. 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. And be realistic about what you’ll be willing to wear in different situations. Cone-shape masks have vertical seams that allow the fabric to “tent up,” giving it some height like a bra cup. 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. 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. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The solid version is similar in weight to the Graf Lantz mask but doesn’t tent up as much. Currently, we’re evaluating (or awaiting deliveries of) the Lo & Sons All Day Comfort Face Mask, the new cotton-polyester Banana Republic Face Mask with headbands, and the polyester-spandex Banana Republic Flyweight Face Mask with ear loops. The disperse dyes on the cloth can migrate onto skin and cause skin to become sensitized. Conversely, the easier it is to breathe through a mask, the less potentially protective it is. If it’s too tall, the edges can block your vision, poke your eyes, or hang too loose around your chin, said Jun. Tie on that bandana, and outgoing aerosols get only as far as 3 feet 7 inches on average, the authors found. Wirecutter is reader-supported. However, other researchers, using more-conventional experimental approaches, have found that gaiters—especially when worn doubled over (as explained in this non-peer-reviewed preprint PDF) or, even better, with the addition of a paper towel (as described in a non-peer proof-of-concept study)—can be quite protective. The Outdoor Research Face Mask Kit we tried was too big for small faces, even with the ear-loop toggles (a smaller size will be introduced soon, though). For an up-close view of how cloth-mask fibers catch droplets of various sizes, check out this New York Times rendering. Choose from small or large sizes, as well as designs with adjustable ear loops or around-the-head elastic bands; plus, a washable filter (included) slips in easily. Get the person’s attention by saying their name or gesturing to them. Unfortunately, our experiments show that clear masks strongly degrade high-frequency sounds. A filter pocket accommodates additional layers of your choice (none included), and there’s a sturdy nose-bridge wire. But if you’d like to protect yourself as well as others, well-fitting masks that balance breathability with filtration efficiency (the percentage of particles that a mask can block) work best, assuming you keep them on. As the aforementioned April 2020 study suggests, thread count (the number of vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch) matters. Take it off immediately without touching the face piece and put on a new one.”. Because how well a mask works involves myriad factors (the size of a person’s head and facial features, their behaviors and environment), we couldn’t possibly identify the most effective mask for every person and every situation. Satin Silk Face Mask, Soft Adjustable Ear Loops, Lightweight, Easy Talking, Best Seal, Anti Fog EverydayGloryArt. Construction: two-ply; various materials depending on color choice, including cotton or cotton-linen blends for both inner and outer layersSizes and dimensions (height by width): 6.5 by 9 inches (expanded), 3 by 9 inches (flat)Filter: none included. The plaids are much lighter and more breathable. The all-cotton fabric is tightly woven yet breathable, and the mask comes with a pocket for a filter (none included) as well as a nose-bridge wire that holds its shape. How to choose and use (and make) sprays, wipes, and a bleach-based solution to disinfect surfaces. $20. We have six to recommend that are comfortable, breathable, and fit a range of ages. For instance, the height of the Rendall Co. Sentry mask we like is 3 inches pleated and 6½ inches expanded. We love that the filter is also generously sized to span the entire mask, more so than that of any of our other picks. If the mask is too big: If its ear loops are thin enough, tie knots near the ends or add an appropriately sized cord-lock toggle. © 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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