Eight face masks for people you care about

Face masks are the new socks.

Face masks are one of the best tools we have for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re not one-situation-fits-all. Personal preference and lifestyle are important when making a choice—some masks are made to be tossed after every use, others can be thrown in the wash, some are printed and come in smaller sizes for children or narrow faces, and some are extra breathable for working out in. Of course, none of these are guaranteed to stop viruses—masks work best along with hand washing and social distancing. And this year, they’re almost certain to get more wear than new socks.

Everyday face mask

Outdoor Research face mask kit

A solid all-purpose face mask. Outdoor Research

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My go-to face covering is Outdoor Research’s polyester mask. It has two layers of fabric, adjustable ear loops, and a sturdy nose wire to help it fit as snugly as you want. It also comes with three disposable filters made from non-woven polypropylene—the same stuff that’s in some reusable bags—that serve as a third layer of protection. The company says these should withstand five to seven days of “average wear.” It’s one of the best-fitting masks I own, and has served me well on everything from grocery trips to six-mile runs.

Exercise-friendly face mask

UA Sportsmask

Built for people who move. UnderArmour

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Like everything else UnderArmour does, its sports mask is designed for, well, playing sports. It has three layers: a polyester exterior, a built-in polyurethane insert, and a soft interior that’s 77 percent nylon and 23 percent Spandex. The inner lining and ear loops stay cool on your skin no matter how hot it gets, and the whole thing is structured to stay off your face so you don’t suck it into your mouth while breathing hard. It comes in five sizes—just consult the handy online sizing chart to find the right one.

Kids masks

Masks for Kids

Crayola’s mask pack comes with one for each weekday. Crayola

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Children can be forgetful and finicky, with likes and dislikes that seem to change on a whim. Crayola’s five-mask set includes a quintet of hues so your kiddo can choose a color that matches their mood for the day. Pick from two sets: bright, solid colors or graphics that feature expressive cartoon crayons. Each one is double-layered, adjustable, machine-washable, and has a name tag so you can make sure your little ones always know which masks are theirs. There’s also a calendar card to ensure no one loses track of usage and launderings.

Cute face mask pattern

Embroidered Face Mask

This is just one of the dozens of embroidered reusable face mask designs eShakti has to offer. eShakti

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We wear masks to protect ourselves and our communities, but that doesn’t mean they have to look utilitarian. Online clothing retailer eShakti’s embroidered masks come in 57 different patterns, so at least one should fit with your wardrobe and style. If you’re someone who likes to accessorize, these dual-layer masks might be exactly what you’re looking for. Most are made from cotton and have a pocket for a disposable filter. The company also sells solid, printed, and scarf masks, and you can mix and match if you’re buying more than one.

Face masks for glasses-wearers

Galactic Face Mask

For when you want to wear space on your face. PopSockets

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Foggy lenses are a well-known problem for anyone who wears a mask on the reg. There isn’t a foolproof solution, but a tight fit along your cheeks and nose will help a lot. PopSockets’ polyester face covering has a 0.5-inch-wide nose piece that’s simply bigger than those in other masks. Like some of the other options on this list, it comes with an optional disposable filter, which the company says should be replaced every two or three days. Bonus: At least 10 percent of the proceeds from any mask or filter you buy goes to the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders.

Neutral face mask pattern

Five Face Masks

More masks that can match your outfit. Tie Bar

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Tie Bar has a wide variety of masks that feature solid colors or some of the company’s most-loved menswear patterns. They mostly come in packs of five and are made out of 100-percent cotton shirting fabric. The elastic ear loops have a plastic length adjuster so you can fiddle with them independently to find the proper fit. Some of my glasses-wearing friends report that the flexible nose wire does an excellent job at preventing fog. And if you’re someone who wants to buy them in bulk, the company’s wholesale program offers custom masks.

Face masks for seeing faces

Transparent Face Mask

Clear-paneled face masks can make it easier to communicate. Rafi Nova

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Another issue with wearing masks is that people can’t see your facial expressions. That’s particularly problematic for those who are hard of hearing, because lip-reading and visual cues are essential to non-verbal communication. Rafi Nova’s Smile masks, created with input from a speech language pathologist, feature a 2-by-4.75-inch clear plastic panel that lets everyone see (most of) your beautiful face. The rest of the triple-layered mask is cotton, and it comes in adult’s and children’s sizes.

Silk mask

Silk Face Covering

Silk is easy on your skin. Roseward

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Having something resting against your face can cause breakouts. To prevent that, choose a mask made from a comfortable material that’s still dense enough to block out viral particles. Roseward’s washable masks are crafted from mulberry silk, which works well with sensitive skin and is naturally resistant to a number of common allergens. They come in 10 colors and have a filter pocket for inserts that bump them up to three layers of protection.

Need more face masks?

Check out these swanky anti-microbial copper-infused face masks, or learn to DIY your own here. Oh, and just in case someone in your life is still resistant to putting on a mask, tell them to give this article on the impact of 100 days of mask-wearing a glance.

John Kennedy

John Kennedyis PopSci's DIY editor. He previously covered legal news for Law360 and, before that, local news at the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut. He has also built and remodeled houses, worked as a fencing coach, and shelved books at a library. When he's not taking things apart or putting them back together, he's playing sports, cooking, baking, or immersed in a video game. Contact the author here.