If you tossed your face masks in the trash in anticipation of a hot vax summer, it’s time to restock your supply.
Back in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, citing a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
However, the CDC tightened up mask guidance again in late July after the delta variant sparked an increase in COVID-19 cases. It is now recommended that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in certain indoor public places, especially in parts of the U.S. where cases of the coronavirus are surging.
The delta variant behaves differently from past COVID-19 strains, with new scientific evidence showing that some vaccinated people infected with the variant may be contagious and able to spread the virus to others. CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky cautioned that if the virus is allowed to spread, we could be “just a few mutations away” from it eventually evading our vaccines.
With that in mind, President Joe Biden called the updated mask guidance “another step on our journey to defeating this virus.” So whether you’ve tossed your masks in the trash or they’re just a little worse for the wear, it’s likely time to stock back up with a fresh batch.
The following masks are in accordance with the CDC’s recommended guidelines, but you should also make sure your mask fits your face well and covers your nose and mouth completely.
Adrienne So from Wired recommends testing your mask with a light and a candle: “Can I see light through the weave? Can I blow a candle out while wearing it? The mask’s weave should be tight enough to prevent you from doing either of those things.”
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Water resistant: UnderArmour Sportsmask
This mask can do it ALL. Because it was designed for sports (but can be worn any time), it's designed to sit away from your face, allowing you to breathe deeply without sucking your mask in. Its shell is water resistant, making it perfect for rainy days, and the inside layer has been given an anti-microbial treatment. There's more: it also features built-in UPF 50+ sun protection. The custom sizes really ensure that you'll get a good fit -- they come in XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL and XL/XXL.Get the UnderArmour Sportsmask for $15.
Popular for everyday use: Athleta Everyday Non Medical Face Masks
These were one of our readers' top picks
"These masks look silky and yet are super sporty and breathable. They have a bendable nose clip and the loops on the sides are very thin so they don't irritate, and you can easily attach mask chains, which I am a big fan of. I also love the colors and have bought two packs of five already." — Melissa Katz, reader in New York City Get the Athleta Everyday Non Medical Face Masks (5 pack) for $14.99.
Great for kids: Old Navy Active Face Masks For Kids
If you plan to sweat: Athleta Women's Activate Face Mask
For fashion and fit: Baggu Fabric Mask
If you love fun prints, these are the masks for you. Whether you like cow print, strawberries, daisies, stripes or plaid, you'll find a 3-pack you love. Plus, the fabric is pleated in a way that perfectly conforms to the top of your nose bridge, helping to eliminate fogging issues with your glasses and sunglasses.Get the Baggu Fabric Mask (3 pack) for $32.
Breathe easy on long walks: Lululemon Double Strap Face Mask
A good deal: Con.Struct Face Masks
Perfect for double masking: Old Navy Triple-Layer Cloth Pleated Face Masks
Best for beards: XL Face Mask
Those with long, dense beards understand how difficult it is to pack into a mask, but these washable masks are made with extra volume to accommodate even the fullest beard. These also feature adjustable straps for additional ear comfort.Get the Beard Face Masks (4 pack) for $16.89.
Easy on the ears: Summersalt Face Coverings
We love how skinny the straps are on these -- if you've ever worn a mask with thick ear straps, you'll know how uncomfortable that can get. Bonus: For every set sold, Summersalt will donate a face covering to a worthy organization doing their part to help our larger community. Get the Summersalt Face Coverings (3 pack) for $32.
Stretchy fit: Bloch Soft Stretch Reusable Face Mask
Comes in all sizes: Kitsbow Wake ProTech Reusable Face Mask
This mask's adjustable straps help you fit it perfectly to your face, which also helps minimize the fogging of your glasses. You can order this in a range of sizes, from XS to XXL, and Kitsbow offers a 20% discount to front line workers and veterans. Get the Kitsbow Wake ProTech Reusable Face Mask for $29.95.
Filtered masks: Vida 99% Filtration Protective Cotton Mask
This simple mask is made of two layers of 100% cotton and has a hidden metal nose-piece -- and it also includes a filter pocket and a filter that claims to block up to 99% of airborne particulates. It's available in regular, kids and XL sizes.Get the Vida 99% Filtration Protective Cotton Mask for $10.
Another option with a filter: Hedley & Bennett's Wake Up & Fight Mask
Hedley & Bennett
Hedley & Bennett is an apron brand that teamed up with Dr. Robert Cho, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at a local children’s hospital, to create these masks. Though it comes in a single "one size fits most" size, it's got fully adjustable straps and is designed with the option of adding a disposable filter.Get the Hedley & Bennett's Wake Up & Fight Mask (3 pack) for $36.
Another KN95 option: WWDOLL 5-Ply Face Masks
These disposable KN95 masks have more than 26,000 five-star reviews on Amazon for a reason. They come in multiple color options and are equipped with a bendable nose piece so you can fit the mask securely against your face. They're a great option if you want something secure or as a second layer under a cloth mask. The best part? There's space between your mouth and the mask, so your lips aren't pressed up against the material.Get the WWDOLL 5-ply masks (25 pack) for $34.34.