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In a world full of uncertainties (especially in this current health climate), one thing we know to be true is that cloth face coverings are here to stay—for the foreseeable future at least. Strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and mandated in some states, these masks are an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially when worn universally.
Nothing against disposable face masks, but the market is flooded with reusable options that are stylish, comfortable, sustainable, and—most importantly—effective at reducing the spread of germs, so why not make the switch? To help you sort through the bevy of options, we asked our editors to share their absolute favorites.
Keep scrolling for the best cloth face masks worth investing in, according to our editors.
Slip Adult Pleated Silk Face Mask
If your current mask is causing chin-area breakouts (also known as maskne), try switching to this 100% silk option from beloved brand Slip—available in Leopard, Black, and two Pink hues.
"When I spoke to my derm about a recent onslaught of breakouts around my chin and upper lip, she mentioned it could very well be from the friction of face masks rubbing against my skin," says Byrdie Associate Editor Holly Rhue. "I promptly switched to this silk mask and I couldn't be happier with the results. The silk material reduces friction between your skin and the mask (just like a silk pillowcase does for your hair and skin) and always feels soft and cool to the touch—a welcomed sensation during NYC summers."
Caraa Universal Face Masks
At just $5 apiece, this face mask set is one you don't want to be without. You get five breathable, dual-layer masks with lightweight, adjustable ear hoops that won't cause discomfort like some of the thicker elastics. Most of the sets come in an assortment of colors, so you can pick and choose a mask based on your day's outfit.
Vida Protective Mask
Available in eight single shades, you won't find any funky prints or patterns on these masks. Simple yet chic, they're made with two layers of 100% cotton, adjustable straps, and an invisible metal nose piece for a snug fit. What we love most though is that they're equipped with a multi-layer PM2.5 filter that you don't have to buy separately—until you want to replace it, that is.
When washing this mask, be sure to remove the filter first. The brand recommends replacing the filter every seven days.
Kalypso Harvey Love Your Skin Face Mask
Society6 is home to dozens upon dozens of reusable face masks with unique designs from talented artists including Kalypso Harvey, who uses her art to pay off student loans. This particular mask is crafted with a poly fabric, pleated front, and elastic ear loops. There's even an inner pocket where you can insert your own disposable filter.
Baggu Fabric Mask Set
Byrdie Social Media Editor Star Donaldson says she always gets compliments when wearing these fabric masks from Baggu. Available in sets of three, each mask is made from 100% Organic Quilter’s Cotton, chosen specifically for its tight weave and thick thread.
Keep in mind that these masks do not loop around the ears, but rather tie around the head for a snug yet comfortable fit. They're secured in place with a nose wire, and you can insert a filter into the included pocket if you'd like to.
Leah Kirsch Face Masks
Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie Gould could wear these masks from Leah Kirsch all day long. "They are my absolute favorite," she says. "So comfortable." The masks themselves are 100% cotton which helps make them breathable and stretchy. Made in Los Angeles, each mask is hand-sewn and hand-dyed in six different colors. Oh, and you can also get a matching crop-top while you're at it—Hallie did. (Good luck choosing just one.)
Parachute Face Masks Set
Parachute is known for their comfortable bedding and linens, and they use that very same fabric to curate these ultra-soft and luxe face masks. They're available in sets of five and come in a range of colors and patterns. Best of all, Parachute will match every purchase by donating a set to those in need.
Joah Love Storm Tie Dye Mask
Byrdie Senior Commerce Editorial Director Dwyer Frame favors these Joah Love masks because they're gentle on her sensitive skin. "If you are looking for something soft and not scratchy the Joah Love masks are by far my favorite," she says. "The material is soft like your favorite t-shirt and it doesn't irritate my very sensitive skin. The ear loops make it easy to get a custom fit that won't slide around when you are out and about."
They're also comfortable, she says, which makes them a great pick for everyone—kids included. "These masks are so comfortable even my 4-year-old is happy wearing them without fuss," she adds. "They come in kids sizes, and three adult sizes so you're bound to find the perfect fit."
Abacaxi Cotton Face Mask
Created by South Asian-American designer Sheena Sood, these masks are a bright and colorful addition to any wardrobe. In addition to the fun prints, they boast two layers of deadstock cotton and an inside pocket for a filter insert. Choose from four different sizes, including options for kids.
"I've really liked these printed masks I got from Abacaxi," says Byrdie Group Editorial Director Elspeth Velten. "The brand is Brooklyn-based and BIPOC-owned!"
Lirika Matoshi Daisy Face Mask
These masks are just the prettiest. Made to match the brand's signature dresses, these feature a 100% cotton inner lining and hand-sewn daisy embroidered flowers made of polyamide tulle. "I love the design of these!" says Byrdie Senior Social Media Manager Kelly Gallagher. "The one thing to note is that they are tie-on, not the over-ear kind."
Prefer sequins? Gallagher also loves the brand's Flower Sequin Face Mask which is just as much of a treat for the eyes.
EvolveTogether We Stand Together Face Masks
Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue is simply obsessed with these face masks. "They're the only FDA-registered, consumer-facing medical-grade mask and also happen to be the most breathable, light, and comfortable masks I've tried," she says. "Plus, they come in 100% biodegradable packaging and donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Covenant House New York to protect Black Lives Matter protestors and homeless youth. They've already donated over 15,000 masks! What's not to love?"
Theramasks by nufabrx Reusable Face Mask
I can't get enough of the soft and smooth feel of these face masks. The coolest part, though, is that these masks offer patented protection powered by CuTEC copper, which I've been told helps to inhibit bacterial growth. I'm a bit of a germaphobe, so that helps me mentally, in addition to knowing that this mask is machine washable up to 60 times.
Catherine Gee Reusable Silk Face Mask
These 100% silk exterior masks have some of the most stylish designs, from patterned hearts to polka dots and leopard print; it's no wonder that celebs like Molly Sims, Selma Blair, and Irina Shayk have been spotted out and about donning them.
You could throw this mask into your washing machine in a pinch, though hand-washing these beauties will preserve the delicate silk better.
Azazie Matte Satin Reusable Face Mask
Fancier than your average cotton mask, these satin beauties come in—count 'em—71 different colorways. There's blues, pinks, purples, you name it, so you won't be hard-pressed on finding one to match your outfits—that's for certain. They're also super affordable at just $5 apiece, and the adjustable ear loops ensure a secure fit for almost all face shapes and sizes.
The majority of these reusable cloth face masks are not medical grade, nor do they claim to prevent or treat any viruses, including COVID-19. They are simply methods for reducing the spread of germs through face touching, coughs, sneezes, etc. For the best line of protection, it's important to practice social distancing and maintain good hygiene and handwashing routines, in addition to wearing personal protective gear like face masks.