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Face masks have become the new normal in America and while vaccination rates have increased, the nation has experienced a recent surge of Covid cases given the delta variant. Most recently, Arkansas and Florida have been in the spotlight as coronavirus epicenters. And as students prepare for in-person lessons in the fall and remote workers begin their soft return to offices over the next few months, you’re probably concerned with staying safe indoors. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently advised the more than 165 million fully vaccinated Americans to wear face masks indoors because of breakthrough infections.
Medical professionals in high-risk environments regularly wear N95 masks while at work, according to the CDC. Although those types of masks are available to shop online, the CDC and doctors also argue these high-grade masks are unnecessary if you’re not in a high-risk environment. In fact, when the medical experts we consulted aren’t at their respective practices, they like to sport non-medical face masks, including reusable and disposable models. Opting for non-medical face masks also allows you to double mask — the government health agency does not recommend double masking with a KN95 mask.
To find out which face masks doctors prefer, we consulted seven medical experts about their favorite masks, which range from high fashion silk masks to antimicrobial and antibacterial ones.
Sumayah Jamal, MD, PhD, looks for face masks with "ample breathing room” like the moisture-wicking Fydelity mask. The board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group said this two-ply mask offers a "very good fit that won't keep slipping down or up." It also sports an adjustable nose bridge and earloops, plus a chin cup, preventing your mask from riding up.
Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, prefers wearing these "stylish, comfortable and durable" face masks from medical scrubs maker Jaanuu, which he noted is a "well-respected brand within the medical community." For Konstantin, a double-board certified facial plastic surgeon in New York City, breathability is critical and he told us the face mask’s moisture-wicking fabric is “perfect” — especially during long days of surgery. He added that the mask’s set of antimicrobial properties is a “game changer.” You can get the masks in packs ranging from five a piece to 5,000.
Caroline Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, "loves" to wear Evolvetogether face masks when she's at the office for administrative work and opts for medical-grade surgical masks or N95s when seeing patients. She's a fan of the three-ply masks because they equip a water-resistant outer layer, a meltblown center and a water-absorbing inner layer, which is "great for both the office and when I'm running around for errands." Select readers have also shown a keen interest in Evolvetogether's disposable face masks in both adult and kid’s sizes.
Dendy Engelman, MD, gravitates toward BaubleBar and Love Shack Fancy face masks since "they're much prettier than the N95s I wear for work." Engelman, a celebrity dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue, only employs reusable face masks that are two layers. BaubleBar cotton masks sport adjustable sliders on the ear loops for added comfort and come in trendy prints and colorways, like the Sequin and Mini Floral set and Black Floral and Pink set. They also make kid's face masks and face mask chains that you can buy premade or DIY.
Robinson likewise "loves" wearing Second Wind face masks because they are "functional and fit closely to the face and nose without compromising on style." The brand makes 100-percent silk and linen face masks featuring 100-percent organic cotton lining. You can pop in an activated carbon face mask filter into the interior pocket for an extra barrier of protection. These chic face masks flaunt adjustable ear straps for security and are available in three sizes: small, medium and large.
These "soft," satin-lined face masks came recommended by Robinson, who also favors masks made of cotton and satin. Because satin is a smooth material, it is less likely to cause any friction and irritation for those with sensitive skin. "It is so important to find a mask that you feel comfortable in because once the mask is on you should avoid touching it and adjusting it," explained Robinson, who will adjust the ear loops for the best fit.
Dentist Joseph Field, DDS, is such a “big fan” of these “very comfortable” and breathable face masks that he also ordered packs for his kids. These 32 Degrees face masks are treated with UPF50+, which provides an additional layer of sun protection. The athletic apparel brand also claims its face masks utilize yarn containing silver ions to help prevent odors.
Off the clock, board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, likes to wear the dye-free organic bamboo face mask from makeup artist Jenny Patinkin. Another appealing aspect for King is that these hypoallergenic face masks have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, according to the brand. King also appreciates the double layering and the adjustable ear loops "to ensure a good fit."
Another go-to face mask for King is the lightweight and stretchy face masks from medical apparel brand Figs. According to the brand, this mask comprises two layers of moisture-wicking FIONx fabric made with antimicrobial technology. King also appreciates the adjustable nose wire "to ensure a good fit" along with the slot for replaceable PM2.5 BFE activated filters. This face mask is currently available in one limited edition color — Hunter Green — and size: S/M.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, relies on these face masks when he's active or working out in New York because they’re made from 50-percent "breathable, silver infused fabric that dries quickly and has antimicrobial properties." Additionally, it's hypoallergenic, which "is useful even if you have sensitive skin." Another major selling point for the board-certified dermatologist is it offers UV protection and is comfy — "like athleisure clothing, these masks can be worn all day," he said
Zeichner can also be found donning these "great" black face masks in his day-to-day life. They were developed with Chris Tomassian, a dermatology resident in Kansas City, Kansas. According to the brand, the two-ply masks are made with 100-percent Oeko-Tex certified cotton infused with an antimicrobial spray to prevent overgrowth of microorganisms. You can also find the LA mask in various colors, including Lavender Gingham and Seafoam Tie Dye.