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Editor’s note: As we will report below, experts agree that face masks do not replace or relieve the need to wash your hands and social distance, and they absolutely do not alone prevent the spread of COVID-19. This article will be updated regularly to include new face masks that meet our criteria for inclusion.
As the U.S. continues to experience surges in coronavirus cases, many states are responding by enforcing state-wide mask mandates. More than half the country now requires all residents — including kids — to wear a mask in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, including while exercising outdoors. Other states, like Florida — which together with Texas and California account for about one-fifth of the world's new coronavirus cases — require people to wear masks only in specific counties. Since April, the CDC has recommended people wear face coverings in public — including homemade cloth face masks. But some governors resisted issuing statewide mask requirements until now. Widespread mask requirements come as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced they will quarantine visitors from over a dozen states upon arrival. Some cities, like Chicago, have issued travel advisories for people coming from coronavirus hot spots.
And it doesn’t stop with states and cities. Stores like Walmart, Best Buy and the Kroger grocery chain have also recently enforced “no mask, no entry” rules at locations nationwide. Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, mandated face masks in all its stores beginning on July 20, including Sam’s Club. The retailer will provide complimentary masks for customers who come in without one, or masks can be purchased in the store. Starbucks, CVS and Lowe’s also now require customers to wear masks in stores.
In response to increasing mask mandates, many clothing retailers and brands have turned to creating and selling their take on cloth masks and face mask accessories to the public. If you’re looking for places to shop for masks, we consulted experts on how to buy the best face mask for your needs, as well as the features you should be looking for. Some clothing companies are pursuing an additional element of good with their face mask offering, donating to relief funds or donating personal protective equipment to healthcare workers. We’ve rounded up some of those brands using their resources to give back — on this third update of our original list (which we first published on May 8), we've found 50 face masks that meet our criteria.
Cloth masks should not give wearers the confidence to ignore social distancing
John-Martin Lowe, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Should you get a face mask?
The CDC has advised wearing a cloth face covering for those out in public spaces, like grocery stores and pharmacies, where it could be hard to properly socially distance. Stores such as Walmart, CVS and Whole Foods also now require customers to wear masks at locations nationwide, as we mentioned above, and many municipalities and state governments are also mandating the use of face masks. But legal requirements aren’t the only reason to don a face mask While the CDC recommends wearing a face mask, experts agree that cloth face masks do not replace the need for washing hands or social distancing, and they absolutely do not alone prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most cloth masks will work to help prevent the spread of droplets that the wearer is emitting, explains John-Martin Lowe, PhD, the assistant vice chancellor for interprofessional health security training and education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It can help reduce the chance of infecting others if you’re sick, and will not fully protect you from contracting the virus from someone else.
“Cloth masks should not give wearers the confidence to ignore social distancing,” said Lowe, adding, “If you’re sick or have an infection and don’t know it, the virus will hopefully be reduced by you wearing a mask.”
Some types of masks, specifically N95 or surgical masks, which offer the most protection and are highly in demand, should be reserved for health care workers who are most exposed to infected patients, according to the CDC.
How to shop for the best face masks
In guiding the proper way to wear a face mask or "cloth face covering," the CDC outlined five criteria:
- They must fit snugly (but comfortably) against your face
- They must be secured with ties or ear loops
- They must include multiple layers of fabric
- They must allow for breathing without restriction
- They must be washable without damage or shape change
The cloth does matter, and different types of cloth definitely make a difference.
John-Martin Lowe, PhD, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Interprofessional Health Security Training and Education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center
If you’re shopping for a cloth mask, pay attention to its fabric, advises Scott Segal, MD, MHCM, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Segal led a recent, peer-reviewed study which tested the effectiveness of different fabrics in filtering out particles. The study found that filtration effectiveness ranged widely — from five to 80 percent — depending on the type of fabric used. “The cloth does matter, and different types of cloth definitely make a difference,” Segal said.
- The most effective design, according to the study, was a dual-layer mask, which included both a heavyweight cotton layer and a lighter cotton or silk layer.
- Tightly-bound fabric, including 600-thread count cotton, also performed well, said Segal.
- Poor performers in the study: single-layer masks and double-layer masks of lightweight, low-thread count cotton.
- The study also found that gaps around the edges of a mask — which could be the result of a mask not fitting right — can account for a 60-percent decrease in filtration efficiency.
“Some of these cloth items being sold are focused only on the decorative or artistic aspect,” Segal said. “You need to think about the effectiveness and the public health aspect of it. We don’t want people to think just any material is enough and give them a false sense of security.”
Some masks also allow for the ability to insert an additional filter, like a high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter. HEPA filters are designed to clear out at least 99.7 percent of particulates that are 0.3 microns or larger in size. For reference, a micron, or micrometer, is about one twenty-five thousandth of an inch and designated with an μm. That can add an additional layer of filtration, said Segal.
Additionally, shoppers should look for masks that can be easily washed and are comfortable, said Anna Davies, a research facilitator who previously worked in the Infectious Diseases department at the University of Cambridge. “If you can’t breathe through it very well, you’re not going to want to wear it very long. And air takes the path of least resistance so it’ll just bypass the material and go out the sides,” she said. “The wearer shouldn’t be touching their mask once on, so ideally a soft fabric is good.”
While shopping for a face mask, here’s the bottom line: Comfort, washability and dual-filtration is key. But above all else, keep practicing social distancing, washing your hands and other precautions, no matter what type of mask you have on.
Where to shop face masks giving back to relief efforts
There are numerous companies making and selling face masks online. If you're shopping for your own face mask, we've compiled those face masks whose listed features and materials adhere to the CDC's criteria on what you should be looking for, as well as to the expert guidance we share above. On top of that, we narrowed the options down to only those brands who say they plan to give back a portion of their supply or proceeds to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic — our list is up to 50 face masks now, listed in alphabetical order below.
These reusable masks come in four solid colors and other designs, including cheetah print and camo. Masks are two layers and have an antimicrobial finish. The retailer is also donating 20 percent of all mask sales to Crisis Text Line, a text-based crisis text-based service providing free support. Masks are buy-one-get-one-free.
These washable masks are made of 100-percent cotton, with woven strands of antimicrobial silver and copper, and come in packs of five. The company also is part of the American Brands Coalition, a group of American-made clothing companies manufacturing personal protective equipment for health care workers. The coalition includes Fruit of the Loom, Los Angeles Apparel and others.
3. Athleta Face Mask (ships on August 3)
Masks come in packs of five different colors and designs, and are made out of two layers of polyester and spandex with a cotton liner. The athleisure brand is also donating 100,000 non-medical masks to Mayo Clinic.
The maker of eco-friendly mattresses is making 100-percent organic cotton fabric face masks available in packs of four. They can additionally allow for a separate filter to be inserted. The brand has so far made more than 300,000 non-medical grade masks, and will be donating one percent of sales to the EcoHealth Alliance and offering special discounts to frontline workers.
The bag company is selling packs of three masks made of quilter’s cotton (a thicker, denser fabric). The masks are multicolored and have a pocket for an insertable filter. For every pack of masks sold, the company is donating a pack of surgical masks to healthcare workers through Masks4Medicine.
These floral face masks are made of 100-percent vintage cotton fabric. Masks come with fabric ties and are machine washable. For each mask sold, 25 percent of proceeds will go towards Black Lives Matter.
These reusable masks are made of two layers of T-shirt jersey fabric, available in packs of three, five and 72. Bella + Canvas is also selling single-layer disposable fabric face covers with a no-sew design. The retailer has also pledged to donate 1 million masks to those in need via The Downtown Women’s Shelter, Los Angeles Mission, Goodwill and more.
Available in packs of five, Buck Mason's masks are designed to last up to 30 wash cycle. For every mask purchased, the brand will donate one. So far, they’ve been able to donate almost 700,000 masks to healthcare workers. The brand also just released a line of bandannas for the summer — they don't follow the CDC guidelines for face coverings but could complement your face masks if you're out and about.
The clothing company has repurposed their sewing facility to produce masks for front line responders. They're also making masks available to the public, which are currently on pre-order. The masks are machine-washable and are double-layered with cotton fabrics — you can get them in packs of five.
10. Disney Cloth Face Masks (pre-order, ships August 5)
Disney is selling packs of four masks, available for pre-order. These washable cloth masks come in dozens of designs, including Star Wars characters, Disney Princesses and Marvel characters. The company is also donating one million face masks to families in vulnerable areas across the country, and has donated an additional $1 million in profits to MedShare, a nonprofit supporting healthcare workers.
The company, which specializes in sustainable, plastic-free products, is selling washable masks made of two-layers of cotton with a built-in pocket for replaceable filters. For every two masks bought, two will be donated to Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto and Safe Horizon Streetworks in the Bronx in New York City.
12. Etsy Face Masks
The online retail marketplace has reported a spike in sellers making and selling non-medical face masks — “face mask” was the most searched term on the website in the past two weeks, according to a company spokesperson. Etsy has since rounded up those shops with quality options and fast shipping — you can support local crafters with their local mask-making businesses. They are also prohibiting sellers from making medical claims, selling mass-produced masks or price-gouging. Since the marketplace includes multiple sellers, keep an eye out for masks that follow the CDC’s guidelines we shared above.
13. Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask (pre-order, ships August 4)
The 100% Human mask comes in packs of three and is made of three layers of 100-percent cotton with stretchy cotton ear loops for an adjustable fit. With each mask sold, 10 percent of sales will go to the American Civil Liberties Union. So far, they’ve donated $600,000 through this program.
These masks come in simple colors or a zebra pattern. Masks are made of 100-percent cellulose fibers and are machine washable. For each mask bought, one will be donated to those in need via LA Protects.
These reusable face masks are made of woven cotton and come with two adjustable ear loops and a middle pocket for an insertable filter. For each mask purchased, the company plans to match donations to homeless shelters and essential workers in the Los Angeles area.
These reusable masks come in plenty of different styles and are designed to be used with a filter, such as a HEPA filter, inserted within the fabric. The masks were developed with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and are one-size-fits-most. Each purchase provides a mask for you and a donation of one for a frontline worker. To date, they’ve donated over 200,000 masks.
These face masks sport delicate floral patterns and come in packs of two. Masks are made of cotton fabric and have a nose bridge for a more snug fit. With each mask sold, 25 percent of profits go to Direct Relief.
These machine-washable cotton face masks are designed in various patterns and colors — they come in packs of two. With each purchase, the company is donating handmade masks to Los Angeles essential workers, as well as The Emergency Food Network in Washington and the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless in Nebraska.
The brand is selling 100-percent cotton, reusable face masks, which include elastic bands for a snugger fit. The masks are machine-washable but the company recommends hand washing them for a longer lifetime. For every mask purchased, the company is donating one to frontline workers. Since April, they’ve been able to donate 2,500 masks and scrub caps.
The arts and crafts retailer is selling cloth face masks in dozens of colors and patterns, all made of 100-percent cotton. Masks are two layers, come with a pocket for an insertable filter and elastic ear loops — one size fits most. The company is also giving away free kits to sew face masks and gowns for hospitals and health care facilities.
21. Kenneth Cole Wear In This Together Cotton Face Mask (sold out)
These washable cotton masks have two layers of cotton, with a pocket to insert an individual filter. For every mask sold, Kenneth Cole will donate 10 percent of net sales to the Mental Health Coalition.
These simple navy masks are made of 100-percent cotton and are machine washable. They are paired with a knit scrunchie. With each mask sold, the brand will donate $1 to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank
The popular denim retailer is selling packs of five pleated cotton masks. The masks are machine-washable and come in different patterns. For each pack of masks sold, Lucky Brand is donating to one of their community partners, including The Shower of Hope, Project Ropa, The People Concern, Delivering Good, and Urban Alchemy. To date, they’ve donated over 150,000 masks.
These simple, monochrome masks come in packs of three and are made out of three layers of cotton, from leftover clothing scraps. The mask allows for an individual filter, like a HEPA filter, to be inserted into the mask. In addition, Madewell and J.Crew have donated 75,000 single-use face masks to Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
This subscription-based face mask company sells colorful, playful face masks — think designs with superheroes, Sesame Street characters or Care Bears. All masks are washable and made with two layers of 100-percent polyester. You can purchase a single mask or sign up for a monthly subscription and get one new mask each month. For each mask purchased, MaskClub will donate a medical-grade mask to a first responder via First Responder’s Children’s Foundation. To date, they’ve donated 100,000 masks.
The fashion company is producing cloth masks in packs of two. The reusable 100-percent cotton masks are made with a double layer of fabric. The company is also participating in the LA Protects program, which helps to produce face masks for those in need in Los Angeles.
The small, Brooklyn-based clothing company is using leftover fabric from their spring/summer collection to create 100-percent cotton masks with simple designs. For every mask sold, the company is donating one to a healthcare worker in need via Masks4Medicine, a nonprofit that coordinates getting personal protective equipment to healthcare workers.
Get a cloth face mask sporting the Chicago Bulls’ logo, via NBA’s online store. All masks come in packs of three and are made out of polyester and spandex, with a 100-percent cotton liner. Proceeds from mask sales will go to Feeding America, a hunger-relief nonprofit, and Second Harvest, a food rescue organization.
The company has pivoted to create cotton face masks in packs of three. For every mask sold, the company will donate a mask to those in need in the Los Angeles community, specifically the West Los Angeles Hospital and local senior centers. The masks are made with 100-percent cotton and are machine washable.
Old Navy is selling cloth masks in five-packs in different sizes for kids and parents, sporting different patterns including colorful camo and stripes. The masks are 100-percent cotton, made entirely from excess fabric used in their factories, and machine washable. The company said they plan to donate 50,000 masks to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and, additionally, supply face masks to health care workers.
The company is creating non-medical, reusable face masks using up-cycled fabrics. Onzie has additionally donated thousands of masks to local hospitals in Los Angeles and will donate proceeds from every purchase to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. They are also a member of LA Protects.
33. Paige The Mask (sold out)
Paige is selling 100-percent cotton, washable face masks which include fabric tie straps. They come in packs of four. For every pack of masks sold, Paige will donate a pack to be distributed to those on the frontlines. The company has donated over 5,000 masks to various charities through their partnership with LA Protects, including the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels and Ronald McDonald House.
The bedding and home goods retailer has masks available for pre-order, made with the same material as their bedding, which are 100-percent cotton. For each set of five face masks, one set will be donated through GetUsPPE and Safe Place for Youth. The masks are machine-washable and come in a number of colors.
The Broadway merchandiser is selling washable face masks made from two-layers of polyester. Each mask features a Broadway-themed print, and a portion of each sale goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, which supports Actors Fund, providing aid to anyone in the entertainment industry.
The menswear company is selling washable “Everyday Masks,” which come in two sizes and seven colors. Masks comprise three layers: a 100-percent cotton outer layer with an antimicrobial finish, a 100-percent polyester inner layer and a pocket for an insertable filter. Each mask also comes with a moldable metal piece on the nose for a snugger fit. With every purchase, the company is donating to Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to getting means to vulnerable seniors.
The clothing retailer is selling washable masks made out of a cotton-blend material and designed to look like denim. The company is also donating $5 of every purchase to City Harvest, a nonprofit organization that helps feed families in need.
Rails has paused production to produce packs of five non-medical grade cotton masks that are reusable, machine-washable and made with assorted fabrics, including cotton. For every pack purchased, the company will donate a pack to essential workers in need in Los Angeles. Additionally, the company is donating 10,000 medical-grade masks to hospitals in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans and Detroit.
The sustainable fashion brand Reformation has partnered with LA Protects, an initiative created to produce five million non-medical grade masks for community members. The company is also separately selling packs of five face masks for donation to Until We Do It, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Los Angeles Mission Shelters and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Masks come in a number of materials and patterns, including sequins and chambray. The retailer’s reusable VOTE masks are two layers of 100-percent cotton with elastic ear loops. For every VOTE mask sold, the company will donate $2 to When We All Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter registration.
These masks come in pinstripe and checkered patterns, created from repurposed fabric from blazers. Masks are 100-percent cotton and are both hand washable and one size fits most. For each mask sold, the brand will donate a mask to the Food Bank for New York City.
Kim Kardashian West’s clothing company is selling their own face mask, made with nylon and spandex. The masks are machine washable and come in neutral colors. The company is also donating $1 million and 10,000 facemasks across four different charities: Good + Foundation, L.A. Regional Food Bank, Baby 2 Baby's Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund and National Domestic Workers Alliance's Coronavirus Care Fund.
43. Smoko Face Mask (pre-order)
Face masks come in fun designs (including a pattern of tiny Boba Tea cups) and have adjustable straps and a wire insert for a tighter fit around the nose. Masks come in adult and child sizes and are made of 97-percent cotton. With each purchase, the company is donating to New York State’s COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund.
44. Summersalt Face Coverings (pre-order, ships August 5)
The swimwear brand is selling masks made of three layers of 100-percent cotton. Masks are machine washable and come in three different designs. For every pack of three masks sold, Summersalt is donating to frontline workers via Masks4Medicine.
45. Tory Burch Printed Face Mask (pre-order, ships August 15)
These colorful, patterned face masks (tied into the brand’s summer collection) come in packs of five. Masks are made of two layers of lightweight, moisture-wicking polyester fabric. All mask proceeds are divided between the International Medical Corps and the Tory Burch Foundation, working to advance women empowerment in the workplace.
These masks sport Vera Bradley’s iconic paisley print and are made up of two layers of 100-percent cotton. The masks are machine washable and come with adjustable straps. Through May 31, Vera Bradley will donate five percent of mask sales to the Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses.
Each protective mask is made of two layers of 100-percent cotton, with adjustable straps and a multi-layer filter. Masks are sold individually or in a multi-pack. In addition, the company has pledged to donate 10 percent of profits from the sale to SF-Marin Food Bank and Food Bank NYC.
The online marketplace is selling machine-washable rainbow face masks in packs of two, made from two-layers cotton. The brand says 100 percent of profits from face mask sales go to NYC Health + Hospitals.
49. Veronica Beard Leopard Face Mask (sold out)
These patterned face masks are 100-percent cotton, made of two layers with a soft metal nose bridge. Masks are machine washable and have elastic ear straps. For every face mask purchased, the company is donating a mask to their partner, JDRF, a non-profit fighting against type one diabetes.
50. 41 Winks Adjustable Fabric Face Masks (pre-order)
These non-medical face masks come with adjustable elastic ear straps and an adjustable plastic nose bridge. Masks are made of three layers of 100-percent cotton fabric. Masks come in four colors and are machine washable. 41 Winks is also donating 5 percent of masks to the First Responders First fund.