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Medical professionals in high-risk environments regularly wear N95 and KN95 masks while at work, according to the CDC. Although those types of masks are available to shop online, they’re hard to come across from authorized brands 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.
To find out which face masks the pros throw on, we consulted eight medical experts about their favorite masks, which range from high fashion silk masks to antimicrobial and antibacterial ones.
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.
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.
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." Shopping readers have also shown a keen interest in Evolvetogether's disposable face masks in both adult and kid’s sizes.
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.
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.
Off the clock, Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, 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. The face masks are available in two sizes — S/M and L/X — the latter can be layered over an N95 if you want to double mask.
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 Shibori and Woodstock.
Monica Grover, DO, MS, a double board-certified gynecologist at VSPOT Sexual Health Spa, likes to double mask with a surgical mask and cotton mask on top. "Any cotton mask by itself does not give optimal protection so wearing a surgical mask underneath gives me the ability to be safe and fashionable," she said. While Grover is not partial to any specific brands off the clock, she'll sometimes order kid's face masks so they can fit securely over the bridge of her nose and chin. Based on that preference, we recommend VIDA Protective Masks,the No.1 bestseller face masks we covered in 2020, and the brand makes them in regular, kids and adult sizes to fit your face shape. The three-ply face masks come with a five-layered PM2.5 activated carbon filter to help catch particulate matter.
Lately, Ellen Marmur, MD, said she sports disposable surgical masks while working out of her Manhattan-based practice.. Although she keeps a full stash of N95, KN95, disposable and reusable face masks on deck, her current favorites are lycra-like face masks from Costco. The board-certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare finds them form-fitting and "super gentle" on her ears. These reusable face masks are treated with UPF50+, which offers an additional layer of sun protection. They're also made of moisture-wicking Oeko-TEX-material and are dual-layered.