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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 absolutely do not alone prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans to wear face masks while in public to minimize the spread of COVID-19. In response, many popular retailers have turned to creating and selling their own branded fabric masks to the public, including Disney — think face masks sporting images of Cinderella and the Incredible Hulk — and Old Navy. They join the ranks of many brands who’ve been pivoting not only to creating and selling their own versions of the face mask, but also committing some portion of products or profits to coronavirus relief efforts.
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The majority of these larger retailers are both selling face masks and donating some portion of their proceeds (or products) to relief efforts, from nonprofits on the frontlines to region-specific hospitals and essential works. So far, it seems large retailers are sticking to their existing inventories. A Disney spokesperson told NBC News the company has no plans currently to add new designs or options for its face masks — right now, Disney offers 24 designs in three sizes. On the other hand, a Gap Inc. spokesperson told NBC News the company plans to keep offering masks “in the long term,” and planned to launch new colors and patterns soon — right now, you can choose among 20 face mask options from Gap brands Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix and Athleta.
As all 50 states begin to reopen to some extent, finding a face mask you and your family will wear — and that is effective — is increasingly significant. If you’re shopping for your own face mask, you might be wondering how to shop for them and which retailers are even offering face masks right now, as well as what they look like and what options they’ve got, from adjustable sizing to face masks for kids. To help guide you to the right face mask for you, we consulted experts on how to go about finding the right face covering for your needs and previously published a comprehensive guide to shopping for face masks.
How to shop for the best face masks
- Face masks should fit snugly and comfortably
- They must be secured with ties or ear loops
- They should comprise multiple fabric layers
- You should be able to breathe without restriction while wearing the face mask
- You should be able to wash the face masks without causing damage or losing the face mask’s shape
Consumers shopping for masks should pay attention to the effectiveness of a face mask’s filtration and how breathable its materials are, says Chunhuei Chi, MPH, a professor of global health and health management and policy at the University of Oregon.
“Unfortunately, these two factors work against each other. The best filtration materials are very difficult to breath [through],” he said. “Therefore, you have to weigh the balance of these two factors to find the best possible mask.”
Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Scott Segal, whom we consulted for our face mask buying guide, advised to look out for fabric quality when shopping. He recently led a peer-reviewed study that tested the effectiveness of different fabrics in filtering out particles. The most effective design, he said, was a dual-layer mask which included both a heavyweight cotton layer and a lighter cotton or silk layer.
“Some of these cloth items being sold are focused only on the decorative or artistic aspect,” Segal previously told NBC News. “You need to think about the effectiveness and the public health aspect of it.”
Popular retailers offering face masks
As we noted above, there are many popular retailers making and selling face masks online. If you're shopping for your own face mask, we've compiled recent releases from major companies to help you find some familiar brands. We filtered the choices below further to only those face masks whose listed features and materials adhere to the CDC's criteria. For a fuller list of face masks, check our guide to buying masks.
1. Disney Cloth Face Masks (pre-order, ships July 29)
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.
2. Old Navy Face Masks for the Family (on back order, ships mid June)
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.
Banana Republic is offering washable masks made from stretchy microfiber, a combination of polyester and spandex. The popular product previously sold out in minutes last week, but is back in stock, a spokesperson told NBC News. The retailer is donating $10 for every face mask purchased to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, a nonprofit supporting kids and families in need.
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.
5. Anthropologie Sanctuary Printed Reusable Face Masks (pre-order, ships June 5)
The company is selling a variety of patterned face masks, which are made from cotton and machine washable. Each mask comes with an adjustable metal nose bridge for a more snug and comfortable fit.
6. Vera Bradley Cotton Face Mask (out of stock)
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.
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. 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.
The athletic brand is selling packs of five reusable masks, made with their signature Textured Compression material. The company is also donating 100 percent of proceeds from mask sales to Direct Relief, a nonprofit providing personal protective equipment and essential medical items to health workers.
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.
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: The Shower of Hope, Project Ropa, The People Concern, Delivering Good, and Urban Alchemy.
The online marketplace is selling machine-washable rainbow face masks in packs of two, made from two layers of cotton. The brand says 100 percent of profits from face mask sales go to NYC Health + Hospitals.
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