If you're the parent of children over the age of 3, chances are that you've spent the better part of the last year listening to a lot of whining about having to wear a face mask. Hey, I get it: There's very little that's fun about covering your nose and mouth with a piece of fabric—especially when it's hot outside. But the reality is that face masks are likely here to stay for a little bit longer, so it's important for kids to have a comfortable mask that they won't complain too much about wearing.
With that in mind, we put all of the children of Reviewed staffers to work testing 10 different kids' face masks. Along the way they offered up lots of complaints, some constructive criticism, and ultimately pronounced the winner to be Happy Masks(available at Happy Masks). They found them comfortable, breathable, and not terrible to wear for long periods of time.
Vistaprint Kids Masks (available at Vistaprint) offer a more affordable option that's more widely available, and our testers liked their expansive selection of designs, as well as the lightweight fabric.
Here are the best face masks for kids we tested, ranked in order:
Happy Masks Pro Series
Vistaprint Kids Masks
Disney Cloth Face Masks
Gap Kids' Full-Coverage Accordian Mask
Shein Kids Face Mask
Meakeize Kids Neck Gaiter
The Odells Kids Face Coverings
GIR Kids Reusable Face Mask 2.0
Avocado Organic Cotton Face Masks
Happy Masks Pro Series
Adjustable nose wire: Yes Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: Yes Different sizes: No How to wash: Hand wash
If you’re looking for a comfortable, protective mask that kids won’t complain about wearing, our young testers found the Happy Masks Pro Series to be so wearable that they forgot to take them off.
These are some of the most breathable masks on the market and they claim to be some of the most protective. Designed by a retired chief scientist with a doctoral degree in filtration, these masks incorporate a nanofiber membrane filter that has been pharmaceutically tested. Happy Masks guarantees that these masks will block over 99.9% of airborne bacteria, pollution, and virus nanoparticles, making them the safest reusable mask we’ve found.
They are also incredibly comfortable. Lightweight and breathable, they come with adjustable ear straps and a nose wire, and their innovative 3-D design allows for air circulation when breathing. It gives space for kids to breathe and talk without feeling claustrophobic or inhibited by the fit of the mask—all without compromising protection. According to Happy Masks, they will last for 50 washes, if cared for according to instructions, which makes them one of the most long-lasting reusable masks as well. You get a lot of bang for your buck with these masks.
There are some downsides to Happy Masks, however. First is that they have to be washed by hand—putting them through a laundry cycle renders the built-in filter ineffective—which means that you'll need to order quite a few of these if you wash them after every use. Ordering multiples of these can be prohibitively expensive for many families, and they're almost always sold out, so it can be difficult to get your hands on one, let alone a week's worth.
Another issue we encountered is that they eventually start to show stains on the inside from the accumulation of facial oils, where they sit on the nose. Since they need to be very gently hand-washed, there comes a point where it feels like you can’t get them truly clean without a laundry cycle. Happy Masks recommends spraying the masks with 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol for an extra level of disinfection. That still doesn’t take care of the staining issue, and the inside of the masks can start to look pretty gross, long before they are ready to be tossed.
All that taken into account, they’re still the favorite. If you want a long-lasting reusable mask with excellent protection, or if your child complains about a mask feeling constricting or being hard to breathe in, Happy Masks are the answer to all of your prayers.
Adjustable nose wire: Yes Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: Yes—filter pocket; filters sold separately Different sizes: No
How to wash: Machine wash and dry
Lots of businesses had to pivot when COVID-19 hit, and Vistaprint is no exception. The company that made a name for itself printing business cards now makes cloth masks for kids (and adults). Available in a huge selection of colors and prints, Vistaprint's masks are made from two layers of light, breathable fabric, between which a disposable filter is inserted.
Vistaprint's masks have adjustable ear loops and a wired nose clip which is sewn inside the fabric. Both of these features are fantastic for getting a secure fit, but we did find that our younger testers were more apt to fiddle with the straps. While none of the masks we tested completely prevented kids' glasses from fogging up, the Vistaprint masks were somewhat effective at keeping the fog at bay for at least a short amount of time.
Our kid testers didn't love the way these masks looked—one of our tweens even called the solid color version "ugly"—but our younger testers liked the designs they chose. They did rate the Vistaprint masks high for comfort, however, and my kids actually prefer these masks for longer periods of wear, like during full school days, thanks to the breathability.
Visaprint's masks are not the most durable—the thin fabric doesn't hold up as well to repeated washings—and you have to purchase the filters separately. Our younger kid testers also needed help putting the filter into the mask, which can definitely be a drawback if you're running late and trying to do it in a rush (not that I would know, wink wink).
Hi, I'm Anna Lane. I was a comedian and freelance comedy writer for many years before joining the staff at Reviewed as the Parenting editor. I live in Los Angeles with my husband and our two children: a son who is 8-and-a-half and a daughter who is 7. Yes, they are 18 months apart, and no, it was not planned that way. My reviews are informed by my life as a working mom who wishes she had the ability to be in two places at once. I enjoy helping other overwhelmed, exhausted parents find the answers to such burning parenting questions as: What Nerf gun should I buy?, Which matching family pajamas are softest?, and Why does my child always tell me about the class bake sale the night before? I fear that I will never find the answer to that last query, but I do suggest that you stock up on my favorite organic cake mix.
As with most things related to children and parenting, what works for one kid is likely to not work for another, and face masks are no exception. We wanted to have kids of all different ages, face shapes, and sizes test out masks so that we could truly get a sense of which one is the best for most kids. Thankfully, we have plenty of parents on staff here who were willing to cajole their children into testing masks all in the name of scientific research. Our testers ranged in age from 2-and-a-half to 13, and they put each of the masks through the same set of testing. Parents got involved to see how the masks washed and dried, but our (very opinionated) kids took the lead on everything else.
What You Should Know About Buying Face Masks For Kids
It needs to fit
If the mask doesn't fit well, your kid is going to spend all day fussing with it, and that means they're not likely to want to wear it again in the future. Not to mention the fact that an ill-fitting mask that doesn't cover the nose and the mouth is one that won't do much to protect anyone from a virus. The key is to look for a mask that's specifically sized for kids and that features adjustable ear loops.
Your Kid Should Like It
It's a lot harder to convince a kid to wear something that they don't like, and that's especially true with face masks. Find a brand that offers plenty of appealing kid-friendly prints, and let them select the ones they're most excited to wear every day. Never underestimate the power of a child's buy-in.
School days are long, and school days with a mask can feel even longer. Your child is going to be way more enthusiastic about going to school in a mask if they have one that doesn't hurt their ears or make them feel like they're gasping for breath. Plus, kids who live in perennially warm climates will want a face mask that doesn't feel thick or make them sweat too much.
It Needs To Be Easy To Clean
Did you know that you're supposed to wash your reusable face masks after every wear? Yes, it's true, and if you think about how dirty and germy kids tend to be, it makes a lot of sense. Pick a mask that can be thrown in the washer so that you're not spending your precious Netflix time standing over the bathroom sink washing face masks.
Other Face Masks For Kids We Tested
Disney Cloth Face Masks
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: No Different sizes: Yes How to wash: Machine wash and dry
Don't underestimate the power of a beloved Disney character to motivate your child to do something they don't want to do. All of our kid testers were excited to try out the Disney Cloth Face Masks they received, and my 8- and 7-year-olds actually argued over which one of them got to wear the Baby Yoda mask.
Made with a double layer of soft cotton fabric, the Disney masks aren't as breathable as some of the other masks that we tested, but they fit snugly, and were easy for our kid testers to put on and take off. The straps are not adjustable, which meant some of our testers ended up having to futz with their masks to get them positioned correctly, but overall the Disney masks were a winner for both appearance and comfort. One of our testers said that the straps started to hurt his ears after a few hours of wear, but it didn't dissuade him from wanting to wear them again thanks to the Star Wars-themed prints. They also wash well—simply toss them in the washing machine and dry on low—and they didn't lose their shape or fade a lot after repeated washings (though they did shrink slightly).
No mask is perfect, however and we did find one major drawback to the Disney masks: They run incredibly small. The princess-themed "youth small" size masks that I ordered for my 7-year-old were so tiny that we ended up giving them to our toddler neighbor, and our oldest tween tester found the mask to be slightly too snug. It would be wise to order one size up to ensure that your child doesn't end up with a set of four adorable masks that they can't wear.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: No Different sizes: No How to wash: Machine wash and dry
One of the strangest things about the Gap masks is that, despite ordering the exact same product in two different prints, one set of our masks had adjustable straps and the other did not. It's worth noting that the masks pictured on the Gap site also don't have adjustable straps—and none of the other Reviewed kids received masks with adjustable straps—so it may have just been a manufacturing mistake.
Our kid testers were evenly split with regards to the Gap masks: Half really liked them, and the other half really did not. The masks fit our tween and teen testers well, but were way too big for our younger kids with smaller faces. In fact, the mask was so big on my 7-year-old daughter's face that it covered not only her mouth and nose, but also most of her eyes! Even when she tried the adjustable strap version, the mask was just way too big and not wearable.
Our testers liked the selection of prints and patterns, as well as the breathability of these masks. On our younger testers the masks tended to gape open on the sides, which meant that they weren't providing as much protection as a well-fitting mask should.
As far as washing and drying, the Gap masks performed well and didn't lose their shape (other than getting somewhat wrinkled), but the fabric was thin and didn't seem as though it would hold up to the hard use—and repeated washings—that a kid's daily mask requires.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Ear loops Filter: No Different sizes: Yes How to wash: Machine wash and dry
You know that age-old saying "you get what you pay for?" Well, that's definitely true when it comes to the kids masks from Shein. To be fair, these were not the worst masks that we tested, but they were the ones that felt the cheapest. Made from just one thin piece of polyester, these masks are not adjustable and don't provide an extra layer of protection.
Some of our testers really liked these masks, however. One of our pickiest testers actually rated this one very highly, and said that it was the most comfortable of the bunch, and one of our 8-year-old testers gave it a rave review, saying, "It’s very good. Other kids should try it out. It’s very comfortable, and it looks very cute." Whereas the Shein masks fit a number of our kid testers very well, my kids kept having to adjust theirs in order to get them to stay in place, which did get annoying after a while.
Shein masks lost points is for the fabric quality. Yes, the patterns are cute, but after just one to two washes the ear holes started to fray, leading us to wonder how many washes these could withstand before they unraveled all together.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: None Filter: No Different sizes: No How to wash: Machine wash, dry flat
While gaiters can be controversial—and aren't allowed in some school districts or on airplanes—the no-ear-loops design is definitely appealing. My kids were especially excited to test out the Meakeize gaiter-style masks, as it's the kind their dad wears. Made from lightweight microfiber polyester, these were the most breathable masks that we tested, but it did leave us parents wondering just how effective these would be when it comes to keeping everyone safe from germs.
These were definitely one of the easiest masks to put on, since kids simply have to pull it over their head. However, one of our kid testers pointed out that this style wouldn't work for her cousin with cochlear implants, as they would be knocked off when putting on or removing the mask.
Our kids, in general, really liked the look of these masks, and some of our younger testers even turned theirs into headbands when they weren't wearing them over their face. Perhaps not the most hygienic way to carry a mask, but creative (and fashionable) nonetheless. Overall though, the Meakeize masks didn't stay on very well. My kids found them fine for the initial wearing, but after they got stretched out they wouldn't stay up at all.
While I found this style of mask to work best for keeping my son's glasses from getting fogged up, one of our other testers said that he didn't like that when he breathed in through the Meakeize that the fabric was also drawn into his mouth. Our tween testers reported that the gaiter style of the Meakeize was great for use with a bike helmet, though they also had problems getting the masks to stay on their faces.
The Meakeize masks wash well and dry quickly thanks to the thin material, but they do get stretched out after just one wash, which made them pretty much unusable for most of our younger testers.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Loops Filter: Filter pocket Different sizes: Yes
How to wash: Machine wash and dry
In normal times, The Odells design and manufacture designer clothes that are absolutely gorgeous. With everyone at home and in sweatpants, the company pivoted to face mask production using leftover fabric from their clothing pieces. I was excited for our kids to try their cotton masks because I'd seen other kids wearing them, and they looked soft, comfortable, and easy to adjust. Unfortunately, they sent everyone adult-sized masks, which were way too big for our younger tester's faces.
The kids who were able to test these masks liked how adjustable the straps were and reported that they stayed in place without having to be adjusted very much. The fabric pattern wasn't especially kid-friendly, but it was neutral enough that our tween testers weren't embarrassed about having to wear it. Still, some of our kids did find the dangling adjustable straps to be annoying.
The masks are lined with super soft jersey cotton, and can be used with a filter that can be tucked between the two layers. One thing worth noting about The Odells masks is that they are pretty thick, and get really hot on warm days, making them a less-than-ideal choice during the summer, or for kids who live in hotter climates.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Loops Filter: Yes Different sizes: No How to wash: Unclear
The feature that differentiates the AirPop mask is its cushioned nose seal, which is basically a piece of foam that fits over the nose. This sounds great in theory, but our testers unanimously hated the way it felt. One 9-year-old tester said, "I don’t like the mask. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and it’s itchy. Zero out of 10." All of the kids felt that the nose cushion made it hard to breathe through their nose because it constricted their nostrils, and not one enjoyed being forced to breathe through their mouth into a mask (yuck).
Our kid testers also took major issue with the aesthetic of the AirPop masks. The kids' version comes in only two colors, baby blue, and nursery pink, which felt far too juvenile for kids who are old enough—and therefore opinionated enough—to have to wear face masks. Also, they just look ugly and far less cool than say, wearing a Baby Yoda mask.
Parents did like that the AirPop mask has a built-in filter, but where the AirPop lost major points is with their confusing messaging about how to wash the masks. The website states that AirPop masks can be hand-washed or machine-washed on delicate, but the insert that came in the package with the masks stated that they couldn't be washed. They feel like disposable masks, so most of our testers tossed them out after a few wears, but one parent did wash it on gentle and didn't have issues with it falling apart. However, this feels like a pretty important aspect to mess up, especially since keeping masks clean (if they are reusable) is vitally important.
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Loops Filter: Yes; five filters included Different sizes: No How to wash: Dishwasher
Quite a few of our kid testers were excited to try the GIR face masks thanks to the selection of bright, florescent colors. Unfortunately, the GIR masks did not live up to the hype. While they fit our youngest testers well, our kids who were over the age of 5 found that the straps were slightly too tight over their ears. The GIR masks are made from stretchy silicone, but it doesn't provide quite enough give for older kids and tweens with larger faces.
Aside from the fit, however, the biggest issue with the GIR masks was that they require the use of a disposable filter. That in and of itself is not an issue—our Best Value winner from Vistaprint does as well—but the disposable filters that come with the GIR masks don't stay in place inside the mask. In fact, the disposable filters that were in the package do not bear any resemblance to the filters on GIR’s website. Those filters look like they’re designed to fit perfectly into the mask, whereas the filters that we received look like they’re for an entirely different product. The instructions ask you to cut the filter in half and then, presumably, use the single remaining sticky patch to adhere it to the silicone mask. But because the sticky patch is in the center, it has to stick to the perforated part of the silicone, and it simply did not adhere. In addition, because the filters weren't sized to fit the mask, they got all wrinkled up inside the mask, making it incredibly uncomfortable against a child's face. My kids found it to be so uncomfortable that they couldn't stand wearing them for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
The most disappointing thing about the GIR masks is that they were actually pretty great when used without the filter (which, of course, makes them totally pointless, since they have holes in them). They stayed in place without having to be adjusted, most of our kid testers found the bright colors and stretchy silicone appealing, and they were super easy to wash—just toss it in your dishwasher and be on your way. Plus, these glow in the dark, a feature that I really liked considering how often we're out walking or scootering after dark.
Avocado Organic Cotton Face Masks - Child, Tie Straps
Adjustable nose wire: No Ear loops or ties: Ties Filter: No Different sizes: No How to wash: Machine wash and dry
Without exception, every single one of our kids hated this mask. Honestly, I get it: The cloth is stiff canvas, the ties are hard to do oneself, and it looks like you have a giant cloth diaper tied to your face. Since we tested these masks, Avocado has introduced a version with elastic loops and in different patterns and colors, but the basic organic cotton face mask was not a favorite for our kids.
While all of the parents liked that these were made from organic cotton, the biggest issue with these masks is that most kids are totally incapable of tying them on themselves. Even if your kid is old enough to be adept at tying their shoes, it's a whole other skill to be able to tie two straps around the back of one's head. Plus, the thick cotton fabric made the straps really difficult to work with, and they didn't stay tied well. As one of my colleagues said, "The ties make it adjustable, but because the material has no elasticity, we were basically strapping it down to his head. Canvas is just a terrible material for this purpose. It gave him no control over the fit and he immediately refused to wear it."
These masks may claim to be a kids' size, but the actual mask itself is huge, like so big that it covered my 7-year-old's entire face. It did shrink significantly in the wash, but it came out so wrinkly that it looked awful, and no overworked parent has the time or inclination to iron a face mask.
I think the parent of one of our testers put it best when she said, "As a mother, I absolutely hated this mask because it is so difficult for the kids to put on and off, and the material is so thick and unmalleable that it’s difficult for them to breathe through." I don't disagree, and I admit that I tossed these masks into the textile recycling bin with epic glee.
Prior to joining Reviewed as the Parenting Editor, Anna worked as a stand-up comedian and freelance writer. A graduate of New York University, Anna currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.