• Athleta Non Medical Face Masks

  • How We Tested

  • Ear Loops vs Ties: Which Face Mask Style is Best for You?

  • Other Face Masks We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Best Overall Face Mask
Credit: Reviewed / Jamie Ueda

The Athleta mask strikes a nice balance between providing protection and breathability.

Best Overall
Athleta Non Medical Face Masks

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: No
Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash, lay flat to dry

Athleta is known for its functional workout and active lifestyle clothing, so I was very curious about how their masks would perform. After hours of wearing them, the face coverings were better than I expected. While the material is thinner than other masks, each one is triple-layered, providing more protection. It strikes a nice balance between providing protection and breathability, especially in hot and humid temperatures. The mask is comfortable to wear for long periods at a time, as they have adjustable ear loops for a customized fit and an adjustable nose piece. The one drawback is that you can’t put them in the dryer, which can be an inconvenience. However, I did throw one in the dryer and it came out fine. If you do this repeatedly, though, your mask may wear out faster.

Pros

  • Three layers of fabric

  • Comfortable to wear

  • Easy to adjust

  • Breathable

Cons

  • Care instructions: lay flat to dry

How We Tested

face mask selfie
Credit: Reviewed / Jamie Ueda

We evaluated each mask for comfort, fit, effectiveness, quality, and overall experience.

The Tester

Hi, I’m Jamie Ueda and I write about clothing, shoes, and accessories for Reviewed. I love apparel and don’t like to sacrifice fashion, comfort, or quality in my clothing—especially when it comes to face masks. Before joining the team at Reviewed, I spent years in the apparel and textile industry (most recently at Nike), doing everything from design to material development to evaluating textiles, so I can confidently say that not all cloth face masks are created equal.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been covering face masks for Reviewed, helping readers sift through all the masks online and arming them with the knowledge of what to look for in a mask. Not to mention, I live in New York City, which at one point was one of the biggest hotspots for coronavirus. That being said, masks have become a part of my everyday life when grocery shopping, running or walking outside, and participating in other socially-distant activities, so I know just how important it is to have a good one.

The Tests

I tested masks over the course of four weeks, wearing each one for a minimum of two hours. With the help of Reviewed’s Senior Scientist, Julia, I developed a questionnaire to score each face covering in the following categories: comfort, fit, effectiveness, quality, and the overall experience of wearing the mask.

To test wearability and comfort, I first evaluated how easy it was to put on and take off each mask. I also noted if adjustments were needed for the nose wire, ear loops, or ties to keep the mask in place. I then walked in each mask for 20 minutes outside in my neighborhood, monitoring whether or not they stayed in place, made it easy to breathe, and fogged up my glasses. I also wore each mask for a minimum of two hours to see how comfortable they were to wear long-term.

Next, I assessed the effectiveness of each mask by evaluating the material and the fit. To offer the most protection, the material should be tightly woven and have multiple layers. The mask should also fit snugly around your face (you want to create a seal around the outside of your mask and your face). Unfortunately, thick and tight material and a snug fit make it more difficult to breathe. When I started wearing masks in March, I didn’t notice any issues with breathability since temperatures were cooler. However, with the summer heat, it’s important to have a mask that provides as much protection and comfort as it does breathability. This way, you won’t feel like you’re suffocating and want to take your mask off constantly. We did not test any filters with masks because currently there is no evidence if filters offer better protection and if they are safe to use.

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To test the quality of the face masks, I washed them according to their care instructions and looked for any post-cleaning damage. I also noted if their laundering instructions were inconvenient (i.e. if the mask was hand wash only). I also examined the fabric to see if it was substantial or flimsy, and I looked at the overall sewing construction of the mask.

Ear Loops vs Ties: Which Face Mask Style is Best for You?

When choosing a mask, one thing to take into account is how long you plan on wearing it. Are you wearing it for a trip to the grocery store, a socially distant trip outside, or for an all-day affair?

If you’re wearing your mask outside and want to pull it down for a short break when no one is around, you'll probably want one with ear loops, since they make this easy to do. However, if you’re wearing a mask for hours or have sensitive ears, you may want ties. This is because ear loops can become uncomfortable after a while.

Another perk to ties I found while testing is that they allow for a tighter fit to your face, meaning better protection. The downside to masks with ties is that they take more fidgeting to adjust properly, and they’re not as easy to remove and put back on if you want a quick mask break. Also, depending on the shape of your head and hair type, the ties can slip off occasionally and get caught in your hair if you’re not careful.


Other Face Masks We Tested

Tom Bihn V1 Reusable Cloth Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: No
Different sizes: S/M, M/L
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

Here at Reviewed, we are big fans of Tom Bihn. The brand makes the best carry-on under seat luggage and one of our favorite carry-on bags. Not to mention, a few of our editors are self-proclaimed “Tom Bihn nerds” (they own the masks now, of course). That being said, it’s no surprise we love the brand’s masks. This mask is comfortable to wear due to the soft ear loops, and because of its construction, it does not cling to my face. The material is also densely woven (meaning more protection), but not thick to the point where it becomes hard to breathe.

While we love that the masks come in different sizes, the fit might not be perfect for everyone. I ordered the smallest size, and it runs slightly large on me. However, it’s still wearable.

A few of the Reviewed editors who purchased the Tom Bihn face mask gave it rave reviews. Our editor, Seamus, loves the unique nose piece. He says, “I think the best bit is that for the nose piece, instead of sewing in a piece of metal for you to bend that you can't replace should it break, they use twist ties. This significantly lengthens the long-term wearability of the mask.”

Pros

  • Easy to adjust nose wire

  • Replaceable nose wire

  • Multiple sizes

Cons

  • Fit may be loose on smaller faces

Summersalt Face Coverings

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Adjustable ear loops
Filter: No
Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and lay flat to dry

If you love Summersalt swimsuits just as much as we do, you’ll love the look of their masks. The face coverings come in a 3-pack that includes two cute patterned masks that feature the same material as their trendy swimsuits and a solid black one. Each mask is triple-layered, and the inner two layers are thick woven cotton which offers more protection. This mask is also a “cone” shape. This gives a snug fit around the border of the mask, providing protection while leaving some space between your face and the material. This is good for someone who doesn’t like it when masks press against their nose and mouth. The ear loops and nose piece on each mask are adjustable, but I found that the nose piece did not work very well and required constant adjustments.

Pros

  • Three layers of fabric

  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Care instructions: do not tumble dry

  • Nose wire needs re-adjustment

Plover Organic Cotton Face Masks

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: No

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

Plover started as an organic cotton bedding company, so it’s no surprise that their face masks are also made of their 100% organic cotton bedding material. This mask was one of the softest materials out of the ones I tested, and it was comfortable to wear. The ear loops were not extremely tight around my ears, and the bendable nose piece kept my glasses from fogging up. Although the mask fit well, it could have been tighter to my face and didn't offer as much protection as other more fitted masks.

Pros

  • Two layers of fabric

  • Comfortable to wear

  • Soft material

Cons

  • Weak elastic ear loops

Vistaprint Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: Yes—Filter pocket; One filter included
Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

Vistaprint, a custom print company, is making and selling masks. Their face coverings have soft seams, adjustable nose pieces, and ear loops—all making the masks comfortable to wear. The problem with them, however, is that they may not offer as much protection. The outer layer of each mask is a stretchy knit and the inner layer is thinner cotton. It does come with its own filter, though, which can help make up for the weaker material. The problem: the filters are not reusable, meaning when you need more, you’ll either have to make your own or buy more from their website.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear

  • One filter included

  • Easy to adjust

Cons

  • Not as protective without filter

TakeCare Supply Mask Bundle

Adjustable nose wire: No
Ear loops or ties: Ties
Filter: Yes—Filter pocket; no filters included

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

The Take Care mask is good for someone who prefers to tie their mask around their head. The ties are soft, stretchy, and comfortable, although they were prone to slipping on my head and may need some adjustment. The mask also provides decent protection, as the outer layer is a thicker fabric while the inner layer is softer with a pocket for a filter. One downside to them is that the sizing seems to be inconsistent. The 3-pack of masks I ordered fit my face perfectly, but our Shopping Director, Sam, ordered the same 3-pack and received completely different sizes, although they claim to only sell and make one size. Sam's Take Care masks are so big, they cover her entire face. Luckily, her husband has a large head and the masks work for him. The other potential dealbreaker is the shipping. They ship from Canada, so you may have to pay a foreign transaction fee if you are ordering from the U.S., and both Sam and I did not receive the masks until weeks after ordering them.

Pros

  • Fits snug to face

  • Two layers of fabric

Cons

  • Shipping takes a long time

  • Sizing inconsistent

  • Ties can slip

Áplat Cotton Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: No
Ear loops or ties: Ties
Filter: No

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

Out of all the masks we tested, this one has the thickest material and the most snug fit, making it one of the best cloth masks in terms of protection. However, due to the material thickness, it is difficult to breathe in this mask during the summer heat and humidity. Another downside is that the ties which secure the mask to your face can slip leading to constant re-adjustments.

Pros

  • Quality fabric

  • Fits snug to face

Cons

  • Hard to breathe in heat and humidity

  • Ties can slip

ShiitakeCreek Double Layer Cotton Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: No
Ear loops or ties: Ties
Filter: Yes—Filter pocket; no filters included

Different sizes: XS, S/M, L
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

This homemade mask is sold by Etsy seller Shiitake Creek. It's made of good quality fabric, has a pocket to place your own filter, and offers a very snug fit to your face. One drawback is that the elastic used to secure the mask on the face is short, making it complicated to tie around the head. Also, due to the thickness of the fabric, it can be hard to breathe in high heat and humidity, making it is a better mask for cooler temperatures.

Pros

  • Quality fabric

  • Snug fit to face

Cons

  • Ties are short and can slip

  • Hard to breathe in high heat and humidity

MaskClub Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: No
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: Yes—Filter pocket; no filters included

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

MaskClub launched as an effort to help a local hospital in Michigan with personal protective equipment and has since started selling face masks across the U.S. This mask is pretty basic; it has two layers of material and is pleated with a pocket for your own filter. Even though the mask has double layers, it’s on the thinner side, making it less protective. Although I thought the thin material would make the mask more breathable, it actually felt a bit suffocating to wear. While on a longer walk with it on, the fabric would cling to my face with each breath I took. It also does not have an adjustable nose wire or ear loops.

Pros

  • Two layers of fabric

  • Fun prints

Cons

  • Thin material

Alice+Olivia Staceface Protective Face Mask

Adjustable nose wire: No
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: No

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

I wanted to love this mask because I’m a huge fan of the fashion brand Alice and Olivia and am obsessed with their classic Staceface print that covers it. However, even though the mask is double-layered, its knit material offers less protection. The fit of this mask also wasn’t ideal, as it left gaps around my nose and cheeks. One of our editors, Nicole, ordered this mask for herself and also did not like it. She says, “It’s nowhere near as cute as the picture. Most masks on me are slightly oversized, but this one is so huge and shapeless.”

Pros

  • Fun print

Cons

  • Shipping takes a long time

  • Does not fit snug to face

T-Masks

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: No

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Machine wash and dry

T-Masks is a company that turns t-shirts into face masks. Their face coverings are double-layered and come with what the company calls a “fabric-based filter” that’s sewn between the two layers. They allow you to adjust the fit around the nose and chin, but I found neither were great at helping to achieve a tight fit.

Pros

  • Three layers of fabric

  • Comes in multiple sizes

Cons

  • Nose and chin wire are hard to adjust

Amadi Around-The-Head Reusable Face Masks

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Both options available
Filter: No

Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Hand wash only

Fashion retailer Anthropologie carries a ton of masks from contemporary fashion brand Amadi. These masks come in a variety of patterns and colors. The best part—customers have the option to select masks with either ear loops or elastic bands that go around your head when purchasing. I opted for the mask with elastic bands and unfortunately found it disappointing. The bottom piece of elastic is so loose that it doesn’t help secure the mask to your face. It does have an adjustable nose piece, but the material is very thin, and it doesn’t offer as much protection as other masks. Another downside is that the instructions state to hand wash, which is inconvenient for those who prefer to machine wash items.

Pros

  • Adjustable nose wire

  • Available in many patterns and colors

Cons

  • Care instructions: hand wash, lay flat to dry

  • Material is thin

  • Elastic is too big

Sanctuary 5 Pack Fashion PPE Masks

Adjustable nose wire: Yes
Ear loops or ties: Ear loops
Filter: Built-in filter
Different sizes: One size
How to wash: Hand wash only

When I saw the trendy camo and animal prints on fashion brand Sanctuary’s masks, I fell in love. I was so excited to try these out, but the hype was short-lived. Yes, the masks were as chic as they looked online, but they are hand wash only, which is inconvenient compared to others that you can toss in the washer and dryer. The biggest issue: While all the other fabric masks we tested are reusable and can withstand multiple washes, these masks come with instructions to dispose of them after a few uses, which at $28 for a 5-pack is a pretty expensive disposable mask.

Pros

  • Available in trendy prints

Cons

  • Dispose of masks after a few uses

  • Care instructions: hand wash

  • Filter bunches up

Meet the tester

Jamie Ueda

Jamie Ueda

Apparel Staff Writer

Jamie writes about clothing, shoes, and accessories for Reviewed. She loves apparel and doesn't like to sacrifice fashion, comfort, or quality in whatever she wears.

See all of Jamie Ueda's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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