Looking for a new face mask but having trouble making a decision? After researching over 75 products, we chose 13 top options available today to test side-by-side. We understand that it can be difficult to assess the breathability, fit, and comfort of a mask without trying it on, so we're here to help. We put each one through weeks of testing to ensure you have access to enough information to make a purchase you won't regret. Whether you're looking for something lightweight for the gym or professional for work, we have an option to fit your needs and budget.
Number of Masks: 1 | Main Material: Organic cotton
REASONS TO BUY
Adjustable ear straps
Pocket for filter
REASONS TO AVOID
The purchase price is for only one mask
The Graf Lantz Zenbu Organic Cotton offers a wide but lightweight metal noseband that helps keep it in place. Unlike the smaller wire bands on other masks, this one is highly durable, as long as you don't fold it completely in half. If adjusted correctly, the noseband does not contribute to any glasses fog. The fit follows the face's natural contour, curving nicely under the chin and offering a little extra space for the cheekbones. The elastic ear bands come complete with adjustable stoppers for a versatile fit, and the dart placement allows the mask to cup the face without touching the lips. The 100% organic cotton is comfortable and mostly breathable, and the filter pocket is made to fit standard PM 2.5 Filters.
This reusable mask can be washed and dried as long as you tumble dry on low. It is a little pricey for just one mask, but if you're looking for a favorite, this one will probably be it. Just be sure to wash it often and replace your disposable filters. The multiple layers can also get a little warm, but overall the Graf Lantz Zenbu is super comfortable, versatile, and durable, so if you don't mind spending a few extra bucks, you won't regret it.
What is a PM filter, and what will it protect you against?
The PM stands for particulate matter. This means that a PM 2.5 filter will filter out particles that are 2.5 microns (or micrometers) or larger in diameter. According to the National Library of Medicine, sneezing can produce as many as 40,000 droplets between 0.5–12 microns. So, masks outfitted with a PM 2.5 filter are not without their benefits, but they do not have 100% efficacy.
The Base Camp Cloth 4D fit allows the mask to follow the contour of the face without touching the lips. The top flap fits nicely over the nose, complete with a bendable nose wire, which helps mitigate glasses fog. The bottom flap folds out easily, cupping the chin, effectively avoiding bunching, gaping, and air escaping. The ear loops are stretchy and adjustable, ensuring a versatile fit. This face mask features three layers of 100% cotton and a filter pocket for added protection. Your purchase comes with two masks, so you can wash one while you wear the other.
Unfortunately, the Base Camp must be washed by hand and hung or laid flat to dry. This isn't too cumbersome, but if machine washability is a must for you, you may want to check out some of our other options. This mask is also somewhat large and stiff, making for a breathable mask, but it may feel a little large on some petite faces. Still, the Base Camp is a great option if you're looking for a high-quality, budget-friendly adjustable mask.
The Perry Ellis Reusable Pleated 3-Pack is a set of lightweight, reusable masks. They are 100% cotton, which helps with their breathability, comfort, and versatility. The multiple layers help protect you and those around you, and the built-in pocket offers the option to add a disposable filter. The lightweight cotton also helps keep the face from sweating, which renders them great for exercising, and the fun color options are sure to match any outfit. The half-inch triple pleats and fully adjustable ear straps help the mask fit a wide variety of faces, and the adjustable nose wire helps keep it in place while mitigating glasses fog. These masks are durable and machine washable, but it is best to air dry them on a flat surface. This ensures that the pleats remain pleated and the mask itself does not shrink in the dryer.
The Perry Ellis masks are a good fit for most. That said, those of us with smaller faces felt as though there was an excess of fabric, which can affect comfort and fit. The nose wire helps a lot with glasses fog; however, it does not completely absolve you of this issue. It is also worth noting that the small beads that make the ear straps adjustable can fall off in the wash, so it is best to tie a small knot to ensure they don't slip off. Overall the Perry Ellis is a very versatile option at a great price.
Number of Masks: 1 | Main Material: Cotton and rayon
REASONS TO BUY
Adjustable ear loops
Pocket for filter
REASONS TO AVOID
Expands and contracts while breathing
Too small for larger faces
The WeddingStar Washable Cloth Face Mask is a well-constructed, comfortable fashion mask that can be worn to the gym, work, or even to a wedding, hence the name. The ear straps and nose bridge wire are easily adjustable and do not deteriorate with washing. This mask comes in many fun patterns like cheetah print and more subdued ones like plain charcoal grey. WeddingStar offers their own disposable filters made specifically for this mask as well as 3-packs if you are looking to stock up. This is a great option for those who wear glasses, as the fit encourages air to escape the bottom of the mask rather than the top, leaving your glasses fog-free.
Although it fits nicely and seals the face as intended, the fabric seems to expand and contract with each breath. At times, the material touches your lips or nose when inhaling. Since the fabric is pretty breathable, this didn't bother our testers. Still, it is a caveat worth noting for those who may be irked by a mask that does not remain fully off the face. It also runs on the smaller side. If you seek a larger fit, you should go with another option. Overall, the WeddingStar is a great choice for individuals that desire aesthetic options without sacrificing comfort.
How to Improve Your Mask's Effectiveness
It is one thing to wear a mask, but it's another to wear it right. Making sure that your mask fits snug to your face and over your nose are just two requirements that the CDC emphasizes. It is important to wear your mask correctly to ensure that you and those around you are properly protected.
The Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask Kit comes with one washable mask and three disposable filters. Multiple layers are a great way to provide additional protection, and, in this case, they don't inhibit the wearer's ability to breathe. The mask itself is very comfortable — the nose bridge wire and middle seam provide structure, and the mask fits a wide array of faces. Because of the form-fitting upper half of the mask, this is a great choice for those who wear glasses. Once the fit is adjusted properly, the mask stays put, ideal for both indoor and outdoor exercise. On top of all that, it's very durable and withstood multiple washes without any sign of wear.
Despite the great fit on the cheeks and nose, the bottom half of the Outdoor Research Essential Kit is rather large. Those with smaller facial features will find it too baggy. While this isn't a problem in terms of comfort, the CDC claims a snug-fitting mask offers more protection. Additionally, the mask is light as a feather and breathable. However, our testers with sensitive skin reported the disposable filters are a little scratchy, so keep that in mind.
The Hotodeal is a pack of 20 disposable KN95 masks. With its adjustable nose wire and structured build, this mask is surprisingly comfortable. The middle seam and stiff, thick cotton keep the mask from expanding and contracting when you breathe, allowing for plenty of room and improved breathability. The snug fit also helps keep moisture particles from escaping. Even though the Hotodeal is disposable, they are very durable and great for days when you need to stay protected for an extended period.
A tight seal, which provides the proper protection, is not always the most comfortable. The ear straps on the Hotodeal are not adjustable, which makes this mask a smidge too tight for larger faces. Even when adjusted perfectly, the nose wire is still the mask's loosest part, causing air to flow up and out towards your eyes when exhaling and contributing to glasses fog. The thick multilayered cotton, while breathable, also gets warm if you are breathing heavily, so it's not the best option for exercise. The last bone we have to pick with the Hotodeal Kn95 is rather trivial, but the mask is not versatile in its appearance. It is a little awkward looking and protrudes far out from the mouth. However, this is a great option for anyone looking for a structured and sturdy disposable mask.
N95, KN95, FFP2 - What Is the Difference?
While cloth masks are generally more fun, fashionable, and comfortable, it's important to keep in mind that they aren't as effective as an N95, KN95, or FFP2 mask. So, depending on what you are doing and where you are going, it's preferable to keep some of these on hand. But what is the difference? Turns out, not much. An N95 mask is manufactured in the U.S. and differs from a surgical mask in that the edges create a tight seal around the face. They are considered the gold standard in both the medical world and in construction fields. KN95 masks are very similar, though because they are manufactured in China, they aren't approved for medical settings in the U.S. - which is why there have been shortages of N95s. KN95 masks are also foldable down the middle, while N95 masks are not. Both have been tested to filter out 95% of small particulates. An FFP2 mask is simply the European version of an N95.
Why You Should Trust Us
Nothing is more important than keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe, but you don't have to sacrifice comfort and style to do so! Our review process goes far beyond just testing these items. In the weeks before ordering our face mask test suite, we took our time doing plenty of research. We dove deeply into verified customer experiences and spent many hours researching what people like you look for in a good mask. Once we decide on what to buy, we determine our testing criteria and compare everything side-by-side. We wore each mask to the grocery store, the gym, inside, outside, and more. We washed the washable options and re-wore the disposable ones. We were sure to test the masks out on different sized and shaped faces for comfort, breathability, fit, versatility, and durability.
Our testing of face masks is divided across four different metrics:
Comfort and Fit (40% of overall score weighting)
Breathability (30% weighting)
Versatility (20% weighting)
Quality (10% weighting)
The person in charge of this review is Hayley Thomas from Denver, Colorado. She is active in her travels and enjoys everything from the busy city to the quiet outdoors. From climbing to coffee shops, Hayley is adamant about staying healthy and out of harm's way.
Analysis and Test Results
To ensure that our comparisons are accurate, we chose five different metrics to emphasize during our testing phase. Read on to learn about our findings for each metric.
To rate the value of each mask, we take into consideration how well each one performs versus the price. The range is vast, and it is important to note that price does not equal quality. In this case, we factor how many masks are included in the package, whether or not they are washable and reusable, and their general durability.
The Perry Ellis and Base Camp stand out for their high performances matched with budget-friendly prices. The Ellis is a machine-washable three-pack that didn't pop a stitch during our initial testing or the year after, in which we continued to wear it. One might think that a mask this durable would come at a high price, but this pack is actually on the lower end of the price spectrum per mask for a reusable option.
The Base Camp is a more structured option, with fold-out nose and chin flaps, ensuring full facial coverage. This two-pack requires hand washing and hang drying, but following this gentle cleaning routine ensures you'll get many wears.
Another honorable mention is the BeatBasic two-pack. This durable option is a crowd-pleaser at a wallet-friendly price. It can be washed and dried and worn repeatedly, although it lasts longer if you do not put it in the dryer.
The EasyEast 25-pack offers a different kind of value. This option consists of 25 single-use masks. Although they are not meant to be reused, some circumstances call for single-use items like this, and the value comes into play when you break down cost-per-wear.
Comfort and Fit
Wearing a mask doesn't have to be uncomfortable — nor should it. We found that stiff nose bridge wires, tight ear loops, and itchy materials are the top causes of discomfort. To ensure a comfortable experience, we test each mask on multiple people. We also test each option in various situations, from sitting in coffee shops to exercising, both with and without glasses.
The Graf Lantz Zenbu is roomy but semi-structured, ensuring plenty of space between the mask and your nose and mouth. It is made up of three pleated organic cotton layers and comes with adjustable ear straps and a wide, flat nose wire.
The BAGGU 3-Pack Fabric Loop Set and Base Camp sets both offer a unique nose and chin flap. This is a slightly more structured take on a face mask than most of the other options in our test suite. Although these two mask sets are very similar in size and shape, the BAGGU is itchy for the first few washes, making the Base Camp a more comfortable option. The scratchy material will likely not affect you if you do not have very sensitive skin.
The WeddingStar and Enro Tech Mask both offer a more traditional face mask shape. The WeddingStar can be a little snug, so it is best for petite faces, while the Enro comes in various sizes from kids to XL. The Enro also has a slightly more prominent spot for the nose and chin. Both are made of soft, thin fabrics and have adjustable ear straps.
We also enjoyed the cotton Perry Ellis and BeatBasic. Both are well-shaped, and the pleats on the Perry Ellis are ideal for larger faces. The Outdoor Research Essential Kit has a nose bridge wire and middle seam that help provide structure and keep the mask in place, no matter what you're doing.
When wearing a mask, it can be hard not to become overly aware of your breathing. Too much hot air in the mask can be panic-inducing or just straight-up annoying, so we scored masks higher in this metric when they could move air effectively and efficiently.
Cotton is known for its breathability, and cotton masks are no exception in this department. The BeatBasic face mask is a top contender in this arena. Between its shape and the adjustable nose bridge wire, the air flows down the mask, keeping it from overheating. The Perry Ellis offers a pleated design that helps create extra room for breathability.
Graf Lants Zenbu and Base Camp are also cotton masks, but the multiple layers make them slightly less breathable. That said, both masks sit off the face a bit, creating some space between the mouth/nose and mask.
The organic cotton BAGGU and polyester Outdoor Research Essential are two more masks that are easy to breathe, despite their thicker construction. A win-win. The Enro, on the other hand, is thin and breathable. It also offers enough structure that it does not get pulled into the mouth when breathing in.
Some of us enjoy a good outfit change, but others prefer one option that works in multiple scenarios. Having a mask that looks professional for work, won't fog up your glasses, and is comfortable enough to exercise in is rather hard to find. That is why versatility is an important metric to consider.
The Graf Lantz Zenbu offers versatility in the form of a filter pocket, a wide, flat nose band, and adjustable ear straps. It fits a wide variety of faces, and it sports a nice clean look. The Base Camp is a set of two cotton masks that offer a customizable fit, filter pocket, and fun colors.
The pleated Perry Ellis is a comfortable set of three. The fun and neutral color options give it some versatility. The nose wire and ear straps offer some adjustability, and the pleated fabric is great for large and small faces.
The Enro Tech is available in various sizes, ensuring the perfect fit for any face. Enro's website even offers a size chart with proper measurements and a video on how to measure your face for the best fit. The thin wire allows for glasses wearers to enjoy a mostly fog-free experience, and the thin and breathable fabric is great for exercising.
An honorable mention is the BAGGU. This set of three features multiple colors and patterns. Those who wear glasses will be happy to hear this mask works well, while gym-goers will especially appreciate this mask is breathable enough to get a good workout in. We also find the WeddingStar and BeatBasic masks to be versatile, though in different ways. The WeddingStar comes in all kinds of fun prints and patterns to help you match any kind of wardrobe, and the BeatBasic is, as the name implies, basic in classic black.
Durability and overall quality are prime considerations to factor into the equation when choosing a face mask. A reusable mask should hold up after laundering, and disposable options should make it through the whole workday, gym session, or night out on the town. During testing, we took notice of popped stitches and ear strap elasticity resilience, along with the quality of fabric both before and after washing.
Can You Reuse Disposable Masks?
KN95 masks and other disposable masks are meant for one-time use. Some studies have explored strategies for reuse, but in general, this should be avoided.
We are happy with most of our reusable face masks' quality, but a few stand out. The BAGGU is sturdy and keeps its shape after multiple washes. The Outdoor Research is not only highly durable, but the included filters are quite robust as well.
The Graf Lantz, WeddingStar, Beat Basic, and Base Camp are all made of cotton. They showed no signs of wear after multiple washes; not one popped a stitch. The *BlackStrap Civil Face Mask is a very simple design, and the lack of moving parts makes it durable. The Enro and Perry Ellis are thin but durable.
Finally, the DemeTECH NIOSH N95 is one of the more durable disposable masks. This N95 is thick, and the attachment points are strong. We didn't have any issues with this mask during our testing.
Whether you're planning a quick trip to the grocery store or you're attending a wedding, it's important in these times to have the right mask for the job. They don't have to be uncomfortable, unfashionable, or difficult to breathe in. Without trying masks on, it can be difficult to tell what's what, which is why we had our experts test out some of the top options on the market. After ample research, weeks of wear, and multiple washes, we landed on the top contenders in this review and hope that all our hard work helps you choose the perfect mask.
To freshen up after a workout or to supplement your...
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.