17 Best Face Masks We Actually Like to Wear (Updated 2022)

A few more months pass, and another wave hits the United States. Right now, the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is the dominant strain in the United States. In mid-April, the city of Philadelphia became the first major city to reinstate a masked mandate to protect itself and others from Covid-19. Shortly afterwards, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced it would extend the mask mandate to aircraft and public transportation until May. (O is the extended term? Who knows more.)

A good face mask is a key tool to help curb the spread of Covid-19. We have been equipping our children and adapting our practices as new science-based recommendations emerge. These are some of the masks and masking practices that I and other WIRED staff use. Keep a mask on, but remember to stay home when possible, increase ventilation indoors, test regularly, and keep yourself at least 6 feet away from others in public (preferably outdoors).

How we choose masks

Earlier this year, the CDC updated its mask guide to say that N95 masks and respirators offer maximum protection. The ASTM International Materials Testing Organization also recently published the first manufacturing standards on what constitutes good facial coverage. In accordance with these guidelines, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health now recommends that if you go to the office, wear a mask that meets the ASTM minimum work performance guidelines.

The new guidelines and standards make it very difficult for me to recommend the fabric facials we recommended before the pandemic. Every mask maker will need time to test their products. In the meantime, make sure your mask follows the CDC’s recommended guidelines, fits well, and is clean. A good reusable mask should completely cover the nose and mouth, use at least two coats of cloth and be washable. When I receive a mask, I first use the light and candle test: can I see the light through the fabric? Can I put out a candle while I carry it? The fabric of the mask should be tight enough to prevent you from doing any of these things. Then I take them to buy or walk my dog.

At the end of this list, we have included some tips on mask care and choosing the best type of mask straps. Be sure to check out our guide to the best facial masks for kids and how to prevent and treat acne.

Updated April 2022: We’ve updated our guide to adding information about the Omicron subvariant and links to our disposable mask summary.

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