If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
If you’ve got to wear a face mask — and with the threat of the latest variant Omicron it’s definitely recommended — then you should at least wear the most comfortable face masks, right?
As the COVID-19 virus continues to rage on, indoor mask mandates are still in place in many areas of the world. This season the Omicron variant is seemingly spreading faster than any other variant has before, proving that being vaccinated is no longer the only means of protection necessary to stay safe from infection.
On top of that, federal guidelines are continuing to require mask-wearing in airports, airplanes, trains, and other modes of public transportation. Many other indoor spaces such as restaurants, shopping centers, gyms, and beyond are also still requesting that patrons cover their mouths and noses with a mask when entering to protect both themselves and others.
While the mere thought of wearing a face mask may feel stifling, they still play an important role in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that even fully vaccinated people should continue wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of high transmission. That said, you’ll certainly want to find one that’s comfortable, even if you hate wearing it.
The most comfortable face masks will be breathable while filtering or blocking out particles and germs. You’ll want to find masks that are soft against your skin and that have ear loops that don’t place stress on your ears.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the most comfortable face masks we’ve tested so far, as well as our top advice on what features to look for. And if you’re looking for maximum protection, check out the best places to buy N95 face masks online, too.
Comfortable Face Masks: What Materials Should You Look For?
There’s no doubt that 2020 was the year of the face mask, and while we had hoped we’d be able to throw away our face masks by now, it wasn’t meant to be. Over the two years of the pandemic, we’ve written a lot of guides to help our readers track down the most comfortable face masks — from disposable face masks to athletic face masks, clear face masks, cloth face masks, holiday-themed face masks and even designer PPE.
The most annoying thing about face masks? They aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear, and after wearing one for more than a few hours, it’s a big relief to take it off. Many tug on your nose, irritate your ears and cause acne, or “mask-ne”, as it’s been dubbed by some. Not all masks are made equal, but thankfully, there are comfortable face masks out there worth looking into.
In general, we recommend looking for face masks made from the following materials:
- 100% cotton masks are soft but don’t provide great protection
- Pima cotton face masks are especially soft
- 100% polyester face masks are both soft and good for working out
- Cotton/Poly blends are also soft and ideal for everyday wear
- Polyester/spandex blends offer the most stretch and are ideal for exercise
Finally, you’ll want to look for face masks that have adjustable ear loops and nose guards to ensure both a secure and comfortable fit.
Are You Wearing the Right Size Face Mask?
Another key aspect of comfort when wearing face masks? The fit. While many face masks are one size fits all, many brands now offer multiple sizes.
You want a mask with plenty of room to stretch from the tip of your nose to the bottom of your chin so you can breathe, move your lips to talk and flex your facial muscles. Face masks that are too small can tug on your ears via their straps and face masks that are too large fall down and need constant adjustment. You also want to avoid touching your face whilst wearing your mask as much as possible to avoid infection.
Comparing the Most Comfortable Face Masks
Here are some of the most comfortable face masks you can find out there. They’re made of high-quality fabrics and designed to fit a variety of face shapes and sizes. Are they better than a bare face and fresh air? No, but if you’ve got to wear a mask they’re all great options.
Remember: the most comfortable face masks will have some combination of the features described above.
Everlane 100% Human Face Mask
100% COTTON FABRIC
This face mask from Everlane is made of 100% cotton, which is ideal for comfort. It comes in a size designed to fit most, so if you’ve got a larger or smaller face you may want to consider other options for a better fit. It’s machine washable and you can put them in the dryer which makes caring for this face mask as easy as cleaning your socks.
Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Masks
Athleta also makes a great face mask for anyone looking for an athletic face mask that’s suitable for everyday use. The polyester/spandex fabric is pleated and expands to accommodate a variety of face shapes and the mask has soft-knit ear loops for a secure fit. The masks are sold in 5-packs of varying colors so you’ll have plenty to cycle through, and the 3 layers of lightweight, breathable cotton are machine washable.
Buck Mason All-Day Anti-Microbial Face Masks, 5-Pack
Made of soft Pima cotton, these Buck Mason masks are cozy and gentle on the face. They’re sold in a pack of five, each with an anti-microbial internal coating that lasts up to 30 washes. There are adjustable elastic earloops and a padded nose bridge insert for a safe and comfortable customized fit, making them great for all-day wear.
Read More: Our Favorite Cloth Face Masks
Reebok Face Covers
Our editors have tested a few face masks from Reebok, and they’re all incredibly comfortable. This face mask is made to be worn during athletic activity from breathable fabric that’s stretchy and very lightweight, but it’s also a good everyday face mask. It’s soft and fits like a glove, unlike many other face masks I’ve tried. I have the M/L size and it fits perfectly, it also has excellent temperature control due to the breathability and never gets too hot. I’d highly recommend this mask to anyone, as even after wearing it for hours I’ve stayed comfortable while staying safe.
Madewell Three-Pack Assorted Face Masks
A HAND WASHABLE OPTION
Offered in a pack of three, these Madewell masks are both an affordable and cozy option. They feature comfortable elastic ear straps and three-layered cotton construction with a filter that helps block out germs and undesired particles. This style can be hand washed and air dried n between wearing for additional cleanliness.
HALO LIFE Face Mask
BEST SIZE OPTIONS
The Halo Life face mask features a nano filter to keep dust, particles, and viruses out while still remaining comfortable and breathable. It features an adjustable nose clip and ear loops and comes in various sizes so you can customize it to your desired fit for maximum comfort. A soft inner lining made from bamboo fabric keeps yu comfortable.
evolvetogether Milan Disposable Face Masks
If you have to go disposable, then go for these matte black and celebrity-approved disposable face masks, which are also some of the best face masks for traveling. If you like to layer a regular face mask over an N95 mask, this is a solid option, but it also works on its own if you need to mask up on a plane.
WellBefore KN95 Face Masks
BEST KN95 MASKS
Look, no N95 or KN95 masks are going to win any awards for comfort, but if you’re concerned about the best protection from COVID-19, then the most comfortable face masks just aren’t going to cut it. Instead, we recommend ordering these individually wrapped KN95 face masks. The adjustable nose bridge at least lets you create a secure fit, and in our experience, the elastic ear loop stretches out enough to remain reasonably comfortable.
The famous UA Sportsmask was one of the first designed and tested by athletes, and it’s still one of our favorites. The Sportsmask is an excellent blend of soft, breathable fabric with an anti-microbial treatment to keep your skin as healthy as possible. Under Armour is a leader in the athletic wear space and has the structured design you want with enough room for your face and lips. It’s made of polyurethane foam that allows air to pass through easily while keeping water and sweat away so your face stays comfortable. It also has UA Iso-Chill fabric on the interior lining so you can cool and calm no matter what the day throws at you.
Ollie Belle’s Phyto Anti-Acne Mask, 2-Pack
Avoid this dreaded issue of “maskne” with these Ollie Belle’s Phyto anti-acne masks. It is made of lightweight, reusable fabric packed with organic anti-inflammatory properties and phytoncide to treat and prevent breakouts. While wearing, it works to revitalize skin texture and soothe inflammation while the 3D structure lets allows it to sit off the face for comfort and breathability.
är Face Mask
This sleek mask is lightweight and comfortable enough to wear all day long if you have to. It features an inner nanofilter that offers three layers of protection that provides up to 40 hours of wear before replacement. The outer is defined with “ViralOff” coating that self cleans and rejects germs. The replaceable nanofilters (which you can purchase here) are both protective and breathable to keep you both safe and cozy.
Uniqlo Airism Face Mask
BEST UV PROTECTION
These face masks don’t offer adjustable earloops, but they are some of the most comfortable face masks we’ve tested so far. They’re also easy to slip in your pocket in between uses, so it’s a great everyday option if you’re only wearing a face mask when 100% necessary by law.
Editor’s Note: These popular cloth face masks are often sold out. For men, we recommend Large or Extra-Large sizes.
Craft & Soul Mattana Face Mask
This face mask is highly rated on Amazon for its comfort. It’s made of a high-quality cotton/poly blend that’s comfortable but stretchy at the same time. It fits closely to the face while allowing breathability and won’t fog up your glasses while you’re wearing it. It’s easy to care for and use repeatedly and is made to fit a variety of faces. It comes in eight different colors and a pack of five costs less than $10, a bargain on comfort.
Outdoor Research Face Mask Kit
This face mask was designed by engineers to be as comfortable and protective as possible. It’s size adjustable via the earpieces and has a large structure that extends from the tip of the nose past the chin for plenty of breathing room inside. The mask uses a filter that blocks 95% of viruses, bacteria and particles and it’s treated with HEIQ V-BLOCK and CO DWR, two mixes that enhance its resistance to microbes. They were originally developed to reduce contamination in hospitals for medical staff. This mask is also made of a durable polyester fabric that’s fast-drying and wicks moisture away.
Banana Republic Face Mask 3-Pack
GREAT FOR ALL-DAY WEAR
This face mask from Banana Republic is made of ultra-stretchy fabric with a contoured, multi-layer design and adjustable ear straps. The design leaves plenty of room at the middle of the face for your nose and lips and has a nose wire for a secure fit up top. Each face mask also has an internal pocket for inserting a filter if desired.
Tart Collections 100% Cotton Face Mask
MADE IN THE USA
This face mask is also made from 100% cotton in the USA and has excellent breathability while also preventing the inhalation of dust, pollen, mites and other allergens in the air. The mask has an outer shell for protection and two layers inside. It’s designed to be worn again and again, and can be washed to prevent particle build-up in the mask. This mask is available in two different colors, blue and black, with or without the American flag decal on the side.
Wulcea Cotton Face Mask 4-Pack
This face mask is made of soft cotton and has a large, 3D shape that creates plenty of breathing room inside. It also has ear-loop silicone adjusters on either side as well as a nose clip making it easy to augment the dimensions of the mask to your liking. This mask has two layers of cotton and one layer of polyester for optimal protection and minimal irritation. The lightweight fabric is designed to wick away sweat and moisture, and comes with attachable straps to keep the mask around your neck when not in use.