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Festival season may be up in the air, which means you’re likely using your summer bandanas to keep out more germs than dust these days. Still, while many have resorted to using their bandanas as face masks, a new report says the classic handkerchief could do more harm than good, when it comes to protecting you from viruses and bacteria in the air.
A recent study by Duke University found that traditional square bandanas worn over the mouth do very little to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. If you’re simply looking to keep your mouth and nose free of dirt and dust particles — say when you’re on a hike — then bandanas can be an effective accessory. If you’re looking to protect your health though, there may be some better options.
If you like the bandana look but want something that offers a little more protection, consider picking up a bandana-style face mask. The best bandana face masks won’t look like your typical square piece of paisley cloth. They may have a fitted interior layer and another piece of material on top to mimic a breezy hanky, but with the addition of straps to help them hook comfortably around your ears and stay close against your face. You can also get these non-medical cloth masks in classic bandana patterns. Another option: Double up and wear a standard disposable medical mask underneath a stylish scarf for extra protection.
There’s no telling how long mask mandates will be in effect, and while you may be tempted to repurpose your fest-ready neckerchiefs, it’s worth noting that they may not meet the CDC’s latest guidelines when it comes to reducing the risk of transmitting respiratory diseases. As a reminder, the CDC’s guidelines for effective face masks should:
- Fit snug but comfortably over the nose and the mouth
- Be secured with ear loops or ties
- Have at least two layers of fabric
- Not restrict your breathing
- Be able to be washed without damage and change in shape
Whether you want to channel festival fashion in the form of a bandana-inspired face mask or you’re looking to mix up your safety-minded style, swap your basic bandana for one of these alternatives instead, many of which meet the CDC requirements for suitable protective face coverings.
1. Classic Maroon Bandana Face Mask
If you’re looking to go Americana, you can’t go wrong with this non-medical bandana mask by The Bandana Blanket Company. This double-layered face mask measures seven inches by three-and-a-half inches and has an interior pocket for a filter (not included), and the pleated design and elastic ear loops ensure a snug and comfortable fit. It’s available in a ton of other colors; plus, a portion of proceeds will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts.
2. Levi’s Reusable Face Masks
These reusable cotton face masks by Levi’s come in a pack of three stylish shades. Since they’re reversible, you can wear the traditional paisley pattern or a solid color to match your wardrobe, and they’re finished with the California-based brand’s iconic red tag. The non-medical masks feature adjustable self-fabric cord ties and come in size small (6.375 inches by 8.125 inches) or large (7.25 inches by 9.25 inches); the latter will have a better fit on most adults.
3. SCOUGH Reusable Face Mask Bandana
If you prefer a print that’s more floral than paisley, try this reusable face mask by SCOUGH. Measuring 28 inches long by 14 inches wide, this non-medical face covering looks like a regular bandana on the outside and features an industrial-grade carbon air barrier that filters 99.6 percent of particles on the inside. It’s washable and made of 100 percent cotton, and you can also get it in a blush colorway if you like lighter colors.
4. White Bandana Face Mask
In addition to supporting an independent artist, you’ll help Covid-19 relief efforts when you buy this washable, non-medical face mask. Designed by MORE by Jamie Preston, this pleated, dual-layer mask measures seven inches by three-and-a-half inches and features an inner pocket so you can add a disposable filter (which isn’t included). It’s seen here in a classic white paisley print, but you can also get the same design in other colors.
5. Knitting Factory Unisex Bandana Face Masks
Often called K-pop face masks (the sleek style is often worn by the members of BTS, among others), these non-medical masks come in a range of patterns, including a classic American bandana print. We like that they’re anti-microbial and breathable, so they’re great for preventing “maskne.” Plus they’re wrinkle-free and offer UV protection.
They come in a pack of four, making it convenient to have a face covering on hand at all times. If you’re not into the blue, green, gray, and black palette, you can opt for other colors such as mint, red, and more.
6. Re/Done Upcycled Bandana Face Coverings
Re/Done’s set includes two non-medical reusable face masks made of upcycled bandanas. They’re made of 100 percent cotton and the patterns and colors are picked at random, so you’ll be in for a stylish surprise.
7. Coastal Rose Bandanas with Earloops
You can wear this stretchy face scarf a myriad of ways, including as a bandana, a face covering, a scarf, a balaclava, a neck gaiter, and more. We like that it has convenient ear loops and that it’s made of moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you cool and dry, but keep in mind that it’s not designed to prevent the spread of small particles such as respiratory droplets. It measures 19.7 inches long by 9.8 inches wide and fits most head sizes up to 25 inches in circumference.
Looking for decidedly more statement-making designs? You can stock up on patterns ranging from American flags and galaxy prints to internet-approved kittens and animated characters.
8. Treasure & Bond Print Square Silk Scarf
Here’s a stylish (and still safe) idea: If you’ve got access to disposable medical masks, you can wear one underneath this chic fringed square scarf by Treasure & Bond. This square neckerchief measures a total of 26 inches, so it’s big enough to be tied around your nose and mouth. Plus, the Nordstrom brand donates 2.5 percent of all sales to nonprofit organizations that empower youth.
9. Madewell Bandana
Measuring 21 inches by 21 inches, this stylish cotton scarf features an Americana-cool design that Madewell is synonymous with. It’s large enough to be tied over your nose and mouth, which may help with keeping out dirt and dust (but not 0.3-micron particulates). On its own, it’s not recommended as a protective covering, but a few simple snips and tweaks can turn this classic cotton bandana into a CDC-approved homemade mask.
10. Boao Gradient Paisley Bandanas
Ideal for protecting against dust, these colorful cotton bandanas come in a set of 12 — so you can even re-fashion them into homemade non-medical face masks. They measure 22 inches by 22 inches and you can choose between paisley designs in colorful gradient or tie-dye styles. Keep in mind these are best for accessorizing purposes or to block out dust and debris, but unlike the fitted face masks above, these are not recommended as an effective COVID protective measure.
11. Inex Gear The Better Bandana
Recently launched company Inex Gear’s debut product isn’t your ordinary bandana. It may look like a standard neckerchief, but it features two laters of breathable antimicrobial cotton fabric and an interior lining made of the brand’s proprietary nanofiber filtration material that blocks airborne contaminants. The washable face covering has an adjustable nose bridge to ensure a snug and comfy fit, and it measures 22.5 inches wide and ties in the back, so it fits most head sizes.