Best Face Masks 2021: CDC-Approved Face Coverings Protect From Covid - Rolling Stone
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These Face Masks Meet the CDC Requirements For Face Coverings

While they aren’t approved for medical use, the CDC says using these mask alternatives could still help prevent the spread of the coronavirus

best face masks cloth coveringbest face masks cloth covering

Shutterstock / Miljan Zivkovic

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As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, government officials are now encouraging people to keep their faces covered at all times when they’re outside — even if they don’t have access to a face mask.

While hospitals continue to deal with a shortage of face masks, the CDC says many cloth face coverings could still be effective in helping to “slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

The CDC says cloth coverings are most effective when they follow these five guidelines:

  1. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  2. Be secured with ties or ear loops
  3. Include multiple layers of fabric
  4. Allow for breathing without restriction
  5. Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Keep in mind these face coverings are not surgical masks or the particulate-filtering N-95 respirators (you can find those here). Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and first responders, as recommended by current government mandates.

These masks are also not intended to replace other recommended measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. In other words, continue washing your hands, keeping your distance from others, and refraining from touching your face.

If you’re looking for the best face mask alternatives (I.e. like a bandana, gaiter or scarf), it’s important to note that while those alternative face coverings will keep out dust and debris, they’re not recommended as a form of defense against Covid. The reason: a face covering needs to have a tight seal against your face in order to be effective, and many popular face mask alternatives hang loosely and not as securely as a real face mask. That being said, we’ve listed a few face mask alternatives that you can consider picking up, provided you also have an actual mask close by.

Looking for face coverings for you and your family? Here are the best face masks and face coverings to buy online.

1. Brave New Look Protective Face Mask With PM2.5 Filter

A unisex face mask made from a cozy cotton/spandex blend, we like these protective masks for their five-layer PM2.5 filter (The “PM” refers to “particulate matter” while the 2.5 refers to the 2.5 micron measurement of particles that these filters are designed to capture). The company says activated carbon in the filters protect you from small particles and contaminants in the air.

Reusable and washable, these masks are available in a simple black design or you can choose from a dozen colors and patterns. This set of four comes with four filters — one per mask. Slip the filters into a built-in pouch in the mask and breath normally. We recommend replacing the filter after one week of use (more replacement filters available here)


Brave New Look

Buy: Brave New Look Protective Face Mask… at $14

2. Public Goods KN95 Filter Face Masks

Public Goods’ non-medical KN95 masks filter out 95% of harmful particles thanks to a built-in five-layer filter. The masks are adjustable, with stretchy straps for your ears, and a nose clip to form a tighter seal around your face.

Packs of 10 are priced at $44; Public Goods is limiting purchase quantities to one per order to help supply as many people as needed.

public goods face masks

Public Goods

Buy: Public Goods KN95 Filter Face Masks at $44

3. Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask

Everlane’s unisex face mask features two layers of non-medical protection, and they’re super lightweight and comfortable. What we like: the material is slightly stretchy, with elastic loops that wrap around your ears without tugging, so the mask won’t slip around on your face. When you buy the 100% Human Face Mask, Everlane will also make a 10 percent donation from each sale to the ACLU. Multiple colors and designs are also available at



Buy: Everlane The 100% Human Face Mask… at $25

4. CASETiFY Face Masks

Leave it to a phone accessories brand to help solve a problem that’s keeping us up at night. CASETify, best-known for their pop culture-inspired phone cases, is now offering reusable face masks for the whole family. The masks are made from a breathable 100% cotton material, with a durable band to secure the mask in place. The best part: the masks are fitted with a filter to help prevent the spread of the virus.

CASETiFY has donated 10,000 masks to Direct Relief, and has pledged to continue to donate a surgical mask for every mask sold. Choose from five different colors online.



Buy: CASETiFY Filter Face Masks at $15

5. Redbubble Face Masks

If you’re going to be wearing a mask for the foreseeable future, you might as well find something that expresses your style and personality. That’s why we’re stocking up on these masks from Redbubble, a site that supports independent creators and artists by printing their designs on a wide range of apparel and accessories.

These lightweight masks are made from two layers of super-soft brushed polyester, with elastic straps that sit comfortably behind your ears. The masks are fully machine-washable. The cloth masks aren’t designed to be used in a medical environment, but if you need to cover up while walking around the neighborhood or while waiting in line at the grocery store, they’ll serve you well.

Choose from thousands of designs and patterns, from stylish florals and animal prints, to feel-good slogans that remind you to stay positive because this too, shall pass.

What we like: Redbubble has donated 400,000 masks to Heart to Heart International, a global organization working to provide access to health and aid in times of crisis.

redbubble face masks


Buy: Plum Stone Redbubble Face Mask at $10

6. Lookhuman Face Masks

We like these hand-sewn cloth masks from Lookhuman, which gets you full coverage for your face down to below the chin. The straps tuck easily behind your ear. This boho-print mask is made from a gentle polyester material, with a microfiber back that’s soft against your face. Lookhuman as more than three dozen other prints and patterns available here.

best cloth mask


best cloth masks lookhuman


Buy: Boho Print Hand-Sewn Face Mask at $13.99

7. JackThreads Face Masks

We also like the wide selection of poly-blend face masks from lifestyle and fashion e-tailer JackThreads. The site has hundreds of designs available for these large, non-medical masks. The masks sit comfortably against the face, with a wide hook that wraps behind both ears.

jack threads


Buy: JackThreads Face Mask at $18

8. Buck Mason Face Masks

LA-based Buck Mason is known for their cozy basics (think: perfect tees and sweats for working from home), but the brand is stepping up to make a collection of reusable cotton face masks. The reusable masks are treated with an anti-microbial coating that the company says will last up to 30 wash cycles.

Buck Mason is building masks in real time and their next shipment is scheduled for delivery in a few weeks. The company says they’re donating one mask to health professionals for every consumer mask sold. Their goal is to donate up to a million non-medical face masks to communities in California and the rest of the country.

buck mason face masks

Buck Mason

Buy: Buck Mason M2 Face Masks (5-Pack) at $30

9. Boohoo Masks

Fast fashion site, has a number of face coverings available, including this tie-dye mask. What started as a great accessory for festival season (to protect against dust and debris) has now become an essential accessory no matter where you’re off to. If you’re looking for something with better filtration though, we suggest some of the other options on this list. Boohoo has multiple styles available for men and women. See their full collection here.


Buy: Boohoo Tie Dye Fashion Face Mask at $4

10. iHeartRaves Seamless Face Mask

As the company name suggests, these printed mouth coverings were designed to keep dust and dirt out of your face at outdoor festivals and raves, but they’ve come in handy these days as great face masks for running. They’re made from a microfiber material that wicks moisture to keep you dry (the company says the mask dries fully in minutes). The seamless design means no loose threads to worry about, or rough edges to scratch your face.

The one-size-fits-all design fits easily over your head and stays put, even while you’re in motion. Choose from more than 20 patterns, from classic to more fashion-forward.

face mask for running


iHeartRaves Seamless Face Mask, $12.95, available at Amazon

11. Face Mask Bandanas

Cover up quickly with these tube-style bandanas, which slide easily over your face and neck to keep you protected. (You can also use this as a headband for working out or as a scarf for warmth). The bandanas are made from a soft and breathable microfiber, and come with a built-in filter to keep out dust, smoke, allergens and germs.


Buy: Thermal Neck Warmer/Face Covering at $9.90

12. Large Unisex Shawl Scarf

If you already have a scarf at home, officials say you can use it to wrap your face before heading out the door, provided you wear a disposable medical mask underneath. If you need a new scarf, you can’t go wrong with this large shawl-style scarf, available in a dozen unisex patterns and colors. The scarf measures 23 x 79 inches, letting it wrap easily around your neck, face and nose. It’s made from a synthetic material that’s lightweight for breathability, and soft — not scratchy — against your skin.

best shawl scarf face covering


Buy: Wander Agio Large Unisex Shawl Scarf at $9.99

13. Under Armour SPORTSMASK

A number of activewear brands have started making face masks, Under Armour‘s is one of our favorites. The SPORTSMASK is durable and comfortable, with an inner layer uses an open-cell foam that helps with breathability, while keeping airborne particles out. The mask has UPF 50+ sun protection, so it’s great for running and working out, and for sports as well. The best part: the mask is fully reusable. Just toss it into the washing machine to keep it clean and sanitized.


Under Armour

Buy: Under Armour SPORTSMASK at $30

14. Disposable Safety Face Shields 

These plastic face shields are typically worn by dentists, painters or people working in home improvement, but they’ve become popular items these days as well. The transparent masks have an elastic band that wraps around your head, and a foam headband that presses directly against your forehead. The polymer screen won’t fog up, and it’s been treated with an anti-static coating to not attract dust, dirt or other airborne particles that may block your vision. However, the CDC does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks (the more protection the better).

What we like: the shield wraps around the sides of your face, offering you even more protection from spray and splatter. This set comes with two shields.

best face shield


Buy: Disposable Safety Face Shields at

15. Classic Bandana

If all else fails, cover your face with a classic bandana, like this one from Amazon. It measures 20 x 20 inches; fold it in half or by the corners to form a mask or scarf that can be tied behind your head. The traditional paisley design is printed on both sides, and the material is lightweight and machine-washable. But keep in mind that it’s not designed to prevent the spread of small particles such as respiratory droplets, so we still recommend you also use a face mask for extra protection.

best bandana


Buy: Amscan Classic Bandana at

16. Homemade Face Mask Book 

Yes this book was rush-released to take advantage of people’s interest in coronavirus prevention measures, but reviewers say it’s actually pretty helpful when it comes to showing you how to make your own face masks at home. The book breaks down the different types of masks used in the health and professional fields, and then shows you how to make similar masks using everyday items you can still find at the store or online.

how to make face mask at home



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