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While we’re approaching another long winter of staying masked up, it’s important to switch up your mask habits with the changing seasons. Light, breathable, and moisture-wicking cloth masks work well for outdoor summer activities and sports, but you may need something a little heartier to protect against both the freezing cold, and the spread of Covid-19.
If you get the urge to repurpose an old ski neck gaiter or a stylish face covering, make sure you’re still following the latest CDC recommendations when it comes to picking a mask that will help reduce the risk of transmitting respiratory diseases this winter. Non-medical wool and fleece masks can also help insulate heat, but make sure they have multiple layers of protection. Or: pair these warmer options with an N95 or KN95 mask underneath for maximum filtered protection.
Even if they’ll help you brace for sub-freezing temperatures, keep in mind that none of the face masks listed below can replace medical-grade PPE (personal protective equipment), or other measures of prevention against coronavirus, such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing. What if you’re fully vaccinated? If you can gather indoors now with fully vaccinated people without a mask, the latest CDC guidelines still urge you to mask up in public. In other words: pick up one of these winter face masks to stay safe and help protect yourself, and others, for the near future.
What Makes a Good Face Mask for Winter?
The best face masks for winter should keep heat insulated and wick excess moisture, staying comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. They should also remain flexible enough to stay secure around your face and nose without the material being too heavy. Here’s a few key things to to look for.
Fit: Whether you’re trying to shovel yourself out from under the snow, or just make it from your car to the grocery store without freezing, winter face masks should fit snug, but comfortably cover more of your face than just the nose and the mouth. Masks that can be secured with ear loops or ties are optimal—but if you’re concerned about leaving your neck exposed to the wintry winds, pair a neck gaiter with a disposable medical mask. There are always scarf or bandana-like coverings too that can be pulled over your mouth and nose, above a medical-grade mask.
Breathability: We’ve included options in this list, such as cloth masks with multiple layers, that will help you stay toasty without suffocating you. Adding additional layers, especially of tightly-wound fabric like cotton, will provide you with extra protection without sacrificing comfort.
Material: If you’re going to be out bracing the elements for hours at a time, then condensation from your breath can soak through layers of some masks in cold weather. For the masks with heavier materials like wool, we’ve chosen ones crafted for enhanced breathability, and without too much of the typical moisture build-up.
What Are the Best Face Masks for Winter?
One benefit to being in a colder climate right now is that overheating underneath the mask can be less of a concern, so bulking up with warmer option can be actually be beneficial. We’ve provided a variety of options below with materials and designs that will stay breathable while helping you bundle up on a blustery winter day. Here are some of our favorites that’ll give you some additional warmth and protection this season.
1. Huckberry Merino Wool Face Mask
Wool can be a pretty porous material, but paired with another fabric, you’ll get all the temperature-regulation benefits without a soggy face. Huckberry’s mask is crafted with three layers: a merino wool outer layer, a cotton inner layer, and a merino wool lining layer. The type of wool also matters here too—Huckberry says merino was chosen for its “moisture-wicking, breathable, temperature-regulating, and odor-resistant” properties. Though the mask is pillowy-soft, it still stands up to multiple machine washes and retains its shape well.
2. är Small logo Black Mask
This face mask from Concept AR features a water-repellant coating, to keep you dry even in the snow and sleet. The inner layer (one of three layers of protection) also wicks away moisture from your breath, so your face doesn’t feel damp or sweaty underneath. It all adds up to one of the best face masks for winter.
We like the silky smooth material, which is lightweight and super gentle on the skin, and the comfortable straps that still put without tugging. A section of foam along the nose-piece provides just that extra bit of padding for a more secure and gentle fit.
3. Sheertex Everywear Mask
For more overall face coverage that will block those icy winter winds, Sheertex’s Everywear Mask has a curved shape with edges that hug your face naturally while staying firmly in place. What we like: their proprietary fiber blend that has great breathability while remaining lightweight and moisture-wicking. The strings are adjustable too, so the mask can comfortably fit different face shapes, and there’s even a slightly smaller version of the mask available for kids. While this is a non-medical mask, one big bonus for the Everywear Mask is its built-in pouch for reusable or disposable filters (though, you’ll have to get those separately).
4. Someone Somewhere Navy Easy Mask
Comfort is essential with any mask you’re gonna be wearing in subzero temps, and Someone Somewhere delivers with their Navy Easy Mask. Tailored for warmth without being too heavy, this face covering uses a fabric blend of polyester, cotton, and viscos with stretchy ear loops that secure at the back of your head, so you can embrace the outdoors no matter the weather. No only is this one of the softest masks on the market, with every purchase of a mask Someone Somewhere will donate one to the communities that help craft the masks in Oaxaca, Mexico.
5. Rag & Bone Stealth Mask Pack
For the environmentally-conscious crowd, Rag & Bone’s Stealth Masks are produced in the USA from upcycled fabrics. Like most other masks made from 100% cotton, it’s recommended that you wash this mask before you use it first, and after every use. While that might seem tedious for those used to disposable masks, the Stealth Mask is the right option if you want to invest in one that you can use year round. It’s lightweight enough to be used in the summer, but the super rugged feel holds up against the cold, making this a good winter face mask pick as well.
6. Outdoor Voices Adjustable Face Mask
Reviews of this double-layered mask say that the thick fabric is perfect for cold winter months, but surprisingly breathable. Outdoor Voices’ mask also comes with adjustable straps, so you’ll never have to worry about a flimsy fit when you’re bracing against the cold. Made from an 86% Polyester and 14% Spandex blend, they’re reusable and easy to machine-wash, and you can even throw them in your dryer on low. Look no further if you want a mask that’s durable, but won’t add extra bulk to your face.
7. Caraa 5-Pack Winter Adult Masks
Caraa’s winter face masks are specifically designed to be thicker and warmer, which makes them essential for cold weather months. There’s no need to worry about your glasses fogging up on the go either, as the light and bendable nose wire make for a comfortable and secure fit. The muted colors also allow them to be paired with your favorite winter coat, if you’re looking for full-outfit coordination. The masks are incredibly breathable on their own, but for an extra layer of protection, there’s a filter pocket where you can add your own medical-grade filter.
8. Allbirds TrinoXO 3-Pack Face Masks
Allbirds’ face masks are made from upcycled materials from their T-shirts, but have a blend that’s a warm and fuzzy cocktail—tencel, lyocell, and merino wool. Triple-layered, these masks are extremely comfortable for how breathable the fabric is. The moisture-wicking quality of the unique blend also lets the masks stay soft and fresh longer. With adjustable ear loops, you’ll also be able to find a customized fit that you won’t want to rip off your face as soon as you’re in the car. Gentle on the skin and comfortable (and comforting!) to wear, Allbirds makes a solid set of face masks for winter.
9. LAmade Washable Two-Layer Reversible Mask
If you’ve ever felt like swaddling yourself in an oversized cardigan, and this double-layered mask is the same, but for your face. The lightweight cotton blend won’t feel overly hot or suffocating, but offers substantial insulation. The classic knit design is also reversible, revealing a solid color pattern on the other. While the ear loops are fixed, the mask is soft enough that the fit is surprisingly flexible.
10. Everlane 100% Human Face Masks
Everlane has some of the stylish and softest masks on the market, featuring a CDC-approved double-layered design made from 100% cotton. The knitted material is slightly stretchy, which means the mask won’t slip around when you’re wearing one. They’re available in a variety of colors and designs, and while they’re lightweight, they’re definitely cozy enough to use as a great face mask for winter. Looking for another reason to pick up these well-reviewed masks? With every sale of an 100% Human Face Mask, Everlane will make a 10% donation to the ACLU.