The most effective design, according to the study, was a double-layer heavy cotton mask with a thread count of 180 or more. A double-layer mask with a simple cotton outer layer and an inner layer also worked well, Segal said. The poor participants in the study consisted of a single-layer mask or a double-layer mask made of low-quality lightweight cotton.
“Some of these fabric items for sale focus only on the decorative or artistic aspect,” Segal said. “You should think about the effectiveness and the public health aspect of it. We don’t want people to think that any material is enough and gives them a false sense of security. “
Some masks also allow the ability to insert an additional filter, such as a high-efficiency particulate air filter or HEPA. HEPA filters are designed to remove at least 99.7 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger in size. For reference, a micron, or micrometer, is approximately one twenty-five thousandth of an inch and is denoted by one µm. That can add an additional layer of filtration, Segal said.
In addition, consumers should also find a mask that is easy to wash and comfortable, said Anna Davies, a research facilitator who previously worked in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Cambridge. “If you can’t breathe well, you won’t want to use it for long, and the air will take the path of least resistance, so the material will just jump out and come out the sides,” he said. “The wearer should not touch his mask once it is on, so ideally a soft cloth is good.”
When buying a face mask, here is the bottom line: comfort, washability, and dual filtration are key. But above all, keep practicing social distancing, washing your hands and other precautions, regardless of the type of mask you are wearing.
Where to buy face masks that give back relief efforts
There are numerous companies that manufacture and sell face masks online. If you’re shopping for your own face mask, we’ve compiled those face masks whose listed features and materials meet CDC criteria for what you should be looking for, as well as the expert guidance we shared earlier. On top of that, we narrowed the options down to only those brands that say they plan to return a portion of their supply or profits to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Protective Life Mask
Each protective mask is made from two layers of 100 percent cotton, with adjustable straps and a multi-layer filter. The masks are sold individually or in a multiple package. Additionally, the company has agreed to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale to SF-Marin Food Bank and Food Bank NYC.
2. 5X Mask Reform
Sustainable fashion brand Reformation has partnered with LA Protects, an initiative created to produce five million non-medical grade masks for community members. The company also sells packages of five face masks separately to donate to communities in need (including essential workers). Their cloth masks are reusable with ties and come in different patterns.
3. Organic cotton face mask with avocado green mattress
The eco-friendly mattress maker is making 100 percent organic cotton fabric face masks available in packs of four. Additionally, they can allow a separate filter to be inserted. So far, the brand has made more than 130,000 non-medical grade masks, and will donate the percentage of sales to the EcoHealth Alliance.
4. Non-medical mask rails
Rails has paused production to produce packages of five non-medical grade cotton masks that are reusable, machine washable, and made from a variety of fabrics, including cotton. For each package purchased, the company will donate a package to essential workers in need in Los Angeles. Additionally, the company is donating 10,000 medical-grade masks to hospitals in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Detroit.
5. Micheal Stars Mask and Facial Coating
The fashion company is producing cloth masks in packs of two. The 100% reusable cotton masks are made with a double layer of fabric. The company also participates in the LA Protects program, which helps produce facial masks for those in need in Los Angeles.
6. Onzie Mindful Mask
The company is creating reusable non-medical face masks using recycled fabrics. Onzie has also donated thousands of masks to local hospitals in Los Angeles and will donate the proceeds from each purchase to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. They are also members of LA Protects.
7. Buck Mason mask for America
Available in packs of five, Buck Mason skins are designed to last up to 30 wash cycles and will ship the week of May 18. For each mask purchased, the brand will donate one. So far, they have been able to donate more than 150,000 masks to healthcare workers.
8. New Republic cotton face mask
The company has rotated to create cotton face masks in packs of three. For each mask sold, the company will donate a mask to those in need in the Los Angeles community, specifically West Los Angeles Hospital and local senior centers. The masks are made from 100 percent cotton and are machine washable.
9. Hedley & Bennett The Wake Up & Fight Mask
These reusable masks come in many different styles and are designed to be used with a filter, such as a HEPA filter, inserted inside the fabric. The masks were developed with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and are one size fits all. Each purchase provides a mask for you and a donation of one for a front-line worker
10. Citizens of Humanity Cotton mask
The clothing company has reused its sewing facilities to produce masks for front-line staff. They are also making masks available to the public, which are currently on pre-order. The masks are machine washable and double-layered with cotton fabrics; you can get them in packs of five.