Over the past year, we learned that a good face mask is a critical tool to help slow the spread of Covid-19. Since then, we’ve been on a mask frenzy, building our collections, outfitting our kids, and adapting our practices as new, science-based recommendations emerge.
These are some of the masks, and masking practices, that I and other WIRED staff members are using to keep ourselves and our families safe. I’ve also highlighted sustainable options, ones from diverse and small manufacturers, as well as companies donating to worthy causes. Try a few, but remember to keep washing your hands regularly, staying at home when possible, and maintaining at least a 6-foot distance from others in public (preferably outdoors).
How We Evaluate Masks
New masks come out every week. While space-age technology and disinfecting properties are attractive, the most important quality of any mask is that it follows the recommended guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control, fits well, and is clean. A good reusable mask should completely cover your nose and mouth, use at least two fabric layers, and be washable without damage. When I receive a mask, I first use the light and candle test—can I see light through the weave? Can I blow a candle out while wearing it? The mask’s weave should be tight enough to prevent you from doing either of those things. Then I wear them while grocery shopping or walking my dog.
We’ve included some tips on mask care and choosing the best kind of mask straps at the end of this list. Be sure to check out our Best Face Masks for Kids guide and How to Prevent and Treat Mascne.
Updated January 2021: We removed and demoted older picks and added more information on N95s and double-masking.