Mask up - it's the first step to fight the Covid-19 virus. From scientists, researchers to healthcare authorities, all advise wearing a face mask if you're out and around people, and it's a widely known fact now. What's still not known to many is if their mask is effective enough to serve the purpose.
More transmissible Covid-19 variants are now circulating around the globe. However, we're still working with the same toolbox to slow the spread, so it's time to up your social-distancing game. Double-masking is one way to do that.
ASTM International, a technical standards organization, and the National Personal Protective Laboratory will soon be releasing standards on which consumer face masks are the most effective. In the meantime, though, you should double-mask if doing so would improve the fit or thickness of the mask you already own—for example, if you only have two-layer masks or if your disposable surgical mask has side gaps that a well-fitting cloth mask would pin down.
How to select a mask that protects you from Covid-19?
Starting with the basics, you must go for a mask that covers your nose and mouth completely and fits snugly against your face leaving no gaps on the sides.
Choose a mask that has a nose wire to cover the top and sides of the nose properly. Also, don't buy masks made of hard-to-breather material like vinyl, go for a mask with two or more layers of breathable and washable fabric. Don't get the ones that have valves or vents to allow air passage.
Which mask should you buy?
We've compiled a list of masks available online. These masks are the best options, but you'll have to check for the size options as we can only assure of the quality and effectiveness.
Enro Face Mask
Best balance of fit, comfort, filtration, and breathability
Offering sizes XXS through XL, a bendy nose-bridge wire, and adjustable ear loops, this mask should fit most faces well. In lab tests, the Enro Face Mask filtered a greater amount of 0.5-micron particles than any other machine-washable mask we’ve considered.
You can choose from six sizes and further adjust the fit with this mask’s pliable nose-bridge wire and smartly designed, adjustable ear loops (which have incorporated beads to keep the cord stoppers from falling off).
Get a Disposable Mask:
Disposable 3-Ply Face Masks (50 Pack)
The CDC's findings on double-masking apply only if the first mask is a surgical medical mask, so you'll probably want to get your hands on some of these.
Disposable masks do a great job at blocking respiratory droplets, and they're also the lightest and most affordable masks. They may get soaked by sweat and vapor, but at least you won't have to wash them afterward.
Livinguard Pro mask
The Livinguard Pro mask comes with three layers of protection with more than 95% of filtration as per EN14683 standard. The company claims that the masks have passed skin safety testing to be gentle on the skin for prolonged usage.
The fabric is stretchable, which fits over the nose and mouth very well without affecting breathability. The mask is reusable for up to 6 months and washable up to 30 times and is made for daily use and can be washed weekly. It has adjustable earloops for a custom fit.
Graf Lantz Zenbu Organic Cotton Face Mask (with filter)
Versatile and adjustable, with an incorporated filter and room to breathe.
This mask tents up over the nose and mouth, more so than most cloth masks, so the fabric doesn’t get in the way of breathing or talking. Adding its removable filter (sold separately) boosts filtration, providing additional protection against incoming and outgoing particles.
Darts on the sides of this pre-shrunk, two-ply cotton-twill mask keep the silhouette somewhat puffed (so there’s more breathing room) and slightly expandable (so you can open your mouth wide without slippage).
We wish the filter would cover the entire mask to maximize its filtration potential, though.
Jockey Unisex's Cotton Face Mask
Jockey is a known name for most of us, but a few know that they now make face masks as well. The cotton face mask from the company comes in a pack of two. It is said to be "engineered with 7 Layered Hepa Filtration System for your protection."
The company claims it can offer more than 95% bacterial and particulate filtration efficiency. The fabric is cotton, which has soft and adjustable elastic earloops and a nose clip for a comfortable fit. Cotton allows easy breathability and it's washable up to 30 times as per company claims.
Proper Cloth The Everyday Mask 2.0
Lots of choices and a puffed-up silhouette.
This stylish mask provides good clearance off the nose and mouth and—thanks to a sewn-in filter—decent filtration efficiency. You can choose between adjustable headbands and ear loops, both of which provide a good fit.
Proper Cloth’s updated Everyday Mask, the 2.0, has enhanced pleating to further lift the fabric off your face, as well as a sewn-in filter layer that performed fairly well in lab tests we commissioned for filtration efficiency and breathability (filtering 75% of 0.5-micron particles in the tests).
The new all-cotton mask in gray melange fits similarly to the version of this mask we previously recommended, which had a filter pocket. It feels stiffer and thicker than the filter-incorporated Enro mask we recommend, but it tents away from the face more.
It's important to remember that you're not only wearing a mask for yourself, you're wearing it for others around you.
"If everyone wears a mask when in public, the ones who have illness in them, whether symptomatic or not, will not contaminate the environment,"
If you prefer to wear a surgical mask, it's still a great idea to wear a cloth face mask as an additional layer. Not only will it keep your single-use mask from getting contaminated and help it to last longer, but it can also improve the effectiveness.
Even if you've been fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask in large public gatherings as the CDC continues to learn more about the effectiveness against different variants of the virus. If it has been less than two weeks since your single-dose shot, or if you still need to get your second dose of a two-dose vaccine, you are not fully protected and should continue all safety precautions outlined by the CDC.