Life·6 min read

Our Guide to Face Masks for Every Situation

face masks to wear for every situation
Photo: Athleta | Design: theSkimm
May 6, 2022

This post was originally published in April 2021 and has been updated.

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COVID-19 variants don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, which means masks will continue to be in the picture for the foreseeable future. According to CDC guidance, masks are still recommended for those aged 2 and older while traveling on a plane, bus, train, or any other form of public transportation, as well as in transportation hubs. And in communities with high rates of COVID, wearing a mask in public places where there are a lot of people is suggested to maximize protection.

So if you’re looking to stock up on some new options, we rounded up masks for every occasion. Like when you’re exercising indoors, when you need a mask you can get dirty, and if your skin is extra-sensitive (hello, maskne). Psst...proof of vaccination and mask mandates may exist in different cities, counties, and states, so always check the rules of the location you're in. Also looking to protect your vaccine card in style? We got you.


A KN95 respirator mask that’s FDA-authorized and ideal for travel or highly populated areas…

To break it down, KN95 masks and N95 masks are very similar. The difference is where they are manufactured and certified (KN95s are made in China). Right now, the CDC doesn’t recommend that the general public wear N95 respirator face masks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases like coronavirus. Those are important supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. The Powecom KN95 is a great alternative with head straps, can be worn alone, and filters out around 95% or more of airborne particles. The mask is multi-layer, has a nose wire, and also comes in a black option. The most important thing is to make sure the fit is snug to your face. The mask can be worn multiple times, but you should toss it once there’s visible dirt or feel some breathing resistance. ($16/10 pack, Bona Fide Masks)

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A three-ply, single-use face mask that you can get dirty…

Maybe you’re getting your hair done and don’t want to worry about staining one of your favorite cloth masks. These disposable ones are not meant to be reused, so toss once you’re done wearing. The ear loops aren’t adjustable, but the barrier created by the three-ply can protect the wearer from contaminants. They come individually wrapped so you can throw an extra one in your bag. If you’re looking to double-mask, this can be used as your base layer. ($14.98/50 pack, Amazon)

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A reusable mask with layered filtration that ships fast…

So you can start wearing your brand new face mask within a week from ordering. These have adjustable ear loops and a metal nose-piece. They come in multiple sizes and colors, too. And packs of the replaceable filters are available. Each filter can be worn for up to one week. Psst...these are a great option for a second layer when double-masking. ($10, Vida)

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A soft face mask that’s ideal for exercise…

Made with three layers and adjustable ear loops, these masks feel lighter against your face. Meaning it may feel easier to breathe in, especially during a workout. They’re highly rated, with almost 4,000 customers giving them a five-star review. People highlight the nose wire, flexibility of the mask, and comfort while working out. Some customers even say the fabric helps prevent breakouts. ($9.99+/5 pack, Athleta)

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A face mask made of 100% mulberry silk to soothe sensitive skin…

It’s hard to not get frustrated with skin irritation and breakouts that can result after wearing a mask for hours. This one has adjustable ear loops and a nose wire, but in place of a fabric that may aggravate your skin, it’s made with Slip’s innovative and gentle silk. Customers rave about how soft the mask is, and how it can help with pesky maskne (mask acne). ($39, Dermstore)

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A spray for glasses that’ll keep ‘em from fogging up…

Yes, we’re dedicated to wearing face masks. But we’re over the way they make our glasses fog up. Sound familiar? This anti-fog spray works on all types of glasses, and doesn’t call for constant application. A few spritzes and you’re good for the day. Sigh of relief sold separately. ($14.99 Amazon)

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A silicone bracket to wear under masks to give you a bit more space…

So you’ll have some room between your lips and the inner lining of your mask. This way, your lipstick won’t smudge, your skin won’t get as irritated, and you won’t feel your breath projected back onto you. Reviewers say the brackets can help reduce glasses from fogging and improve breathability too. ($6.99 /3 pack, Amazon)

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