The Best Masks for Double-Masking (And How To Do It Properly)

Published on: Feb 18, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
the best masks to double-mask with to stop the spread of covid-19Lindsay Lange

Last week, the CDC released a new study affirming that two is actually better than one – when it comes to face masks. The findings showed that a close-fitting surgical and cloth mask combo can block 92.5% of cough particles. 

The research also found that transmission of the virus can be decreased by 96.4% if both the infected and uninfected individuals wear two masks. And that’s pretty amasking.

So to help you on your search, we rounded up some options that you can pair together for added protection. And an option you can wear on its own. To keep in line with the CDC’s latest findings, you should keep an eye out for masks that have two or more layers, fit snugly against the sides of the face, completely cover your nose and mouth, and have a nose wire to stop air from leaking out. 

You can also check out a DIY face mask tutorial if you’re itching for a hands-on project. Because you’re pretty over puzzles at this point. (Us too.)


Your First Layer of Protection
three-ply disposable face mask
A three-ply, pleated disposable face mask…

These 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 prevent the wearer from contaminants. To make sure the mask fits snugly, you can knot the ear loops of the face mask where they join the edge of the mask. Then fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges (for a how-to, click here). These are made in the US and have a scannable QR code to help shoppers avoid counterfeit products. ($18.69/pack of 50, Amazon)

Buy it


Your Second Layer of Protection
colored and patterned cloth face masks
A mask that can contour to your face and has a pocket for filters…

This one has three cotton layers, adjustable elastic ear loops, and an adjustable nose piece. It’s not medical-grade, so it shouldn’t be considered antimicrobial or antiviral, and shouldn’t be used as your single layer of protection. ($5/pack of 3, Gap)

Buy it


cotton masks with a pocket for filters
A reusable mask with layered filtration that ships fast…

Durable, stretchy, and lightweight. This moisture-wicking mask is great for long-time wear. We’ve worn these and find them comfy even in warmer temperatures. And packs of the replaceable filters are available, too. One filter can be worn for up to 12 hours. ($13+, Vistaprint)

Buy it


cloth face masks with patterns for double-layering
A set of breathable cloth face masks with adjustable ear loops…

These are double-layered and can fit snugly over disposable masks. They can be washed after use and feature a ton of patterns. Yes, double-masking can still look fashionable. Psst...we’ve tried these and find them to be very lightweight and comfy. Even after hours of wear, they didn’t feel hot or stuffy. ($12/pack of 4, Baublebar)

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An Added Accessory
beaded mask chains
A beaded mask chain that’ll attach to your mask so it’s never too far away…

If you’ve taken your mask off in the car and then forgotten where you’ve placed it, you’re not alone. This beaded chain has little clips that’ll attach to the ear loops. So when you can take off your mask for a few minutes, you won’t have to worry about losing it. ($22, Laina & Liz)

Buy it


To Wear On Its Own
KN95 respirator face mask for protection against the spread of covid-19
A KN95 respirator mask that’s FDA-authorized…

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). At this time, the CDC does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirator face masks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases like coronavirus. Those are critical supplies that must be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders. The Powecom KN95 is a great second option that filters out 95% of airborne particles and can be worn on its own. It has ear band loops rather than headband straps (which are required by NIOSH). The mask is multi-layer and also comes in a black option. But make sure the fit is snug to your face. They can be worn multiple times, but toss once there’s visible dirt, or you feel there’s some breathing resistance. ($9.80/pack of 10 Bona Fide Masks)

Buy it


PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. PPS: If something’s out of stock, oops, it was there when we published. Thanks.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that a KN95 could be worn under another mask. The CDC actually notes that if you have this kind of mask, you can forego adding another on top.


Skimm'd by Alexandra Napoli, Kamini Ramdeen, and Jessica Kelly