Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first advised Americans to wear face coverings whenever and wherever it’s hard to maintain social distancing, it has released updated information about the types of face masks people should wear — and which ones to avoid.
Are face masks with valves safe?
The CDC’s most recent guidance focuses on exhalation valves: “Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others,” the CDC posted on its site. According to the agency, the purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others, thus decreasing the possible spread of coronavirus. But masks with one-way valves allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, the updated guidance notes, adding this can result in expelled respiratory droplets reaching others. Overall, the CDC says masks with exhalation valves don’t prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public spaces, and says that N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers. Face masks should meet the following criteria:
- Masks must fit snugly (but comfortably) against your face
- Masks must be secured with ties or ear loops
- Masks must include multiple layers of fabric
- Masks must allow for breathing without restriction
- Masks must be washable without damage or shape change
Reusable cloth masks are sold by many brands these days (and counting) like Crayola and Athleta, as well as at retailers like Amazon and Etsy. If you’re considering replacing your face mask given the CDC’s new guidance or looking for a new one regardless, we’ve compiled the most purchased face masks we’ve covered, in addition to filters and face shields to use alongside them.
Most purchased face masks, shields and filters
Adidas Face Covers (sold out, in stock “soon”)
These dual-layered polyester face masks are made from 40-percent recycled materials. The machine-washable masks come in two sizes – extra small/small and medium/large – and are sold in packs of three so you always have a backup.
Anthropologie Sanctuary Reusable Face Mask (available Sept. 3)
Anthropologie’s face masks have an adjustable metal nose bridge that can conform to your face. They come in packs of five and each mask boasts a different design, from cheetah print to floral patterns. The masks are made from lightweight cotton muslin, have elastic ear loops and are machine-washable.
Athleta Made to Move Face Mask (ships Aug. 25)
These lightweight face masks were designed to be worn while exercising and feature a mesh pocket to insert a filter. The masks have soft elastic ear loops, as well as an interchangeable heap strap that you can position at the nape of your neck and the crown of your head. You can also wrap the head strap…
Read More: Most purchased face masks we’ve recently covered