Whether you want to admit it or not, masks have become an everyday staple. You literally can’t leave your house without one, because you won’t be allowed in anywhere and will get scorned by the public. Of course, like most other things in life, not all masks are created equal. And with everyone and their mom selling masks right now, it can be hard to figure out which ones are actually worth the money. As a retail store manager, I’m lucky to currently be allowed back in my store every day doing what I love. However, major precautions have been set in place in order for the store to even be open, which means I’m wearing a mask for eight hours a day. So I definitely know a thing or two about which masks are actually breathable and what makes them that way. Here are my top picks for masks that are both cute and breathable.
1. Blush Mark Face Mask
Blush Mark Cotton Reusable Face Mask Blushing Pink, $2
The first thing that I quickly learned while trying out different masks is that the design makes the difference. This design that’s contoured to the shape of the face prevents the fabric from getting pressed against your mouth, which is what makes it hard to breathe in. And, as someone whose job not only requires them to wear a mask for eight hours a day but also to be able to communicate with customers simultaneously, I know the impact this difference in design makes.
2. DIOP Face Mask
A major downfall of most masks is that the elastic that goes around the ears is either too small or too tight, so the mask pulls on the back of your ears and hurts after a while. Fortunately, DIOP’s masks solve that problem with straps that go around the head rather than around the ears. The mask is durable and lightweight with a design that’s contoured to the face, making it an all-around great option. Not to mention, DIOP is a Black-owned business inspired by founder Mapate Diop’s Nigerian heritage. His designs honor his heritage through utilization of Ankara, a boldly colored and patterned fabric used throughout West Africa. These masks are breathable and comfortable to wear, and they come in unique bright patterns, making them the all-around perfect masks.
3. South Moon Under Face Mask
South Moon Under Palm Print Face Mask, $7.95
What separates this mask from others that I’ve tried is that it has a moldable piece at the bridge of the nose that allows you to fit the top of your mask tightly to your face. Especially if you’re someone who has had the annoying and awkward experience of fogging up your own glasses while wearing your mask, you know that this moldable nose piece is a total game changer.
4. Montce Face Mask
Montce Leopard Texture Adjustable Face Mask, $22
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Montce, a super cute swimwear brand known for their fashionable and well-fitting swimsuits. But what you may not be aware of is that they’re now in the mask-making game, and doing a hell of a good job at it. Their masks are extremely well-structured so that they protect your nose and mouth without having the fabric pressed up against your face. This mask also has adjustable ear elastics, an underrated feature that many masks don’t have. Not to mention, their masks come in all of the same cute prints as their signature swimwear, so you can match!
5. Shop Betches Face Mask
Shop Betches Pink Tie Dye Face Mask, $20
You might be rolling your eyes right now at the blatant self-promo, but like, since we sell masks I couldn’t not include them. But mind you, I’m also not willing to risk my journalistic integrity over promoting our own masks if they’re sh*tty. So you can believe me when I tell you that our Shop Betches masks are great—they’re breathable, cute, and *BONUS* for every mask purchased, we donate a mask to a frontline worker.
6. Socialite Bandanna Mask
Another great option for a face mask that’s also breathable is the bandanna style mask. This one from Socialite is amazing and way better than just an ordinary bandanna because the fabric is super soft and, since this one is actually designed to be a mask, it actually stays around your head. It’s also trendy and stylish enough to be worn around your neck for when you’re in a scenario where you don’t need it pulled over your face.
7. Rad + Refined Face Mask
Rad + Refined Lemon Lime Remix Mask, $18
This brand, Rad + Refined, is a celebrity fave for its cool and unique accessories that are so special they can’t be found anywhere else, and their masks are no exception. They have fashionable masks in tie-dye prints and rhinestone details that are stylish and still super comfortable. They’re also v breathable with their lightweight face-fitting fabrics and designs.
8. CR Clothing Co. Face Mask
CRCCo. Homemade Face Mask, $15
Another Black-owned company with phenomenally comfortable masks is CR Clothing Co., a company founded by fashion designer Charla Ruschelle. Charla’s brand is rooted in made-to-order designs that actually fit realistic body measurements. Charla carries this same brand mission in the creation of her masks, which are also homemade and designed with the perfect comfortable fit.
9. Shore Face Mask
Shore Adjustable Masks – Set of 3, $36
Made from upcycled swimsuit fabric, the material of these masks is buttery soft on your face and so unbelievably comfortable. Especially during the summer, a mask that’s made of the same moisture-wicking material used for swimsuits is definitely ideal. These masks from swim brand Shore are also easily adjustable, so you can ensure that it’s not pressed against your mouth, forcing you to inhale it every time you take a breath.
10. PQ Mask-Scarf
PQ Bay Stripe MasQuini Yamia Scarf Face Mask, $24
When I first saw this mask, I thought there was no way I’d like it considering the abundance of fabric. However, once I put it on I was actually in love. This mask-meets-scarf design is not only super breathable, but also very wearable with its lightweight fabric and adjustable ear straps. Of course, there’s definitely a lot going on with this mask, so I wouldn’t want to wear it on a day I’m trying to flaunt my outfit. I would definitely have to save this for a more basic T-shirt kind of day.
11. Brave New Look
Brave New Look Floral Breast Cancer Ribbons Printed Mask, $20
These masks are made from 100% cotton, have pockets for filters (each mask comes with one filter, but you can buy refills), and feature adjustable ear straps. That’s basically all the ingredients you need for a comfortable, breathable mask. They also come in about a million patterns, so you’re bound to find something you like. Really no excuses.
PSA: Masks are no longer optional, so it’s time to get on board. I guarantee you’ll be a lot less resistant to wear a mask in public if you have ones that are cute and breathable. There are now tons of cute options out there to keep ourselves and the people around us safe. At the end of the day, not wanting to put a piece of cloth on your face to help others stay healthy is the definition of first world problems, so I say it’s time we all just stop complaining and read the room already.
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Images: @natedumlao / Unsplash; Shop Betches; Azazie; DIOP; South Moon Under; Montce; Socialite; Rad + Refined; CR Clothing Co.; Shore; PilyQ