What's the best mask?
June 24, 2020 1:49 PM   Subscribe

What's your favourite mask and why?

I figure everyone's had time to try out a lot of masks by now, and it's been a couple of months since the last mask AskMe. Supply chains are now in full swing, and it looks like masks will be around for a while, so it might be a good time to upgrade. Please recommend your favourite COVID-19 mask (or masks), and please explain why you like it (or hate it the least), and how it's held up over time. Commercially available or DIY pattern is fine, as is cloth or manufactured.
posted by zamboni to Shopping (17 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I have ten+ masks from SpecialDesignsByG, on Etsy. I liked them so much I re-ordered more.

I like that they are natural fiber, 2-layer, not pleated but nose-seamed, and flannel on the inside. The flannel liner is open on the sides, so you can put a filter in, and the nose-wire pocket is also open on the sides to make it easier to replace/remove for washing.

Lastly, she uses paracord threaded through the sides instead of ear looped elastic, so it's very customize-able depending your noggin and sensitivities, or if you want to add a toggle. She makes them in different sizes as well.
I wear my hair up in a bun, so I loop the bottom around my neck and then tie it up using my hair as an anchor instead of my ears. Much more comfortable for me for every day (and I really dislike breathing hot air/wearing a mask).

A++ would buy from again.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:07 PM on June 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Coincidentally I just read this article published today: What To Look For In A Face Mask, According To Science.
posted by davcoo at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I picked up a 3 pack what they're calling "Cloth face covering" from Costco that are my favorite so far. Lots of room in the face area so it's not all pressing on your nose & mouth as you breath & the ear loops are adjustable, which as I have a wide head helps it not pop off my ears. They've held up well so far. I have glasses & they don't fog them up, though a nose wire would be nice & the lack of one is my only complaint. I can't see them on their website so not sure if they still have them in stock or they're just not selling them online or in all stores.
posted by wwax at 2:23 PM on June 24, 2020

I have five masks from Tom Bihn that I really like, and also bought five each for my mother and brother. Overall we are all quite happy with them.

I also have five masks from Snot Blossom that I really like, and I think these masks do a better job at handling the "breathing + glasses" thing than the Tom Bihn masks do. These masks are also reversible and "upside-down-able" because the wire for the nose is on the top and bottom.

The Tom Bihn masks are really good, but when I buy again I'll buy from Snot Blossom.
posted by ralan at 2:29 PM on June 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

The pattern I've been using--which I wouldn't be surprised if the Etsy shop above was based on--is from Craft Passion. I like how it's shaped instead of plated, I like how I can use contrasting fabrics or topstitching threads (this is silly but it's nice to have something cheerful and aesthetic for such grim necessity?), I like that there's a nose wire and it gives me the ability to put filter media in, I like that I can make the mask first and figure out elastic or ties later. The people I've given them to so far have liked them.

Downsides: making them can be very fussy because I want ALL the features (nose wire! filter pocket!), and that way it's not a simple pattern. I also extend the main fabric piece 1/4 of an inch for a larger casing for elastic or ties.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:30 PM on June 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Proper Cloth seems to be the winner for me as far as covering my face well and minimizing foggy glasses. I’d prefer ear loops to the behind the head straps, but the fit is so much better that I still rank them my favorite.

The Tom Bihn masks also work great for me. My partner doesn’t like either of them and is living in some masks I bought off a random Etsy person, who’s no longer selling them. Seems to just be a difference in our face sizes/shapes as to what’s comfortable for each of us.
posted by Stacey at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2020

I have a 60cm circumference head and the Tom Bihn masks I got after the last AskMe were too small (I got the default S/M size). Won't buy again as the nose wire isn't substantial.
posted by homesickness at 3:10 PM on June 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

It's been twelve days since the last mAsk Me. You might find some other helpful suggestions in there.
posted by theatro at 3:13 PM on June 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I’ve been sewing the Tom Bihn large mask pattern scaled up 10% on my printer. I haven’t put in a nose wire because my giant plastic glasses sit on top of the mask and press it down well. I use ties I made out of an old T-shirt. I like how it sits away from my nostrils and mouth. My nose if kinda flat, so many designs feel like they go up my nose when I inhale.
posted by advicepig at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2020

I just bought a whole 50-pack case of 3-ply jersey-knit cotton masks from Amazon for less than $30. It's incredibly soft and breathable, machine washable, approximately medium-large sized (won't fit kids without alteration and won't fit people with very large faces), and OMG YAY FINALLY. I don't feel like I am suffocating anymore.
posted by MiraK at 4:46 PM on June 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

My spouse and I are both on the larger side. We've tried scads and scads of different masks, and for summertime wearability and comfort, Johnny Was is the winner by miles. I like the silk ones a little better than the cotton, but both are solid.

Also surprisingly good are the masks from Pro Wrestling Revolution. We got these just because we're Lucha Libre fans and they looked fun, but they've turned out to be some of the best masks we've got. (In retrospect, I understand that this shouldn't be surprising: These folks have actual experience making and using performance masks, and most of the other folks currently selling Covid face coverings really don't.) Their only drawbacks are that (1) they are fairly expensive, albeit justifiably; and (2) They're a bit fussy to wash.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:58 PM on June 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

My mask tip is to tie the ear loops with an adjustable hitch knot so you can easily tighten and loosen them. Also “fashion” tape (double-sided skin/fabric-friendly tape) helps for the glasses fogging.
posted by yarrow at 6:12 PM on June 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

A coworker who used to work on SARS has been making some masks with an outer layer of 600 thread count cotton, and an inner layer of chiffon, which has electrostatic properties. She started making these after digging into this research from the Argonne National Laboratory, which suggests that combo, if fitted correctly, is on par with an N95. The two masks she made me are my absolute favorite not just because science, but because they're so incredibly breathable. (And also have adjustable ear loops.) So if you can get cotton/chiffon, I highly recommend it not just for safety, but for comfort.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:39 PM on June 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love the African-style cloth and the fit of the Diop facemasks- it’s a Black-owned company that funds community organizations in Detroit.
posted by matildaben at 8:23 PM on June 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the pattern link, foxfirefey! I have material but haven't been able to find a good pattern yet.

Seconding that a cotton layer + chiffon layer is the way to go. I've heard that knit materials don't actually filter much, depending on particle size. They do OK with larger particles but not with the smaller ones.

These are some of the best links I've found on mask materials:

posted by Ahniya at 9:10 PM on June 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mrs. TheCoug and I have made ourselves about a dozen of these masks from a patter from Hope and Industry, a small shoe company in New Mexico that has pivoted to making PPE. It's a pretty easy pattern, and the masks fit very well. They really hug the chin, which I like.
posted by TheCoug at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2020

My mother-in-law is a professional epidemiologist and an amateur seamstress. We've been so spoiled for a) masks of varying designs, including made to measure, and b) reports on the latest research about masks.

Of the various designs she's tried, I have found that the prototype 2 (PDF) from the University of Florida Dept. of Anesthesiology is the most comfortable for me.

It's also the only design of four tested that passed a respirator fit test (with tape) when made with Halyard non-woven fabric. When made with regular fabric, it probably would not pass a fit test, but I find that it does fit better against my face than any other design I've tried, thus ensuring that the air is passing through the fabric, rather than around.

I personally have found it less close feeling and less hot than masks that cover more of my cheeks. They look a bit sillier - mine is bright yellow and rather like a duck's bill. But they are nicer for wearing.

As for filter pockets: she pointed out that filters are pretty meaningless if they only sit in one part of the mask (eg in the front but not on the sides), or if air passes around the mask. Cloth masks are for droplet protection (mostly out from you) and will not filter viruses out of the air even with a filter inserted.
posted by jb at 7:24 PM on June 25, 2020

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