Another mask question, for someone who doesn't like ear loops
October 28, 2020 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Yes, it's yet another face mask question. More details inside the fold, but the short story is that I'm looking for a reusable mask that doesn't fasten around the ears.

I'm a cis male with a large, shaved bald head. Apparently I'm also a delicate fellow who can't stand the feeling of ear loops in a mask. Moreover, even if I didn't mind that style, I guess my ears are... extra bendy? overly floppy?... so as to prevent most masks with ear flaps from staying on my face for very long.

My current solution, which works OK, is to use a basic Target face mask with long, stretchy ear loops and to affix the loops around the back of my (large) neck with a plastic doohickey that looks more or less like this.

I'd like your recommendations for any mask that can be affixed securely around the neck, or otherwise in some way that doesn't touch my ears. If you've found a doohickey more comfortable or practical than the kind I already use (linked above), to adapt an over-the-ear mask to be fastened around the neck, that would be great, too. I'd strongly prefer a mask to a gaiter or buff, but if those solutions have worked for you when all else has failed, I'd appreciate hearing about that, too. I'm based in the US. I'll pay well for something that works. Thanks in advance!
posted by cheapskatebay to Shopping (31 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I have these and they work well, and are probably more comfortable than a hard plastic thing:
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:28 AM on October 28, 2020

Have you tried tie behind the head masks like this one?
posted by london explorer girl at 7:29 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Defy makes one that goes around the back of the head, and offers a Large size that's pretty big, and Dsptch makes one that loops around the base of the neck, and also offers a Large. I have both, and both work pretty well.

Dsptch also makes an adapter for use with ear-loop masks, which I haven't used.
posted by box at 7:39 AM on October 28, 2020

As a woman with a small face, these masks from Aplat were a bit too big for me but I love how they tie. I've used this method when making masks myself using a roll of macrame cord.
posted by past unusual at 7:41 AM on October 28, 2020

It would maybe help if I clarified that when you first put the mask on, you do have to tie the bottom of the cord to the right size. But after that first time, you can remove the top loop from your head and slide the mask on the cord to hang it around your neck if you need to take it on and off. There are images of what that looks like on their website, as well as patterns if you wanted to make your own version of this mask at home.
posted by past unusual at 7:47 AM on October 28, 2020

I recommend these, which have an option of behind-the-head straps.
posted by pinochiette at 7:49 AM on October 28, 2020

Agree with the masks that tie behind the head. I've made a few hundred masks and receive photos of friends wearing them. My friend with eyeglasses swears by the tie style and contrary to all other photos that I see, he ties the top strap below his earlobe and loves that doing so keeps his glasses (and ears!) completely unencumbered and hasn't affected protection.

With the elastic masks, I've found that most of the online instructions recommend a 7" loop of elastic, but increasing that to 8" has stopped the droopy/pulled ear issue that I had with the first batch and I can always tie a little knot at the end of the loop if I need to tighten a specific one.
posted by icaicaer at 7:49 AM on October 28, 2020

I bought a pile of these Madison Stitch masks for my household. My husband wears the large adult size and I wear the adult size. They've held up well to multiple washes and I really like the toggle for adjusting the fit.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 8:03 AM on October 28, 2020

AFAIK the Diop masks are all around-the-head/neck fit via elastic. Bonus is great colors & designs and supporting a Black-owned business. (They do not come with a bendable metal nose strip if you are a glasses-wearer, although you can buy the strips from them too.)
posted by soundguy99 at 8:08 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind wearing a headband, you can get some with buttons. Etsy has plenty but you can also sew some buttons on any you might already have. It'll save you the cost from having to replace all your current masks.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:11 AM on October 28, 2020

The masks fron LA Linen are the best ones I've found, and they come in a tie strap version:
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2020

I've got a big ol' shaved head too, and I've had great success with my Birdwell mask.
posted by saladin at 8:45 AM on October 28, 2020

Aplat convert over here. Easily one of the most comfortable masks I’ve worn. My wife made ours, so we’ve made a few small changes to how the cord works; I wear mine for long stretches of time so instead of tying it we’ve added a little cord toggle stop.

If you’re making your own, I would try to find a relatively stiff canvas For the outer layer; it helps keep its shape better and keeps the “beak” from collapsing in.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:03 AM on October 28, 2020

Urban Halo has some masks that attach via magnets in a soft cloth headband - my wife wears a mask 10 hours a day for work and these are the ones she swears by.
posted by _DB_ at 9:11 AM on October 28, 2020

I like masks in obnoxious patterns, so here: Nooworks; Baggu.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:13 AM on October 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

My current batch of masks for work are from Snot Blossom--they sell masks with ear elastic, but also masks with ties, and you can get cord toggles so you don't have to tie them.

The masks are reversible, and as another Mefite put it in one of our many other mask threads, 'upside-downable', meaning there's a wire along both long edges. I find them sturdy and easy to use, and they keep my glasses from fogging up.
posted by theatro at 9:19 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have a big head, floppy ears, and big plastic glasses, so I prefer a full elastic rounded mask like this one made by a distant family member. I like that the elastic makes it easy to slip on and off, and since it's in a tunnel, you can easily hang the mask down around your neck when you aren't wearing it. So I will wear it like a necklace when I leave the house, get in the car, and go somewhere, and then quickly slip it on securely when I'm there.
posted by advicepig at 9:26 AM on October 28, 2020

The masks I've made are like those birdwell masks, tho it kinda looks like the elastic is sewn in place on those. Mine have the outside sides sewn as a tube and the elastic goes through them making one big loop. The bottom one goes around the back of the neck and the top sits on top of the head. I had to use a triple loop as the elastic I got is kinda thin (Christmas package elastic was all that was available at the time). If the mask slides downward at all, I put one thumb under the chin to hold it up and tighten by pulling the elastic at the back of the neck.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:26 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

All the masks I have are pleated ones that I made with ties that go behind my head. You can convert any kind of mask with ear loops to one with ties -- you just need the ties (some kind of woven ribbon is fine if you don't want to sew long tubes), a bit of time, and either needle and thread or a sewing machine (it's so little sewing that it's not intractable to do by hand) -- so you aren't limited to a specific design of mask.
posted by confluency at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2020

Seconding Snotblossom -- they're excellent masks, you can get them in a ton of patterns, and the woman who makes them is great.
posted by holborne at 9:58 AM on October 28, 2020

I recommend a gaiter from Mission. It is adjustable, comfortable and keeps my neck warm when it is down. The most recent study I have read about (looking for the link) says gaiters are as effective as a regular cloth mask.
posted by AugustWest at 10:47 AM on October 28, 2020

Seconding Diop - they're the only commercially available masks I can tolerate (I too have sensitive yet large ears).
posted by librarianamy at 11:14 AM on October 28, 2020

I've had the Proper Cloth mask in large for some months. It's totally comfortable. Two elastic straps go around the head.
posted by tmdonahue at 11:38 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I also recommend the Proper Cloth masks.

You might say to yourself, "Frowner, why on earth would you buy $25 masks ($50 for three) from a snobbish men's outfitter?"

And I would reply that both my partner and I have such large heads that we have serious difficulty buying hats - regular sized masks don't fit me securely and don't fit my partner at all - and these come in two sizes, plus many of them have behind-the-head elastic. (Be sure to check - not all patterns come in this style.)

They're really nicely made, they're comfortable and they have a removable filter which goes in a pocket in the mask.
posted by Frowner at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am a lady with a shaved head and don't like ear loops. I bought a 3 pack of Prime Layers Everyday masks and like them. The sizing is generous, although I noticed that they each fit a little differently. I also have two masks from Diop, gorgeous fabrics, but I need to add a metal nosepiece to keep it from sliding down.
posted by danielleh at 12:44 PM on October 28, 2020

I got this style from etsy, and I love it. Easy to lower and put back on if needed.
posted by pyro979 at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2020

Hello fellow owner of floppy ears. In addition to Proper Cloth as mentioned above, Bonobos and Banana Republic both offer around the head masks. I use both but prefer the Bonobos model.
posted by photovox at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2020

The Baggu masks linked above are my favorite, and I have tried many. They have a nice flattish front, so are easy to breathe in, plus a nose wire. I wear them daily, frequently for many hours, and find them very comfortable, secure, and easy to breathe in.
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 4:50 PM on October 28, 2020

Most of my work has gotten turned on the these Nak Masks, particularly the "swoosh" style. Helps that they're local to us, but I've been wearing a large swoosh every day probably going on 5 months now. I also can't stand around the ear loops, and I find that these sit well on my face, even without the nose wire.
posted by lizjohn at 5:08 PM on October 28, 2020

I don't have any personal experience with them but Swrve is making behind-the-head masks, with a cord lock toggle that might fit better than just loops of elastic, and some size options. Swrve also seems to put some thought into the actual filtration materials that make up the mask and not just any "two layers of cloth".
posted by meowzilla at 8:03 PM on October 28, 2020

Response by poster: A big thank you to everyone who's helped answer this question. I knew you'd be able to help and I appreciate all the advice. Looks like I have a little research and shopping to do!
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:20 AM on October 29, 2020

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