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The 7 best face masks in Australia we’ve tried in 2021
We’ve spent months testing reusable cloth masks to find the best options in Australia for different-sized faces.
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The best reusable face masks in Australia
- Best overall face mask for most people: Clear Collective No Valve Reusable Anti Odour Cotton Face Mask
- Best face mask runner-up: Gorman Face Mask – Black
- Also consider: Dangerfield Face Mask – Blue
- Best for medium-sized faces: The Eco Mask Adult Printed Masks
- Best for large faces and people with beards: ASOS DESIGN 3 pack face covering
- Best for kids and adults with small faces: Monster Threads 3 Layered Face Mask
- Best face mask with head ties: Reusable Mask Co Reusable Cloth Mask
How did we pick this list?
We tested adult-sized masks that are available for purchase online in Australia. When testing masks, we considered comfort, fit, durability, washability, price and the number of layers the mask has.
We are not making any recommendations about the effectiveness of face masks generally or of any particular face mask.
Best overall face mask for most people: Clear Collective No Valve Reusable Anti Odour Cotton Face Mask
- Fully adjustable
- Adult and kids sizes available
- Not the cheapest option
- Only has one adult size
Price (RRP): $49.95Buy at Clear Collective
Why we chose it
Our pick for the best face mask for most people is The Clear Collective No Valve Reusable Anti Odour Cotton Face Mask. It's become my go-to daily mask because it's extremely comfortable to wear and fully adjustable with a mouldable nose strip and elastic ear loops.
It's a 3-layer mask with two cotton layers and a pocket for a filter insert. The mask comes with two carbon filters and more filters are available for purchase through the Clear Collective website. According to Clear Collective, the filters should be replaced after 7 days of use.
The adult size measures 22cm x 14cm but it's fully adjustable to fit a range of face sizes and shapes. My husband and I both wear versions of this mask daily, even though we have different sized faces. A kids size is also available, measuring 13cm x 10cm and the company offers family packs with discounts for ordering multiple face masks at a time.
After wearing this mask regularly for several months, I'm impressed by how well it's held up. It's easy to wash and the elastic hasn't stretched out after dozens of trips through my washing machine (I always wash my masks in a delicates bag).
Runner-up: Gorman Face Mask – Black
- Fully adjustable
- Includes eight single-use filters
- Only available in black
- Elastic ear loops can get stretched out or tangled in the wash
Price (RRP): $15Buy at Gorman
Why we chose it
Our pick for the best runner up face mask for most people is the Gorman face mask. It's a 3-layer mask with two 100% cotton layers plus a pocket for a filter. It comes with eight single-use nano meltblown filters and you can buy additional filters on the Gorman website. Keep in mind, if you don't use a filter, the mask will only have two layers.
The Gorman face mask fits my face perfectly and because it's adjustable it fits a range of face sizes. While this mask fits my face, it also fits my husband pretty well even though he has a larger face and a beard.
It has a mouldable nose strip that helps it sit flat along my cheeks and a seam along the chin so that it stays in place when I talk. It's comfortable to wear, but the nose strip leaves a mark on my nose when I wear it for longer periods.
Keep in mind, you need to take out the filter when you wash the mask. Also, the elastic ear loops can get stretched out or tangled in the wash so we recommend using a garment bag or delicate setting when you wash it. After several washes, this mask has held up well and still fits the same way it did when I first purchased it.
The mask I ordered and tested was from Gorman but Dangerfield sells the same mask with the same product code, also for $15.
Also consider: Dangerfield Face Mask – Blue
- Has three layers
- Includes a mouldable nose strip and adjustable ear loops
- Elastic used for ear loops isn't as comfortable as other masks we tried
- Outer fabric feels thin and not as soft as other options
Price (RRP): $15Buy at Dangerfield
Why we chose it
Also worth considering is the Dangerfield Face Mask – Blue. The design is almost identical to Gorman's face mask, likely because both companies are owned by the same parent company, Factory X. It has two layers made out of 100% cotton and an inner pocket for a filter.
However, the elastic used in this Dangerfield mask is rougher and less comfortable. After a few hours of wearing the mask, my ears started to hurt a little. Also, after several washes, some of the threads have come loose.
Other than the elastic and the patterned fabric, the Dangerfield mask has all of the same features of our top pick including adjustable ear loops, a mouldable nose clip and a chin seam.
Like the Gorman mask, it comes with eight single-use nano meltblown filters.
Best for medium-sized faces: The Eco Mask Adult Printed Masks
- Has three layers including a filter
- Extremely comfortable
- Ear loops aren't adjustable
- Only comes with one filter
Price (RRP): $30
Where to buy
The Eco Mask
Why we chose it
This Adult Printed Mask from The Eco Mask is our pick for the best mask for medium-sized faces because it's the most comfortable 3-layer face mask I tested. However, it's not fully adjustable so it won't work for every face size.
The Eco Mask cloth face mask is made out of two layers of cotton with an inner pocket for a filter. Is has a mouldable wire nose that helps it fit closely to your cheeks and the ear loops are made of elastic, but they aren't adjustable. One of my favourite things about this mask is how easy it is to put on, without having to adjust the ears at all.
The Adult Printed Mask from The Eco Mask is extremely comfortable to wear, even for long periods. It has a folded seam down the middle that combined with a stiffer cotton material than some of the other masks I've tried, helps keep the fabric away from my mouth so I can breathe and talk easily. Also, the wire nose is very lightweight and doesn't leave a mark on my nose like other masks do, even when I wear it all day. It's held up through more than a dozen washes.
The mask is available in several colourful patterns and each mask comes with a filter. While the RRP is $30, it was on sale for $15 at the time of writing.
Best for large faces and people with beards: ASOS DESIGN 3 pack face covering
- One of the largest face masks we tested
- Has adjustable nose clip and ear loops
- Only has two layers
- Doesn't have a pocket for a filter
Price (RRP): $28 for 3 masks (approximately $9.33 per mask)Buy at ASOS
Why we chose it
When looking for a face mask for larger faces and especially one for those with beards, we considered masks that cover a large area of the face while still being adjustable. An adjustable mask allows you to pull it tighter against your beard to get a more snug fit than one with static ear loops.
The largest adjustable face mask we tested is the ASOS DESIGN 3 pack face covering. It measures 14cm x 22cm and is made of 100% cotton. It has a mouldable nose strip and adjustable elastic ears. However, it only has two layers and doesn't have a pocket for you to add a filter.
This is the mask my husband has been using most at home because it has enough room for his beard while being snug enough around his cheeks that it doesn't fog up his glasses.
While the ASOS Design mask is a bit big for me, the fit isn't terrible because the ear loops are adjustable so I can pull it tighter. However, some of the extra fabric sticks to my mouth when I breathe heavily. The fabric also wrinkles easily and the cotton feels thinner after several washes.
This mask comes in a pack of three and is available in several different colours. For every mask purchase, ASOS donates $2 to Oxfam's Coronavirus Emergency Response Appeal.
Best for kids and adults with small faces: Monster Threads 3 Layered Face Mask
- Has three layers
- Easy to wash
- Not adjustable
- Won't fit most adults
Price (RRP): $12.95
Where to buy
Why we chose it
The Monster Threads 3 Layered Face Mask is marketed as an adult-sized mask, but it's by far the smallest of the masks we've tested. Measuring 12cm x 16cm, this mask is barely big enough to cover my face and when I talk, it starts to slip down my nose and off of my chin.
However, if you have a small face or are looking for something for an older child or teen, it's worth considering.
Monster Threads' mask has three layers. The outer layers are made of cotton and the inner layer is made of a non-woven synthetic material for more filtration. It comes in several brightly coloured patterns that would appeal to kids.
While the mask isn't adjustable, the ability to throw it in the wash without worrying about removing a filter could come in handy, especially if you have multiple kids at home. I have only washes this mask a few times to test how well it holds up and it seems fairly durable.
Best face mask with head ties: Reusable Mask Co Australia Reusable Cloth Mask
- Has four layers
- Four sizes available
- Tying head straps takes some getting used to
- No mouldable nose strip
Price (RRP): $29
Where to buyReusable Mask Co Australia
Why we chose it
The best face mask we've tried with head ties is the Reusable Mask Co Australia Reusable Cloth Mask. It comes with soft ties that can be tied behind your head or into smaller ear loops. It's comfortable to wear, but adjusting the ties to the right size takes a bit of trial and error.
The mask has four layers. The outer layers are 100% cotton and the inner layers are made from polyester chiffon. It has a pleated design that unfolds to give you enough space to talk and move your chin while you wear it.
Though it doesn't have a mouldable nose strip, it has a backwards nose pleat design that creates a pocket for your nose so that the mask sits flat on your face. This mask fits well enough that it doesn't fog up my sunglasses, but the nose pleat leaves a mark on my nose after an hour or so.
It comes in four different sizes. I ordered my mask in size medium but the small probably would have been a better fit.
One of my favourite things about this mask is that you don't have to remove any filters to wash it. You can throw it right into your washing machine, though I recommend putting it in a delicates bag so the head ties don't get tangled. Because there's no elastic in this mask, it holds up really well in the wash and hasn't changed shape after multiple washes.
Best masks chosen
- We tested reusable face masks that are available for purchase online in Australia.
- We ordered a total of 15 face masks and have tested a total of 14 masks.
- We will test the remaining masks as we receive them and will update this guide accordingly.
- The products on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not selected based on commercial relationships.
Best face mask comparison
If you're looking for more options, you can compare the price and key features of all the masks we've tested in the table below.
|Product||Number of layers||Adjustable ear loops or head ties||Valves||Filter||Material||Moldable nose||Price (per mask unless stated otherwise)|
|Clear Collective No Valve Reusable Anti Odour Cotton Face Mask||3||Yes||No||Yes||Cotton||Yes||$49.95|
|Gorman Face Mask – Black||3||Yes||No||Yes||Cotton||Yes||$15|
|Dangerfield Face Mask - Blue||3||Yes||No||Yes||Cotton||Yes||$15|
|The Eco Mask Adult Printed Masks||3||No||No||Yes||Cotton||Yes||$30|
|ASOS DESIGN 2 pack face covering||2||No||No||No||Cotton||No||$24 for 2 masks|
|Monster Threads 3 Layered Face Mask||3||No||No||No||Cotton||No||$12.95|
|Reusable Mask Co Australia||4||Yes||No||No||Cotton||No||$29|
|Breathe Easy Cotton Face Mask||3||Yes||Yes||Yes||Cotton||Yes||$39.95|
|ASOS DESIGN 3 pack face covering||2||Yes||No||No||Cotton||Yes||$28 for 3 masks|
|NastyGal To My Face Fashion Face Mask||1||No||No||No||Neoprene||No||$18|
|Muellery Cotton Face Mouth Mask TPZA93095||3||No||No||No||Cotton||No||$9.49|
|Culture Kings Future Aesthetic Face Mask||1||No||Yes||Yes||Neoprene||No||$49.95|
|GE. Label Fashion Face Mask||3||Yes||No||No||Cotton||No||$29.95|
|Floatpac Reusable Cotton Face Mask||3||No||No||Yes||Cotton||No||$14.95|
How to choose the best cloth face mask
If you're looking to buy a reusable face mask, there are plenty of options available.
Ultimately, the best mask for you is one that you'll be able to wear consistently without having to touch or adjust it while you're out and about. It should be comfortable, breathable and durable enough to withstand washing.
The Victorian State Government, recommends that non-healthcare workers should wear washable cloth masks. Brett Sutton, the Victorian Chief Health Officer, has provided guidance on wearing 3-layer cloth masks.
When you're comparing face masks, consider the following factors:
Organic materials such as cotton are more breathable than some synthetics, but offer lower filtration. If you opt for a cotton mask, look for one with more than one layer.
Elastic and other materials that are designed to stretch increase the size of the gaps between the fibres when stretched. The larger the gaps between the fibres, the less effective the mask will be. Also, elastic materials don't hold up as well in washing machines or high temperatures as other materials do.
Advice from the WHO and the Victorian government suggests wearing masks with three layers. The reason three layers is recommended is that masks with more than three layers can be more difficult to breathe through, which means people are less likely to wear them consistently.
The quickest way to check how breathable a mask is is to put it on and try to breathe normally. Masks generally aren't returnable, so if you're not sure if a mask will be breathable enough to wear all day, check online reviews.
Keep in mind, commercially made masks are designed to be breathable and so it shouldn't be too difficult to find one that you can wear comfortably, even if it takes a little while to get used to wearing a mask for long periods.
Does a filter count as a layer?
Yes. Many cloth masks sold online have two layers of fabric and an inner pocket that allows you to insert a disposable filter. This filter counts as a third layer.
Some masks feature an outer layer that has been treated to make it water-repellent. However, the treatment usually only lasts a certain number of washes (often around 10–20). Once the mask has been washed more than the recommended number of times, it will no longer be as effective.
Also, the treatment can affect the breathability of the fabric.
Look for a mask that fits snugly to your face and doesn't leak air out of the sides. There shouldn't be any large gaps between the mask and your face. If there are gaps, air will go around the mask when you breathe, instead of through the mask as it should.
Any mask should fully cover your mouth and nostrils and should stay in place without you needing to hold it up or adjust it.
There are several types of mask shapes available including flat, folded and duckbill designs. However, the shape of the mask is a matter of personal preference and won't affect the effectiveness of the mask as long as it fits.
Ear loops, ties and head straps
Face masks typically come with either ear loops, adjustable bungee ties or straps that tie around your whole head.
Ear loops are non-adjustable loops that slide around your ears, holding the mask in place. They're usually made of the same fabric as the mask.
Bungees are stretchy adjustable ties that you can tighten or loosen depending on your head size. While this can make the mask more comfortable and help with fit, elastic materials don't always hold up in the wash.
Masks with straps that tie around the back of your head are less convenient than those with ear loops as they take longer to put on and take off, but some people find them to be more comfortable for extended use because they don't put pressure on the backs of your ears. Also, they won't interfere as much with the glasses.
Patterns and designs
While the pattern of a cloth mask won't have any effect on the effectiveness of the mask, a lot of us would prefer to wear masks that we think look good. If we have to wear masks, we might as well have fun with them.
If you want to match your mask to your outfit or jewellery, you can find masks in a wide range of fashionable patterns including animal prints, stripes, florals, tie-dye and tartan. You can also get funny face masks if you want to lighten the mood.
If you're more of a minimalist, there's no shortage of white and black face masks out there.
Recent Finder analysis shows the average price of a reusable face mask in Australia is around $22.47. However, the cost can vary widely depending on the manufacturer, store and location. In some cases, shipping can cost just as much as a mask.
You can typically save on shipping by buying multiple masks from the same retailer.
How to choose the best face mask for exercise
When you're exercising with a face mask the two most important things to consider are how well it stays in place and how breathable it is.
If a mask is constantly slipping down your face as you run and requires you to touch it and adjust it, it won't be doing much good. A moldable nose strip can also help keep your mask in place while you exercise.
If the mask has several layers but is hard to breathe through when you work up a sweat, you'll be less likely to wear it the next time to exercise. Moisture-wicking fabric will help with sweat, but will often be less breathable. Some people prefer using a one- or two-layer cotton mask for workouts and switching to a three-layer water-resistant mask for trips to the grocery store or journeys on public transport. Also, if you have a mask with a reusable filter layer, taking the inner filter out could give you the extra breathability you're looking for during your workout.
How to choose the best face mask for kids and teens
When looking for a mask for your child or teen, consider the same things you'd consider when choosing a mask for yourself.
Children under two shouldn't wear face masks because of choking risks. While children under 12 are exempt from the mask requirements in Victoria, those older than 12 are expected to follow the same guidelines as adults.
A lot of teenagers find that the standard one-size-fits-all adult masks don't fit their faces. Fortunately, many retailers are offering smaller mask sizes, suited to teens and older children. If you're not sure of sizing, look for a mask with adjustable ear or head straps so that you'll have more flexibility when it comes to fit.
Fun patterns might incentivise your child to wear the mask, while comfortable fabric and ear bands can help keep your child from taking it off while out and about. If your kid doesn't like the feel of bands tucked behind their ears, look for a mask with straps that wrap around the entire head.
How to choose the best face masks for people with glasses
People who wear glasses have additional considerations when it comes to wearing masks. A common complaint glasses-wearers have with face masks is that their glasses fog up frequently, making it difficult to see.
According to The Royal College of Surgeons of England, an effective method to prevent your mask from fogging up is to wash your glasses with soapy water before putting your mask on. Let your glasses air dry or dry them off with a soft tissue.
For more tips, check out our full guide on how to wear a face mask with glasses.
How to choose the best face masks for people with beards
Unfortunately, a beard can prevent your face mask from forming a seal or close fit to your face. People who have to wear masks in professional settings are often required to shave or trim their beards to ensure their face masks are effective, including those in the Queensland Police Service.
The government isn't asking people to shave to comply with mask regulations, but if you have a long or bushy beard you might find that standard one-size-fits-all masks don't work for you.
In this case, look for masks that come in large sizes and ones with long, adjustable head straps that don't interfere with your beard.
Accessible and deaf-friendly masks
If you live or work with people who are deaf or hearing-impaired and use lip reading, a standard face mask will limit your ability to communicate. Some manufacturers are making clear face masks and face shields, but many people have had to make or alter their own masks at home.
If you can't find a clear face mask in stores, The Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center published instructions on how to make an accessible face mask using a sewing machine or hot glue gun.
For more tips on using and caring for your mask, check out our guide on how to wear a face mask.
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