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Best for people with beards
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Best for people with glasses
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Best face mask under $15
According to the CDC, people who wear N95 and KN95 respirators are 83% less likely to contract COVID-19 than people who don't wear masks at all, whereas people who wear cloth masks are 56% less likely to contract COVID-19 than people who don't wear masks.
Professor Bruce Thompson of the University of Melbourne School of Health Sciences states that "The best [face masks] are the N95 masks, but they're only as good as your mask fit." You can read more of his expert insight here.
There is no one best face mask for every person. We all have different face sizes, shapes and tolerances for what we find comfortable. Plus, some of us wear glasses and have beards, further complicating finding that perfect fit. Fortunately, with the options available, everyone can find a mask that suits their face – you just have to know what you're looking for.
Any face mask should fully cover your nose and mouth and be adjustable enough to fit snugly against your face. It should also be easy to breathe through without fabric getting sucked against your mouth. Plus, comfortable enough to wear for hours without hurting your ears or putting too much pressure on your face.
For the last 18 months, I tested a wide range of adult-sized cloth face masks available for purchase online in Australia. When testing masks, I considered comfort, fit, durability, washability, price and the number of layers the mask has. I wore each mask for several days during various activities including exercising and travelling on public transportation. I also washed each mask at least twice – in a delicates bag – to see how they held up.
You can also wear the cloth masks on this list with a surgical mask to add additional filtration. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you shouldn't layer cloth masks over KN95 masks, N95 or P2 masks as they can affect the seal of these masks and make them less effective.
We are not making any recommendations about the effectiveness of face masks generally or of any particular face mask.
It is worth noting that a series of highly transmissible Omicron variants are set to cause a significant spike in COVID cases. If you disposed of your masks earlier in the year, it might be time to purchase anew.
I've been wearing this mask in different colours pretty much non-stop for the last couple of years, and it's still my favourite.
It's a 3-layer mask with 2 cotton layers and a pocket for a filter insert. The mask comes with 2 carbon filters, and more filters are available for purchase through the Clear Collective website. According to Clear Collective, you should replace the filters after 7 days of use.
When I'm exercising, I don't wear a filter so I can breathe more easily, but I like that there's always the option to add an extra layer of protection. Plus, I've been able to find replacement filters easily as pretty much any standard-sized mask filter works with this mask.
The adult size measures 22cm x 14cm, but it's fully adjustable to fit various face sizes and shapes. My husband and I wear versions of this mask daily, even though we have different sized faces. The company offers family packs with discounts for ordering multiple face masks at a time with kids sizes available, measuring 13cm x 10cm.
After wearing this mask regularly for over a year, 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). I've stained the white inner-liner of a few of these with lipstick, but overall, they're still going strong after more than 18 months.
If you wear glasses or sunglasses with your face mask, you've probably noticed that getting the right fit without fogging up your glasses can be challenging. While the Maskee Reusable Face Mask isn't specifically designed for glasses-wearers, I've found it to be the solution to a lot of my lens-causing woes.
The main feature of this 4-layer mask that helps reduce glasses fog is the unique noseband that sits flat on your nose. Unlike nose clips, it doesn't get in the way of glasses and doesn't cause me any discomfort (which I get sometimes when my glasses dig into metal nose clips). This extra piece of fabric helps the mask sit flat on my nose and cheeks so that no extra air escapes to fog up my lenses.
It's also extremely comfortable to wear thanks to the 100% cotton inner layer that feels extremely soft against your skin. It has 2 middle layers, 1 made of a non-woven Polypropylene and 1 made of polyester batting layer that helps the mask keep its shape. The outer layer is made of 100% polyester, giving the mask a total of 4 layers.
The ear-loops on this mask are also soft and don't get in the way of ear hooks. But, they aren't adjustable like many other masks are and may stretch out over time. To prolong the lifespan of my Maskee mask, I always wash it in a delicates bag so the ear-loops don't catch on anything.
The Maskee Face Mask comes in 3 sizes: adult, small (suitable for adults with small faces and kids ages 8–12) and XXS (suitable for kids ages 3–6).
The TECMASK Reusable Face Mask strikes that balance. The centre-crease design stays away from my mouth no matter how heavily I breath and the material wicks moisture away from my face.
The inner layer of this mask is made of a moisture transferable carbon hi-tech yarn. The middle layer is an antimicrobial Folma Shield and the outer layer is made out of recycled polyester fabric. The result is a 3-layer mask that's lightweight and breathable.
This is my go-to mask for any intense workouts and I've worn it while dancing, rock climbing and running. It's also comfortable to wear on walks during hot summer days.
It comes in 3 sizes to suit a range of adult face sizes and shapes. TECMASK also has a version of this mask available for kids in 2 different sizes (XS and XXS) for $14.95.
Our pick for the best runner up face mask for most people is the Gorman face mask. It's a 3-layer mask with 2 100% cotton layers and a filter pocket. It comes with 8 single-use nano melt-blown 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 2 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. 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 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 2 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. And, 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 8 single-use nano melt-blown filters.
For medium faces the Adult Printed Mask from The Eco Mask is our top pick 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 2 layers of cotton with an inner pocket for a filter. It 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.
When looking for a face mask for larger faces or 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 2 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 3 and is available in several different colours. For every mask purchase, ASOS donates $2 to Oxfam's Coronavirus Emergency Response Appeal.
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 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 3 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. I have only washed this mask a few times to test how well it holds up and it seems fairly durable.
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 4 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 4 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.
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When considering products, we chose to test a range of commonly available reusable mask styles. We only considered masks that are available for purchase in Australia.
We tested face masks from the following brands:
When testing masks we considered comfort, fit, durability, washability, price and the number of layers the mask has.
We then eliminated the following masks from this list:
Clear Collective Adult Valve Reusable Cotton Face Mask
We eliminated this mask because according to the CDC, masks with valves are not recommended as they allow virus particles to escape.
ASOS DESIGN 2 pack face coverings in black and grey
We eliminated this mask because the fit was loose and not adjustable. It also only has 2 layers and was less cost-effective than other masks we tested.
Culture Kings Future Aesthetic Face Mask
This mask was eliminated because the outer layer is full of holes, making it a single-layer mask. It didn't fit at all and was the most expensive mask we tested.
Muellery Cotton Face Mouth Mask Dustproof Facial UV Protective 3 Layers Cover Reusable Washable Black Masks for Women Men TPZA93095 (purchased through Amazon)
We eliminated this mask because it was too big and not adjustable. The ear-loops were very loose which caused the mask to fall off several times.
NastyGal To My Face Fashion Face Mask
This mask was eliminated because it is made of only 1 layer of very thin neoprene.
GE. Label Fashion Face Mask
We eliminated this mask because the folded design didn't fit well.
MaskIt 3 Ply Washable Adult Fabric Face Mask
We eliminated this mask because the fabric feels thin and flimsy, and the shape of the mask combined with the lack of a mouldable nose strip makes it difficult to get a tight fit.
Floatpac Reusable Cotton Face Mask
This mask was eliminated because the inner layer is made out of a felt-like material that got very hot and uncomfortable. Also, the elastic head straps aren't adjustable.
We also tested the Breathe Easy Australia Face Mask in Blue. However, we have chosen not to include it on the list because we were unable to determine if the included valve is a 1-way valve. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services recommends avoiding masks with 1-way valves and holes. We will update this guide when we hear back from the company regarding the valve.
We are continuing to test products and will update this guide regularly to reflect the results.
For size reference, the masks were tested by a woman with a small-to-average size face. To get a better sense of the size range each mask would be suitable for, her husband, who has a large-sized face and beard, also tried on each mask.We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. However, Finder may receive compensation when you click some links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners and why you can trust our guides.
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|
|Maskee Reusable Face Mask||4||No||No||No||Cotton, polyester||No||$16.97|
|TECMASK Reusable Face Mask||3||No||No||No||Carbon hi-tech yarn, polyester||No||$19.95|
|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|
If you're looking to buy a reusable face mask, plenty of options are available.
Ultimately, the best mask for you is one that you'll be able to wear consistently without having to touch or adjust while you're out and about. It should be comfortable, breathable and durable enough to withstand washing.
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 a mask with more than 1 layer.
Materials designed to stretch, like elastic, 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 well in washing machines or high temperatures as other materials do.
Advice from the WHO and the Victorian government recommends wearing masks with 3 layers. This is because masks with more than 3 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.
Yes. Many cloth masks sold online have 2 layers of fabric and an inner pocket 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 for about 10–20 washes. Once the mask has been washed more than the recommended number of times, it will no longer be as effective.
The treatment can also 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.
Several types of mask shapes are available, including flat, folded, and duckbill designs. However, the mask's shape is a matter of personal preference and won't affect the mask's effectiveness as long as it fits.
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 thisreus 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.
While the pattern of a cloth mask won't affect 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.
Finder analysis shows the average price of a cloth 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.
Click here for a complete rundown of rules regarding wearing face masks throughout Australia. In summary, face masks are generally required in high-risk settings such as aged care facilities and on public transport.
As of 9 September 2022, it is no longer mandatory to wear a face mask on domestic flights. This is in line with earlier changes making it optional to wear a mask in airports. Face masks remain mandatory on inbound international flights.
For more options, check out our full guide on where to buy cloth masks online.
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