I Tested 14 Different Face Masks — These Are the Only Ones I’ll Wear Now (Bonus: They’re on Sale!)

updated Feb 17, 2021
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Someone holding fabric face masks.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

A year ago, I never would’ve thought I’d have a favorite face mask. But, here we are. And here I am, telling everyone I know how awesome these masks from Hedley & Bennett are. 

This past summer, I spent weeks trying 14 different masks out for Cook’s Illustrated — interviewing doctors, running in them, walking in them, testing out their barrier efficacy (aka how well they keep germs in), and having a variety of face shapes and sizes try them out to see how well they fit — and the H&B ones came out on top as my personal favorite. They’re also the only ones my husband will wear. So, between the both of us, we own eight of them.

H&B makes incredibly well-made aprons, so I had high hopes when I ordered my first face mask from them back in June. And I wasn’t disappointed. Their non-medical masks were developed in concert with an actual doctor and are made from either cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester. 

Credit: Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Red Oxford H&B mask!

Why is the material important? Well, natural fibers, like cotton, filter better than synthetic fibers, like polyester. The former are, at a microscopic level, more irregular, which makes it more difficult for small particles (germs!) to pass through. Synthetic fibers are, on the other hand, more breathable than natural fibers. Which means a mask made from purely synthetic fibers might not have great barrier efficacy, like, for example, a neck gaiter. However, when you blend a natural fiber and a synthetic fiber you get the benefits of both filtration and breathability. And while I, personally, haven’t found H&B’s all-cotton masks to be hard to breathe in, you probably know by now if a little extra breathability will make you feel more comfortable wearing a mask. In that case, you may want to opt for one of their cotton and polyester blend masks.

Credit: Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
Adjustable ear straps allow for a more tailored fit.

One thing I love about the H&B masks is that they’ve released new iterations of their original masks, improving upon previous design quibbles. The first H&B Wake Up Fight Mask I got didn’t have adjustable ear loops, which meant it was just a touch too large for my face (I have a medium-sized face); however, it fit my husband’s larger face perfectly. Now their masks have adjustable ear loops, so they fit a wider variety of face sizes. All of their masks also now have metal nose inserts for further adjustability and filter pockets. I’m a huge fan of their crossback masks, too, which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, as they take more effort to put on. However, I find that this style allows for an even more tailored fit and, of course, it doesn’t tug on my ears. 

I should mention one drawback: H&B masks are hand-wash only. However, I find this a small consideration given the fit, comfortability, and effectiveness they offer. Plus, every mask you purchase goes toward the donation of masks to first responders and essential workers (H&B has donated 350,000 masks so far!). So, you can feel great about buying them, too. Event better? For a limited time, H&M is offering 20 percent off all their face masks.

Do you have a face mask you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Kitchn. See it here: I Tested 14 Different Face Masks and These Are the Only Ones I’ll Wear Now