With mask mandates returning and hotter-than-hot temps staying put, it's high time to invest in some lightweight and breathable masks. While grocery shopping, running errands, and dining, it's easy to wear any type of mask. But when your aim is to break a sweat, cotton can feel stifling. So, we did a bit of digging — AKA reading reviews — and discovered the best places to find breathable masks is athletic brands.
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Hear us out: Activewear brands have been perfecting the art of breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics for years, so it makes total sense that they'd do a great job of crafting lightweight, but still effective, face masks to help with all of those outdoor activities. So, skip the puddles of face sweat and try out one of these masks while safely venturing outside this summer.
(Please note that these performance fabrics are not medical-grade PPE and may be less effective than thicker fabrics like CDC-recommended cotton.)
This is the one that tipped us off to athletic face masks. When it originally launched last summer, it sold out in less than an hour, but five-star reviewers call it a "game-changer" and confirm it doesn't fog their glasses. It's made with a mix of polyester, polyurethane, nylon, and spandex designed to stay off your mouth and nose for a comfier fit and the inside layer features the brand's Iso-Chill technology, which is designed to disperse heat so it actually feels cool when you put it on. It's sold out in a few colors already, so we suggest jumping on it.
Made out of 93% recycled polyester and 7% elastane, this mask is lightweight and flexible for optimal comfort while in motion. Plus, $2 from every pack sold will go to Save the Children's Global Coronavirus Response Fund. (As Adidas' sister brand, Reebok also sells this same mask but in black and with their logo on it, if that's more your style.)
This mask features two layers of fabric: a lightweight and breathable outer layer made with polyester and spandex, and an inner layer of comfortable mesh made with polyester and mesh liner. Athleta also sells an everyday mask set, but this one is designed specifically for working out and sweating.
This mask is made by the leading activewear retailer Carbon38 with exercise in mind. A multilayered filtration system and a fast-drying antibacterial fabric ensure you stay cool and comfortable, plus it includes an adjustable nosepiece and straps to create a secure fit. It comes in small and large sizes, but reviewers suggest sizing up since they seem to run small. All profits from the kits will be donated to Frontline Foods.
If you're unfamiliar with Koral as an activewear brand, we recommend checking out their Lustrous Leggings, which are shiny and fun and cute enough to wear as pants (we said it). These masks are made with the same level of design and efficiency as their workout gear. Using the brand's antimicrobial performance fabrics, these masks offer the same benefits such as fast-drying technology, tight-knit UV Protection, and breathability and soft lycra stretch for a secure fit.
If you've ever felt Beyond Yoga's space dye fabric, you know how buttery soft and comfy it is — although not exactly warm-weather proof. Luckily, these masks are made with a lighter sweat-wicking polyester-and-spandex blend that one reviewer likened to "swimsuit material." It offers a four-way stretch and great retention, perfect for athletic endeavors. Plus, if you buy two, another two will be donated to essential workers.
These masks are made with upcycled fabrics from the brand's yoga clothing, so it features the same full-flex spandex technology — which similarly feels a bit like swimsuit material — making it stretchy, comfortable, quick-drying, and breathable. Since it's upcycled material, you can't select your patterns in advance, but all of the prints are colorful and fun, so you know you'll get a treat in the mail. Additionally, proceeds of these masks will be donated to healthcare workers through a donation to the Center For Disaster Philanthropy.
Katie is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers shopping trends, deals, and product reviews for Hunker. She's written for PureWow, Food Network, and Well+Good. When not online shopping, you can find her collecting vintage glassware or rewatching Nancy Meyers' movies for design inspo.