Searching for the perfect face covering can be a frustrating and overwhelming endeavor. There are SO many styles of masks out there, with all different sorts of materials, straps, and patterns imaginable.
If you’re one of the people that stays from rope drop to close, you’ll be looking at twelve or more hours living with your face mask, so comfort is going to be KEY. And with Disney requiring face coverings for all guests above the age of two, it’s advantageous to ensure you’re happy with your mask choice BEFORE you head out to the parks!
What face-covering material is the most comfortable and/or effective?
The CDC recommends that cloth face masks are the most effective when slowing the spread of illness and keeping others safe. But not all types of cloth are created equal, and some are touted as more comfortable and effective than others.
When shopping for face masks, you will want to look for materials that are lightweight and breathable. In terms of effectiveness, the material that seems to work best at keeping air-borne particles at bay is a tightly-woven fabric such as cotton.
The number of layers does not seem to be a factor in effectiveness when you have a mask that is made out of these tighter-woven materials (though many still advocate for 2-layers at least). Face masks made of silk or a silk-cotton combination also seem to be effective.
Look for masks with a soft ear loop material
If you opt for a mask with ear loops, the material of the loops is just as important as the material of the face covering itself!
The traditional elastic material commonly used for ear straps can cause discomfort for some if worn over a prolonged period of time. Those elastic straps can wear on your ears and cause irritation, especially in the heat if you start sweating. We found these masks on Amazon that use softer material for the ear straps!
This pack of three is multi-layered and features a soft ear loop material. They’re $15.99 on Amazon.
These next masks come with a nose bridge wire, offering a closer fit around your nose so those with glasses do not need to worry about fogging up!
These masks also have two layers of fabric, providing more protection for those around you! You can pick up a set of two for $12.50.
Invest in some ear hooks
If the masks you currently use have those traditional elastics, you can purchase a set of ear hooks that take the pressure off of your ears! There are two types of hooks we looked into. The first hook sits on the back of your head and features several “knobs” that the elastics loop around.
These have decent reviews on Amazon and allow the wearer to adjust to three different sizes! You can shop a pack of ten for $13.99.
The next set of ear relief is these ear protectors that go around the straps themselves, giving your ears a more “cushioned” fit.
You can get a pack of five on Amazon for $7.99. This is a fairly inexpensive way to make your masks comfier around your ears without having to invest in a new set of masks!
Shop for masks with adjustable ties
Regardless of how comfortable the ear loop material is, if it doesn’t fit, it can still cause irritation and provide for a less-than-stellar experience. Many masks come in one standard size, and even some masks with elastic earloops don’t exactly fit a “one-size-fits-all” model.
If you have a mask that is too small or too large, you may run into some trouble if you cannot adjust the size of your mask! One way to avoid an ear catastrophe altogether is to wear a mask with ties that go around your head. The benefits of masks with ties are that you can adjust the tightness of the ties to your liking, plus it removes all of the discomfort around your ears.
You can pick up this face mask with long ties to fit around your head and neck on Amazon for $12.99.
When in doubt, go for a face covering with no straps at all!
If you’ve exhausted all of those traditional face mask options and you can’t seem to solve the ear problem, go with a face buff! Also known as a “neck gaiter,” these are a single piece of cloth that wraps around the lower half of your face and extends down your neck.
Many of these neck gaiters, like this one on Amazon, are moisture-wicking, meaning your face will stay dry all day long. We find kids have a VERY easy time wearing this style of mask if yours are picky like ours!
You can grab this neck gaiter on Amazon for $15.95. Note that these are not made out of cotton and are 80% polyesters and 20% spandex, so these will not be AS effective as a cotton cloth mask. If you find these to be more comfortable, be prepared to wash these more frequently!
Some have raised concerns that the tightness of these may be uncomfortable. We suggest picking one up and testing it out for yourself! These are often used in sporting and other physical activities such as biking, fishing, etc. If tightness is still a concern, we found a neck gaiter with a looser fit.
This neck gaiter is also available on Amazon for $13.99.
What types of face coverings should you AVOID?
Per CDC guidelines, at this time surgical masks or N-95 respirators are still encouraged to be avoided for personal use and to leave those types of face coverings in supply for health care professionals. Another type of face masks that have been seen in public are those with “breathing valves.”
While they may seem appealing due to the increased breathability, research indicates that the valves allow air and particles to be exhaled out, and if the wearer is an asymptomatic carrier, pathogens could easily escape through the valves of the mask.
This makes these types of masks less effective at protecting others, which is the primary reason for the face-covering protocols.
No matter what mask you choose to wear, experts recommend that you wash your mask after every use. So if you are visiting Disney World for a week this summer, be prepared to hand-wash or machine wash your mask every day, or bring enough masks to last the week!
When it comes to comfort, you may need to try several masks to see what will work best for you! Regardless of which mask you choose, we suggest you spend a couple of days wearing it for an extended period of time to grow accustomed to prolonged wear before heading to the parks. When it comes to effectiveness, a cloth mask made with tightly-woven cotton is going to be your best bet.
What face masks have you found to be the most comfortable? Share in the comments!