Best face mask for work in 2021

Although some states and parts of the world are beginning to re-open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are still urging people to wear non-medical face masks and coverings when outside the home.

This doesn’t mean just N95s or even loose-fitting surgical masks (PDF). They can be reusable cloth masks, bandanas, scarves, or any other fabric (such as cotton, silk, and linen) that helps reduce the number of large particles and droplets you breathe in or spread to others — especially in indoor settings and public spaces. They must cover the nose and mouth (PDF) and should be washed in hot water and dried on high heat between uses to kill bacteria and viruses. 

As vaccination programs continue to gain traction worldwide, businesses are beginning to make re-opening plans, and employees, if they have not already, may soon be asked to return to their workplaces. However, this doesn’t mean that social distancing requirements will change, or that we can do away with our masks, yet. 

Here is a selection of face masks and face coverings that are professional-looking to wear and are best suited for the workplace. But be sure to follow the latest guidelines on hygiene and social distancing, in addition to masks, as you navigate the new normal.

Design your own face masks

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Custom Ink is a printing company making soft masks with three layers of 100% cotton. You can even outfit your teams with customized cloth face coverings from Custom Ink. Just start your design and request a quote — all online. But there is a 20-mask minimum for custom orders, priced at $9.41 each — a price that decreases in tandem with the size of the order. You should also check out the triple-ply basic cotton masks that come in packs of 100 for $350. There are single-ply 120-packs for $240, too.

$9 at Custom Ink

Made in LA from sustainable deadstock fabric

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Christy Dawn, a fashion brand, is selling three-packs (start at $30) of masks made from sustainable deadstock fabric, which stops fabric from going to waste and ending up in landfills. Every mask is sewn in its Los Angeles factory and is both reusable and washable. You can pick between patterns, florals, or bulk colors. 

$30 at Christy Dawn

Buy a beachy mask, and one will be donated

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These Kenny Flowers masks are beach-themed for those of you who want something more exciting. For every mask you buy, one will be donated to Bali to help those in need. In, Kenny Flowers said it had donated 14,065 masks. A three-pack of masks costs $24, and you can get financing for them through Affirm. Over 20,000 masks have been donated so far.

$24 at Kenny Flowers

Optional carbon filter sewn between layers

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These 100% cotton masks are hand-sewn and made in the US. They start at $24, and with some models, they come with additional layers of filter media that can be slotted between the layers of the mask. This includes a carbon filter best suited for odors and airborne contaminants. The filters are replaceable and disposable.

SubZero Masks says it’s donating one mask to an at-risk person in need for each mask purchased. At the time of writing, SubZero is also offering 50% off purchases.

$24 at Subzero

Basic masks with replaceable filters

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These are great basic face masks if you’re looking for something for you or your employees to wear all day, every day. They are simply black, washable, and have replaceable filters. The three-pack comes with six replacement filters, too. 

$24 at Amazon

Can be worn over medical masks

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SwimSpot, a swimsuit company, is selling non-medical, laser-cut face masks made from polyester and spandex materials. This particular set comes with 10 masks in the color black for $20. There are other masks available in a variety of colors and styles.

$20 at Swimspot

Masks with adjustable straps and a PM2.5 filter

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Vida’s masks are made of two layers of cotton, have adjustable straps and a metal nosepiece, and come with a PM2.5 filter, which the company says features two layers of “Meltblown filter” and one layer of carbon-activated fabric. This filter needs to be replaced every seven days. Four-packs of Vida masks cost $36, but a single mask goes for $10. Vida also offers FDA-authorized KN95 masks.

$10 at Vida

Some proceeds go to MedShare

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Threadless sells masks made of two-ply polyester. The masks also feature a built-in filter pouch and adjustable ear loops. There are tons of design themes, from Star Wars to cats. Each mask is $17. The company promises to donate a portion of net proceeds to MedShare, a national non-profit organization that recovers surplus medical supplies.

$17 at Threadless

Bulk discounts for non-profits and corporations

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Radian Jeans is selling masks made from two layers of knit jersey fabric. They come in packs of five for $15. The retailer says it offers bulk discounts to non-profits and corporations for their employees and clients, and it can also print logos (email first: pr@radianjeans.com).

$15 at Radian Jeans

Three-pack for $12.99

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Face shields have become a common sight in the service industry during the pandemic. These plastic shields wrap around your head but have a comfortable foam sponge on the brim. This makes it easy to wear for longer periods, and you get to avoid feeling fabric on your mouth all day.

$12 at Amazon

Masks with wicking material and HEPA filters

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Snaptotes’ masks offer three layers of protection, including an exterior durable polyester material that is water repellant and an interior wicking material pocket to help wick moisture away from the face. Each mask includes a filter pocket, comes with two replacement HEPA filters, and has a flexible wire nose piece. They come in a range of color options and patterns and start at $10 each. For each mask purchased, one is donated to a person in need.

$10 at Snaptotes

Custom masks with filter options

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Vistaprint makes face masks with a pouch for replaceable filters that can be used for up to 12 hours. The masks, available as set designs or as custom prints, start at $13, and at the moment, a 25% discount is on offer for three masks or more. Filters can be purchased in packs of 10.

$13 at Vistaprint

50 disposable masks for $10

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These masks are an ideal choice if you’re just looking for something to offer customers coming through the doors of your business. They’re disposable, which is handy, but also, because of that, they’re not the most environmentally-friendly or sustainable solution. 

$10 at Amazon
Amazon (Black masks)

Cotton masks with Klarna financing

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Yes, Hot Topic still exists. And, yes, it sells face masks that are professional enough to wear to work. Here is a standard black one made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. It’s $10 on sale, plus Hot Topic offers four-month financing through Klarna. Shop around, though, as there are other patterns.

$10 at Hot Topic

Sustainable masks with a flexible nose bridge

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Emilia George, a maternity wear brand, is selling face masks with two layers of Cupro (a 100% sustainable and eco-friendly fabric). There’s also a webbed interfacing middle layer and a flexible nose bridge design that supposedly works well for glasses wearers. The masks cost $10 each and come in a variety of colors.

$10 at Emilia George

Wear all day, even when playing sports

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If you’re looking for something that you could wear for work and also while out for a run during lunch, Under Armour has made a mask just for you. It’s built for professionals who are always on the move. It stays cool while you exercise, plus the mask sits up off of your lips for added comfort, and it comes in six colors. You can pick up one for $30, or two for $40. 

$30 at Under Armour

Other places to check for masks online

Still looking for a face mask to buy online? Perhaps shop local. Facebook Marketplace is a good online tool to use to find face mask sellers nearby. Just be sure to follow safe social distancing and hygiene practices when you pick up your masks. Etsy is another option if you’re looking to buy homemade face masks online from individual sellers. Ebay, too. 

Finally, check out Amazon. The platform is now selling bulk quantities of face masks, coverings, and even surgical masks. Just double-check the shipping dates to be sure you’re not waiting months for your delivery. 

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