Best face mask 2022: The most comfortable and effective face coverings

Browse the best face masks for specs-wearers, sport, breathability, and more

best face mask
(Image credit: Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash)

Wondering where to buy the best face masks? Even with the vaccine being rolled out, it's clear we'll be needing to wear face masks for a long time still. Today's best face masks are a world away from the cheap, ineffective, uncomfortable offerings many of us were making do with in the early days of the pandemic. 

In this guide we've selected the best options for a range of uses – whether you're looking for a mask that's good for sport, one that won't cause your glasses to steam up, or one that'll fit a smaller face, we have a mask for you here. And it goes without saying, all the best face masks in our list are designed to fit closely and effectively filter particles.

Finally, once you've read this article, we'd encourage you to bookmark it too, because we’ll be updating this page regularly as new face masks come on to the market, making it a handy resource for you over time.

Where to buy best face masks in the UK

Not in the UK? Jump straight to the best face masks in the US.

Muc-Off face masks | £5.99 each at Muc-Off (opens in new tab)
Specialising in bikes and motorbikes, Muc-Off is a surprise addition to our best face masks guide, but has earned a place thanks to a clever solution to the steamed-up glasses issue. These masks all have a small nose flap that sits beneath your specs and keeps them clear. They're also nice and comfy, well made, and very breathable.

Vistaprint masks with integrated filter | £17 from Vistaprint (opens in new tab)
Here at T3, we've ordered a few of the Vistaprint masks and found them to be great. There's a huge variety of patterns, the cut fits the face well, and the fabric is comfortable – both the soft cotton lining and the adjustable elastic ear loops. Additionally, the sewn-in wire nose bridge enables a secure fit that stops glasses from steaming up. They now come with an integrated filter, too. They're available in both adults and kids' sizes.

Great British Designers face masks | 3 for £15 at Boots – buy one get one half price (opens in new tab)
These colourful face masks from British designers are made from tightly woven cotton sateen, and are nice and breathable yet still effective. You also get two little cloth pouches to store them in when you're not wearing them, and profits go to charity too. 

The comfiest face mask | £15 £10.50 for 2 at Falke (opens in new tab)
These face masks are made from fast-drying, round-knitted material for a soft, comfy feel – the outside is moisture-repellent, while the inside is fleece. There are a range of sizes to choose from, with a detailed fit chart so you can make sure you pick the right one for your face. We're big fans of the cool, sporty style, too – available in yellow, black, white, grey, navy and blue. 

The most stylish face mask | £20 each, or £55 for 3, from Wolford (opens in new tab)
Tights brand Wolford has knocked it out of the park in the style stakes with this understated face mask. It's not style over substance, either – as well as a sleek design, this mask boasts comfortable, machine-washable, double-layer fabric, an adjustable nose wire, face-contoured design and soft ear straps. 

The best face mask for sport |£26 at Under Armour (opens in new tab)
The hi-tech UA sports face mask is engineered for better airflow, comfort, and a cool feel. While it's not perfect, its the best face mask for sport we've found (see our UA Sportsmask review (opens in new tab)). You'll find more exercise-friendly options in our face masks for runners (opens in new tab) roundup. 

Cheap face masks | Multipacks from under £5 per mask at ASOS (opens in new tab)
If you're on a tight budget, head to ASOS. While we suspect many of these won't be the best quality face masks you'll wear, they're pretty much unbeatable on price. There are lots of multipack options to choose from, some with added features such as nose clips and charity donations.

The best face mask for glasses |£20 each at Reiss (opens in new tab)
While an adjustable nose piece will help stop your glasses fogging up, for an even closer fit around the face, try this face mask from Reiss. It has a wire sewn along the top edge, so you can shape it to your exact facial contours. Excellent for stopping air escaping and fogging your specs up.

The best clear mask for lip-reading | £10.50 from TylermadeCo on Etsy (opens in new tab)
This face mask has a clear window built in so your mouth remains visible, making it a great choice if you're coming into contact with anyone who relies on lip reading. Or if you haven't yet perfected your smize. It's made from double-layer cotton with a nose wire, is extremely well reviewed, and delivered from within the UK. 

The best face mask for sensitive skin | £76 for 3 at Wolf & Badger (opens in new tab)
These stylish face masks are made from 100% silk. While they're a fair bit more expensive than other styles, they're super lightweight (silk is on average 6 times lighter than cotton), very breathable, and great if you have very sensitive skin. The design is double-layered, and curved for a close fit around your nose and chin. 

The best disposable face masks | £8.99 for 50 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
For disposable masks, head to Amazon. This bulk-pack is very cheaply priced and very well reviewed (4.5 star average over 21k+ reviews). The 3-ply design comes with a nose clip for a snug fit. Note, they're not medical grade.  

Medical-grade face masks | £23 for 50 at HoMedics (opens in new tab)
If you're a carer or need something medical-grade, these single-use, disposable face masks are available to order in bulk at HoMedics. Another option is to head to Medisave (opens in new tab), which has surgical face masks and KN95 masks available to order.

None of those take your fancy? Here are some more face mask options to try...

Where to buy the best face masks in the US

The best face mask overall | $18 at Vistaprint (opens in new tab)
Durable construction, quality fabrics, and free shipping mean Vistaprint is our pick for the best face mask overall right now. These face masks feature reinforced stitching, a 3-dimensional chin structure. An in-built nosepiece can be adjusted for a snug fit (good news for glasses wearers), and there's a replaceable nanofiber filter. There are loads of different prints to choose from, and kids' sizing available too. 

The best face masks for charity donations | $22 for one at Hedley&Bennett (opens in new tab)
Hedley& Bennett runs a buy-one-donate one scheme on its single face masks, and gives a percentage of proceedings from multipacks to charity too. The face masks themselves are super-smart, fitted designs with a filter pockets, flexible metal nose piece, reinforced stitching and space for a name tag.

The comfiest face mask | 2 for $20 at Purple Sleep (opens in new tab)
Purple has harnessed its innovative comfort tech to create a face mask you can wear for hours at a time. There's Hyper-Elastic Polymer gel for super-stretchy ear bands that won't lose their shape, and moisture-wicking Breeze Mesh for a breathable but effective mouth cover.

The best face masks if you wear glasses | 5 for $30 at Tie Bar (opens in new tab)
These Tie Bar face masks have a wire sewn into the top hem, to creating a custom, close fit that'll stop air escaping and fogging up your specs. They're also really excellent value for money – just $6 per mask (only slightly more than our 'cheap' option). They come in a selection of tonal, understated prints, including subtle stripes and tiny spots, and are made from 100% two-ply cotton, with an additional layer of shirting fabric. 

The best face mask for sport | $30 at Under Armour (opens in new tab)
The US Sportsmask is hands-down the best face mask for sport right now. The hi-tech UA face mask is engineered for better airflow, comfort, and a cool feel. 

The best kids' face masks | $18 at Vistaprint (opens in new tab)
Our best face mask overall also makes what we think are the best kids' face masks right now. Vistaprint offers some super-fun designs in smaller sizes, including dinosaurs and planets. Like the adult version, they're good quality and durable, with reinforced stitching, plus a 3D chin structure and a nose bridge. For more options, check out where to buy kids face masks (opens in new tab) (we also love this Disney/Pixar range (opens in new tab), but beware, reviewers say it runs very small).

The best cheap face mask | 5 for $26 at ASOS (opens in new tab)
ASOS has quite a few different multi-pack face mask options available, the cheapest working out at $5.20 per mask. There are plain and patterned options for both men and women. An easy, cheap option, with free shipping and returns. Alternatively, you could head to Adidas for basic masks at 3 for $20 (opens in new tab).

Disposable face masks | 50 for $24.99 at Daily Steals (opens in new tab)
If you need a bulk pack of disposable face masks, there are a few options. As well as Daily Steals, you can also try NewEgg (opens in new tab),  Gearbest (opens in new tab) or Akings (opens in new tab).

The best eco-friendly face mask | $12 each at Bomme Studio (opens in new tab)
Bomme Studio is selling dual-layer face masks made from sustainably made, upcycled 100% cotton fabric. These face masks have been designed in line with CDC recommendation and are being manufactured in LA, California. If you order on a weekday, there's free same-day shipping too. Alternatively, bag maker Caraa (opens in new tab) is selling face masks constructed out of repurposed materials from its production line.

The best patterned face masks | $15 at DIOP (opens in new tab)
Detroit-based DIOP has a range of face masks made from 100% wax printed cotton in a range of bold, vibrant prints. The elastic on these sits around the back of the head, to remove ear strain when wearing for long periods. A portion of proceeds also goes to charity.

Want some more options? Try these...

What kind of face mask works best? 

There are a lot of different types of face masks. Medical-grade face masks, including surgical masks and N95 masks, are in very short supply, so it's mainly non-medical face masks that are being recommended to the general public.

For example, the UK document regarding face masks states: "A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it." Here's a closer look at the different types of face mask.

Man wearing face mask

(Image credit: Getty)

Surgical masks

Surgical face masks are probably what you think of when you think of a face mask. These are disposable, single-use masks made from pleated synthetic fabric. The fabric is breathable and these masks don't form an airtight seal against the face. How well they filter pathogens varies according to different studies. They're in very short supply at the moment.

Respirator masks

Respirators are the most effective at filtering pathogens. These are fitted to the face and sealed to keep pathogens out, and tested rigorously by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

There are a few different types, with different efficiency rates. For particles 100-300 nanometres in size: N95 respirators can filter 95% of particles; N99 respirators filter 99% of particles; and N100 respirators filter 99.7% of particles. Coronavirus is estimated to be 125 nm in size. 

Fabric face masks

Finally, there's homemade fabric masks, which are the least effective of the bunch at filtering pathogens. However, the research we have so far suggests that wearing one is still much better than not wearing one when it comes to reducing the likelihood of you unknowingly passing on the virus to others. 

There are a few elements that affect how effective cloth face masks are at filtering pathogens. One is the fabric it's made from – porous fabrics don't keep out tiny droplets very well. The CDC suggests two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton. Adding a filter, such as a coffee filter or paper towel, can help make your fabric face mask more effective.

Fit is also all-important. Gaps around your nose and jaw will make your mask much less effective. If your mask fits snugly around your nose and face, this should help improve the situation.

Ruth is T3's Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. To counter all that effort, she also runs the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.