IN APRIL, THE US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all citizens wear nonmedical face masks to slow the spread of Covid-19. Wearing a mask can protect you, and prevent you from spreading noxious droplets should you be asymptomatically infected. On the other hand, wearing a mask does not exempt you from the routine of washing your hands regularly, staying at home when possible, and maintaining a 6-foot distance from others in public.
Earlier this year, we wrote about how to make your own mask, but our cut-up T-shirts and hair-tied bandanas are beginning to look a little ragged. If you want to buy a more durable (or better-looking!) mask, make sure it adheres to the recommended CDC guidelines.
A good mask should completely cover your nose and mouth, use at least two fabric layers, and be washable without damage. We've also updated our recommendations as more studies are performed on mask efficacy. While a widely popularized Duke study seems to suggest that neck gaiters are worse than other masks, my colleague Megan Molteni points out that the study used a sample size of 1. If your neck gaiter fits you well and covers your nose and mouth, it might work fine! But there are more comfortable and effective options available.
These are some of the masks that WIRED staff members have used and recommend. I've also highlighted sustainable options, diverse and small manufacturers, and of course, companies that are donating to worthy causes. Try a few! And stay safe!
Updated for August 2020: We added more mask information and included a few more masks that our staffers, friends, and family like.