13 Lightweight Face Masks for More Airflow and Less Glasses Fog

They're made with lightweight and sweat-wicking materials that keep you cool and meet CDC guidelines.

As of July 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended you wear a face mask if "there is a lot of COVID in your community." The CDC also provided a tool to determine the COVID-19 risk level in your county.

From the start of the pandemic, many brands have launched their own variations of protective face masks—but not every mask is the same.

Depending on the mask's construction, some might fall from your face or hug it tightly. Some designs caused pesky behind-the-ear irritation, while others left skin inflamed and acne-prone. And some masks were created with thick fabrics that allow little airflow, turning your breath into a blazing furnace.

Luckily, there are a host of breathable face masks that take into account high temperatures. These designs use lightweight or sweat-wicking fabrics that don't restrict airflow to keep you cool and comfortable during hours of wear.

They also come in less traditional constructions—like scarves—that expand the surface area of fabric, filtering your breath to prevent heat from building up around your mouth and nose.

There is one downside to these breathable picks: They typically offer less filtration, and according to Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network and clinical assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, this could increase your chances of contracting COVID-19 or an upper respiratory infection.

However, Dr. Parikh said, "a breathable mask is still better than no mask."

It's also worth noting that not all cloth face coverings prevent you from contracting COVID-19. (Only an N95 mask design provides that level of protection.) Rather, face masks prevent the wearer from infecting others when asymptomatic, which, along with washing your hands, can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

"Surgical masks and cloth coverings can reduce viral transmission by 70% if everyone wears them and wears them correctly over [their] nose and mouth," Dr. Parikh added, emphasizing the importance of not only wearing a mask but wearing it properly.

RELATED: The 10 Best Face Masks With Nose Wires That Will Stay Firmly in Place

As a result, if you're wearing a mask with added layers of filtration but keep dropping it to your chin for a breath of fresh air, you're better off opting for a more breathable choice. Not only are they more comfortable, so you fidget with them less, but many are also lightweight enough to wear during outdoor workouts. Shop our top breathable face masks below.

1. EnerPlex Premium Face Mask

enerplex breathable face mask pack of 3
Amazon

You won't have to compromise protection for breathability with EnerPlex's premium face mask. They're designed with three layers of fabric—including two layers of cotton and a polyester exterior—that not only keeps virus droplets from escaping but prevents you from overheating. Already a favorite of hundreds of reviewers, the reusable face mask has stretchy ear loops and comes in four different sizes to ensure it properly fits your face.

Available at amazon.com, 3 for $24.95

2. VTER Cotton Breathing Mask

Face Masks
Amazon

Amazon reviewers couldn't stop raving about how easy it is to breathe wearing these affordable masks. They're made with a blend of 35% cotton and 65% polyester that blocks dust, dirt, and pollen while also absorbing excess moisture. Better yet, reviewers agree the fabric is extra soft—and it's even used to craft the ear loops to prevent uncomfortable behind-the-ear irritation.

Available at amazon.com, 5 for $12

3. Onzie Mindful Mask

Face Masks
Onzie

Activewear brand Onzie also repurposed its performance fabric into a form-fitting face mask that allows airflow and wicks away moisture to keep the environment under your mask comfortable. Safe to wear solo or as an additional N95 mask cover, the popular pick is hand-wash only.

Available at onzie.com, 1 for $5

4. NxtStop

Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask
Amazon

Bamboo fabric is well-known for its sweat-wicking and cooling properties, which has made it into a summer bedroom staple. So it's no surprise that now the breathable fabric is being used to create one of the Internet's comfiest face masks: the Nxtstop Bamboo Face Mask. Launched in 2021, it's double-layered, odor-resistant, and anti-wrinkle, with design elements like adjustable ear straps and a nose wire that ensure a proper fit (i.e., a key part of staying protected).

Available at amazon.com or thenxtstop.com, $10

5. StringKing 3-Layer Face Mask

Face Masks
String King

By focusing on disposable designs, brands can incorporate less durable fabrics into their creations that are often more lightweight. These single-use masks fit the bill with three layers of protection, including melt-blown and spun-bound polypropylene, that offer filtration with breathability. They also feature an adjustable wire nose piece and elastic ear bands. Buy them in a box of 50, a case of 1,000, a half-pallet of 24,000, or a pallet of 48,000. They're available in white and blue.

Available at stringking.com, 50 for $12.99

6. Sanctuary Summer Lightweight PPE Masks

Workout Face Masks
Sanctuary

Sanctuary Clothing released its first cloth face masks in 2021 and quickly attracted celebrity fans like Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. The Sanctuary PPE and mask line includes summer masks. The new lightweight style emphasizes breathability, with a two-layer design made from cotton and muslin fabric in fun tropical prints. They're made with an adjustable nose wire and elastic ear loops.

Available at sanctuaryclothing.com, 5 for $28

7. Reebok Face Covers

Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask
Reebok

Reebok has encouraged shoppers to share pictures on Instagram of themselves sporting its reusable mask—and the style has been spotted everywhere from the gym to the outdoor track. That's because the lightweight pick is all about comfort and breathability. It's tight-fitting for full coverage with fabric ear loops to prevent behind-the-ear chafing. Between its 93% recycled polyester fabric and washable design, it's also eco-friendly.

Available at reebok.com, 3 for $20

8. Perry Ellis Woven Face Mask

Perry Ellis Cotton Face Mask 6 Pack

These affordable face masks from Perry Ellis hit all the necessary requirements: reusable, machine washable, and breathable. Sold in packs of six, they have a built-in pocket for insertable filters, as well as adjustable ear loops to help you find the perfect fit. Like others on the list, they're also made of 100% cotton and come in fun prints—like embroidered cacti and polka dots. That means they'll appease your inner fashionista as much as your inner athlete.

Available at amazon.com, 3 for $3.27 - $20.26

9. Vida Protective Mask

Workout Face Masks
Vida

This lightweight mask combines breathability and protection into one reusable design. It's made with two layers of 100% cotton material sewn into a form-fitting mask with a pocket for optional filters. The standout design also has adjustable cotton ear straps, so you can avoid painful behind-the-ear-irritation.

Available at shopvida.com, $14

10. Old Navy Triple-Layer Face Mask

Face Masks
Old Navy

The Old Navy masks have received mixed reviews from customers that claim they're perhaps too lightweight—but that's ideal for some shoppers that dislike the oppressive feel of other options. The budget-friendly find is made with 100% cotton that's machine-washable, and the masks also come in child sizes.

Available at oldnavy.com, 5 for $5 - $12.50

11. Etsy Face Masks

Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask
Etsy

Breathable face masks are available on Etsy, and there is an entire section devoted to lightweight alternatives. There are more than 1,000 results from sellers around the world—and the top pick is from LoveLinax. It's made with a 100% cotton material that comes in many colors, from black to vanilla. Shoppers say it's comfortable and affordable, and they love the color choices.

Available at etsy.com, $4.99

12. Athleta Made to Move Mask

Adjustable, Reusable, Washable Face Mask
Athleta

Similar to other activewear companies, Athleta developed its face mask specifically for getting your sweat on. Lightweight enough for high-intensity workouts, it's made with two layers of breathable fabric, including a spandex and polyester blend outer and soft mesh inner. Not only will you breathe easier when wearing it, but you can expect the mask to stay firmly in place thanks to a contoured cut and flexible plastic boning along the center seam of the mask.

Available at athleta.com, 3 for $9.99

13. Under Armor Sportmask

Workout Face Masks
Under Armour

Under Armour spent months developing a face mask suitable for working out—and the final design hits all the right notes. Made with the brand's signature performance materials, it provides the perfect mix of airflow, protection, and structure. The outer shell is made of a water-resistant ventilated fabric, the inner layer has an anti-microbial layer to prevent bacterial growth, and the lining and ear straps use UA Iso-Chill fabric to stay cool to the touch.

Available at underarmour.com, 2 for $25

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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