Wearing a face mask is the easiest thing you can do to help slow the spread of coronavirus—but it’s still no walk in the park. The coverings have plenty of downfalls, like causing maskne, face chafing, and even behind-the-ear irritation. Luckily, there are plenty of clever accessories readily available to help you avoid these issues—and face mask extenders are the must-have item at the top of the list.
The clever attachment offers an alternate way to wear a mask that doesn’t involve looping elastic around your ears. Instead, the straps hook or button directly onto the extender, which sits at the back of the head or around the neck. This design relieves the painful pressure of elastic straps pushing into the skin and also reduces friction to prevent chafing or painful rubbing.
Better yet, face mask extenders are an easy way to ensure your mask properly fits your face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a face covering should “fit snugly” against the sides of your face. If your mask’s straps are too loose and the mask doesn’t hug your face, an extender is an easy way to improve the fit without investing in a brand new mask. (Reminder: A mask is only effective when it’s covering both your nose and mouth.)
A no-brainer for anyone wearing face coverings for long periods of time, the extenders are also relatively affordable, with most attachments priced at under a couple of bucks each. Available on retailers like Amazon and Etsy, the innovative picks come in a wide variety of designs including flexible plastic, adjustable elastic, and even kid-friendly shapes. Below, we compiled some of the best face mask extenders you can shop now to make your mask comfier.
Currently Amazon’s number one best-selling mask extender, these sleek plastic attachments have more than 1,700 perfect ratings. The lightweight pick is extremely simple to use: It’s double-ended, with three hooks on each end that loop onto your mask. The variety of hooks allow the extender to work for a wide range of head sizes, including children. Available in 3 colors, they’re extremely easy to clean and come in packs of up to 100 extenders.
Available at amazon.com, 5 for $8
You won’t have to worry about your elastic straps slipping off the extender with this smart take. It clips directly onto your mask straps with a closed clamp that stays securely closed during even the most strenuous activity. Its design is also extremely adjustable thanks to two stretchy bands that can be trimmed down for your ideal fit. Sold in sets of 4, the strap is just under 15 inches long but can be cut down to 3 inches.
Available at amazon.com, 5 for $12
Silicone is the perfect alternative to plastic or elastic: It’s often considered more comfortable, sanitary, and durable. While some shoppers warn it can tug or pull at long hair, the flexibility of the material outweighs this downside for many. If your preference leans towards silicone, this strap should be your top choice. Already adored by more than 1,300 shoppers, the double-ended design has 3 hooks on each end for a customized fit and is available in packs of 4, 6, or 8.
Available at amazon.com, 4 for $7
If plastic ear extenders never seem to fit you just right, consider investing in a higher-end option, like this fabric mask extender. It’s made with an extra-stretchy fabric that hugs the back of your head and has a small buckle adjustment that allows you to perfect the fit with every wear. Also built with sturdy clips that lock onto your mask’s ear straps, the top-rated accessory is both comfortable and breathable. Naturally, shoppers say these are “the best” of all options and have discovered they work for both large heads and people wearing hearing aids.
Available at amazon.com, $9
Fun shapes like ghosts, butterflies, and video game controllers will help kids get excited about wearing masks. The flexible plastic ear savers are cleverly constructed with two tiny hooks to securely hold ear masks in place. Available in a wide range of colors, they ship in packs of 3 and are also available for bulk order. Better yet, the fun shapes come in adult sizes, too.
Available at etsy.com, 3 for $6 (was $7)
The unique shape of this ear saver cradles the top of your head, so it can be layered with all types of P.P.E. from safety goggles to face shields. Designed and manufactured in the U.S., it’s become one of Etsy’s most popular picks with a design that’s lightweight, anti-slip, and dishwasher-safe. Also available in a mini version, the ear saver only costs $2 but has an additional $3 fee for shipping—a great excuse to buy more than one.
Available at etsy.com, $2
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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