I spent early spring hunting down brands pivoting production to face masks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommended everyone wear a cloth face covering. Then I started researching the most breathable designs for summer’s hot, sticky weather. And after months of tracking down the latest launches and personally testing out more than 20 masks, I officially have my favorite: Caraa’s Universal Mask (5 for $25; caraasport.com ).
The sports bag and accessory brand was one of the first companies to start producing face masks at the start of the pandemic. Caraa repurposed leftover materials to create non-medical masks and even matched mask purchases with a monetary donation to New York’s relief efforts . Despite them coming on my radar in April, I only recently called in a sample of the masks based on the recommendation of Health executive digital editor Dara Kapoor.
She raved about the lightweight design, calling the mask a great pick for kids and adults alike. Although plenty of masks have a nose wire, this one’s smart construction also features adjustable elastic ear straps that allow you to really personalize the fit of the mask to your face. As a result, it’s easy to wear the mask correctly so that it hugs the body without uncomfortably pressing against the skin.
It was clear Kapoor was onto something from my very first wear. I’ve tested everything from disposable masks to massive glorified face diapers, and I can confidently declare that this is one of the most comfortable masks you can buy.
It’s constructed with 2 layers of fabric: a lightweight cotton interior lining and a thicker cotton exterior casing. The inner layer is moisture-wicking, so it won’t create a humid environment under your mask or cause glasses fog, while the exterior is made with a high-density cotton to increase the design’s overall effectiveness.
Every detail is relevant in these masks. The fabric is washable to make it easy to keep clean, the design is pleated to ensure a proper fit, and the exterior lining comes in a variety of colors to match your outfits. Plus, there’s even a pocket opening to input optional filters .
So far, I’ve worn a Caraa mask on a 5-mile hike up a mountain in upstate New York, during an 8-mile round-trip bike ride into Manhattan, and to an outdoor happy hour in Brooklyn. Every time, I’ve been undeniably impressed by the lightweight, comfortable mask—I barely notice it’s there, but I’m still doing my part to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
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