They're the upgrade you need if you're feeling smothered by your face covering.

By Susan Brickell
October 08, 2020
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In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks may have been more difficult to find (it feels like an eternity ago that we were resorting to scarves, neck gaiters, and DIY bandanas), but now that they've become the new normal in 2020, everyone—from big-box retailers like Old Navy to celeb-loved activewear brands like Koral—is churning out protective face coverings.

What's more, face mask accessories—including lanyards for your face masks and even cases to help rule out cross-contamination between your mask and other items in your bag, like your keys, glasses, wallet, and phone—have become a thing, and the latest item to hit the market is perfect for anyone who feels a bit smothered by their mask. Enter: face brackets for masks, small plastic and silicone circular inserts that sit between your face and covering.

Designed to help keep your glasses from fogging up and your makeup from smudging, mask brackets, most importantly, prevent your face covering from sitting uncomfortably close to your airways—making breathing with a mask on so much easier. Many have tabs on each side that you can hook onto the folds of your fabric or disposable mask, and even though the bracket props your mask up and away from your mouth, it still ensures your mask stays sealed around the edges.

Even experts think breathing brackets for masks are a good idea. ″As a practicing dentist, I am fairly used to wearing masks,″ says Marianna Weiner, DDS, a New York-based cosmetic dentist at Envy Smile Dental Spa. ″Before COVID-19, we were accustomed to wearing masks while performing treatments and it was never something that prevented us from feeling free to work the way we needed to.″ That being said, the general public—who aren't used to wearing a mask every day—might find face coverings uncomfortable or stifling. ″I am generally in support of the mask brackets themselves because, in theory, they keep us safe while also giving us a little extra room to breathe," adds Dr. Weiner.

On top of helping you breathe better, the bracket is also meant to create enough space to prevent makeup smudging and extend mask life by not encouraging consistent full-face contact, points out Dr. Weiner. The only downside she can see is that the bracket could apply more force on the bridge of your nose and chin, and that pressure could cause bruises, pain, or—worst-case scenario—TMJ (pain in the jaw joints), if worn frequently and for an extended period of time. 

If you feel like your face covering has been smothering you (I mean, who doesn't?), it might be time to pick up a bracket. Ahead, the best face brackets for masks you can snap up on Amazon.

Anntuk 3D Mask Bracket

AMAZON

This soft, comfortable silicone bracket has garnered nearly 2,000 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers—so you know it must be good. The non-toxic and washable material doesn't have a funky smell and is easy to clean after a day of wear. Plus, it can attach to the inside of disposable and cloth face masks.

To buy: Anntuk 3D Mask Bracket, $22 for 10-pack; amazon.com

Anesidora Face Mask Inner Support Frame

AMAZON

Made of food grade silicone material, this bracket offers more space for breathing and helps reduce friction between your mask and face to protect makeup and potentially help keep maskne at bay. If you're experiencing a gap at the sides of your face covering, just apply double-sided tape to adhere the silicone frame to your mask for a closer fit.

One reviewer said: "I am a teacher and have to wear a mask all day. I struggle with wearing a mask because I have asthma, and I feel like I can't breathe with the material touching my nose and lips. I ordered one package, received them this morning and immediately ordered another package. It is very soft and pliable. I was worried about the top of the nose because I wear glasses, but the nose clip still worked."

OceansEdge11 3D Mask Bracket Inner Support Frame

AMAZON

Another soft, pliable silicone option, this mask bracket makes breathing easier, helps to reduce fogging (a plus for eyeglass wearers!), and sits comfortably against your face and the bridge of your nose without too much pressure.

"Helps with breathing by creating a space inside the mask," noted a customer with asthma. "I also gave one to my kids and they feel more comfortable wearing their mask now."

Frsh Mnt 3D Mask Bracket Face Bracket

AMAZON

Amazon shoppers love that this affordable bracket set also comes with a face mask, calling the bracket everything from a "godsend" to a "game changer" since it keeps the fabric of your mask away from your face (to the point that one reviewer who wears a face covering for 10 hours a day says they almost forget it's on) and helps prevent "mask muffle" so that you can breathe and speak easier.

Cosyzone 3D Bracket

AMAZON

This set includes five face mask brackets, five mask extenders, and two lanyard straps to make wearing a face covering *so* much more comfortable. The support frames sit inside your mask and give more room for breathing, while the extenders help minimize ear pain from the elastic loops on your mask and the lanyards help keep your mask on your body at all times.

To buy: Cosyzone 3D Bracket, $16 for 2-pack; amazon.com