Wearing a mask is no fun when the mercury rises, but as we navigate evolving COVID-19 variants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a face mask when cases are high in your community and when you’re in crowded public spaces. Fortunately, you can find options that are breathable enough for comfortable wear. The best face mask for hot weather is either a surgical mask or one that is made from at least two layers of 100% cotton — and if you really want to stay cool, choose one in a light color that won’t absorb heat.
Disposable surgical masks are light and breathable, but the protection they provide is heavy-hitting. They’re built to precise specifications to pass FDA standards for healthcare use with at least three layers of protection and that signature nose wire for a tight seal all around. You can wear them alone on sweltering days, and they’re great for double masking under reusable styles when you want added protection without suffocating.
Research has found cotton to be the best material for face masks, and it’s also one of the most comfortable fabrics to wear in hot weather, in general, because it's naturally breathable and absorbent. It will mop up sweat and help you stay cool in sweltering temperatures. Since a wet mask is a less effective mask, the University of Maryland Medical System recommends keeping a spare handy so you can swap them out if needed. (Stocking up on surgical masks will help with constant laundry.)
According to the CDC, face masks with at least two layers of fabric (ideally with a nose wire) "are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings." When shopping, look for cloth masks listed as being 2- or even 3-ply for adequate coverage. Surgical masks can sometimes even be found in 4-ply options.
Some of the picks below include an additional layer in the form of a filter pocket to make your mask more effective. Although a disposable filter might make your cotton mask a little bit warmer, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for maximum protection — a folded tissue can also help, which might feel lighter and cooler to wear.
Whichever mask you choose, wearing it correctly is critical. The CDC guidelines advise that the mask should be worn to completely cover both your mouth and nose without any gaps.
Ahead, the best face masks for hot weather that will be comfortable and cute when temperatures rise.
1. Editor’s Choice: An Affordable Multipack Of Disposable 3-Ply Masks
For truly lightweight wear, these disposable face masks deliver solid protection without feeling suffocating. They’re built with three layers of airy fibers with a pleated front for extra breathing room, and a nose wire ensures you get a proper seal. (Plus, that nose wire goes a long way towards fog-free glasses, if you wear them.) Meanwhile, the elastic ear loops have plenty of stretch for a comfortable, flexible fit across size ranges. Amy Biggart, a Bustle editor, says, "I have a lot of reusable masks but, when the weather turns hot, I prefer to use a disposable one that I don't have to worry about sweating in or getting makeup on. As opposed to my reusable masks which are made with thick fabrics designed to hold up in the wash, these ones tend to feel more lightweight on my face. I buy a large pack of these, use them when I know I'll sweat, and then throw the mask out after each use."
- Available pack options: 50, 100, 250, 2,000
2. A Fan-Favorite Cotton Mask That Comes With Extra Filters
Boasting more than 3,000 perfect five-star Amazon reviews, this two-ply cotton face mask has been crowd-tested. It has a contoured fit with an adjustable nose clip for a tight seal. Shoppers especially appreciated that both the nose piece and elastic loops were all fully adjustable, with tiny rubber bands to keep the loops secured at just the right size. Included are a set of four 2.5PM filters for the included filter pocket, plus two extra rubber rings for the ear loops so you're always covered. "It is very comfortable and doesn’t make me as hot as the generic blue masks," one reviewer observed. If you're not a fan of stark white, this mask also comes in a few other versatile solid shades as well as a great selection of patterns, including florals, checks, and abstract geometrics.
- Available colors: 30
3. This 4-Pack Of Cheerful Printed Cotton Masks With Nose Wires
These breathable face masks are made from three layers of lightweight cotton with a careful design for maximum protection. Their contoured shape is tailored across both nose and chin with a built-in wire on top for a custom fit. Inside there’s room for a filter pocket, and the elastic ear loops are adjustable thanks to a pair of tiny O-rings. “These masks are the best! Lightweight, breathable, colorful, washable, & the flexible metal strip inside the nose area can be shaped to give a good fit,” a reviewer gushed. Each order comes with four patterned masks.
- Available colors: 1 multipack
4. A Set Of Pleated Cotton Masks In Seersucker Stripes
This seersucker mask set earned five stars from many Amazon reviewers who specifically noted how well they worked in hot weather. These lightweight face masks are made in the U.S., with two layers of 100% cotton, for effective yet breathable coverage. At 4 by 7 inches, they're generously sized, and the pleated style allows them to expand up to 7 inches square for more room. Their top seam is left open to allow for an additional filter, and the elastic earloops were intentionally left long so shoppers can customize the fit. "This is nice and light. It's so hot where I live that the masks I made make me feel smothered. These masks are lightweight fabric so I feel cooler and I can breathe better," one shopper reported.
- Available colors: 1
5. Some Antimicrobial Cotton Masks With Paneled Coverage
With separate panels to cover the nose and chin from top to bottom, these cloth face masks are another great option worth considering on the quest for safe coverage. They have a highly dimensional fit with an adjustable nose wire on top of it all, and are built with a 100% cotton lining beneath the cotton-poly shell. There aren’t any filter pockets — instead, the masks are treated with an antimicrobial finish to help combat germs. Dial in a snug fit with the adjustable ear loops. “No other mask, brand, or style compares to this mask. I am a nurse so I have tried all the masks,” one fan wrote. “These are the only 2 I wear now. Stays put, adjustable, breathable, secure, doesn't hurt ears, doesn't suffocate.”
- Available colors: 3
6. These Cute, 3-Ply Cotton Masks With A Filter Pocket For Even More Protection
These cute face masks are made from three layers of 100% cotton with a filter pocket for an extra layer of protection. The elastic ear loops are adjustable and have a thick ring to keep them at the right spot one shopper called "pure genius." Although there's not a nose clip, fans raved that they fit better than many other masks that they had tried. This set even converted a reluctant mask wearer. "I'm not one who is enjoying this mask wearing time, but that all changed when I got these delivered. They are super cute, soft, and I can actually breath through them and my face does not get all sweaty," the shopper was thrilled to report.
- Available colors: 1 multipack
7. This Pair Of Eco-Friendly Face Masks In Organic Cotton
For a sustainable option, look no further than these relatively budget-friendly organic cotton face masks. They’re sewn from two layers of high-quality natural cotton that’s tinted using environmentally safe dyes. In terms of fit, they offer a tailored fit at the chin and a firm yet flexible wire across the nose. A built-in filter pocket lets you add a third layer of protection if you want extra peace of mind, and the customizable elastic ear loops add another level of convenience. There aren’t heaps of reviews on this new offering, but Moss Rose has a reputation as an Amazon fashion bestseller. “The shape of these masks helps them to fit much closer to my face than the disposable masks I've been using,” a shopper noted, adding, “they are comfortable and easy to hand-wash.”
- Available colors: 3
8. A Set Of Masks That You Can Tie That’s An FDA Favorite
If you prefer not to use elastic, these fabric masks have traditional ties that leave plenty of space around your ears and are fully adjustable. They're made from two layers of 100% ringspun cotton with an outer layer of water-resistant polyester for three-ply protection. The FDA even gave them the nod as a physical barrier for droplets, although it’s important to note they aren’t officially authorized for any particular purpose. They run large for extra coverage, and come without a filter pocket or nose wire, making them a minimalist mask that's comfortable to wear for hours on end. "A good combination of breathable and effective,” one shopper remarked. “Overall it's the best non N-95 mask I've seen for any price, and both well-made and affordable.”
- Available colors: 2
9. An On-Trend Set Of Printed Cotton Masks For A Reasonable Price
This five-piece set of cotton face masks comes in on-trend prints with a few lighter options if you want an alternative to gingham or polka dots. The two-ply cotton design includes an extra later for a filter pocket, with elastic ear loops, but no nose wire or clip. "These are comfortable and easier to breathe through than others even with a filter. I love the cute prints and the simple cotton fabric," one fan commented. "The contour provides a good fit and the ear loops are soft, thin and don't hurt my ears."
- Available colors: 1 multipack
10. Some 3-Ply Masks With A Giving Model You'll Want To Support
These three-ply cotton face masks don't have a filter pocket and instead are finished with an antibacterial treatment. You can choose between a tailored fit or the classic pleated style depending on what's most comfortable for you, and they come in lighter colors including white and foggy gray, plus pale pink. "I’m back to work so I wear masks all day long and we all know it’s hard to breathe in them but these masks don’t give me an issue at all," one reviewer reported. "Super breathable but all while keeping the people around me safe." And, for each pack purchased, another pack is donated to essential workers.
- Available options: 12
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