We didn’t want to to make it happen, but it happened. Months after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed the mask guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, the organization updated its guidelines again. Now the CDC recommends that even vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors to alleviate the spread of much more contagious Delta variant.
If, like many Americans, you rolled up and put away a box of masks in May, now is the time to wash and dry them – and maybe update your stock. It’s a good face mask critical tool to slow down spread of Covid-19. We built our collections of masks, equipping our childrenand adapting our practice as new, scientifically based recommendations appear.
These are some of the masks and masking practices used by me and other WIRED staff. I also highlighted sustainable opportunities, those of different and small manufacturers, as well as companies that donate masks or share profits with valuable reasons. Try a few, but don’t forget to keep hand washing regularly, staying at home whenever possible and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others in public (preferably outdoors).
How we rate masks
Earlier this year, material testing organization ASTM International finally announced first production standards about what constitutes a good face mask. Manufacturers will need time to test and certify their products, but you should soon be able to find fabric masks that have been verified by a third party.
In the meantime, it’s best to make sure your mask follows recommended guidelines from the CDC, fits well and is clean. A good reusable mask should completely cover the nose and mouth, use at least two layers of fabric and be washable. When I get the mask, I first use a light and candle test – can I see the light through the weave? Can I blow out a candle while carrying it? The weave of the mask should be tight enough to prevent you from doing any of these things. Then I wear them while shopping for groceries or walking the dog.
We’ve included a few tips on mask care and choosing the best type of mask tape at the end of this list. Be sure to check out ours The best children’s face masks guide and How To Prevent And Treat Mascne.
Updated August 2021: We have updated the latest mask recommendations, new selections and more information about our selections.