Wearing a mask is no fun when the mercury rises, but you can find options that are breathable enough for comfortable wear. The best face mask for hot weather is made from two layers of 100% cotton — and if you really want to stay cool, choose one that comes in a light color that won’t absorb heat.
Choose Cooling Cotton
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. However, it's worth noting that 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), face masks with at least two layers of fabric "are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings." When shopping, look for masks listed as being two- or even three-ply for adequate coverage.
Some of the picks below include an additional layer in the form of a filter pocket to make your mask more effective. Although adding a disposable filter might make your cotton mask a little bit warmer, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for those seeking maximum protection — a folded tissue can also help, which might feel lighter and cooler to wear. Coffee filters, it should be noted, aren’t super breathable and won’t be your best option, according to Christopher Zangmeister, a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in an interview with NPR.
And remember, 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.
From preppy seersucker stripes (does it get any more seasonal) to crisp white options and even some chic leopard print, these six machine-washable, 100% cotton masks are going to be the most comfortable and cute in hot weather.
1. 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.
2. A High-Quality Cotton Mask That Comes With Extra Filters
This two-ply cotton face mask 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, it also comes in a few other versatile solid shades as well as a great selection of patterns including florals, checks, and abstract geometrics.
3. These Cute, 3-Ply Cotton Masks With A Filter Pocket For Even More Protection
These cute face masks are made from three layers of pre-shrunk 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. "Im 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.
4. And 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 grey, 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.
5. A Set Of Printed Cotton Masks In On-Trend Patterns
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."
6. This Set Made From Recycled Cotton That You Can Tie For A Custom Fit
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% recycled cotton with a contoured fit, without a filter pocket or nose wire, for a minimalist mask that's comfortable to wear for hours on end. "I have to wear mask all day at work and for once I didn’t have red ears," one reviewer remarked.