The 8 Best Face Masks for Working Out of 2020

Stay safe and fit with these smart picks

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Our Top Picks
"It covers adequately but doesn't press on your face or lips, providing the airflow you need while you work out."
"A stylish and safety-minded face mask that is designed with fitness in mind and is machine washable for reuse."
"It can be worn in 12 different ways, including as a lightweight, cool, and comfortable face mask that protects without restricting."
"Made with 100% cotton layers, the reusable, washable mask comes in a bunch of fun colors and patterns."
"A reasonably priced five-pack that guarantees you will always have a workout-appropriate face mask clean and ready to wear."
"Made with 100% microfiber polyester, the mask is moisture-wicking, cooling, and quick-drying."
"Crafted from layers of a high-stretch knit fabric that is breathable, cooling, odor-resistant, and comfortable."
"For those who prefer the coverage of a neck gaiter but also want the security of ear loops, this neck gaiter is the perfect hybrid."

Gyms and fitness studios have, for the most part, reopened across the country. As the weather gets colder and outdoor runs and cycling become less desirable means to exercise, people are flocking back to the gym to stay in shape.

Many fitness facilities now require gym-goers to wear face masks while working out to prevent the spread of the virus. Using an appropriate face-covering could help keep germs at bay, on top of following other safety protocols set in place by your fitness center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using cloth face coverings in any public setting where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and—you guessed it—gyms.

If the thought of covering your mouth with fabric when you’re panting through an intense workout fills you with anxiety, don't fret. There are plenty of masks on the market designed with exercise in mind, empowering you to get out there and keep moving. 

Here, the best breathable face masks for working out.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK

This new mask from Under Armour was designed with running and crosstraining in mind. It covers adequately but doesn't press on your face or lips, providing the airflow you need while you work out. The mask's three-layer system meets the World Health Organization's recommendations for fabric masks, according to the manufacturer.

It’s made with soft and smooth moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool and comfortable, and the no-slip fit helps you focus more on your exercises and less on adjusting the mask as you move. The outer layer of the mask is made of 100% polyester, the insert is made of 100% polyurethane, and the ear loops and inner layer are made of 77% nylon and 23% spandex.

Bonus: An antimicrobial treatment on the inside layer of the mask helps keep it fresh in between washes.

Koral Infinity Face Mask

This stylish and safety-minded face mask is ethically made in the United States and designed with fitness in mind. The soft Infinity fabric is a blend of antimicrobial performance materials that dry quickly, fit snugly but comfortably against your skin, and even provide UV protection for people interested in breaking a sweat outdoors.

Unlike lots of other face masks, this can be cleaned in a washing machine and tumble dried on a low heat setting. The elegant mask comes in white or black and is one-size-fits-all.

What Experts Say

"The best face masks for exercise are made from breathable, moisture-wicking material, so they don’t get drenched with sweat. For a secure, comfortable fit, choose a mask with elastic earpieces, not ties, since they can come loose as you exert yourself. Lightweight buffs or neck gaiters are also a good option. They can be worn around your neck and easily pulled up over your mouth and nose when social distancing isn’t possible."—Christine Luff, New Jersey-based running coach and author of "Run for Good

L.L. Bean Adults' Buff Coolnet UV Plus Multifunctional Headwear

This neck gaiter from Buff does it all. It can be worn in 12 different ways, including as a lightweight, cool, and comfortable face mask suitable for workouts at the gym or outdoors.

The breathable fabric is made of 95% recycled performance microfiber that is both odor resistant and approved by The Skin Cancer Foundation for its UPF 50+ sun protection. You can hand- or machine-wash the headwear in warm water with mild soap and leave it out to air dry.

This mask is unisex, one-size-fits-all, and comes in a variety of fun patterns and colors.

The Crafty Mind Designs 100% Cotton Face Mask

Research suggests that masks made of 100% cotton work better than masks made from cotton/elastic blends. Cotton with a high thread count can perform slightly better than some commercial masks that are made of randomly assorted fibers. If you prefer sticking to a face mask with 100% cotton layers, this pick is perfect for keeping you and those around you safe while working out.

The inside and outside fabric are made of natural cotton, and a light middle layer of polypropylene acts as an important filter that doesn’t negatively impact breathability. The adjustable elastic ear straps guarantee a comfortable fit while keeping the mask securely in place on your face.

This pick is reusable and washable, and it comes in a range of sizes and in a bunch of fun colors and patterns.

Quick Tip

Remember to always listen to your body first. If your breathing feels too labored while trying to work out in a mask, lower the intensity of your movement to the point where you feel like you’re getting the oxygen you need.

Athleta Everyday Non Medical Masks 5 Pack

This reasonably priced five-pack guarantees that you will always have a workout-appropriate face mask clean and ready to wear. The masks are made of several layers of fabric for extra protection, but they still provide enough airflow in times of intense movement. This is because they're made of lightweight polyester and spandex material with a breathable cotton liner that doesn't feel restrictive.

The masks are fitted to feel light and airy on your face yet secure no matter where the day takes you. To clean them, run them through the washing machine and then lay them flat to dry.

INTO THE AM Seamless Face Cover Mouth Mask

Looking for a face mask that provides additional coverage? Consider this bandana-style mouth covering from INTO THE AM. Made with 100% microfiber polyester, the mask is moisture-wicking, cooling, and quick-drying.

The fabric is super stretchy, and its seamless design makes it even more comfortable to wear. The raw (read: not sewn or stitched) edges maximize stretch at the ends of the mask, further optimizing comfort and allowing for added breathability.

The mask comes in multiple beautiful colors and patterns.

Ariat Unisex AriatTEK Mask

This workout-appropriate face mask from Ariat is crafted from layers of high-stretch knit fabric that are breathable, cooling, odor-resistant, and comfortable. The fabric also provides UPF 50 sun protection.

The spaces for your ears are laser cut, ensuring a quality fit without the need for adjusting the ear loops. It comes in black, is unisex, and is available in small/medium and large/extra-large sizes. The mask is also reusable—simply hand wash and air dry.

Jjyee Neck Gaiter Balaclava Bandana Headwear

If you prefer the coverage of a neck gaiter but also want the security of ear loops, consider this headwear from Jiyee. The hybrid design gives you all the coverage you need on your neck, face, and nose, and the openings for your ears help to secure the mask in place.

It’s made of 100% Soft Ice Silk, which is known for being both soft and lightweight. Its moisture-wicking abilities also keep you cool when working out in the heat of the summer. Similar to the Buff and INTO THE AM headwear options, this pick can be worn in 12 different ways.

What to Look for in a Face Mask for Working Out

Breathability

While face masks are intended to protect you and those around you, the one you choose to wear during exercise must allow for more airflow. When you’re working hard and your heart rate is elevated, the last thing you want is for your body to have to work even harder to inhale the oxygen it needs. To prevent this, choose masks made of breathable fabric—like cotton, polyester, or nylon.

Fabric Type

Similar to your typical workout apparel, fitness-focused face masks should be made with moisture-wicking fabrics. By not soaking up your sweat as you exercise, the mask remains lightweight, breathable, and correctly in place on your face. If you prefer to go the 100% cotton route, use these masks for less intense physical activity, such as power walking, yoga, or pilates. What’s more, any fabric mask you wear should be washed regularly with soap and warm water and dried entirely before your next use.

Fit

When looking for a face mask for exercise, explore muzzle-shaped options first. These masks maintain a natural dome structure for your nose, leaving a little bit of open room for air while fitting more securely along the sides of your cheeks and jawline. This design not only stays in place while you move, continuously providing you with a protective barrier, but also ensures that the fabric won’t cave in around your nose and mouth as you breathe more heavily. Lightweight gaiters are a safe option as well if you find them to be more comfortable.

Ear Straps

Lots of face masks for everyday use employ fabric straps that tie behind the ears, which make them comfortable but not secure enough for intense exercise. Instead, opt for a mask that uses elastic earpieces. Ideally, the elastic is adjustable so you can achieve the secure fit, but you can always tie small loop knots in the elastic that hide behind your ears to help the mask fit more snugly.

Note: None of these masks are intended for medical use.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a former personal trainer, seasoned health writer, and avid exerciser, Alena Hall understands how critical a quality face mask can be for getting you back to your workout regimen safely. She's always exploring the latest and greatest health gadgets as they enter the market, but more importantly, she looks for scientific research that validates their claims.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendation regarding the use of cloth face coverings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Updated June 28, 2020.

  2. Verma S, Dhanak M, Frankenfield J. Visualizing the effectiveness of face masks in obstructing respiratory jets. Phys Fluids. 2020;32:061708. doi:10.1063/5.0016018