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Pandemic life has changed the way we do most things, including what we wear while exercising. If you’re heading out to the gym, running a race, or working out in any kind of group setting, face masks may likely a part of your reality.

Thankfully, athletic wear manufacturers have become proficient at face mask production to aid us in the current sweat sesh era. The key is narrowing down the best workout-approved face coverings out there.

Here are eight options to try (plus, check out these everyday masks for casual out-and-about wear).

8 quality workout face masks

  1. Best overall: Wattie Ink Face Mask
  2. Best for comfort: Adidas Face Covers
  3. Best size variety: UnderArmour Sportsmask
  4. Best secure fit: Zensah Performance Face Mask
  5. Best breathability: Reebok Face Cover
  6. Best for low intensity workouts: Athleta Girl Adjustable Everyday Non-Medical Mask
  7. Best for wicking moisture: Boco Gear Performance X Mask
  8. Best for style and protection: Koral Infinity Face Mask

So, what makes a workout mask different from your everyday paper mask? Materials, that’s what. We’re talking about breathable performance fabrics, mesh, and cool cottons.

We considered the following when making our picks:

  • Performance-focused material. We didn’t want any soggy paper options or stuffy T-shirt material.
  • Comfort and fit. The masks had to fit well without slipping or tugging.
  • Style. These masks make a great addition to any workout lewk.
  • Moisture-wicking and breathability. Each of these masks helped control sweat and optimize airflow during a range of workouts, from running to cycling to HIIT to weightlifting.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Here’s a closer look at our favorites.

Note: Some masks may have limited stock or be temporarily out of stock due to increased demand.

1. Best overall workout face mask:

Wattie Ink Face Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: 6-pack
  • Available colors: multiple print

Wattie Ink makes triathlon and cycling clothing, so they’re well aware of the needs of perspiring athletes. The Wattie mask comes in two sizes. We tested five of the size small masks, and they were nearly perfect for our tester, whose bridge of nose to chin measurement was 5.5 inches. We say “nearly” because there was a slight variation in size between masks.

Running with a mask on isn’t exactly cool temperature-wise, but colorful performance fabrics with fun designs make these a very cool option (Dad jokes for the win). Most importantly? A breathable inner liner wicks away moisture so sweat doesn’t pool — even in the summer heat.

2. Best workout face mask for comfort:

Adidas Face Covers

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: 3-pack
  • Available colors: black

Exercisers looking for that pro-athlete vibe, this sleek design is for you. The mask’s two layers of fabric include a high performance recycled fabric and a breathable liner. While options are limited, with just two sizes available in black, the fitted design molds to the face for a snug fit.

Athletes and gym rats may prefer this fit because the masks don’t slip — ideal for rigorous workouts — and the ear loops don’t tug or pull. Breathing through a barrier takes some getting used to, as one of our testers reported: The snug fit means the fabric gets pulled against your mouth when you inhale. (If you’re concerned about the snugness, go for the larger size.)

However, the overall comfort and stay-in-place fabric landed this mask near the top of our list.

3. Best size variety workout face mask:

UnderArmour Sportsmask

  • Price: $$$
  • Sold as: one mask
  • Available colors: black

As far as sizes go, UnderArmour takes top prize. We’re talking five sizes, so you get to do some measuring before ordering this fitted mask. But of all the masks we reviewed and/or tested, these are the most customized by fit.

High performance fabrics, including a waterproof outer layer and cooling inner liner, make this one of the most technical masks on our list. You can also adjust the fit around the nose, which glasses-wearers will love. A better fit over the nose means less fog, especially when you’re breathing hard.

4. Best fitting workout face mask:

Zensah Performance Face Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: single mask
  • Available colors: white, blue, magenta

Zensah makes high performance compression socks and sleeves. They’ve used their manufacturing expertise to make unique masks that offer a close but breathable fit.

Of all the masks we tried, the Zensah fit the best, even when we were going hard on the treadmill. This unique fabric combines polyamide, polypropylene, elastane, and silver for a touch of antibacterial power.

It’s not as soft as some of the other performance fabrics but was still comfortable. The over-the-head straps also worked better with glasses than the ear straps on other masks.

One caveat: This mask has only a single layer of fabric as opposed to two. The single layer feels cooler than any of the two-layer designs, but does it provide enough protection? We just don’t know.

5. Best workout face mask for breathability:

Reebok Face Cover

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: 3-pack
  • Available colors: black

Reebok’s polyester (made from recycled materials) and elastane mask fits nice and tight, so it stays in place while you’re on the move. We like that it comes in two sizes and includes an optional filter pocket for extra protection.

You can use the mask with or without a filter. Plus, the price is one of the most affordable compared with those of other big-name athletic brands producing masks.

6. Best workout face mask for low intensity workouts:

Athleta Girl Adjustable Everyday Non-Medical Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: 5-pack
  • Available colors: multiprint

Athleta is the athletic branch of Old Navy and Gap. These masks are intended for active, but not necessarily hardcore, activities.

They’re made of soft cotton that felt great on our skin. These will definitely do the trick for a jog, walk, hike, or any other low intensity workout.

7. Best workout face mask for wicking moisture:

Boco Gear Performance X Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: single mask
  • Available colors: black

Boco Gear makes running hats, running socks, running belts, and running gloves. Do you notice a theme? Yup, it’s running gear. Now they’ve taken that expertise into mask making. Boco is known for custom designs — you can snag matching business or team masks in specialized performance fabrics.

Their X masks (meant for exercise) have two layers of performance knit fabric with a pocket for a removable liner. Performance fabrics wick moisture so it’s not sitting against your face.

8. Best workout face mask for style and protection:

Koral Infinity Face Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Sold as: single mask
  • Available colors: black, black and teal, camo

Koral specializes in women’s athletic wear, and the masks reflect the company’s stylish vibe. This one-size-fits-all design was created for female faces and uses Lycra to provide comfortable stretch. While the fabric is super cozy, if you’re nervous about fitting into the one available size, this may not be the mask for you.

Koral uses high performance fabrics with antimicrobial properties to keep bacteria and viruses out (or in). The inner layer’s stretch mesh wicks moisture so it doesn’t build up against your face. As a bonus, the masks provide ultraviolet ray protection — but it’s a good idea not to skimp on the sunscreen on the rest of your face.

It’s a mask. We’ve been wearing them for like 2 years now. How hard can it be? Well, there’s an ideal way to wear a mask and a not-so-ideal way, so we’ve got some reminder tips for you:

  • Wash your hands. Try to wash them before and after putting your mask on. If you don’t have soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth. If you’re covering your nose and mouth with the mask, you’re ahead of the game. This is the absolute most basic rule. Your nose and mouth are where you breathe in and out, which means that’s where you’re going to expel or inhale germs. Keep. Them. Covered.
  • Get a good fit. You want snug but comfortable. If the mask is too big, it’ll fall off your nose. If it’s too small, it could get pulled off your nose every time you talk. One-size-fits-all is fine if you’re of average size. But some people are petite enough that child sizes might work better.
  • Don’t readjust. This tip is easier to stick to if you get a good fit. Once you put that mask on and head into public, leave it alone. The outside of the mask may harbor bacteria or viruses (especially if you’re in a gym). If you’re touching the outside of your mask, the germs are now on your hands. By the way, see the first tip again.
  • Wash masks regularly. If you only wear your mask for 15 to 20 minutes, you can wear it several times before you need to wash it. In fact, you can lay it in the sun as a natural disinfectant between washes. But if you wear it for a longer time (1 hour or more), it gets sweaty, or you’ve been in a crowded public space, try to wear it once and wash it.

If you’re asking yourself, “When should I wear a mask?”, the answer is simple: when you’re in public and around people not living in your household.

Protect yourself. Protect others. Happy Workout!