Best Face Masks for Kids According to Experts
- Top 5 Kids Face Mask Table
- 1. MasksUp Kids Face Masks
- 2. SendUsMasks Kids Face Masks
- 3. Green Sprouts Kids Face Masks
- 4. LA Made Kids Face Masks
- 5. Cubcoats Kids Face Masks
- 6. Allett Kids Face Masks
- 7. Crayola Kids Face Masks
- 8. ProtectEquipTech Tie-Behind Face Masks
- 9. The GAP Kids Face Masks
- 10. Kitty and Disney Face Masks
- 11. Caraa Kids Face Masks
- Kids Face Masks: What to Look For
- Types of Kids Face Masks
- Ear-Loop Face Masks
- Tie-Behind Face Masks
- Neck Gaiter Face Masks
- Face Masks for Kids with Glasses
- Face Masks for Kids with Special Needs
- What to Avoid in Kids Face Masks
As parents, we want to make sure kids' face masks are effective and reliably worn. For kids, we want to make sure their face masks are comfortable and fun!
We also understand the importance of following guidelines issued by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), regarding what types of face masks should be used, when they should be used, and how to use them.
Taking this guidance into consideration, we pulled together the best kids' face masks to check out for daily activities and the transition back to school. We restricted our testing to cloth masks rather than surgical masks and respirators, since those are in short supply and need to be prioritized for medical workers.
Here are the top 5 face masks for kids, followed by our reviews of about 10 different options.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. MasksUp Kids Face Masks|
|#2. SendUsMasks Kids Face Masks|
|#3. Green Sprouts Kids Face Mask|
|#4. LA Made Kids Face Masks|
|#5. CubCoats Kids Face Masks|
Here are the Best Kids Face Masks of 2020!
This small Ohio-based company is taking the kids mask world by storm with their high-quality, well-fitting, stylish, and effective cloth masks. Masksup makes a series of soft-structured masks that secure with ear-loops. Their amazing kids masks are multi-layered, with a microfiber outer layer, a natural latex layer, and a cotton inner layer that contacts the face. They also have adjustable ear-loops that you can easily cinch for optimal fit, and a flexible metal nose bridge piece to help conform to the nose and face. The kids face masks measure about 6.8" wide by 5" high, making them the perfect size for kids aged about 4 to 10. The company advertises them for ages 3 to 11, but in our testing they were too big for a 3 year old, and a bit too small for an 11 year old. There were a few other things we found in our testing. First, the inner lining is super soft and comfortable, making for a comfortable all-day experience. Second, the outer layer is soft and feels a little cushioned. It's an extraordinarily comfortable mask, and all three of our test kids were happy to be wearing it! With kids, one of the big issues we find with face masks is that the ear loops can be either too loose (requiring parents to tie little knots at the end of them to tighten the elastic loops) or too tight (making for an uncomfortable and ear-tugging fit). But MasksUp does it right, with a cinch-based ear loop tightening that helps tremendously with mask fit. Breathing resistance was surprisingly low, and you can find exact specifications about inhalation and exhalation resistance on the MasksUp site. When we received them, they were individually wrapped, had no strong or off-putting odors, and our kids still use them to this day! The only con with these masks is they can't be machine washed, you need to wash by hand, but we're pretty used to that by now. Also, they are a bit more expensive than some other masks, but you can use our MasksUp coupon code MASKSUP20 for 20% off! Interested? You can check out the MasksUp Cotton Kids Face Masks here!
This small Canadian company (Toronto) makes super simple masks with all the right features and sizing. In the kids size, these masks are suitable for kids from about 4 to 11 (dimensions are 5" wide by 3.5" high with unextended pleats), and the adult size is appropriate from about 12 and up. These kids face masks are made from two layers of cotton using the classic pleated design to accommodate different nose sizes and face structures. They also include two additional little things we love: a flexible metal nose bridge to help appropriately conform to the face, and adjustable ear loops. The fabric is good quality and reasonably soft, and they can be machine washed (!) without any shrinkage or deformation. The kids version comes with a filter slot that you can use to insert an extra layer of filtration, it's available in black or white, and the pricing is pretty reasonable for a mask of this quality (about $5 USD each if you purchase a 5-pack). Shipped for free from Toronto, we got the masks pretty quickly in Massachusetts (3 days). They were individually wrapped, had no strange odors, and our kids really liked them! The only con is that there are not a ton of patterns and colors. Interested? You can check out the SendUsMasks Cotton Kids Face Masks here!
Green Sprouts baby makes an awesome and adorable line of baby and toddler products, including feeding supplies (sippy cups, utensils, dishes), diapering products (swim diapers, cloth diapers), swimwear, and toys. All of their products are high quality and made with eco-friendly materials, and the company contributes 10% of proceeds to to families in need. One of the best aspects of these kids face masks is that they come in multiple sizes, colors, and patterns. For sizes, they have a very small Youth size that fits kids from about 3 to 7 years (dimensions are 7.5" wide by 4.5" high), a Youth/Adult Small size that fits kids from about 8 to 11 years (dimensions are 8.5" wide by 5" high), and then Adult medium and large sizes. That's a pretty good range. In our testing, we tried out the two smallest sizes, and the smallest one fit a 3 and 5 year old pretty nicely, and the Youth/Adult Small fit a 10 year old perfectly. For colors and patterns, they have subtle colors like aqua, grey, navy, and coral, and some adorable patterns like little dinosaurs, flowers, and fish. Out of the box, we liked that each mask came with a little storage bag, and the masks felt lightweight and high quality. The outer layer is a water-resistant polyester, and the inner layer is a soft mesh-like wicking polyester. We tested the outer layer in some light drops of water (like some light rain) and it did a good job scattering the water and staying dry. An added bonus is that this mask has an activated carbon filter layer sandwiched between the inner and outer layers, adding some extra filtration without any noticeable increase in breathing resistance. Overall, we think these masks are comfortable and we like all the size options. There are a few minor drawbacks, however. Like the Cubcoats masks, the ear loops are not adjustable, there's no metal nose bridge for adjustment, and no machine-washing is allowed. Also, it's worth noting that they're a bit more expensive than others, coming in at about $13 each. However, they are definitely the highest quality and most comfortable masks we've tested - we do love these masks, but they might not be worth the cost for you. Interested? You can check out the Green Sprouts Kids Face Masks here!
Made with love in Los Angeles, this is one of the few companies that have not outsourced their clothing and masks overseas. LA Made has a reputation for making high quality contemporary women's clothing with sustainable and ethical sourcing and manufacturing practices. And their masks are no exception! These kids face masks are made in the USA, use 2-layer high quality cotton blend fabrics, and your purchases have resulted in over 25,000 masks being donated to the Mask Movement project. LA Made makes two general types of face masks, one is a heavyweight fall/winter/spring mask that has thicker fabrics and higher breathing resistance, and the other is their relatively lightweight summer masks that have lightweight cotton fabrics with relatively low breathing resistance. We strongly prefer the lightweight versions, as we found the regular ones to be a big thick for comfortable prolonged use (like at school) by kids. The masks use a two-layer cotton blend that is soft and flexible, somewhere between a soft-structured mask and a pleated mask. The cotton has a bit of stretch in it, so it can accommodate larger noses without any issues. The masks come in a bunch of colors and patterns, and are about $12 each when bought in a 5-pack. The LA Made masks come in kids size (dimensions are 6.5" x 4.5") and adult size (7" x 5"). In our testing, we found the kids size to be very similar to the Cubcoats sizing, which is most appropriate for kids from about 3 to 8 years old, depending on how big their face is! The adult size isn't that much larger than the kids size, though the ear loops are a bit too large for kids, as they're not super elastic. These masks are a good option if you don't like how far off the face the soft-structured masks sit, and may not like the pleated look of a relatively simple mask. They're a good compromise and are super comfortable and stylish, and they can be machine washed! Cons? No metal nose bridge, and no adjustable ear loops. Note also that LA Made has some beautiful mask holder attachments that let kids wear their masks like a necklace when not in use - this is a great option for mask breaks, without any risk of losing the mask. Interested? You can check out the LA Made Kids Face Masks here!
If your kid loves those furry Cubcoats then this could be the perfect option for you! These kids-sized masks are most suitable for kids from about 3 to 8 years old (in our testing), measuring 6.6" wide by 4.7" high. Note that it's hard to compare mask sizes when comparing the pleated versus convex soft-structured mask designs, so only compare measurements within a specific mask type. These adorable face masks are made with two layers of fabric, with a polyester outer layer and a soft cotton inner layer. They're super comfortable to wear, and do not provide excessive breathing resistance. They use a flexible metal nose bridge to conform to the nose and face, elastic ear loops, and have a small pocket inside so you can add extra filtration if you'd like. We purchased these from the manufacturer's site (cubcoats.com) and from Amazon; the Cubcoats ones were awesome, but the Amazon ones appeared to be knock-offs (they were a very different color, fabric, and had a strong chemical odor). We're impressed with how nicely made these Cubcoats masks are and how nicely they fit kids' faces. Cons? Well, they can be hand-washed but not machine washed, there's no metal nose bridge, and the ear loops are not adjustable. Outside of that, we think they're awesome! As a bonus, Cubcoats donates 10% of every sale to Feeding America to help with pandemic relief efforts, and as of last month they'd already donated over 150,000 meals to families in need! Interested? You can check out the Cubcoats Cotton Kids Face Masks here!
For every two masks Allett sells, they donate 2 masks to hospitals, first responders, and retirement facilities. And the cool part is, you get to choose which you want to donate to! Allett is known for their high quality and super slim wallets, and this year they have shifted their focuse to making some awesome kids masks. The masks use a cotton layer combined with a polypropylene filter layer that is soft on the outside and highly breathable. On the inside, it has a mesh layer that some more sensitive kids may not find comfortable against the face. It has a flex wire metal nose bridge to help adjust to different nose and face sizes, flexible ear loops, and overall very high quality construction. We were impressed with the fabric quality and stitching, which held up to three rounds through the washing machine's gentle cycle (but hang it out to dry). The masks are made in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tijuana Mexico. The kids size measures just over 4" high and about 7" wide, making them one of the smaller masks on our list. In our testing, they are a great option for the smallest kids who will be wearing masks, from about 3 to 6 years old. The breathability was very high, which made us question whether this was truly a two-ply face mask: it seems that the inner mesh might count as one of the two layers, but we haven't taken it apart to verify. Cons? They do not have adjustable ear loops, and some kids might not find the mesh insides very comfortable against their face. Interested? You can check out the Allett Kids Face Masks here!
Yes, even Crayola is getting into the face mask game! Unlike most other Crayola products, these cannot be used for coloring! They do, however, use many of the same vibrant Crayola crayon colors that you've come to expect and love. These soft-structured masks use two layers of cotton and polyester, with the outer layer 100% cotton, and the inner layer a cotton and polyester blend. They are made in Thailand and come in the basic Crayola colors, but also with some cute patterns, like the classic crayola wiggly-line pattern. The kids size measures 4.5" high by 7" wide, making them most suitable for as young as 3 years old, to up to about 9 years old. The manufacturer says up to 11 years old, but they were a bit small in our test kids over 10 years old. There are a couple unique aspects to these masks. First, they have a blank tag where you can write your child's name, which is a great idea for school use. Second, they come with a mesh bag that can be used if you'd like to machine wash the masks. Third, they have adjustable string ear loops to help get a perfect fit. Finally, they also have the flexible wire nose bridge. In our testing, we found them to be comfortable and breathable, and to conform nicely to the face and nose. So why are they relatively low on our list? Well, they're a bit expensive - we paid about $40 total (with shipping) for a 5-pack, and they took forever to ship (about 3 weeks). If you order these now for back to school, it's likely they'll arrive on time. But if you'd like them any sooner, we suggest other options. Interested? You can check out the Crayola Kids Face Masks here!
These are the only tie-behind kids face masks we tested for inclusion on this list, because it was surprisingly hard to find good options in this category. Many of the ones we found require actual tying behind the head, which is challenging for school-age kids. These masks, in contrast, use a cinching mechanism to make tightening and loosening the strings super easy and intuitive. Unlike most other masks on this list, these tie-behind masks use a soft-structured face cloth and it two-layer polyester instead of cotton. The outer fabric feels at least partly water repellant, while the inside feels like a microfiber cloth, making it super comfortable against the face. In our testing, these masks fit our 9 and 11 year old kids the best, and were a bit too big for anyone under the age of about 7-8. The fabric was soft and nicely breathable, and our kids liked the concept of not having strings pull on their ears all day, though they were a bit harder to learn how to get on and off. These are a great face mask for kids who wear glasses, as the strings will not interfere with the fit of your glasses. They will also not tug on your ears, which some kids find super annoying and painful after several hours (like at school). They are machine washable, and we didn't see any major deformation or issues after washing. One of the cool things about these masks is they are marketed as reversible, which is a nice touch. However, because the inner and outer layers are very different in texture, turning it inside-out is not nearly as comfortable as having the softer side facing your nose and mouth. Outside of that, we wish there were an adjustable metal wire for the nose area. Overall, these are definitely a unique option that will be well-suited for certain kids. They do come in a few different designs, like a dragon, shark, tiger, or just the basic grey and navy blue (which is what we tried). Interested? You can check out the ProtectEquipTech Kids Face Masks here!
Both the GAP and Old Navy are offering some adorable kids face masks that are very simple and cute in their construction. The Gap and Old Navy kids masks are very similar to one another, each offering 3-ply cotton, pleated construction, thin elastic ear loops, and basically exactly the same size (dimensions about 5.5" wide by 3" high, with the Old Navy version being a hair bigger than the Gap version). For our testing, we purchased both kids options, which are slightly different in price: the Gap version is about $5/mask, and Old Navy version is about $2.50/mask. The fabric on the Gap masks felt a little higher quality, but to be honest we think all the colors and patterns from Old Navy were cuter and had more options. The Old Navy masks tend to cinch a little better on the sides than the Gap masks, but otherwise they fit very similarly and had similar breathability. They can both be machine washed and dried, which is a definite bonus! The ear loops were not adjustable, there is no wire nose bridge, and the fabrics weren't as soft as some of the other options on this list. But you are getting a pretty basic and inexpensive mask with some awesome designs, three-layer cotton, and a pretty good fit for kids about 3 to 7 years old. The pleated mask design helps it fit a wider age range, as do the highly elastic ear loops. Interested? You can check out the LA Made Kids Face Masks here!
We have to admit, these face masks are really adorable! With their kitty face and Disney Princess designs, they're pretty cute and unique! These are definitely some of the smaller masks on our list, coming in at about 5.5" high and 5.5" wide, making them a great option for kids about 5-10 years old. They are made with two-ply cotton and use the ear loop design. They have a tiny bit of stretch to them, and are super breathable. These kids face masks are made in the USA, in Los Angeles, CA, and use soft fabric with a filter pocket. The masks come with carbon filter inserts, but they definitely add some extra breathing resistance (try it out yourself before putting it on your child). In terms of construction, they are most similar to the Cubcoats masks, with slightly larger sizing. They are machine washable, tumble dry low. In our testing, we liked how soft the fabric was, and that it was sized in a manner that fit many different face shapes and sizes. After a washing, the fabric did lose its sheen and become more pilled, and tended to attract a bit of dust and lint. That's a trade-off you get for the softer cotton being used here. Another con is that the ear loops are not adjustable, and there is no flexible metal nose bridge. Coming in at about $10 each, they are right in the middle of the pack in terms of price. If your kid loves the design, totally worth it! Interested? You can check out the Kitty and Disney Princess Kids Face Masks here!
These are beautiful kids face masks made by Caraa Sport, a purveyor of very high quality handbags and purses based in NYC. These masks are not only functional and practical, they come in stylish subtle colors that kids and parents are sure to both love. When we tested these masks, we were immediately struck by the beautiful sheen on the outside. Ours came in a 5-pack with colors like Olive, Rose, Lavender, Chocolate and Mint. All them had a beautiful semi-gloss outer cotton layer, and a soft inner cotton layer against the face. They use a 3-fold pleated design, like the others, and are sized right in the middle of the pack, coming in at 5.5" wide by 3" high (up to 6" expanded). The elastic ear loops having cinching adjustment, and there is a flexible metal nose bridge piece to help with fit. The masks are lightweight and decently breathable, and they fit nicely onto all three of our test kids who were 4, 7, and 11. Note that these kids masks include a filter pocket (optional to use), but the filters themselves are not included. So what's not to love about these masks? The Caraa kids masks are only about $5 each, making them an awesome and relatively inexpensive option. Not much! They are not machine washable and must line-dried or be laid out for drying. One strange thing we noticed about these masks is the little cinching ring on each ear loop can be pulled right off the loop by a feisty child. You'll probably want to tie a little knot at the end of each ear loop to prevent this from happening. Other than that, great masks for people looking to add an element of style to their kids face masks! Interested? You can check out the Caraa Kids Face Masks here!
What to Look For in a Kids Face Mask
The CDC and WHO make several recommendations for the design, production, and fit of cloth face masks.
- All children and adults ages 2 and up should wear a mask.
- The mask should fit snugly against the face.
- The mask should completely cover the mouth and nose.
- The mask should be secured with ear loops or ties.
- The mask should include more than 1 layer of fabric.
- The mask should allow for breathing without restriction.
- The mask should be machine washable and dried.
In our review of kids' face masks, we prioritized these factors, and also considered style, durability, and ease of use. Those latter factors are clearly important for gaining buy-in from your kids, and finding a mask they will actually want to wear for the entire day!
There are three main types of kids face masks that we considered: ear loop, tie-behind, and neck gaiter. We also considered both soft-structured and pleated cloth masks. At the end of this article, we discuss the pros and cons of different types of kids masks. In general, we prefer the ear loop style or tie-behind, as long as it uses a cinching system (rather than requiring true tying behind the head).
Types of Kids Face Masks
You can typically choose between surgical-style disposable masks and cloth masks for children. The disposable ones are designed for one-time use, whereas the cloth ones can be washed and reused. For disposable kids masks, we highly recommend the ones made by Nuby. Otherwise, this review only considers reusable cloth masks.
The next distinction is between masks that attach behind the ears, over the head and behind the neck, or as a pull-up neck gaiter (or a bandana). Let's call these Ear Loops, Tie-Behind, and Neck Gaiter varieties. Each has their own pros and cons:
Ear-Loop Style Masks:
✔️ Easy elastic fit.
✔️ No tying necessary.
✔️ No interference with hair.
❌ Tugging ears forward.
❌ May interfere with glasses.
❌ Usually not adjustable.
Here is a great example of the ear-loop style kids masks, made by Cubcoats (suitable from about 5-8 years old):
Of course, all of the disposable style masks are also ear-loop style.
Tie-Behind Style Masks:
✔️ Easy elastic fit.
✔️ No pulling on ears.
✔️ Less interference with glasses.
✔️ Adjustable tightness.
❌ Tying or cinching is necessary.
❌ Interferes with hair.
❌ Harder for younger kids.
Here is a great example of the tie-behind style kids masks, made by ProtectEquipTech (suitable from about 8-13 years old):
The best tie-behind masks have a cinching system, so it's relatively easy to put on and take off.
Neck Gaiter Style Masks:
✔️ Easy pull-up fit.
✔️ No pulling on ears.
✔️ Less interference with glasses.
✔️ Not easily misplaced.
❌ No adjustments.
❌ May slide off easily.
❌ Tends to be 1-layer cloth.
❌ Can get very warm.
❌ No metal nose bridge.
Here is a great example of the neck gaiter style kids masks, made by Genovega (suitable from about 4-9 years old):
Because each child might prefer one mask style versus another, we tried to include all three types in our reviews. Note that the tie-behind kids masks are relatively rare and you'll likely need to purchase an adult tie-behind mask in a Small size. Furthermore, we only consider two-layer neck gaiters in our review, ignoring the dozens of single-ply options on the market.
Other Face Mask Variations: Similar to a baby carrier, you can purchase soft-structured face masks that have a pre-defined shape, or the pleated style masks that adapt to basically any face shape. The soft-structured style tends to sit farther away from the nose and mouth, providing a small air gap inside the mask. The pleated style tend to sit closer to the face, which some kids may not be completely comfortable with. On the other hand, the soft-structured ones are not as forgiving for fitment to different face sizes.
Face Masks for Kids with Glasses
There's nothing more frustrating for a child than glasses fogging up, especially when they're breathing harder than usual. In other words, whenever they're moving around school, the neighborhood, or during recess, face masks can cause some serious fogging of their glasses.
The other issue that can happen is that the ear-loop style masks can interfere with glasses, or pull or push down excessively on the ears. This can lead to uncomfortable pulling on the ears and soreness after a few hours of mask wearing.
There are couple things to look for in a face mask for kids with glasses.
- An adjustable metal nose bridge helps tremendously with glasses fogging. The metal bridge can provide a relatively air-tight seal under the glasses, helping to keep warm air from rising up with every exhale your child makes!
- The tie-behind style face masks don't put additional string around the ears, making things more comfortable and less cumbersome. Some of the good ones have an adjustable cinch on the back so no actual tying is necessary.
- The neck gaiter style face mask can be helpful for the ear attachment issue, though they tend not to have the metal nose bridge piece, which in our opinion is one of the biggest issues with fogging.
Face Mask Considerations for Children with Special Needs
This is a very important topic that is largely overlooked by reopening committees and school districts.
Whether due to sensory sensitivities or any other physical or mental barrier, adaptations need to be made for children with special needs.
In guidance issued by the CDC, they make the following recommendations for adaptations and exceptions:
- Consider a clear face covering for situations involving people who are deaf or hard of hearing, to maintain lipreading.
- Situations involving sensitivities or mental health conditions should involve "consulting with healthcare providers for advice."
- Preschoolers and early elementary children may be unable to wear face coverings properly or for sustained time.
- A wet face fask makes it hard to breathe, and should be avoided.
- Masks may not be possible in high-temperature contexts or during high-intensity activities (exercise, physical work).
The guidance for sensitivities and mental health conditions is vague and may not apply readily to your child's condition. If so, the school will need to make special accommodations to ensure your child can access the curriculum and make sufficient progress in a minimally-restrictive environment.
If you are encountering challenges in dealing with your child's school on these issues, we suggest contacting your state's bureau of special education, special education appeals, or office of special education. If they cannot help, we suggest consulting with advocacy groups, such as one listed at the ISER.
What to Avoid in Kids Face Masks
Here are some basic things to avoid when picking a good face mask for your child.
- Avoid face masks with valves. These one-way valves open up entirely during exhalation, defeating the purpose of a face mask. Some use a charcoal carbon filter, which is unnecessary, of unknown effectiveness, and a pain to replace.
- Avoid face masks with fuzzy inner liners. These interfere with a snug fit against your face, allowing air and droplets to escape from the perimeter of the mask.
- Avoid single-layer masks if possible. Research (4) shows that double-layer cloth masks are more effective than single-layer cloth masks at preventing the spread of droplets.
- Avoid poorly-fitting masks. This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people are wearing masks that are too big or small for their faces. Either way, ensure the mask is not too small to fully cover the nose and mouth, or so big that it's bumping up against your child's eyes or showing big openings on the sides.
Note that all masks included in this list are non-medical grade, non-hospital grade, and not approved by the FDA or any other regulatory health agency, and are not intended for medical use. We make no claims or guarantees, implied or otherwise, about the protection offered by any face mask from any virus, bacteria, or disease. Adult supervision is required for children wearing masks. For guidance on using face masks with children, please familiarize yourself with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and recommendations.