Best Face Masks for Kids 2023, Tested & Reviewed
These top-rated kids' face masks offer protection, comfort, and style.
Mommyhood101 independently tests and curates baby gear to help you make informed decisions. If you buy products through links on our site, we may earn a commission.
Just when you think we've reached the end, a new variant emerges, and masking and distancing requirements are tightened. Like it or not, your little one might need some face masks for school, play, or around town!
As parents, we want the peace of mind that our kids are wearing face masks that are both effective and worn on a reliable basis.
For the kids, we want to make sure their face masks are comfortable and fun!
Below are the top 5 kids' face masks we found, followed by reviews of about a dozen options.
|#1. Best Disposable: DIOLV Masks|
|#2. Cutest: MasksUp Kids Face Masks|
|#3. Lightest: LA Made Kids Masks|
|#4. Most Stylish: Caraa Kids Masks|
|#5. Simplest: SendUsMasks|
In addition to comfort, style, and safety, 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.
Specifically, while N95 and KN95 masks are the gold standard, surgical-style masks can be very effective, and cloth masks are generally the least effective. The following graph from the CDC highlights this difference:
Taking this guidance into consideration, we tested over two dozen of the most popular kids' face masks for school and daily activities.
We considered both cloth and disposable surgical-style masks, prioritizing the latter.
Note that our reviews of face masks for kids resulted from actual hands-on testing of over a dozen masks. Unlike most other sites providing kids' face mask reviews, we actually purchased and tested all of the masks on this list, most of which are hanging in our mud room right now (as you can see above!).
- Top 5 Kids Face Mask Table
- 1. DIOLV Disposable
- 2. MasksUp Cremoly
- 3. LA Made Kids
- 4. Caraa Kids
- 5. SendUsMasks
- 6. Allett Kids
- 7. Crayola Kids
- Discontinued Models
- 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
Full disclosure: Some of these face masks, including the MasksUp, Green Sprouts, and SendUsMasks models, were sent to us as free test samples by the manufacturer.
Here are our Top Picks!
As a family of five, we so badly wanted to use cloth masks. They produce less waste, tend to be softer and more comfortable, and are available in some truly adorable patterns and styles. But after about 6 months of nightly mask washings and lost, wrinkled, and shrinking masks, we finally caved and purchased our first box of disposable face masks. After two months of trying various brands and being disappointed with textures, broken ear loops, or uncomfortable edges and corners, we finally settled on a face mask that the entire family could agree on - the DIOLV! As one of the best-rated kids disposable face masks on Amazon, with over 5,000 four- and five-star ratings, they have a big following and reputation to live up to! As the mom in the family, I have a relatively petite face that falls somewhere between a typical kid mask and an adult mask, and I was happy to find that the DIOLV seems to fit smaller adult faces very well. Available in multiple patterns and solid colors, the DIOLV measures 3.75" high by just under 5.75" wide when not expanded. Using the folded pleats, it can expand in height to about 5.5" high, which is ample enough to fit over the nose and tuck under the chin nicely in both kids and adults with small faces. It is a 3-ply mask with non-woven outer and inner layers and a melt-blown filtering liner sandwiched between those layers. It uses a thin metal nose clip that is comfortable and easy to flex, and the elastic ear loops are very securely attached to the mask.
The DIOLV comes in boxes of 50 masks, sealed in a plastic outer bag. They are easy enough to dispense one at a time, and they are super easy for kids to manage themselves without adult support. The fabrics are durable and soft enough to be comfortable. The three layers are easy to breathe through, though when held up to the light they're very opaque and seem to do a good job with filtering. Because they're relatively durable, our kids never have issues with breakage while at school or out and about, and honestly they actually fit well and look pretty good! Some of our kids have some sensory issues with face masks and these work surprisingly well for them, without developing the itchy little threads sticking out of the fabric, and no strong odors. Overall, we're really happy with the DIOLV masks and think they're a great option for those looking for disposable kids' masks for a reasonable price (about 25-30 cents each). They're probably not big enough to fit dad, but definitely big enough for most kids under the age of 12, and maybe big enough for some adults with petite faces. Interested? You can check out the DIOLV Kids Face Masks here!
This small Ohio-based company (recently acquired by ShopMaskC) is taking the kids' mask world by storm with its high-quality, well-fitting, stylish, and effective cloth masks. Masksup makes a series of soft-structured masks that are secured 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 and 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 them by hand. Also, they are a bit more expensive than some other masks, but the site often offers discounts up to 20% off. When we ordered masks from their website, they took about 2 days to send us a shipping notification, and then another 6 days to arrive in Massachusetts. We suggest anticipating about a 1 week shipping time for these, so keep that in mind and order early! Cons? Only minor stuff: the MasksUp masks are made in China, which increases shipping time. Also, we've found that they tend to be a bit undersized overall, especially the adult masks; when in doubt, order a size larger. Finally, they use a latex liner sandwiched in the middle, and you can definitely smell it (smells a bit like latex gloves). Interested? You can check out the MasksUp Cotton Kids Face Masks here!
Lightweight, comfortable, and 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, and 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 very 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!
The most stylish option on our list, 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, but they come in stylish subtle colors that kids and parents are sure to 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 of 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 have 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. The Caraa kids masks are only about $5 each, making them an awesome and relatively inexpensive option. So what's not to love about these masks? 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!
This small Canadian company (Toronto) makes super simple masks with all the right features and sizing; note that SendUsMasks is now Youri. 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 for 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 elastic and adjustable ear loops. The fabric is good quality, durable, and reasonably soft, and it 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. Of course, that will increase breathing resistance which may not be ideal for your situation.
These masks are available in black or white, and the pricing is very reasonable for a mask of this quality (about $5 USD each if you purchase a 5-pack). Prices are in CAD but are automatically converted to USD during checkout from their site, at which point you'll notice about a 25% discount due to current exchange rates. So don't let the initial prices scare you, they are in Canadian dollars! The masks we ordered shipped for free from Toronto (SendUsMasks masks are made in Canada), and we got them pretty quickly in Massachusetts (4 days). That's about half the time it took to get the MasksUp masks. The masks were individually wrapped, had no strange odors, and our kids really liked them! The pleated design fits a wide range of face shapes and sizes, making them ideal for the entire family! The only con: there are not a ton of patterns and colors, only black and white. Otherwise, we love how they fit most face sizes, are super comfortable, and have all the right features! Interested? You can check out the SendUsMasks 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 focus 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 be sure to 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 faces. 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 of 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 a 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!
Discontinued Kids Face Mask
Now that vaccination and booster rates are up and the pandemic is winding down in severity, several face mask manufacturers and vendors have begun to discontinue their product lines. While we reviewed and recommended face masks by Cubcoats, Green Sprouts, ProtectEquipTech, The Gap, and Disney, they are no longer available!
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, with the exception being ProtectEquipKids masks. 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 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 tends 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 the 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 a 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, mask 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 a sustained time.
- A wet face mask 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.
For children with sensitivities, we suggest avoiding the following:
- Some masks have a stronger odor than others. For example, masks with latex linings have a relatively strong odor. Always wash a mask before use to mitigate any strong odors of new fabric.
- Some masks feel firm or hard against the face. For example, masks with a seam at the center of the nose area, or not using a softer cotton inner lining, can provoke sensitivities.
- Some masks involve repeated and substantial manual adjustments. For example, masks that tie or cinch behind the head can be challenging, but also elicit sensitivities for some children (and/or tangle in hair for some).
- Some masks pull against the ears in a way that might be uncomfortable for your child. For example, masks without adjustable ear elastics can be uncomfortable throughout the school day.
- Some masks, especially disposable face masks, can have tiny super thin threads that stick up out of the fabric and tickle your face. You might notice them at all, but more sensitive kiddos might find them uncomfortable.
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, 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.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): How to wear face masks.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): When to wear face masks.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Types of face masks.