Best Masks for Kids
The DropSkip Face Mask is hands down the most comfortable mask in this review, especially if you want a maskless feel. This silky smooth mask is two layers, has a bendable nose piece, a small chin shelf, and a filter pocket. It has adjustable elastic ear straps with a silicone end to prevent the adjustable slide from falling off and getting lost. They are thin, 100% cotton, and come with a zipper laundry bag for quick machine wash cleaning and dying. This pack includes five colorful masks good for every day of the week. While thin, these appear to be of nice quality with even stitching and no loose threads or stretched elastic. These masks look small but fit everyone during testing, from 5 years old to a smaller adult face. Our testers preferred these masks for outdoor activities (tennis anyone?) where sweating and hot days prevailed.
There is much to love and little to dislike about these masks. Unfortunately, while they come with a filter pocket, they don't come with filters. However, this is a small thing as filters can be easily purchased. Also, the fabric is thin and has no structure, so without a filter, the material can suck into your face if you inhale sharply. Despite these minor hiccups, we love these masks. The silky feeling, adjustable features, and filter pocket help ensure that kids will wear them without complaint even while running and playing.
If you want multiple layers without a filter, the Gyothrig Face Masks are a budget-friendly option for little ones going to school or daily activities. The Gyothrig is pleated like a medical mask and is a cotton/polyester blend. They are comfortable and somewhat fit your face as the pleats pull apart. They are colorful, have adjustable ear straps, and no strange smell. The quality is impressive with consistent sizing, stitching, and overall fit and finish. They are even highly breathable despite the 3 layers.
This pack is a great value, but the masks are missing some key features for form-fitting that prevent air from escaping the mask material. There is no wire nose piece or chin shelf, though they do fit snug to the face. The pleated design could be uncomfortable over time if the child has a defined bridge or large nose, making this a better choice for younger kids with a less developed nose bridge. While we wish these masks had a pocket for a filter, we appreciate they are 3 layers on their own, which means there is nothing else to buy. Last, these masks need to be hand washed and laid flat to dry, so you'll be without a mask if you wash them all at once. Despite these flaws, the pack solves the school week necessity for masks, and the colors and fit help ensure little ones will want to wear them.
The adorable Maikoa Cartoon bears kids' mask appeals to most younger testers drawn to the cute design, bright colors, and smaller fit. This cute mask has multiple layers, a filter pocket, and one activated carbon filter (more sold separately). We like the chin shelf, adjustable ear straps, and the moldable nose piece that provides a snug, safer fit without air gaps. It was one of the favored masks during testing, with more than one tester remarking how comfy it was to wear.
This mask is thick, which can make it warmer to wear continuously. We worry children might pull the mask down if it gets too hot or hard to breathe while playing. It is also a smaller mask, and while it fit our ten-year-old tester, we don't think it will fit all kids that age and recommend it for those under 9 or 10. Overall, it is a cute, higher-quality mask with no significant flaws and includes a filter pocket at a budget-friendly price.
The Venyss Masks offer impressive filtration with the most layers in the group. The masks (without filters) are 3 layers, and the included filters are 5 layers each. This combination makes the overall total an impressive 8 layers! The best part is they remain highly breathable and retain their shape without pulling into your face when you inhale. These masks include a bendable nose piece, chin shelf, and adjustable ear straps. The filter pocket is a good size and easy to use. The masks are well-constructed, washable, and have a slight new clothes smell that is not offensive.Given the sheer number of layers, these masks are somewhat warm and potentially not the best for summertime or exercise. Though using them without the disposable filter could make them cooler. These masks are on the larger side and would probably be best for children over 8. Also, we couldn't find any information on how to wash them, so you should probably hand wash and line dry to be safe. Because we had trouble finding great kids' masks with lots of layers, we were super excited by this product and think parents looking for the most layers possible will love these quality masks.
The Meltblown Non-Woven Cloth Masks is a two-mask pack with twenty disposable, carbo-activated filters. The cotton masks include a filter pocket for non-woven materials that potentially work better than woven fabrics. This mask boasts an impressive seven layers of protection with a five-layer filter and two layers of cloth . Recent tests show more layers provide advanced protection against airborne droplets. We like the soft fabric of this mask, and the breathing valve on the front helps heat escape after filtration. In addition, this mask has form-fitting features like a nose clip, adjustable ear straps, and a chin shelf, making it customizable for fit with fewer air gaps.
These masks are on the bigger side and are a possible contender for older children (12+) or those with bigger faces. Even if the mask is on the larger side, it is still possible to get a great fit using the adjustable features, and it is less likely for the mask to suck into your face when breathing. In addition, the nose clip will prevent riding up into the eyes, and the chin shelf prevents bottom gapping. Overall, we really like these masks, and our testers did too; checking all the boxes of the holy grail of masks, it is hard to go wrong with this mask if your child's face is the right size.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using masks without "exhalation valves." Their recommendation is based on a specific kind of one-way valve that allows the release of unfiltered air from your mouth to the outside world when you exhale. Obviously, this type of valve (typically found in construction-style dust masks) would defeat part of the reason for wearing a mask. The masks with valves in our review are NOT one-way "exhalation valves" with no filter. Every mask with a valve in our lineup has at least 1-2 layers of fabric for breath to pass through between the user's mouth and the outside world. Each mask also contains a pocket for an optional filter. Using a filter increases the layers of fabric between your exhale and the world to 5-7 layers. All the masks in this review comply with CDC recommendations.
If your little one hates wearing a mask, you could try a product like the Genovega Neck Gaiter. This gaiter-style option is a tube of stretchy fabric that wraps around the face and head. This particular gaiter is form-fitting and preventing most air gaps from forming even when talking or running. This mask has a filter pocket over the mouth area and is machine washable. The fabric is moisture-wicking and stays cool in the hot summer sun, which means potentially better compliance. We like that it comes in a two-pack, so you have one to wear while the other is washing or being used by a friend or sibling.
Some testers don't care for the head-wrapped, claustrophobic feeling of this style. Others like the style, but not the material of this specific gaiter, as it felt "strange" (polyester). This style isn't for everyone, but it was a favorite for some of our testers. If your child messes with their traditional mask or struggles with ear straps, we think a gaiter mask is worth trying. The filter on this gaiter makes it a unique standout amongst gaiters, which tend to be thin with only one layer.
The Protection Respirators for Children mask is a multi-layered mask with a filter pocket, activated-carbon filter, and valve. This mask has form-fitting features, including a chin shelf, moldable nose clip, and adjustable ear straps, which help provide a customized fit. Our testers liked the fabric's feel and that the mask didn't ride up or down when talking or moving their faces.
These kids' masks feel thicker. This thickness potentially offers more protection, but it gets hot, resulting in mask fiddling. They are also on the smaller side, and they aren't suitable for larger faces or older kids. However, if your child is ten or under and you're looking for a form-fitting mask with a filter and valve, this mask should be on your shortlist.
If your kids fight wearing masks because they aren't comfortable, the CoRevival Kids Masks are ridiculously comfortable and one to consider. This pack of two masks is jersey cotton that is ultra-soft and comfortable against the skin. The mask has a nose flap that lays across the nose bridge and adjustable ear straps for a somewhat form-fitting feel. The masks are breathable and don't suck into your face, and they have little arrows inside to help kids put them on correctly. We appreciate that they are machine or hand wash. These masks fit testers from around 6 years old to a narrow adult face.
These masks are only 2 layers and have no filter pocket. While not a deal-breaker, we like 3 or more layers, if possible. However, because these masks are so comfortable, we think some children who hate masks will love them enough to wear them no matter what. After wearing them for hours ourselves, we agreed with kid testers that these are some of the most comfortable masks on the market.
The 1+10 Cartoon Mouth Cover kids' mask is a cute, washable mask with a filter pocket and ten activated carbon filters. This mask comes in various adorable fabrics and consists of a valve on the front to help keep the heat down and increase airflow. In addition, this mask includes all the form-fitting features to attain a customizable fit, so the mask doesn't ride up, slip down, or gap at the bottom or top. Testers liked the fit and felt it moved well when talking and heavy breathing during play, which resulted in less mask fiddling and removal in our tests. With two cotton layers on the mask and five layers in the filter, this creates seven layers of protection.
This mask is on the smaller side, and while it fit our ten-year-old tester well, we suspect kids over 12 will find it too small even with the adjustable ear straps. Also, while it comes in various patterns, all are somewhat childish and might be embarrassing for older kids anyway. Nevertheless, this mask is a great option with quality features and a customizable fit that makes it an excellent choice for most younger children.
The plain Easy @ Home Reusable Cloth Mask might be dull to look at, but it is better quality than some of the competition and well-constructed. It has a moldable nose piece, a chin shelf, and adjustable ear straps, which come together to create a snug-fitting mask with no gaps. This mask is larger than some of the competition, making it an excellent option for older kids or kids who don't want something cutesy on their faces. It is comfortable and has a filter pocket that is easy to access and comes in multi-packs so you can wash some while you use one.
These masks are larger than much of the competition here but are still small enough for most kids and teens. They are not an adult size but could be too big for those under seven as the mask could ride up and into their eyes. It is also somewhat boring compared to the competition, but this could be a good thing if your child is too "cool" for kid-centric products. Overall, this mask has a lot going for it, but our testers weren't thrilled with the boring design. Alternatively, parents love the form-fitting features and the filter pocket for added layers.
For a 3D design that doesn't suck into your face, the Inscape Data Masks is a standout style. This multi-mask pack has 3 layers, including a middle non-woven layer and two layers of cotton with a waffle-type texture on the front and back. We like how the mask body sits away from the face and the adjustable ear straps to pull the edges close for limited air gaps. These masks fit well under the chin, can be hand-washed, and have no odor.
While we love the 3 layers of protection of this mask, the lack of a bendable nose piece means more potential for air gaps around the nose and eyes. This design makes them less suitable for those who wear glasses and potentially allows unfiltered air to be inhaled. Our kid testers also struggled to put these masks on correctly, as the shape makes it hard to know which end is up. Also, this product comes in various sizes, so pay attention to the size when you order to avoid disappointment. Overall, these masks have 3 layers, and if they fit your child's face without air gaps, we think they could be a potential contender.
The Woplagyreat Reusable Masks is a pack of 4 masks for kids with various patterns for self-expression. We like the bendable nose, adjustable ear straps, and chin shelf for a more customizable fit. They are sized for children, have 3 layers, and are machine washable. The face layer is cotton, the outer layer is polyester, with a non-woven inner layer between the two.While we love that these masks are 3 layers, the inner layer is scratchy, and some testers felt they were itchy. We aren't sure why the outer layer is so soft while the inner is rough on the skin, and it feels like a design flaw, in our opinion. These masks are also harder to breathe through, and they have a bad odor, even after washing. Because they are harder to breathe and smell, at least one tester got a headache while wearing one for about an hour. We think these are cute and appreciate the form-fitting features and 3 layers, but we worry little ones will avoid wearing them due to a lack of breathability we experienced during testing.
The Crayola Kids Face Mask is a cool pack of 5 masks that includes a washable mask for every school day. The pack is designed to help little ones avoid using the same mask every day without washing for better mask hygiene. The pack comes with a zippered wash bag that should help prolong the life of your masks, so the ear loops and moldable nose pieces aren't damaged during washing. We like the nose piece, chin self, and adjustable ear loops that all help to provide a more custom, leak-free fit for little ones.These masks are smaller and barely fit our 8-year-old testers, so they are probably best for younger children. Also, they smelled so bad when we opened them that our testers wouldn't even wear them for photos until we washed them, so we recommend a pre-wash (multiple times) before trying to wear one for a prolonged time. Overall, we think this is a potential multi-pack for younger children attending in-person school and need a new mask for each day.
If quirky humor is your thing, the CIKIShield Face Mask comes with various fun face options that are sure to bring a smile to others' faces. Most kids can find something to like in this ten pack of washable face masks with choices like mustache, bear face, or vampire's teeth. Testers thought the masks were soft on their faces, and the ear straps fit most testers well.
This mask lacks any adjustable or form-fitting features like nose clip, chin shelf, or adjustable straps. This means it could result in air gaps or a poor fit. Some testers also disliked the thicker cloth straps compared to the thin elastic straps on the competition. Also, they lack a filter pocket and may not offer as much protection as some of the competition. However, they are very thick, which could be hot and provide more protection than single or double-layer masks. Overall, we think these masks are fun and suitable for occasions where social distancing is possible for extra protection. Still, they wouldn't be our top choice for close quarters or places where social distancing is unlikely to be inforced.
The WAVE Disposable Face Masks are basic disposable masks you typically find in hospitals or doctor offices. These masks offer three layers of protection, a pleated design for customization, a bendable nose clip, and latex-free elastic ear straps. The box of masks includes 50, making them an economical mask solution you can easily toss when the day is done.
These masks don't offer the best protection with fewer layers, no filter, and more significant air gaps. The ear straps are also somewhat long and will likely require knotting for a good fit for younger children. While we don't think these are the best long-term solutions for kids to wear daily or regularly, we think they are good to have on hand to give to guests or friends who may show up for events sans mask. We feel these inexpensive masks are a less confrontational way of enforcing a mandatory mask policy around your family and home without spending a lot of money or fighting with friends and family.
The Burlway Cotton Mask is a dual-layer cotton mask with plain styling and a generic design. These masks have fabric ear straps and soft face covering with extensive coverage over most of the lower part of the face.
These masks are not the best quality, with parts sticking out of the packaging and an unfinished ear strap that irritated testers. They also lack a filter pocket, and with only two layers of fabric, they don't offer the same level of protection as the competition in this review. They also lack any form-fitting features, which resulted in air gaps under the chin and by the nose. Overall, we think there are better masks to be had no matter your goal, even if your goal is just comfort.
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been testing products for babies and kids for about 8 years. This team is led by Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, mother of two who has been with the team since 2014. Wendy's boys contributed to testing by graciously wearing each mask for long periods during play, exercise, car rides, and more. They compared each product for comfort, fit, breathability, and movement when talking or being active. Their feedback helped influence ranking and Wendy's expert analysis of mask construction, quality, durability, and potential longevity.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased each mask and tested them side-by-side and face-on to compare the competition. We considered various metrics designed to help parents find a mask their child will willingly wear without a fight. Our testers included little ones from 4-11 years old.
Fit and Comfort
The overall fit of a mask impacts how effective it can be at doing its job and whether or not your child tolerates or voluntarily wears the mask. Three main features influence a mask's fit and comfort the ear straps, a moldable nose piece, and what we call a chin shelf. After much testing, we think some of the best masks offer all three.
The most comfortable mask in the group is the DropSkip Mask. These masks are silky smooth and so skin-friendly. They include a bendable nose piece and adjustable ear straps. You almost can't even feel them on your face. However, they will suck into your face if you are breathing hard or sharply. Despite this problem, kids still chose these masks for outdoor activities like tennis camp. Other good-fitting masks include the CoRevival Masks, 1+10 Cartoon Mouth Cover, and Maikoa Cartoon bears. The CoRevival Masks are somewhat different than the competition as they have a nose flap of fabric instead of the wire bendable nose piece. This style may not work for all users, but our testers thought it was super comfortable during outdoor ice skating, and the air gaps were minimal. Instead of molding to the nose via wire, the fabric flap lays across the nose like a sheet on a bed.
A moldable nose piece is a metal component incorporated into the mask, usually some kind of bendable wire, that allows the wearer to form the mask around their nose to prevent gaps that could let in air. It also creates a somewhat customizable fit and helps prevent glasses fog. We believe moldable nose pieces are an important component for preventing masks from moving up on the face and into the eyes, a problem we experienced with some of the larger masks and some without the wire nose piece. Fabric rubbing on your child's eyes is likely to result in mask fiddling and removal.
A chin shelf, a term we believe we coined, is an extra bit of fabric sewn to the bottom of the mask that brings the mask closer to the face and fits under the chin in a more form-fitting way (see photo above) to help limit air gaps. While not 100% necessary, we found that the masks that included a chin shelf were largely considered more comfortable by our little testers. They also help prevent gaps for air to get in and stopped some of the upward movement that can happen as kids talk, move, and play. In addition, we saw less continuous mask adjustment with the masks that included a chin shelf.
Adjustable ear straps help create a more custom fit that allows the mask to fit more faces than it would with a stationary ear strap. In our tests, users liked the adjustable straps because they were thinner, less noticeable, more comfortable, and let them adjust the mask as tight or loose as desired. This feature also prevented the need for a mask with fabric covering from ear to ear and instead only covers the area right around the mouth, which can be cooler and less claustrophobic to some kids. We also like that the adjustability helps provide some distance between the mask and your mouth.
A mask that also includes a silicone end to prevent the plastic adjustment slider from falling off is the DropSkip Masks, something we imagine will come in handy for little ones who like to play with their masks and might otherwise pull of the slider or lose it. This feature is unique to the DropSkin in our tests. Masks with thicker, adjustable cotton straps were not well received by testers and included those on the Burlway Cotton Masks and the CIKIShield Face Mask.
We recommend you look for masks that include all three of these components, and consist of comfortable materials that feel good on the skin. While you can still find a great mask without these components, it is more challenging without a lot of trial and error, as our testing shows.
The exception to this rule is the "gaiter" style of mask, which is essentially a tube of fabric that rests around your neck and pulls up over the lower portion of the face going around the back of the head. Traditionally, gaiter-style masks were for winter outdoor activities or riding motorcycles but have seen a rise in popularity as the need for masks has risen. This mask style is easy and comfortable for kids to wear and come in cooling fabrics that are breathable and comfortable. You can also arrange it into a variety of head dressings, which is appealing to some kids. The gaiter's advantages are fewer gaps for air leakage; they typically are more form-fitting, fit a wider variety of face shapes and sizes, and some even offer SPF. The downsides are some kids will mess with them a lot, some studies indicate they are potentially less effective, and poorly fitting gaiters can have significant air gaps. Some children also feel claustrophobic with something around their entire head, and depending on the fabric, they can be hot. All that aside, one of our testers still prefers a gaiter-style mask over all of the competition, and the Genovega Neck Gaiter is the only one he didn't repeatedly touch while wearing, and it comes with a pocket for a filter.
Beyond the features relate to fit and comfort, we think there are a handful of other features to consider before making a purchase. Without getting into a discussion on the efficacy of masks or their level of protection, we think it is a good idea to look for masks that include the ability to add a filter and potentially have a valve component for easier breathing.
A variety of activated-carbon filters on the market provide more protection against airborne particles than going sans filter. Whether or not they can protect you from specific viruses is still being tested. Nevertheless, we prefer masks with additional layers of filtration. Most of the masks in this review include a filter pocket, and many came with multiple disposable filters as part of the purchase.
Currently, studies indicate that multiple layers are better, filters are safer (even if only because they provide more layers). A combination of the two with a good fit is best. Most filters are listed as "PM 2.5," which means they can trap Particulate Matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 micrometers. While these filters may not capture specific viruses, the filters are 3-5 layers, which recent studies show increases your protection from the moisture droplets that carry viruses. The mask with the most layers in this review, including a 5 layer filter, is the Venyss Mask. This mask is 3 layers without the filter and is 8 layers using the included filter! Some of the pockets were large and easy to use like that on the Easy@Home mask, while others were somewhat harder and take some finagling.
A Note About Valves
In this review, several of the kids' masks come with a round, button-style valve component on the mask's front/side. This little doohickey is supposed to make it easier to breathe by releasing the hot air we exhale. When placed over the filter media, it allows for the intake and exhaust of filtered air. None of the valve masks in this review allow unfiltered air to escape the masks, as you might find in a traditional construction-style dust mask. Even without a carbon filter in place (which are 2-5 layers), all of the valve masks we tested have 1-2 layers of fabric between the wearer's mouth and the outside world. If you wear the mask with a filter in place, you will have 3-7 layers between your breath and the outside world, both when you inhale and exhale air.
In our tests, kids couldn't tell the difference between the masks with or without a valve. Or at least they weren't able to articulate their experience. However, when adults wore the masks, the valve did seem to provide easier breathing and prevent the buildup of hot air inside the mask. We liked every option with a valve, but older testers enjoyed the Meltblown Non-Woven Cloth Masks. In comparison, younger testers chose the 1+10 Cartoon Mouth Cover and the Protection Respirators for Children. Valve or no valve, all of the products in our review pass exhaled air through at least one layer of fabric before it escapes the mask, unlike a construction-style mask where the exhaled air is not filtered (these types of masks are not recommended).
Wearing a mask is now a part of daily life for many kids. Whether it is picking up groceries or returning to school and other activities, kids wear masks everywhere they go. Our tests show that kids prefer masks they can comfortably wear for long periods without interrupting their ability to breathe, talk, or play. Finding the perfect mask for your child can make the difference between cooperative compliance and repeatedly saying, "Put your mask back on." Because kids are generally more active than adults, finding a great mask for physical activities is a must. We hope our hands-on, side-by-side testing helps you find the right mask for your child and budget.
— Wendy Schmitz