Best Masks for Kids
For an almost not there feeling, the DropSkip Face Mask is hands down the most comfortable mask we've tried. This silky smooth mask is two layers, has a bendable nose piece, a small chin shelf, and a pocket for a filter. It has adjustable elastic ear straps with a silicone end to prevent the adjustable slide from falling off or getting lost. They are thin and 100% cotton and come with a zipper laundry bag for quick machine wash cleaning and dying. This is a five-pack of colorful masks good for every day of the week. While thin, these appear to be a 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.
There is much to love and little to dislike about these masks. While they come with a filter pocket, they don't come with filters. However, this is a small thing as filters can easily be purchased to combine with this mask. Also, the fabric is thin, and there is no structure to the mask, so without a filter, the material can suck into your face if you inhale sharply. Overall, we love these masks, and the silky feeling, adjustable features, and filter pocket ensures they will be worn without complaint.
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. This pack of 6 masks are pleated like a medical mask and are 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 also highly breathable despite the 3 layers.
This pack is a great value, but it is missing some key features that make masks form-fitting, so air can't pass around the mask unfiltered. 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 less of a developed 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.
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 comes with one activated carbon filter. 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 is to wear.
This mask is kind of thick, and it has no valve, which can make it warm to wear continuously with no breaks. We worry little ones might pull the mask down if it gets too hot or hard to breath in 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 10. Overall, it is a cute, higher-quality mask with no flaws and a coveted pocket for a filter, with a budget-friendly price.
The Venyss Masks offer impressive filtration with the most layers in the group. The masks themselves without filters are 3 layers. The included filters are 5 layers each, making the overall total when used together 8 impressive layers! The best part, they are still highly breathable and retain their shape without sucking into your face. These masks include a bendable nose piece, chin shelf, and adjustable ear straps. The filter pocket is a good size and easy to use with the included 8 disposable filters. The masks are well-constructed, washable, and have a slight new clothes smell that is non-offensive.Given the sheer number of layers, these masks are somewhat warm and probably 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 or 10. Also, we couldn't find any information on how to wash them, so you should probably stick to hand washing and line drying to be safe. Because we had trouble finding great kids masks with lots of layers, we were super excited by this option and think parents who want the most potential protection possible will love these quality masks.
The Meltblown Non-Woven Cloth Masks is a two mask pack with twenty disposable, carbo-activated filers. The cotton masks include a filter pocket for non-woven materials that block more than woven fabrics. With a five-layer filter and two layers of cloth, this mask boasts an impressive seven layers of protection, which recent tests show provides 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. This mask has form-fitting features like a nose clip, adjustable ear straps, and a chin shelf, making it customizable for fit with few if any, air gaps.
These masks are on the bigger side but are a possible contender for older children (12+) or those with wider 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. 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 these masks if your child's face is big enough.
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 in your daily life. The masks with valves in our review are NOT one-way "exhalation valves" with no filter. Every mask with a valve in our roundup 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 outside world to 5-7 layers. All the masks we've included in this review comply with CDC recommendations.
If your little one hates wearing a mask, you could try something like the Genovega Neck Gaiter. This gaiter style mask 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 better compliance when wearing. We like that it comes in a two-pack, so you have one to wear while the other is washing or you have one for 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" (perhaps a result of being polyester). This mask style isn't for everyone, but it was a favorite for some testers, and no other mask would do. If your little one messes with their traditional mask or struggles with the ear straps they usually have, we think a gaiter mask is worth a try. The filter on this option makes it a unique standout in the gaiter market, which are typically very thin and only one layer.
The Protection Respirators for Children mask is a multi-layered mask with a filter pocket, activated-carbon filter, and a face valve. This mask has form-fitting features, including a chin shelf, moldable nose clip, and adjustable ear straps, which help provide a customized fit for most children. Our testers liked the fabric's feel and that the masks 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 will get hot, resulting in chronic mask fiddling. They are also on the smaller side, and no amount of adjustment will make them 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 of contenders.
If you're struggling with kids fighting to wear masks because they aren't comfortable, the CoRevival Kids Masks are ridiculously comfortable. This pack of 2 masks are jersey t-shirt material cotton that are ultra-soft and comfortable against your skin. They include a nose flap that sits on 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 every time. We appreciate that they are machine or hand wash. These masks fit testers from around 6 years old to a narrow adult face well.
These masks are only 2 layers and have no pocket for additional coverage. While not a deal-breaker, we look for 3 or more layers, if possible, to provide the maximum amount of potential protection. 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 around.
The 1+10 Cartoon Mouth Cover kids' mask is a cute, washable mask with a filter pocket and ten carbon-activated 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. 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 makes totals seven layers of protection.
This mask is on the smaller side, and while it fit our ten-year-old testers 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. This mask is a great option with quality features and a customizable fit that makes it an excellent choice for most kids under ten years old.
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 a pack of two to wash one 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 little ones younger than seven as the mask might ride up and into their eyes. It is also sort of boring compared to the competitors, but this could be a good thing if your child is too "cool" for kid-centric designs. Overall, this mask has a lot going for it, but testers weren't impressed by the boring design. On the other hand, parents loved the form-fitting features and the filter pocket for added layers of protection.
For a 3D design that doesn't suck into your face even a little, the Inscape Data Masks are a standout style. This pack of 3 masks have 3 layers of filtration, 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 fewer air gaps. These masks fit well under the chin, are hand washable, and had no smell.
While we love the 3 layers of protection built into this mask, the lack of a bendable nose piece means there are significant air gaps around the nose and eyes. This design makes them less suitable for wearing glasses and potentially allows unfiltered air inside the mask. Our kid tests also struggled to put these on correctly, as the shape makes it hard to know which end is up. Also, these masks come in various sizes, so pay attention to 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 have a place in your lineup.
The Woplagyreat Reusable Masks is a pack of 4 masks for kids with a variety of different patterns available for little ones to express themselves. 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 inner layer is cotton, the outer layer is polyester, with a non-woven inner layer.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.
This cool pack of 5 masks includes a washable mask for every school day in the week. The pack is designed to help little ones avoid using the same mask every day without washing, for better mask hygiene overall. 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 you want a straightforward reusable mask with a hint of cute, the Grifil Reusable with Filter Pocket is a good bet. This soft cotton mask is washable, reusable, and has a small filter pocket for carbon-activated filters. This mask fits younger users well, not shifting when talking or running; it managed very few gaps even without the form-fitting features we prefer.
This mask is only two thin layers without the filter, so we recommend always using a filter, which means a reoccurring cost. However, buying filters is cheaper than buying more masks. While the jury may be out on filter efficacy, it does provide additional layers that have been proven to be more effective. Overall, kids liked this mask for the soft material and the cute kitty face—parents like it for the filter pocket and relaxed wash-n-wear style.
If quirky humor is your thing, the CIKIShield Face Mask comes with a variety of 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 teeth. Testers thought the mask was 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 but also provides more protection than single or double layer masks. Overall, we think these masks are fun and suitable for some 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 some 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 solution for kids to wear on a daily or regular basis, we do 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 non-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 pulled 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 along with Wendy's expert analysis of mask construction, quality, durability, and potential longevity.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased and tested each mask hands-on compared to the competition. We considered a variety of metrics designed to help parents find a mask their child will willingly wear without a fight.
Fit and Comfort
Fit can impact how effective a mask can be at doing its job and whether or not your little one tolerates or enjoys wearing the mask. Three primary things influence the fit and overall comfort of a kids' mask: 1) the ear straps, 2) a moldable nose piece, and 3) what we call a chin shelf. After much testing, we think some of the best masks offer moldable nose parts, a chin shelf, and adjustable ear straps.
The most comfortable mask in the group is the DropSkip Masks. These masks are silky smooth and so skin-friendly. They include the 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. 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 in our tests, users thought it was super comfortable, and the air gaps were minimal.
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 let in air and to provide a somewhat customizable fit. We think nose pieces are an important component for preventing masks from moving up on the face and into the eyes, a problem we saw with some of the larger masks and those without the moldable piece. Fabric rubbing on your child's eyes is going to result in much 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). While not necessary, we found the masks that included a chin shelf were deemed 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. 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 the user 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. 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, like the Grifil Reusable with Filter Pocket mask with the kitty face, which was well-liked by testers, 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. They can also adjust 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, they 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, and some studies indicate they are potentially less effective. 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 do 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 offer more layers). A combination of the two with a good fit is best. Most filters are listed as "PM 2.5," which means it 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 took some finagling, like the tiny opening on the Grifil Reusable with Filter Pocket which is akin to a women's swimsuit top with a removable breast pad.
A Note About Valves
Several of the kids' masks in this review 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 allowing the release of the hot air we exhale. When placed over the filter media, it allows for the intake and exhale 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 masks we tested with a valve 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 air and when you exhale air.
In our tests, kids couldn't tell the difference between the masks with or without a valve feature. Or at least they weren't able to articulate their experience with this feature. However, when adults used the masks, those with the valve did seem to provide easier breathing and prevent the buildup of hot moist air inside the mask. We liked every option with the valve, but older testers enjoyed the Meltblown Non-Woven Cloth Masks, while younger testers preferred the 1+10 Cartoon Mouth Cover and the Protection Respirators for Children. Valve or no valve, all of the options 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.
Wearing a mask is now a part of daily life for many kids. Whether it is going to pick up groceries or returning to school and other activities, our tests show that kids prefer masks they can comfortably wear for long periods without disruption to 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." We hope our hands-on testing helps you find the best mask option for your little one and your wallet.
— Wendy Schmitz