Find Out If Your Face Mask Really Fits With This 3-Step Test

Photo: Getty Images/ Luis Alvarez
In these decidedly "unprecedented" and "astonishing" times, I now spend about an hour each day fussing with my face mask. My chosen COVID-19-combatting gear is a spandex blend that yanks my ears forward and leaves a red crease across my cheekbones that often leaves me wondering if my mask fits properly. It's a question Jennifer Horney, PhD, the founding director of the University of Delaware’s epidemiology program, has answered many times since March. And her 5-second test will help you test your mask's fit in no time.

"Wearing a mask that fully covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly against the side of your face is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by keeping the wearer from exposing others to their respiratory secretions," says Dr. Horney. By secretions, Dr. Horney is referring to the droplets—or large liquid bodies that get expelled from your mouth and nose when you talk, cough, or sneeze—and aerosols, smaller sprays that travel easily through the air. When your mask fits properly, researchers believe you have a 10 to 30 percent increase in protection against the virus, but that's only if your mask fits like a glove.

Experts In This Article
  • Jennifer Horney, PhD, epidemiology professor and founding director of the epidemiology program at the University of Delaware

According to Dr. Horney, testing your mask's fit is quick and easy. "Individuals should ensure their face covering fully covers their nose and mouth and fits snugly against the side of your face," she says. Nose covered? Check. Mouth covered? Check. Snug fit? Check. Congratulations! Your mask fits you like your favorite pair of leggings. Just make sure you're sporting the right material, still practicing social distancing, and washing your handsa lot. 

To help you tackle the task of finding a mask that fits snuggly to your face (arguably the hardest part of Dr. Horney's trifecta of recommendations), we rounded up three masks that will snuggle your face in the grocery store and other public places.

These masks will never make you wonder "Does my mask fit?"

1. Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask, $20

Photo: Amazon

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend picked up one of these masks at REI. Within seconds of putting it on, he wouldn't stop talking about how it was "the best ever" and "SO comfortable" and "feather-light." He's since ordered two more, so there must be something winning about the fit.

Shop now: Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask, $20

2. Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Masks 5 Pack, $30

Athleta's five-pack of masks is made for anyone who wants to coordinate their outfits carefully... or just loses their belongings in record time (guilty). Soft, breathable, and light, these will be your companions on runs, walks, and any other activity where you may work up a sweat.

Shop now: Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Masks 5 Pack, $30

3. Taylor Jay Cotton Face Coverings, $14.50

Photo: Taylor Jay

Taylor Jay's gorgeous masks are handmade in Oakland, CA from repurposed cotton. The color-blocked design leans into simple, calm-colored neutrals that will camouflage perfectly with your entire closet.

Shop now: Taylor Jay Cotton Face Coverings, $14.50

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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