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5 Derm-Approved Hypoallergenic Cotton and Bamboo-Fiber Face Masks for People With Sensitive Skin

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Photo: Getty Images/Tony Anderson
With new COVID-19 restrictions in the works, (hello mandatory vaccine cards), hypoallergenic cotton masks and masks for sensitive skin is something we all need to talk about more. Not so long ago, we never would have guessed that masks would be part of our accessory game. Yet, here we are. While we need them to help curb the spread of COVID-19, they can lead to frustrating skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.

All of that direct friction between a mask and your skin can cause inflammation, dryness, and acne breakouts, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

However, mask friction isn't the only culprit of skin irritation. The material of the mask also has an impact on skin, especially for people with a history of eczema or skin allergies. Dr. Zeichner suggests avoiding synthetic materials like polyester and plastic fibers (commonly found in N95 masks), which contain chemical additives and tend to be more irritating than natural fibers.

"As a dermatologist, one of the most common conditions I treat are allergic and irritation reactions in the skin. This is commonly caused by dyes, fragrances, and elastics," says Dr. Zeichner. If you have sensitive skin, Sanjeev Jain, MD, PhD, allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy, also suggests steering clear of irritants.

When shopping for hypoallergenic face masks, Dr. Zeichner and Dr. Jain recommend sticking to masks made of natural fibers like cotton, which are softer on the skin and cause fewer allergic reactions. Be sure to choose one that has two or three layers of fabric for adequate protection.

To make mask-shopping easier, we put together this list of cotton masks suitable for everyone, especially those with sensitive skin.

Hypoallergenic COVID-19 face masks for people with sensitive skin

Madewell 3-Pack Assorted Adjustable Adult Face Masks — $10.00

This set of Madewell masks checks all the boxes in terms of fabric and construction. Made of 100 percent cotton, each mask is multi-layered and has a built-in filter. Plus, you can adjust the ear hoops for added comfort.

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SOKO Fashion 100% Cotton Face Mask — $5.00

If you have a petite face, try this double-layered mask made specifically for smaller faces. Each has a pocket for a filter, and you can add an optional nose wire. The handmade masks are available in 12 colors, but we’re partial to the goes-with-anything black.

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Vida Filtration Protective Cotton Mask — $10.00

Available in three different sizes for the perfect fit, these $10 face masks have two layers of 100 percent cotton. There’s also an extra support in the nose to help keep the masks in place.

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MaskUpForAll 3-Layer Organic Bamboo and Nano-Fibers Face Mask — $7.00

If masks often leave you hot and sweaty, try this moisture-wicking mask made of bamboo. It’s breathable, non-irritating, and has adjustable ear loops for a just-right fit.

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BestMaskBoutique — $5.50

The product of local vendors from Los Angeles, these have double quilting for the ultimate protection. Get up to seven in one pack or and choose between several different color combinations.

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