Do you wear a face mask or don’t you? Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers guidance that if you live in a community with medium or high levels of Covid-19, you should continue to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator (you can check local levels here). However, the Kraken variant is still spreading, and colds and the flu have continued to circulate. Local authorities can require mask wearing too.
A good face mask is a critical tool in helping slow the spread of Covid-19. We’ve been outfitting our kids and adapting our practices as new, science-based recommendations emerge. These are some of the masks, and masking practices, that I and other WIRED staff members are using. Keep a mask on, but remember to stay at home when possible, increase ventilation in indoor spaces, get tested regularly, and maintain at least a six-foot distance from others in public (preferably outdoors).
How We Pick Masks
The materials-testing organization ASTM International also recently published the first-ever manufacturing standards on what constitutes a good face covering in a workplace setting. Based on these guidelines, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health now recommends that if you’re going into the office, you use a mask that meets the ASTM’s minimum Workplace Performance Guidelines.
This is a list of manufacturers who have self-reported that their masks now meet the new workplace guidelines, based on their own testing. It’s important to note here that these masks are intended for nonmedical settings, and if you are high-risk or protecting a high-risk individual, we still recommend an N95. The surgical masks below follow a separate ASTM standard. Generally speaking, reusable cloth masks will be less effective, but make sure any mask that you wear follows the recommended guidelines from the CDC, fits well, and is clean.
We’ve included some tips on mask care and choosing the best kind of mask straps at the end of this list. Be sure to check out our guide to the Best N95, KF94, and KN95 Face Masks, the Best Face Masks for Kids and How to Prevent and Treat Mascne.
Updated February 2023: We updated our guidance to reflect current information and checked prices and availability.