12 Face Masks That Won't Hurt Your Ears
From tie-back styles to over-the-head options more, these masks are designed for prolonged, pain-free use.
Let's face it: As crucial as it is to protect yourself (and others) from the coronavirus by covering your nose and mouth with a mask, some styles are more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time than others. "While masks are extremely important for everyday use given the current environment, it is important that you find a mask that works for your ears," says Dr. Vishal Saggar of New York Dermatology Group. "Any masks that pull on the back of the ears or cause too much friction can lead to pain, soreness, and even breaks in the skin."
So, what should you do when you have to wear a mask for an extended period of time but don't want to deal with ear pain? "It is possible to alleviate the pressure around the ears altogether by using masks that tie around the back of the head or over the head," Dr. Saggar explains. "In addition to using tie-back masks, you can also lengthen the straps of your face mask with rubber bands, extenders, or straps to offload pressure."
Of course, the material a mask is made of also plays a critical role in how comfortable it is to wear. "Certain material components, such as plastic or rubber straps, may cause an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis in patients with particular sensitivities," Dr. Saggar says. "If this happens, it is important to reach out to a dermatologist immediately." Looking for a reliable face mask that won't hurt your ears? We searched high and low and rounded up several of our favorite pain-free masks for your perusal.
A Tie-Back Mask That Gives Back
The only thing better than a mask that doesn't hurt your ears is one that gives back to the community. Composed of soft, organic quilters cotton, this washable iteration—which comes in packs of three—fits over your head and ties under your ears for comfort; a portion of the proceeds goes to the Black Voters Matter Fund.
Shop Now: Baggu Reusable Mask Set, $32, baggu.com.
Silky and Adjustable
If you are looking for a mask that will feel smooth on skin and stay secure, look no further than this option. Its silk fabric is soft and comfortable and the ear straps are adjustable, so you can make it the perfect fit.
Shop Now: Slip Pure Silk Adult Pleated Face Covering, $39, nordstrom.com.
Easy Over Head
If you're in the market for a face mask that's every bit as comfortable as it is durable, try this over-the-head style. Made from dense, but breathable organic cotton twill, this eco-friendly option features a long elastic strap that you can customize to better fit the shape of your head. Secure it by tying a loop at the base of your neck.
Shop Now: Graf Lantz Anshin Organic Cotton Over Head Face Mask, $22, graflantz.com.
Know the Ropes
If you're searching for a comfortable option that you can adjust for a better fit, then we found the one for you. This mask is constructed of super soft jersey cotton; the top and bottom ties can be cut to your preferred length to ensure more personalized sizing.
Shop Now: TIMBUK2 Reusable Face Mask, $30 for set of three, timbuk2.com.
Why wear a potentially painful mask when you can don a secure, scarf-inspired style instead? Designed with two ties around the head, this tie-back, knit jersey scarf cover mask can be worn around the neck; pull it up to block your nose and mouth.
Shop Now: Amadi Tie Back Scarf Mask in Blue Tie Dye, $24, amadi.com.
Few fabrics feel more soft to the touch than silk, which is why it's a great option for a mask. These reusable iterations are made of 100-percent doubled deadstock silk and feature tie straps. They're washable, secure, and pleasant to wear for long periods of time.
Shop Now: Christy Dawn "The Sustainable Mask" in Adult Silk, $28, christydawn.com.
Soft and Stylish
For a fashionable mask that won't put any pressure on your ears, consider a cotton voile style in a sweet pattern. Each of the reusable face masks in this three-pack set boasts two foot-long tie-back strings for added comfort—and come in an array of cool colors and prints to boot.
Shop Now: MISA Three-Pack Face Masks, $25, misalosangeles.com.
Make a statement with this comfortable tie-back mask, emblazoned with a floral print and striped bow ties.
Shop Now: Clare V. Bowie Masks in Lilac Floral, $19, clarev.com.
Traditional bandanas are not as effective as masks—but this option is decidedly unlike the rest. Complete with an embedded nano-fiber filter that blocks harmful contaminants, this bandana is also composed of patent-pending antimicrobial fabric.
Shop Now: Inex Gear The Better Bandana v2 in Woodrose, $30, inexgear.com.