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Best Kids Masks for the New School Year

Complete your back-to-school shopping with these highly-rated protective masks for kids. The key is finding a good, comfortable fit.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Kids MasksFamily Handyman, Via Retailers

How To Choose Masks for Kids

As parents scramble to get kids prepped and ready for in-person learning during the ongoing pandemic, they’re “adding to cart” at lightning speed. It can be hard to find kid-sized masks that fit right and can be easily put on and taken off, especially for the littlest ones. This is important because the kids need to handle them themselves at school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal masking for teachers, staff and visitors to all K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. And speaking of, the latest reports suggest we likely won’t be seeing vaccines for the under-12 set until 2022. We based our picks on the current CDC recommendations for masking:

  • At least two layers;
  • Washable, if not a disposable KN95 or KF95;
  • Breathable fabrics;
  • Nose wires to prevent air leaks;
  • Large enough to be worn over the mouth and nose, but small enough to avoid gaps on the cheeks.

Note: The CDC clearly states wearing a mask will not raise C02 levels, even with tight fits.

Because the options are overwhelming, we narrowed the field to eight tested or highly reviewed favorites. Of course, the best mask is one that is available and wearable, so these aren’t the only options.

There’s even a Google Doc floating around to help you sort out which masks offer what. Note that you may have to get on a notification waiting list and be ready to shop at the drop of a hat. Hopefully, this will ease as school begins and kids are outfitted and ready to learn.

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Best Crowd Pleaser Masks for Kids

Old Navy offers kid-sized masks in pleasing styles for almost every age youth, for a nearly unbeatable price. The smallest sizes feature a contoured cotton face mask, stretchy earloops and laundry bag.

Adult active sizes come with earloop adjusters and nose wires that can be fitted down to a smaller or teen face. Pleated styles, made with 100 percent breathable cotton poplin, are triple-layer with adjustable ear loops.

We give top points to the Weddingstar Kid’s Washable Cloth Face Mask for its multiple layers of protection, adjustable drawstring ear straps, bendable nose clip and special dimensions just for kids. A fun assortment of designs that aren’t too cutesy will appeal to little kids and older children, too. Plus, this face mask is easy to clean.

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Best Masks for Teen Athletes

Buyers like Enro masks for their advanced filters, water-repellent fabric treated to inhibit bacterial growth, and cotton layer for increased breathability. The Active Tech masks are said to be great for athletic activities. Expect to put yourself on a waiting list for product drops, unless you get a lucky click.

One five-star reviewer on said, “I’ve run in them, and I’ve spent a lot of time in them. Very comfortable! A must have!!”

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Best Masks for Little Kids

We like these colorful Crayola Kids Face Masks for lots of reasons. They’re two-ply, per the CDC recommendations, and their adjustable drawstring ear straps fit kids ages three to 11. They’re color-coded for each day of the week, have a name tag and come with a handy mesh laundry bag.

Some testers noted they run a little small. That’s great for the smallest faces among us, but something to take into consideration when ordering masks for school kids.

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Best Variety and Customizable Masks for Kids

After cycling through a bunch of options, the VistaPrint Kids Face Mask rose to the top of the mask bin for many parents. They’re lightweight, comfortable, easy to adjust and offer a filter pocket — buy their filters, or others, or DIY your own. Plus, the fabric print options are endless because VistaPrint makes it easy to design your own mask.

“My 10-year-old son loves the look and feel of his camo-print mask so much he’ll actually wear his when masks are optional,” says Family Handyman editor Berit Thorkelson.

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Best Ethically Made Masks for Kids

United by Blue masks are made in a fair trade factory from hemp, organic cotton, Tencel and recycled polyester deadstock to reduce waste. And for each three-pack of masks ordered, the company donates one mask to the homeless in Philadelphia.

A filter slot between fabric layers allows for more protection. Activated carbon filters are available from United by Blue or through other sellers. Adjustable earloops help with fit and comfort.

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Best KF94 Masks for Kids

The four brands of KF94 masks at Be Happy are kid-sized with adjustable earloops and nose wires. (Learn the difference between KF94 and KN95 masks here.)

Buying in bulk can save some cash, as can going with a more basic style or color. But fashion-forward kids will find lots to choose from in patterns and colors here, too.

According to Twitter, epidemiologists are purchasing these for their own kids going back to school. And if the masks aren’t wet or ripped, they can often be reused by putting them in a paper bag and allowing them to sit for a few days.

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Best KN95 Mask for Kids

When searching out KN95s for kids, be sure you aren’t buying counterfeit. One way is to look for independent third-party testing.

The AireTrust Nano Mask fits kids’ faces, which is precisely why it’s in high demand. Featuring a Stanford-developed nano patent, it offers 99 percent filtration. It’s also mega lightweight and breathable, individually packaged (great for keeping safe and clean as an extra in a backpack) and adjustable at the ears and nose.

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Best All-Around Kids’ Masks

Happy Masks are the Holy Grail for parents with children returning to school. The five-layer protection, featuring a nanofiber membrane, offers a stunning 99.9 percent viral and bacterial filtration, along with breathability and lightweight flexibility.

Choose between just the mask — it has the thinnest profile and no trim — or more fashion-y ones with trim and designs. All come with adjustable straps and nose pieces. They can be washed up to 50 times without compromising the quality.

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Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.

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