In ranking the most effective face coverings, researchers at Duke University recently found that disposable face masks, or three-ply surgical face masks, were the second most reliable option after fitted N95 masks. Cotton face masks that cover your nose, chin, and mouth rank a close third at blocking respiratory droplets from floating through the air and reaching others, with neck gaiters and folded bandanas being seemingly worse than not wearing a face covering at all.
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to use a face mask when you’re unable to social distance, and many states considering reopening schools, we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an upswing in demand for disposable face masks. Often sold in bulk packs of 25 and 50, they can be easily distributed to large groups of people.
After months of wearing face masks, we know that breathable cotton and silk options are more cost-effective over time—but with daily use, ear loops rip, nose wires warp, and fabric stains, sometimes all you want is something easy and effective. And keeping a reserve of disposable face masks in your car, bag, or pocket can be a smart move when in a pinch. With so many top-rated options out there, there’s no excuse not to mask up. Shop seven of the best disposable face masks, below.