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The Best Masks for 2022, Because We're Still in This... Situation

It's time to swap out the oldies with fresh KN95s, Japanese workwear masks, and variety packs with tie dye, camo, and beyond.
January 7, 2022, 4:45pm
The best face masks for fall 2021
Composite by VICE Staff

Ah shit, here we go again. Back to the masks, baby—which, for the record, we’re (begrudgingly) happy to don, especially since Omicron and Delta are duking it out and causes huge spikes in case rates, and we’re ~responsible citizens~ who care about our fellow humans. We admit that mask life isn’t quite the same as the Before Times, and we look forward to a maskless fall full of subway pole-licking and sharing joints outside the bar, someday. But for now, we might as well look cool and stay comfy while blockin’ out the germ spray.

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Just because we’re going to have to keep masking up for the foreseeable future doesn’t mean we’re saying “fuck it” and wearing schlubby, low-effort outfits in the new year. Masks can (and should) be sick, tight (to your face), and bold statement pieces that scream “I’m fashionable, and also not an Alex Jones fan.” In this category, we shine. Plus, all of our old masks from last year—and we’re not talking about surgical/disposable masks, which you shouldn’t be reusing, Brad—are old, out of style, and covered in a light smear of cigarette tar, makeup, and pimple blood.

This isn’t a guide on how to wear masks, or an explainer on why you should be covering your mouth and nose during a global pandemic—we’ve been around the COVID block, and we (hopefully) already know how this works. We’re just here to give you some non-fugly options for your 2022 ‘fits, from our favorite disposable masks to the best KN95 masks. 

The Best KN95 Masks

Ol’ reliable is hella on sale

You’ve heard the name, you know the face: The KN95s are back, and they’re ready to die harder with a vengeance. This 10-pack of KN95s (you know, the ones that block 95 percent of particles, hence the name) are more than 50 percent off, and are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to masks. 

You’re going for “fun construction worker” 

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Well, let us be the first to tell you—you’re nailing it. The only piece your ensemble is missing? A colorful KN95 mask to let everybody know you’re the main character foreman.  

WWDOLL

KN95 Face Mask (25 Pack)

Where is your mask?

We literally can’t see it. Depending on the color, these camo masks can take you from Swamp Loggers to Sporty Spice in a minute, and, lord, do we love a face with range. 

AHOTOP

Camo KN95 Face Mask (25 Pack)

To match all of the other black articles of clothing you own 

It’s a look, we know. But there’s something about a black KN95 that ties together every fit, especially if you have to pull up to a meeting or function looking like you are not dying inside. These are the masks of someone who does their taxes on time, grabs the back of your neck when they kiss you, and knows how to install a bidet. Can’t explain it, but we trust you. 

LEMENT

KN95 Face Mask (Black, 25-Pack)

The ones that look like they could be sold at Sephora 

Personally, we think “MASKC” has one-too-many consonants for its millennial branding, but we’ll let it slide, especially since the KN95s the company slings are pretty sweet. They come in a variety of color packs, from “spring hues” to earthy matte colors that, frankly, we haven’t seen since we left the Earthship in Taos. 

Maskc

SPRING HUES VARIETY KN95 FACE MASKS - 10 PACK

Are these face Yeezys? 

Damn. This is like streetwear for your mouth. The fact that there are coordinates on it also makes us feel like we’re oh so in-the-know of where all the cool shit is going down.  

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evolvetogether

Copenhagen khaki KN95 masks (Pack of 5)

The Best Disposable and Surgical Masks

You need to spice up your life

We get it, pal—we’re tired of denying strangers the stunning lower half of our faces, too. But one way of making mask-wearing a little more tolerable is by buying this “mystery box” 50 pack of disposable masks, with every conceivable pattern under the sun randomly packed into a fun, surprise experience. Mask roulette is actually kind of fun, and at 50 cents a mask, it’s a great deal.

WeCare

Disposable Face Mask Mystery Box (50 Assorted Masks)

Because Rainforest Cafe slaps

Why settle for one animal print mask, when you can be the whole herd? Catch us in six-inch heels with the giraffe print for, you know, consistency, and the cheetah print as an after-dark look, because this [winks in Fauci] is our life now I guess? 

IMYMAX

Disposable Face Masks, Leopard (50-Pack)

Blue jean baby

All roads really do lead back to denim. This blue jean-inspired mask comes in a lighter wash than its KN95 cousin, which is cute. 

Armbrust

USA-Made Surgical Masks

Because trash sucks

If you're grossed out by the waste being produced by all of the disposable masks on sidewalks and in trash cans around the world, check out H_llo Friend's new 99% biodegradable Bio Mask. It has a highly ~*~aesthetic~*~ origami design with an adjustable fit, is KN95-rated, and comes in five-packs with wild color options; that limited-edition gradient pack, wowee!  

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H_llo Friend

Bio Mask - Prints - 5-Pack

The sleekest disposie 

Yet again, Evolve has taken something as potentially blasé as a disposable face mask, and made it into something we want. It’s trying to look cool, and it’s working (because it’s not trying too hard).    

evolvetogether

milan - 30 black face masks

If your closet is full of Online Ceramics longsleeves

There’s definitely a way better selection of disposable mask styles now than at any other time during The Pandemic; no longer are we limited to just depressing, sterile medical blue (no disrespect to our fearless healthcare workers that are beholden to this unfortunate color) and instantly dirty white. No, no; now we can even get a 50-pack of tie dye disposable masks for cheap, and happily sport it alongside our socks with sandals.

WeCare

Printed Disposable 3-Ply Face Masks - 50 Pack

The Best Washable, Reusable Masks

Recent studies show that cloth masks aren’t really cutting it when it comes to Omicron—their efficacy varies widely and can’t be relied upon, so it’s best to upgrade to surgical or N95 masks for use on transportation, in stories, and in other public areas, if you haven’t already done so. However, cloth masks are still better than nothing, and offer some protection, especially when used with a filter insert. This is all to say: Cloth masks are still an option for some activities, but not a great one. Proceed with care, caution, and common sense.

If you like matching all your 'fits

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Vida's super-comfortable cotton masks have adjustable straps, so your ears won't be grouchy, and that little wire nose piece we love so that your glasses don't fog up. But best of all, they come as singles, pairs, or in a five-pack with a range of colors to match every mood/vintage band shirt, and come with a removable filter that catches 99 percent of airborne particles, so you can pop it out to take a walk, and back in if you're gonna be in a crowded movie theater or whatever. 

Vida

99% Filtration Protective Cotton Mask (Pair)

If you have a big head and no masks seem to fit right

There's a lot to like about H_llo Friend's masks—including the wide array of color combos, five-layer FilterTech® liner, and breathable, recycled shell with an antimicrobial finish. But perhaps best of all, the brand's masks have convertible straps that can be worn over your ears or behind your head, and come in actual sizes from S to XL, so those of us with giant noggins can customize accordingly. 

H_llo Friend

The Ultra Mask 1.0

You’re cosplaying as a train conductor

And you’re doing great, sweetie. This stripy, fitted mask from the purveyors of classic bags and backpacks features three breathable layers, a soft liner, and a center sleeve that fits a standard air filter.

Herschel

Classic Fitted Face Mask

Be safe, friends.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.