Roundtable: What Makes a Perfect Mask?

Masks: In just a few months, they’ve become an essential part of everyday life. And during those months, many of us have test-driven various types, from DIY styles fashioned, painstakingly, via YouTube video to designs made by many of our favorite brands who’d quickly incorporated charitable buy-one-get-one offers. In our experience: Mistakes have been made! Lessons have been learned! And we are slouching, ever so slightly, toward an understanding of what makes a good (read: safe, stylish, comfortable, functional) mask. Here, a handful of MR team members who self-identified as having “opinions about masks”—Amalie, Edith, Eliz, Jasmin, Mallory and Matt—discuss where we’ve landed and how we got there. Please do share your own takes in the comments!

Mallory: Hello everyone! Welcome to our roundtable discussion: What Makes a Perfect Mask? I will be MCing for no other reason than that will make it easier for me to edit this into a post.

Roll call: Can you drop a pic of yourself wearing your favorite mask and tell us why it’s working for you?

Matt: omg hello hello hello

brb taking a pic

Jasmin: Yoohoo! This is me in my Steele Canvas x Food52 mask purchased from Eliz’s mask story in May. It was a ‘buy one give one’ situation.

It has thick, soft lining inside and denim (?) on the outside. It’s comfy and has adjustable ear straps, and even though it’s heavy, it’s not too much in the heat.

I have some cuter linen ones, but this one is softer on the cheeks

Mallory: Wow yeah I was going to ask about how it’s doing in the heat—it looks nice and sturdy which I have liked in a mask so far

Jasmin: Sturdy is a good word for it, feels like nothing is exposed around the sides


Jasmin: Hi Matt, cute top! and mask

Mallory: Sporty spice!!

Matt: Hahahha YES. So, now that sporty spice reference is the number one reason this mask is working for me. But other reasons include that the ear straps are elastic and haven’t stretched out yet and keep a snug fit without being super restrictive. The fabric is light and breathable but feels like it’s substantial and there is a built-in pocket for a filter, which I appreciate from an added layer of protection perspective.

I really like it and also the cut-out on the nose area has been the key difference for me and other masks I’ve tried

Matt: It makes it feel a little less like my whole face is covered / constricted

Mallory: @Matt oh that’s cool about the filter pocket. Have you used it yet?

Matt: Yes! I got some filters in my order from another mask, which I ultimately swapped out for the adidas one, but still used the filters and they fit

I also read that you can apparently use coffee filters for an effective DIY filter sitch?

Eliz: I read that too!

Matt: Don’t know how fact-checked that is though

Eliz: This article says “Missouri S&T research found three layers of coffee filters by themselves without fabric removed 24.1% of relevant particles…. There’s no harm in adding one to your mask.””

Mallory: Love that pattern, Eliz. Is it an around-the-ear style or tie?

Eliz: I need the ties—my ears hurt so much otherwise. This one’s super lightweight and I don’t sweat in the heat with it on. Also very easy to wash and dry. I tie it in the back of my head! Way more comfortable

It’s by a friend of mine who is hand-making them

Amalie: Have you guys seen that Christy Dawn Instagram ad?

Eliz: I haven’t, but I know they make sustainable ones

Amalie: I feel like they’re the only brand I’ve seen advertising masks on IG (they’ve overlaid a posi review from Vogue on the ad from this article)

Anyway, my friend Jamie had a pack of five and gave me one

Eliz: Omg, I’ve seen SO many ads

(I think it’s bc I did so much market work for the mask story so my targeted ads are at a high)

Amalie: It’s made from deadstock material, cute asf, and really lightweight. I had a jersey mask my mom sent me from Etsy for the longest time and it just wasn’t cutting it on these hot days. No face swamp here.

Edith: Amalie, thanks so much for bringing up the topic of Instagram-promoted masks.

I recently had the pleasure of this mask catching my eye on my Discover page

Amalie: Edith stop

Matt: omg wait

Mallory: @edith sending the mask convo into a tailspin so early

Edith: The transparent mask is a contentious topic, but one I can get on board with if only because of the transparent mask’s role in our cultural mythology

(This will be quick re: tailspin)

Not sure how many of you are familiar with the Detroit Pistons 2004 roster, but Rip Hamilton was a prominent player on the team and had an iconic clear-mask look

Photo incoming

Edith: He had to wear this after breaking his nose twice in order to prevent significant nasal reconstructive surgery. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to look as cool as Rip

Now is my chance

Jasmin: I feel like the clear mask should come with some built-in digital technology, like it should at least be tracking my steps or double as a microphone or something

Matt: or let you do fun voices

Mallory: Rly wish you’d been able to order in time to contribute a selfie

Amalie: Apropos of almost nothing, I feel like I should share this:

@jessssthabest2Oh no they didn’t!!😂😂😂 ##fyp ##foryourpage ##lol ##missrona2020♬ original sound – aangeliquee.p

Sound pls on the video

Jasmin: hahahaa so good

Edith: This is my other errant mask thought

Do you think someone has already invented a mask that has like a SK-II sheet mask as its inner lining? If not, seems like a huge opportunity

Matt: LOL

Jasmin: Edith, trademark that idea now!

Mallory: Wow this does feel very untapped

Eliz: I sometimes wear acne spot patches under mine!

Nobody would ever know

Jasmin: Mask-ne (mask acne) has been a very real thing for me

Whilst my upper face has thrived with lack of make up over lockdown, my lower face took a hit

Mallory: Same! Sweat is a big contributing factor to breakouts… trapped sweat? forget it

Here’s my fave mask:

Eliz: What brand is that?

Mallory: It’s from the denim brand 69

Eliz: oooo

Eliz: I love this denim ruffle one they make

Mallory: The cutest thing about it is that I’d been looking at this mask since the day they came out but did not buy yet because I haven’t really been buying things… and then I met up with my friend at a protest and he brought it for me as a present, not even knowing that I wanted it!

Unless I DMed him about it and forgot, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t know

Edith: I hope your friend also gives you the boots

Mallory: If you’re reading this, Joe….

But anyway I love this mask bc it’s a substantial fabric, but not cumbersome at all. Fits really nicely and easily. And as someone who wears a lot of simple basics for the most part, the tie dye is like my little moment of flair that still kind of goes with everything

The tie dye does make it feel like a distinctly summer mask though

Eliz: 100% of profits from Mallory’s goes to ACLU and Color of Change

Do the elastics not hurt anyone else’s head? They give me a headache

We shot a summer quarantine hairstyle story on my roof last week and the models + I were all talking about how much they hurt

Mallory: I have a mask I made from a bandana and hair ties and that one kinda bothers me

Eliz: Like even the really stretchy ones—I get a headache within 10 min

Mallory: Sensi ears


Amalie: I like yours a lot, Mallory. It’s a good neutral.

Genuinely displeased none of us own this

Mallory: Ok, so Eliz are you the one advocate for the tie-back mask then?

Eliz: Yes 100% need the ties. It’s why I kindly separated by type in the mask story

Mallory: What’s your secret for making it not a pain? Doesn’t your hair get messed up?

Eliz: OK so what I do is… I actually tie it above my ears but down around beneath my hair with the little nose wire, it stays in place

The gingham one I have is perfect for that. So are these from Baggu

Mallory: Ok, I may still be too lazy for that, sad to say. Time for a quick poll: Does the perfect mask require a nose wire?

Jasmin: I haven’t really used a nose wire, but now I feel like I’ve been missing a trick for four months

Matt: Conceptually my vote is “agree” but then I just realized the adidas one does not in fact have one and now I’m confused lol

Eliz: Nose wire so important!!!

hahahha Matt

Matt: Nose wire is important for glasses and sunglasses for sure; I feel like they have provided the only solution to mitigating breath fogging  and temporarily blinding myself while masked

Eliz: BUT I think they’re more imp for the ones w ties than the elastic ones?

Jasmin: I actually googled nose wires just to confirm what it looked like

Eliz: It’s hidden!

I wonder if this one would be comfortable because of the little adjustable thingies:

Mallory: Have you guys seen any crazy / interesting masks out on the street? Any ones you keep thinking about?

Eliz: I saw a newspaper print one and then found this on Etsy

I’m a fan

Amalie: I saw someone with something like this and can’t stop thinking abt it

Mallory: I saw some people at the Bushwig event wearing masks that had one protective layer and then a layer of fringe on top—it was a really cute/fun party mask look.

Matt: Oh thatttt is fun

Jasmin: I’m quite intrigued by these ones with a straw hole!

Mallory: @jasmin Yeah at first I thought the straw hole was probably not safe but in practice it makes more sense than pulling down your mask entirely?

Eliz: Also it’s a flap so I think it still blocks

Edith: I saw someone on my bike route wearing one that was the same shade as their face and it was as jarring as seeing someone from afar wearing a flesh-toned shirt and thinking they’re topless

Mallory: @edith Oh yea—but in this case like their features have been erased. Nightmarish!

Mallory: Ok another question: Excited is definitely not the word… but are you some version of excited about your fall or winter mask situation? Like, are you thinking about how you’ll switch up your style for that?

Eliz: No

I absolutely hate these things but at least in the colder weather it won’t be swampland

Jasmin: I haven’t starting thinking about it yet, esp because I haven’t found a more lightweight mask to run or cycle in for the current season

Eliz: There is no world for me where I am giddy about styling a mask

Edith: I am looking forward to seeing how the mask looks over my balaclava


Jasmin: Maybe we actually will just be wearing balaclavas

with a straw hole

BUT  feel like they will be quite pleasant to wear in winter, esp when it’s really cold. Might be quite cozy actually

Mallory: Yeah I got kind of excited about the idea of a really warm and soft mask… sorrrrrryyyyy

Eliz: Yeah! Remember at the start when it was still cold out? It kept my face warm

Amalie: I like the idea of having a wool face mask or something honestly

Eliz: I don’t like the lack of expression from passerby

Mallory: Maybe Edith will let you borrow her clear mask

Mallory: After she hand-washes it at the end of the day, of course

Edith: Seems easier to sanitize than the other options

Eliz: No, I’m fine covering my expressions up. I’ve seen those memes about RBF being hidden w the mask—that’s me

Mallory: My friend and I did a smizing test the other day where we tried to guess whether the other person was smiling

Mallory: It went well, we both guessed correctly each time

Mallory: Ok ok, final question, wrapping up here: What mask are you currently ogling and what do you like about it?

Eliz: This one—it looks high fashun and I like the adjustable straps. I have high hopes for them to not give me a headache. Also the clouds r cute (and it’s made by a black-owned brand).

Mallory: Maybe I should truly commit to mask-as-flair and go for this one, which I can’t stop looking at. It’s so sweet. Joe… if you’re still reading this… another present pls

Matt: I’m VERY into this mask approach

Amalie: This one because I’m baby grandma

Eliz: That is SO U AMALIE

Amalie: Hahaha. I know, I want

Mallory: Oh Amalie I saw another good, similar style

Amalie: Ahhh Judi!

Jasmin: I like these in either Mango or Sunshine for no other reason than I think they look cute and like Eliz, would match outfits!

Eliz: I linked to those!!! I like them

Jasmin: You did!

Mallory: And Edith?

Edith: Still ogling



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A post shared by Yanko Design (@yankodesign) on

Matt: Me too—I’m also ogling the Yanko mask now

Graphic by Lorenza Centi.

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This byline is used for stories that involved several Repeller team members, and company announcements.

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