By now we all know to wear a face covering in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus—but even after months of acclimating, finding an actually breathable face mask is easier said than done. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy” during the pandemic, but exercising with a mask can make breathing even harder—especially as temperatures rise.

Truth is, the face mask or bandana you’ve been using to cover your face may not be the best for outdoor activities, which is why we reached out to experts for advice on what the most breathable face masks are for warm-weather recreation.

Consider the face mask’s fabric.

Because there’s been high demand for face masks, fashion and beauty brands have pivoted to create nonmedical face coverings by using recycled or excess fabric. Many activewear and swimwear labels have followed suit, repurposing performance materials from their own technical apparel in order to design options that can absorb sweat and offer UV protection—but the material that gets the job done is far more simple.

Choose “any kind of cotton because it’s breathable,” says Niket Sonpal, M.D., board-certified internist in New York City and adjunct assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. So while you may be tempted to buy a mask to match your leggings, “cloth and natural fibers are better,” Sonpal says. “Nylon, from a temperature standpoint, may be uncomfortable and wouldn’t provide as much ventilation as you’d hope.” Quilter’s cotton is even better, according to Sonpal: “It has a good 60% to 80% filtration compared to plain old cotton.”

What’s the deal with dropping your face mask while exercising?

“If you’re running and there’s no one around, it’s okay to drop your mask,” says Atlanta E.R. doctor Darria Long, M.D. “Duration of exposure is key, so unless someone were literally running behind you, anything that you exhale will be widely dispersed and make it unlikely that someone could be exposed to enough virus to be sick.”

What about balaclavas, bandanas, or neck gaiters?

As far as design goes, neck gaiters, balaclavas, and bandanas can be easier to pull up and down than masks with adjustable ear ties when exercising. All the experts we spoke to agree these makeshift masks can be a sufficient means of covering your face—as long as they’re fully secured and not slipping away from your nose and mouth as you move.

How often should you wash your face mask?

That totally depends on how much you sweat, so your best bet is to treat it like the rest of your exercise clothing. The benefit of having cotton is that it’s easy to wash, says Sonpal, both by hand or in the machine. You can easily wash your face mask in the sink with warm water and soap, or if you have a dedicated laundry day, you can “just have a couple and then batch them in a load,” says Long.

If you’re thinking about going to the beach…

You’re fine wearing the same type of cotton mask as you would for any other activity. However, if you’re going to be near the water, you have to be mindful that if it gets wet, it’s going to get less breathable and harbor more bacteria. “Wash and dry your face mask that same day,” Sonpal says, in addition to practicing social distancing when you’re in the water as an extra measure of protection.

With these recommendations, we rounded up some breathable face masks for running, biking, rollerblading, and whatever outdoor summer activity you have in mind. (P.S. If kids are coming along, here’s a resource on where to buy kids’ face masks.)

Breathable Cotton Face Masks With Ties

Adult Pleated Cotton Face Masks (6-Pack)

$24.00, Nordstrom

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Everlane 100% Human Face Masks (5-Pack)

$25.00, Everlane

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Cotton Face Mask with Nose Wire

$10.00, Etsy

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Splendid Face Coverings (3-Pack)

$28.00, Shopbop

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Everlane The 100% Human Tie-Dye Face Masks (5-Pack)

$25.00, Everlane

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En Saison 5-Pack Face Coverings

$38.00, Shopbop

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Floral Cotton Face Mask

$9.00, Etsy

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BaubleBar Adjustable Face Mask Set (2-Pack)

$12.00, BaubleBar

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Madewell Nonmedical Face Masks (3-Pack)

$20.00, Madewell

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Re/Done Upcycled Bandana Face Covering

$40.00, Shopbop

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LPA Protective Face Mask

$17.00, Revolve

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Shashi Face Mask

$11.00, Revolve

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Levi’s Reusable Reversible Face Masks (3-Pack)

$15.00, Amazon

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Baggu Fabric Mask Set

$32.00, Baggu

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Urban Renewal Gingham Seersucker Reusable Face Mask Set (2-Pack)

$18.00, Urban Outfitters

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Lucy Paris Face Mask

$7.00, Lucy Paris

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Vida Protective Face Masks (2-Pack)

$18.00, Vida

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Cloth Mask Replacement Filters

$12.00, Vida

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Polyester-Blend Face Masks With Ties

Reebok Face Covers (3-Pack)

$20.00, Reebok

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Adidas Face Covers (3-Pack)

$16.00, Adidas

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Buff Filter Mask

$29.00, Buff

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Buff Adult Replacement Filters (30-Pack)

$22.00, Buff

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Athleta Made to Move Masks (3-Pack)

$25.00, Athleta

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Athleta Girl Made to Move Masks (3-Pack)

$25.00, Athleta

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Cotton Citizen Tie Dye Face Mask

$50.00, Bandier

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HeyJanuary Soft Athletic Breathable Face Mask

$14.00, Etsy

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David Lerner Printed Face Covering 2 Pack

$28.00, Shopbop

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Beyond Yoga In This Together Face Masks (2-Pack)

$25.00, Beyond Yoga

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Adult Face Masks (4-Pack)

$20.00, Nordstrom

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Assorted 3-Pack Adult Face Masks

$25.00, Nordstrom

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Ablest Summer Daily Face Masks (2-Pack)

$18.00, Amazon

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All Access Leopard Face Mask

$15.00, Bandier

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UA Sportsmask

$30.00, Under Armour

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Carbon38 The Mask Kit

$29.00, Carbon38

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Michel Men Quilted Face Masks (3-Pack)

$90.00, Michel Men

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Onzie 2-Pack Protective Face Masks

$24.00, Revolve

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Neck Gaiters, Balaclavas, and Face Bandanas

Matek Gaiter Face Cover

$20.00, Amazon

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Buff Original Multifunctional Headwear

$20.00, REI

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Love Changes Gaiter Adult Face Masks (3-Pack)

$25.00, Nordstrom

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Neck Gaiter (6-Pack)

$27.00, Amazon

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Faybox Outdoor Headwear (6-Pack)

$16.00, Amazon

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Kalily Neck Gaiters (9-Pack)

$25.00, Amazon

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Summer Neck Gaiter

$13.00, Amazon

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UO Paisley Bandana

$10.00, Urban Outfitters

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Scough Reusable Face Mask Bandana

$39.00, Urban Outfitters

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UO Tie-Dye Bandana

$12.00, Urban Outfitters

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Bandits Organic Cotton Bandana

$20.00, REI

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Levi’s Multipurpose Bandana Gift Sets

$16.00, Amazon

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Madewell Bandana

$13.00, Madewell

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Riverside Tool & Dye Bandana

$48.00, Free People

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As news about the novel coronavirus pandemic rapidly evolves, Glamour is committed to bringing our readers the most accurate and up-to-date facts. As a result, information in this story and others like it may change, and we will update when necessary. For the most recent news about COVID-19, please visit the CDC, the WHO, and your state’s department of health.

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