August 12, 2021

Is organic cotton good for face masks? Pros and Cons

Organic cotton, is it good for face masks? The short answer is yes! We all want to wear face masks that are breathable, look good and don’t irritate your skin. But they still need to be effective. 

It can feel like a balancing act, finding the best face mask that offers both comfort and protection. It’s almost unavoidable that you are going to have to wear a face mask when out and about, forcing you to plan ahead so you don’t get caught out. Yet finding the right face mask really doesn’t need to be so hard. 

Not all face masks are created equal. Some focus more attention on comfort, others style, while others prioritise protection. You can buy masks for exercise, wearing to work, as a fashion accessory or even masks that prioritise sustainability. If you are looking for the best sustainable or ethical face mask made in the UK we have selected our favourites here. 

Face masks shouldn’t be confusing, which is why we are answering basic questions around what makes organic cotton good for a face mask. But first let's start with the basics.

Why do you need to wear a face mask? What does a face mask do? 

Unless you’re wearing a medical grade face mask, face masks are primarily designed to prevent you from accidentally spreading disease to others if you are an asymptomatic carrier. 

Even if you don’t think you have it, you can be an unknowing carrier. By wearing a fabric face covering, you could help prevent the spread of disease by 50 to 100%. 

Why do you need to wear a face mask? What does a face mask do

What type of face mask is best?

TheCentre for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that the best masks protect users from spreading water droplets into the air and to others nearby. The best quality protective masks are surgical grade medical masks, followed by tightly woven 100% cotton. 

The best masks cover your nose and mouth entirely, and are secured tightly to your face. Elastic straps are a must to ensure the mask stays firmly against your skin. The best masks also have a metal nose seal that you can shape to fit snugly around your face.

Look for protective features, these are normally clearly stated on the product. Lightweight, thin or cheap looking masks might not offer the protection that you desire. Instead search for multiple layers of fabric, a nonwoven filter layer or pocket to add a disposable filter. 

Type of face mask

Is cotton breathable for masks?

Yes, cotton is breathable to use as a face mask, whilst also being more effective than many other fabrics. Look for multiple layers of tightly woven cotton, these will still be breathable while offering the maximum protection from a non-medical grade mask. 

Is cotton breathable

When should you not buy cotton face masks? 

Cotton face masks are breathable, comfortable masks designed for the everyday. There are nevertheless disadvantages of cotton masks. Cotton is a highly absorbent fabric, and on hot days this moisture can evaporate easily. 

However if you are using cotton masks for exercise, the fabric will absorb your sweat and stay wet. If you are looking for a mask to exercise in, look for a performance fabric that will wick moisture from your face quickly such as spandex or polyester. 


When you should not use a cotton face mask

How do you make a mask more bearable?

We don’t need to tell you that wearing a mask can become awkward, if not unbearable, especially if you have to wear one for hours. There are a few easy tips to make mask wearing more bearable.

Start by buying one that is comfortable to wear. This sounds obvious, but don’t just rush into buying one because you like the design. If you have to wear it for hours, the fit and material are important to consider. 

Cotton is breathable, but cotton wicks moisture less quickly than exercise focused performance masks made from polyester. Also make sure it has adjustable straps or toggles so you can change how tight the mask feels. 

Schedule breaks from wearing your mask in whatever way you can. This is not only good for your sanity, it’s also very good for your skin. Oils, breath and sweat can build up over time and leave your skin feeling blotchy. 

Try taking breaks from your masks somewhere safe and out of contact from others. It’s also best to wash your mask regularly - a good reason why you should be buying a reusable face mask.  

How do you make mask bearable

How many reusable face masks should I buy?

If you use your mask less regularly, you may only need 1 to 2 face masks. However if you are wearing a face covering every day and exercising in one, you may need 4 to 6 face masks. 

There’s no harm carrying around multiple masks. If a mask is saturated from humidity, sweat or rain, it becomes hard to breathe. So keep your mask clean and dry to make sure they remain breathable. For the best breathability from your face mask, look for masks made from multiple layers (two to three ideally) of tightly woven cotton, cotton-polyester blends or linen materials. 

To remain as sanitary as possible, you should wash your hands thoroughly before putting on your mask. Once it’s on, try not to touch or adjust it as you're increasing the risk of contamination. It goes without saying then that once it’s on, don’t lift it up or uncover your nose when talking to a friend.

When removing your mask, try to do so by touching the ear loops or ties rather than the mask or filter itself. Wash your mask on a hot 60 degree wash to kill any bugs, and clean your hands thoroughly along with any surfaces the mask has touched. 

How many reusable face masks should I buy

Want to know more about sustainable or organic face masks? 

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