6 Exercise-Friendly Face Masks And What To Look For When Buying One

There are a couple of things to consider.


Yamkela Mdaka |

One of the best gifts we’ve received since the South African national lockdown began back in March is being allowed to exercise outdoors again. Who knew that something so small could feel like such a refreshing escape? But as the old saying goes: “Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.” So let’s talk masks…

Our responsibility is to make sure that we protect ourselves and the people around us when we’re out sweating. Fortunately for us, the only real responsibility is to make sure that you’re wearing a mask… And social distancing… Not exercising in groups… Plus keeping your hands clean and touching as little as possible. But, yes, masks! It’s also mandatory to wear one, so there’s that.

Exercise masks: what to look for

There are a couple of things to consider when you’re not just wearing your mask to grab groceries, but rather for a sweat-fuelled exercise mission. The fabric should be moisture-wicking. So it draws moisture away from your body. Most of the time, this will be polyester. This will most likely be listed in the product description of the product or on the pack (if you’re not buying online).

But, if your skin is easily irritated, it might be a better option to go for something that’s predominantly cotton instead.

“While synthetic materials may be more effective at filtering air, they’re also harsher on the skin,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner explained in an interview with Women’s Health.

READ MORE: This Is What Running In A Face Mask Does To Your Skin

“If you are outdoors, a [predominantly] cotton mask may be a better option for you, because natural fibres like cotton are much gentler and less likely to harm the skin.”

It’s important that your mask is breathable and sits comfortably around your ears. Adjustable straps are best for exercise because you can choose how tightly or loosely the mask fits around your head.

You can also go for a mask with a replaceable filter and 3D design. The filter essentially acts as an added layer of protection. And the 3D design allows the mask to fit better around your lower-to-middle face. The 3D design is especially important if you wear any types of glasses – it helps prevent them from fogging up when you breathe (if you know, you know!).

Fitness-Friendly Masks:

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First Ascent Double-Layer Fabric Mask

R 69.99

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This mask is 100% polyester so it’s both moisture-wicking and breathable. It’s also made with an anti-microbial inner, meaning it offers protection against bacteria and other hazardous microbes, while also extending the lifespan of the fabric. Plus, the print design makes it a great choice for any patriotic South African.

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K-Way MB1 Fabric Face Mask

R 225 for 3

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This K-Way mask is a good option if you want something versatile. It’s simple and will get the job done while you exercise. With adjustable straps, a moisture-wicking inner layer made from 100% polyester, and a removable filter that traps micro-particles, it ticks all the right boxes.

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Takealot Marble Triple-Layer Fabric Face Mask

R 172 for 4

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Not only are these creative masks a feast for your eyes, they’re also super breathable. Made from polyester (moisture-wicking fabric), they have adjustable straps and are made up of three layers for that added protection. If you’re looking to make a statement on the streets while still exercising comfortably, this one is for you.

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Salomon Balaclava

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Alternatively, swap out your mask for a balaclava. This one from Salomon offers full coverage, and will fit super comfortably on your face. The only downside: depending on the time of day you’re exercising and the weather, it might get a little hot in there, but otherwise a balaclava is an all-round winning option. Note: These Salomon balaclavas are out of stock right now, so contact the store to pre-order.

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Anatomic Three-Layered Face Mask

R 60 each (for 50-100)

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If you’re looking to do a bulk buy, these Anatomic face masks should be on your list. This three-layered mask is made with polyester, which is a great moisture-wicking fabric, and it’s nicely breathable. The adjustable straps ensure you can fit it to your face in any way you want, and it’s made with a filter pouch for added protection.

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Ciovita Four-Layer Sports Face Mask

R 300 for 3

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Local cycling apparel brand, Ciovita launched a range of face masks earlier this year (filters included). But, after seeing the need of their active audience wanting something more efficient for sport, they launched the 4-layer Sports Mask. The mask features high-tec fabric with a facial shaper, adjustable straps and a nose wire to improve fit for different face shapes. R300 per pack of 3.

#WHTestsIt The Ciovita Sports Mask

WH managing editor, Amy Hopkins, is an avid cyclist and runner and finding a mask that works for her sport has been, well, a challenge.

“I’ve tried various masks, which are suitable for shopping and walking. But when it comes to running and cycling, you need your mask to perform as well as you do. I basically just ended up using buffs, which I had cut up with ear holes and cut in half for length. The biggest problem, is that when you’re running or cycling hard, you end up sucking the material back against your face. I also found my buffs were getting very damp and soggy by the end of my run or ride.”

“Knowing the Ciovita brand from cycling, I was eager to try their newly launched Sports Mask. What attracted me to it initially was that it featured 4 layers (most other masks have 3 or less) for protection. The mid-layer is hydrophic – water-repelling – to limit moisture penetration. There is also a polyester mesh inner and outer layer with anti-microbial treatment, which eliminates odours. (More important than you may think when you’re breathing hard into a mask for more than an hour.)”

“Now let me talk about the fit. The mask has adjustable straps to tie around your head and loops for your ears, so it sits comfortably, but firmly on your head. The mask has a face shaper, which keeps the mask away from your mouth. This is by far the best element about it for me! I felt like I could breathe the whole time while running and the material never sucked back against my face (which can make some people feel claustrophobic). The mask also has a wire that runs along the nose. I never once felt like I had to adjust the mask during my run. Nor did it move around my face, causing irritation. I did sweat a lot, but, I was running hard, because I wanted to test its capabilities.”

“Overall, I really loved the experience. I felt like it was the first time I could actually run and breathe properly. I also like the colours.”

Watch this video of Amy testing the mask, here:

 

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@amy_hoppy takes the @ciovita sports mask for a test run. Her verdict: “I’ve tried various masks, which are suitable for shopping and walking. But when it comes to running and cycling, you need your mask to perform as well as you do. I basically just ended up using buffs, which I had cut up with ear holes and cut in half for length. The biggest problem, is that when you’re running or cycling hard, you end up sucking the material back against your face. I also found my buffs were getting very damp and soggy by the end of my run or ride. What attracted me to it initially was that it featured 4 layers (most other masks have 3 or less) for protection. The mid-layer is hydrophic – water-repelling – to limit moisture penetration. There is also a polyester mesh inner and outer layer with anti-microbial treatment, which eliminates odours. (More important than you may think when you’re breathing hard into a mask for more than an hour.) The mask has a face shaper, which keeps the mask away from your mouth. This is by far the best element about it for me! I felt like I could breathe the whole time while running and the material never sucked back against my face (which can make some people feel claustrophobic). The mask also has a wire that runs along the nose. I never once felt like I had to adjust the mask during my run. Nor did it move around my face, causing irritation. I did sweat a lot, but, I was running hard, because I wanted to test its capabilities. Overall, I really loved the experience. I felt like it was the first time I could actually run and breathe properly. I also like the colours.”

A post shared by Women’s Health SA (@womenshealthmagsa) on

A quick reminder on face mask etiquette:

  • Make sure your mask always covers your nose and mouth.
  • Don’t lower your mask when speaking, coughing or sneezing.
  • Never share your masks or its filters with anyone, including your partner/spouse.
  • Never, ever touch the inner side of the mask.

READ MORE ON: Coronavirus Fitness Fitness Advice