The best prevention is staying home. But, as things begin to open up, non-medical face coverings are more important than ever. They’re now mandatory at LAX, on buses, when entering shops for food pick-ups–and the places they’re required or recommended is only expected to grow. That means you’re going to need to buy a face mask.
What you want is a reusable cloth model, not the in-demand medical-grade N95 masks–those are still urgently needed by health care workers and shouldn’t be bought up by the general public. They may not be clinical, but when used properly, they provide a decent shield to keep your microbes in and other microbes out as well as fabric can.
To use Mayor Garcetti’s metaphor, one big football linebacker can run through an open door, but maybe a narrower door keeps out additional linebackers running side by side. Cloth masks, particularly those with multiple layers or replaceable filters, could help narrow your doorway. That added bit of protection just might be what keeps you and your community safe. Remember: wearing a mask is first and foremost about protecting vulnerable people around you, not a choice based on your personal risk tolerance regarding your own health.
If you’re budget-conscious or DIY-inclined, this no-sew tutorial will show you how to whip one up using things you probably already have on hand.
Hedley & Bennett
Hedley & Bennett has flipped its downtown production facility from aprons and chef gear to whipping up these sturdy (and stylish!) masks, developed in collaboration with an actual doctor. In addition to the cloth layers, there’s a pocket for a replaceable single-use filter to trap more bad stuff. For each purchase, one is donated to essential workers in need, from nurses to grocery store employees. $22, hedleyandbennett.com
Stylish L.A. jeans-and-tees brand Buck Mason is on a quest to donate a million non-medical masks to those in need. They’ll donate one for each one sold–so far they’re up to 195,395 given away. For $20, you get a pack of five cotton masks treated with an anti-microbial coating that lasts for 30 washes. $20; buckmason.com
A dramatic option (and best used in addition to a standard mouth/nose covering) these full face shields block droplets and UV rays. In partnership with RealSelf, the L.A.-based brand will be donating 6,000 clear versions to Cedars-Sinai and other hospitals, and will put additional donations toward more protective gear for medical workers. $38-$68; bluestonesunshields.com
Chic, sustainable local label Reformation is working with the City of L.A. to keep workers in its L.A. factory on the job, producing safety masks for essential workers and the public. The light, comfortable masks are made from the same fabrics usually used for their trendy dresses. Five for $25 or 250 for $1,000, thereformation.com
L.A. lifestyle brand and creative studio Goodfight is helping Angelenos fight COVID-19 with a chic face mask option. The mask works for the general public as-is, or can be used as an outer cover to extend the life of N95 masks in medical settings. $30; gdfht.com
Silver Lake-based Matrushka is turning colorful fabric scraps left over from clothing production into cheerful face masks. For each one purchased, they’re sending a second to front-line workers. $10; matrushka.com
This online shop features a huge array of options, from superhero graphics, cartoon prints, and lotería card motifs, to an uber-chic collection using fabrics from famed Italian design house Scalamandré. $14; maskclub.com
It must be a scary world for kids right now. The Happiest Place on Earth has recently released a collection of cloth masks in sizes for adults and kiddos. There are 18 styles in total, featuring beloved characters from classics like Mickey Mouse (obvs) to Star Wars-themed prints (including everybody’s Mandalorian obsession, baby Yoda). $19.99 for four; shopdisney.com
The original rhinestone cowboy, Nudie Cohn, made a name for himself in the 1950s with his bedazzaled and elaborately embroidered suits that became a wardrobe staple by some of country and western music’s greatest stars. Now, Manuel Cuevas, who took up the sparkly mantle after Cohn passed, is making one-of-a-kind studded masks worthy of (and recently sported by!) country music legends. By custom order; email [email protected] for details.
Brad Thompson is the Jasper Johns of designers: He’s known for flag prints on his garments and—now—face coverings. But BOA just wants to have fun: with banana prints, party goats, and crazy cat patterns. $40 for four; boausa.com
The designer was known for his bucolic patterned woven jackets, but since the pandemic his tapestry masks have stolen the spotlight. Fans say they build their outfits around them. $29; donkaka.com
Fashion brand Johnny Was has repurposed fabrics to create masks, and for every one you buy, one is donated to healthcare workers $25 for five; johnnywas.com
The SoCal vibe of Jeannine Braden, founder and designer of Le Superbe, is expressed through colorful floral, tropical, animal, and camo prints in this season’s bright summer hues. Some even feature her signature beaded trim. $15 at shoplesuperbe.com
Local designer Ripley Rader enlisted dozens of people to make a hundred masks in a single weekend. Her Look Good, Do Good campaign donates two masks to medical professionals for every one purchased. $22-$25; ripleyrader.com
Bijan, famous for over-the-top creations such as Paul Manafort’s blue ostrich jacket, produces these logo-emblazoned PPE face shields, made from recyclable plastic–and is donating proceeds from sales to first responders. $40; bijan.com
Designer Jodie Dolan created masks with stripes, chevrons, and cheery sayings like “Today is full of possibilities” and “Live in the Sunshine.” So far, the female-run company has
donated 50,000 masks to health care workers. $10; shopdolan.com
Venice shop Amiga Wild has whipped up masks for adults and kids. Check out its Art Deco dots, tiny hearts, and block prints. Each one has an inside pocket to hold a filter and is machine washable and dryer safe. $15; amigawild.com
Whimsical rainbows, ice cream cones, stars and stripes, and fish faces work for every member of the family (not just little ones). Our favorite print is money. Because money talks even when you can’t. $6.50-$12; kidsdreamus.com
DTLA-based Ari Jogiel developed what they term the “Vanguard Mask,” a face covering featuring antimicrobial fabric, a built-in filter, and adjustable straps that wrap across the back of the head, rather than irritating the ears. For each mask bought, customers can pick the hospital or organization to receive a donation. $26; jogiel.com
Inspired by neck gaiters worn for snowboarding and other sports, Everyday California created a line of lightweight face coverings sporting west coast-centric motifs, like golden poppy blooms, agave plants, and bears with surfboards. $15; everydaycalifornia.com