Photo: Uniqlo/Hearst Newspapers
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In the last six months, I’ve written about face masks. A lot. Face masks have become a part of our new normal. You need one to go to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and the gym. Basically, you need a mask if you’re going to walk any into building. I’ve tried a lot of masks over the last few months and none of them seem equal to the Uniqlo face mask.
For a long stretch of time, I was using disposable face masks because my mom got a 500-count box from work and she was kind enough to share with me. I eventually made the switch reusable cloth face masks, since I didn’t want to keep producing so much waste with disposable masks. But I still wanted a breathable face mask I could wear, and none of them were satisfying.
I’ve worn bandanas fashioned into face masks, a number of masks that are sold on Etsy, and now, the Uniqlo AIRism face mask. It is, by and large, my favorite face mask. Obviously, I cannot review this mask from a medical standpoint. I’m an editor who works from home with her dog every day. This is entirely based on my own personal experience, but I hope to share a number of instances where this mask has treated me well.
This is the first cloth face mask I didn’t have to worry about my glasses fogging up. That is a mundane annoyance, I know, but still, a daily annoyance I’d rather avoid. With most other cloth masks, I found my glasses would fog up within the first few minutes of use, whether I was just sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be seen or running around the grocery store looking for paper towels. It got to a point where I was holding my breath half the time just to avoid the fog.
The first time I used the Uniqlo AIRism mask was for a nail appointment and I found I could breathe without my glasses fogging up, I was honestly afraid that I could breathe too well. Then I realized, I was actually just breathing normally for once in a mask instead of holding my breath. Still, I wanted to test the mask even further and see what it could do. I don’t want to work out in a mask, but can I run in one? The answer is yes… at least, I can run in this particular mask.
Let me add that I am not a big runner. I’ve run on-off for the last seven years, taking long breaks when my knee injury acts up. I’ll never run a marathon, but I’ve run a few half marathons in my life and have those participation medals to prove it. Still, it has been a while since I ran routinely. Like plenty of other people, I’ve gained the Quarantine 15 (not quite literally, but you get what I mean). So, for me, it is safe to safe, if my out-of-shape + exercise-induced Asthma self can run in this mask, so can you.
To really put the mask to the test, I decided to go for a run midday, on an 88-degree day. The sun was out, shining, and there was barely a cloud in the sky. There wasn’t much humidity, thankfully. Despite the heat, I found that running in this mask was not horrible. When I run, I prefer to do a short run (30 to 45 minutes), where I warm up with a walk, then do intervals of running and walking, for 90 seconds each. I found it was easy to breathe while running in this mask, again, despite being out of shape.
I also wanted to test out of this mask was a fit for any non-running cardio. I gave it a whirl by doing 50 jumping jacks, squats, burpees, mountain climbers, and toy soldiers. None of the cardio I threw at this mask was much of a match. I obviously would prefer to do all of these workouts without a mask, but if I want to go to an indoor gym, I’ll need a mask. And if I run in a crowded park, I’ll need a mask. So, it is a very good option to know that I can breathe in this mask while working out.
The AIRism face mask has a high-performance filter to keep you dry from splashes, with inner and outer materials that have been changed for improved breathability. The three-tier structure has a first layer of fabric that wicks away moisture, a second layer with a washable, built-in filter, and a third layer using an AIRism Mesh that blocks UV rays.
The Uniqlo AIRism face mask is available in two colors currently (white and black), with a gray color slated to release mid-September. Each color is available in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
Ana Suarez is the senior commerce editor for Hearst Newspapers. Email her at email@example.com.