Now that wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus are a normal part of our daily public lives, it’s time to think about which type of face covering works for you. Many are opting for alternatives to traditional fabric masks, including neck gaiters and balaclavas. But are neck gaiters – also called snoods or neck warmers – safe? And what are the best ones to buy?
Find the answers to all of your questions and keep scrolling – we'll tell you where to shop a variety of neck gaiters:
- Neck gaiters with filter pockets
- Neck gaiters with ear loops
- Sporty snoods
- Floral designs
- Designer snoods
- Cheap neck gaiters
And note that as of February 2021, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 'double masking' - wearing a surgical mask underneath any cloth mask or neck gaiter. If you need to know where to shop a disposable face mask, we've got you covered! Check out our story on where to buy N95, FFP2 and FFP3 face masks for increased protection against COVID-19.
RELATED: 9 sporty face masks to work out in
What is a neck gaiter?
A soft tube snood with ear loops to keep it comfortably in place – and it's anti-bacterial
Anti-bacterial snood face covering, also in grey, £15/$22, Accessorize
A neck gaiter is a fabric scarf that slips over your head and then covers your neck, mouth and nose. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, lightweight neck gaiters have been used as an alternative face covering to a standard face mask.
As face coverings become a main staple in our wardrobe, there are increasingly fashionable styles out there – like this two-tone reversible snood in leopard print, that you can find in the chic Oliver Bonas line of neck gaiters
Animal print jersey snood, £16/$23.50, Oliver Bonas
Neck gaiters have in the past been most commonly used in winter, for sports, running or riding motorcycles, and are often made of fleece, wool or synthetic materials.
Moko snood with ear loops and filter pocket, pack of 3, £12.99/$14.99, Amazon
Why do people choose to wear a neck gaiter as a face covering?
As more people find themselves having to wear a face mask for the first time, some have found that the standard mask is uncomfortable or they have problems staying cool underneath so prefer a neck gaiter because of breathability.
Others may simply like how a neck gaiter looks – and as a result, like silk or muslin scarves, neck gaiters have become a popular option when it comes to face coverings.
Lele Sadoughi face masks are a favourite with celebrities thanks to the brand's chic styles – check out this gaiter with faux pearls
Lele Sadoughi Jet Pearl Embellished Gaiter, £47.33, Shopbop
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Are neck gaiters effective to prevent the spread of coronavirus?
The general rule has been that any face covering is better than no covering. Any fabric which filters nose and mouth droplets that could potentially carry the virus is helpful, although effectiveness at preventing the spread ranges quite widely.For example, wearing a silk bandana provides a minimum of protection, versus a cloth face mask with a filter which is a much more efficient barrier.
After an August 2020 study sparked alarming headlines that snoods could be worse than no protection, Science News reviewed the report and concluded you "shouldn’t trash your neck gaiter". "The headline that neck gaiters can be worse is totally inaccurate,” University of California San Francisco infectious diseases specialist Monica Gandhi, told the magazine, adding that such headlines also "can turn people off of mask wearing, which we know can protect both the individual wearing the mask and those around them."
If you have maskne or sensitive skin, try a silk gaiter, like this one
Silk face bandana, £28.11/$38, Etsy
According to the University of California at Berkeley, fabrics used for neck gaiters or snoods are often thinner than materials used for standard cloth face masks. This means you will have improved breathability but a decreased ability to contain droplets that may spread the virus.
So be sure to double mask. There are also snoods made from antibacterial fabric, and even with filter pockets built in so you can add a disposable filter for extra protection.
Many prefer snoods to face masks because of comfort and breathability, like this warm but lightweight bamboo design
Bamboo handyband, £12.95, Seasalt
Of course, face masks offering the highest protection are N95 masks, which should be reserved for medical personnel or those who come in direct contact with people who are showing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19.
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Shop neck gaiters and snoods with a filter pocket
This pack of snoods comes with 20 PM2.5 filters, which will block pollution and add some additional protection against COVID-19
Pack of four snoods with filter pocket + PM2.5 filters, from £17.99, Amazon
If you want to ensure your gaiter is as safe as possible, you can choose one with a built-in pocket for a filter and ear loops
Neck gaiter with filter pocket, £13.25/$17.91, Etsy
Shop neck gaiters with ear loops
This face mask is Amazon's #1 in the Women's Multifunctional Outdoor Headwear category
Arkim Unisex neck gaiter, £7.99/$9.99, Amazon
Love Changes 3-Pack Gaiter Adult Face Masks, $27, Nordstrom
If you're looking for a good deal on snoods and neck gaiters, eBay is a great place to find bargains on face coverings
Unisex ice silk face covering, more colours available, from £4.96, eBay
With ear loops and a head tie, this gaiter has a face mask effect – it also has UV protection and is waterproof
Maskana UV50 Waterproof Gaiter Face Mask, £40, Wolf & Badger
Shop neck gaiters and snoods for under £10
An Amazon bestseller
Rockjock Multifunctional neck gaiter, available in 17 colours, £8.99 for pack of 6, Amazon
This neck gaiter is made from fleece and will keep your whole face warm.
iets Frans neck gaiter, was £16, NOW £4, Urban Outfitters
This fleece camo print look can be found at ASOS
ASOS DESIGN snood, was £10, NOW £3, ASOS
Shop print and floral neck gaiters
Another fashionable offering from Oliver Bonas, this time in a star print
Star print jersey snood, was £16 now £8, Oliver Bonas
Yes, you can even embrace the floral trend with your snood!
Imekis loral print neck gaiters, set of 4, from £12.74, Amazon
A soft and lightweight handmade snood you can find on Etsy
Floral Neck Gaiter, £16.99/$25.13, Etsy
Etsy has a host of fashionable neck gaiters, like this vibrant tropical print
Tropical print neck gaiter, £16.61/from $22.42, Etsy
Shop sporty neck gaiters
A soft fleece snood for workouts, made from sweat-wicking fabric. It also has a toggle tie at the back for a perfect fit
Nike Strike Winter Warrior snood, £16.95/$20, Nike
A neck gaiter made for cycling in a lightweight and practical design - and more colours are available
Biking neck gaiter, £3.49, Decathalon
Shop luxury designer neck gaiters
A cosy snood by the quintessentially British fashion house
Burberry Vintage Check Snood, £190/$240, Burberry
For the luxury fashionista, a high-end silk designer look
Takahiromiyashita The Soloist silk snood, was £985 now £561 / was $914 now $561, Farfetch
What is a balaclava?
For winter, many are searching for head-covering balaclavas, usually reserved for skiing or other cold weather sports. Balaclavas are a face and head covering that leaves only the eyes exposed, the full coverage differentiating them from snoods. While neck gaiters don't necessarily cover your head, tube-shaped snoods can be adjusted to do so. Like neck gaiters and face masks, you can purchase balaclavas with filters for extra protection.
You can also get cute balaclavas for women – but as we mentioned before, be sure to double mask, wearing a medical mask or triple layer mask underneath for protection.
Fashion and activewear brands, like Nike, make cool balaclavas
Nike Jordan Balaclava, £30.70, Amazon
Evershop balaclava with 2 filters, from £14.99/$19.99, Amazon
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