As businesses and workplaces slowly begin to reopen across the country, having a stash of non-medical face masks is essential to keep yourself and others safe when social distancing is not possible, most notably when shopping or using public transport. Wearing a cloth mask can help reduce the spread of infectious respiratory droplets to others, which is especially important as evidence suggests that some people may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
The current recommendation from the Public Health Agency of Canada is to opt for a mask made from two layers of tightly-woven fabric like cotton or linen (which should be washed in hot water and air-dried after each use), while the World Health Organization now recommends masks made from three layers of fabric and advises people over 60 or those with health issues to wear medical-grade masks. For added protection against tiny droplets, many masks come with a slot to insert your own filter, which can be made from household items like coffee filters or paper towels.
While non-medical face masks are obviously not a fashion accessory, it’s worth making or purchasing a few comfortable, breathable options you won’t mind wearing. Here, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite locally-made options from Canadian brands, many of which donate a portion of their proceeds back to their community.
Made from three layers of tightly woven linen, this non-medical face mask from Montreal-based company Confetti Mill comes with a filter pocket and adjustable cords. It’s available in an array of stylish hues, and you can also customize the colour of the cord. For each mask sold, the brand will give $1 to CAP Saint-Barnabé, a charitable organization that helps vulnerable communities in Montreal.
Known for its playful, feminine designs, Toronto fashion label Ellie Mae now makes face masks from repurposed cotton fabric in an assortment of fun colours and patterns—including blingy sequins. Proceeds from sales help support Feed the Frontlines TO, and a portion of the Liberty of London floral mask sales are donated to Black Health Alliance.
Available in a wide range of bold patterns, these breathable two-layer cotton masks are handmade in Toronto by Nancy Mac, the designer behind zero-waste beauty brand Freon Collective. They come in both adult and kid sizes, and feature filter pockets and adjustable elastic ear straps.
Frank and Oak
Montreal-based Frank and Oak put its unique minimalist spin on cotton face masks, and they sold out instantly. But don’t worry—you can add your name to the waitlist. All proceeds go to Moisson Montréal, a food bank dedicated to redistributing food donations to community organizations.
$24 for 2, frankandoak.com.
Lightweight and breathable, the double-layer denim-look face masks from Toronto-based clothing brand IZ Adaptive—a pioneer in adaptive and accessible clothing—are available in adult and kid sizes, with elastics that go around the ears or behind the head. For every mask sold, 20 percent of the proceeds go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, an organization dedicated to spinal cord injury research.
Thief & Bandit
The face masks from Halifax’s Thief & Bandit are made from two layers of handprinted cotton fabric (including a filter pouch), and they’re just as bold and stylish as the garments the brand is known for. From florals to celestial patterns, there are plenty of designs to choose from, but we’re partial to this colourful cheetah print.
Produced in Toronto using the label’s trademark printed cotton fabrics, Kaela Kay offers face masks that comfortably mold to the contours of your face and include a filter slot.
Made in Encircled’s Toronto studio, these sleek organic cotton face masks include a filter pocket and are sold in packs of three or five, so you’ll always have a clean mask at hand. At checkout, you can also choose to donate a pack to the frontline workers at the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network.
$52 for 5, encircled.ca.
Montreal fashion label UNTTLD makes high-fashion face masks with filter pockets and adjustable nose wires from delicate pleated cotton and lace lining. A portion of the proceeds is donated to The Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, a facility that provides a safe place to stay for all women in need.
Roots is using its Toronto factory to manufacture non-medical masks—featuring printed trimmings and filter pockets—in its signature salt & pepper cotton blend. The iconic Canadian brand is also donating a portion of the proceeds from each mask to The Frontline Fund.
Founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bien Aller offers cotton face masks that are handmade in Montreal and available in three sizes, as well as options made in South Korea that come with washable filters .
In collaboration with Canadian start-up Sprout Collection, Toronto-based MOJi offers face masks in a wide variety of patterns. The double-layer masks come in three sizes, contain a filter pouch and are reversible, so you can change things up daily. A portion of all proceeds go to local charitable organizations.
Handmade in Newfoundland, Terre-Neuve’s cotton masks come in four sizes and an array of nature-inspired patterns. For every mask sold, $1 goes to The Gathering Place, a local community health centre in St. John’s.
Winnipeg fashion label Lennard Taylor’s soft cotton face masks feature a filter pocket and a removable metal wire that allows for a snug fit over the bridge of the nose. A portion of the proceeds go to charitable organizations; so far the brand has supported the Ronald McDonald House, Siloam Mission, Winnipeg Harvest and Willow Place.
Arraei x Bohème Goods
Vancouver-based brands Arraei and Bohème Goods have teamed up to create soft, breathable double-layer face masks out of cotton and hemp waste fabric. The masks come in nine colours and three sizes, and for each mask order, one is donated to a local organization.