This face mask accessory trend is taking over Instagram — and experts approve

From bows to beaded chains, people are getting creative with their face masks.
BalancedCasa; stylemaskny / Etsy
By Jillian Ortiz

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As fabric face masks become a part of our "new normal," dozens of retailers have made them available in a variety of prints, sizes and designs to encourage us to wear them. There are even Disney-inspired masks for children.

As these masks become a daily essential, they are becoming just as much of a fashion item as your favorite pair of sandals. With this in mind, it makes sense that the latest style trend taking over Instagram is face mask accessories.

You read that right.

From influencers to jewelry designers, people are looking for more unique ways to make wearing a mask work for them by adding chains, embellishments, strings and even personal touches to their fabric masks. One influencer, Lara Eurdolian of Pretty Connected, even launched her own line of mask straps.

Face mask chains and lanyards seem to be the most popular take on the trend, but they are made to be more than just a decorative statement, according to one Etsy shop owner, whose face mask chains are current bestsellers.

"I started to make the chains after noticing that people don’t know where to put their masks when they take it off, to eat or drink, to breathe out in the open, when they get in their cars, et cetera," Rocio Biosca, owner of Etsy shop FireflyFeelingBright, told Shop TODAY. "Some people would just hang their face mask on their ear, but that is very uncomfortable, and if you place it on a table or on any surface, it could easily become contaminated."

While accessories like these are intended to make mask wearing a more convenient experience in every kind of setting, experts say this new "fashion trend" can also be encouraging.

"I’m in favor of any accessory that makes a mask more comfortable or appealing to wear," Daniel Morgan, M.D., a professor of epidemiology and public health and infectious disease at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told Shop TODAY. "It will encourage people to wear their masks for longer periods of time and help prevent the spread of infection."

However, Morgan says that the chain (or any accessory used) should not modify or alter the function of the mask. While lightweight chains and decorative overlays are fine to use as an accessory, it is important to keep in mind the actual purpose of the mask. "To have any benefit, masks require a material to serve as a filter — such as cloth — that completely covers the nose and mouth," he explained.

Dr. Ruth Bush, a vascular surgeon and associate dean of medical education at the University of Houston College of Medicine, is also in favor of the trend and has her own assortment of unique face masks. As mask-wearing becomes mandated in states across the country, Bush says it makes sense to invest in face mask accessories. "Since we must wear one though, why not look good!" she said.

Whether you decide to opt for fun prints or sequins, you should still ensure that your accessories can be properly washed. "Though I must state, above all, whatever you do, just wear a mask," Bush added. "This simple act shows respect for your neighbors, your loved ones, your community and the world."

If you're looking to get in on the latest trend and test out some options yourself, we found some of the best options that are just as fashionable as they are functional.

Face Mask Chains

1. FireFlyFeelingBright Face Mask Chain

Biosca crafted using this chain using bracelet beads. "I thought that it would make it more fashionable than a simple cord," Biosca told us — and it worked, since this lightweight beaded chain is a current bestseller on Etsy.

You can try out the trend by purchasing one or purchase a set of three to gift to friends. If your mask has a thicker ear loop, you can also clip the chain around itself for a secure fit.

2. StyleMaskNY Face Mask Strap

These washable mask straps are designed to fit both adults and children and are currently available in three different colors. The length of the chain is just short enough that it doesn't dangle, but long enough rest comfortably away from your face.

3. Coach Dinky Chain Strap

This elegant chain from Coach features small clasps that can be used on masks with thin ear loops, or clasped onto itself to help stay put.

4. ATLanyards Eyeglass Chain

You can clip this chain on the top ends of your face mask to keep it in place and prevent it from slipping out of place. The stainless steel chain is both light and durable.

5. ATLanyards Beaded Eyeglass Chain

Made from seed beads, this design adds some style to the trend. One verified reviewer found the clips performed well without causing their glasses to slip, so it can likely hold tight to a lightweight face mask. "The clips are sturdy," the reviewer wrote. "I'm so happy I bought these."

6. Custom Lanyard Face Mask Lanyard

These lanyards have already amassed 30 five-star reviews and are available in six vibrant colors. You can snag two of them on sale for just $5.

7. Coconeedle Shop Handmade Stripe Face Mask Lanyard

This face mask strap is made from ribbon and has a button closure, so you can adjust it to the size of your mask and wear it how it fits best. Both kid and adult sizes are currently available in three different patterns.

8. JJCraftsMasks Face Mask Lanyard

These fabric lanyards also feature button closure and are available in two different sizes to accommodate variations in mask size.

9. MaskKeeper Cord Lanyard (Set of 3)

You can purchase this bestselling set of three mask lanyards for just $12, so you can order multiple for your family. The masks can easily be clipped and unclipped for when they need to be washed, as the individual hooks are easy to maneuver.

10. Easy Comforts Beaded Eyeglass Chain

This beaded chain is stylish and lightweight, and one reviewer found it worked well for holding their face mask. "Bought this to hold my face mask when I get in my car," the reviewer wrote. "Very nice."

11. Cotton Boutique Face Mask Lanyard

These lanyards are sturdy but use a slightly thinner fabric to hold face masks in place. While the chain is 36 inches long, the seller recommends knotting it to keep it at your preferred length.

12. The Rusty Jalopy Mask Lanyard with Ear Saver

Designed for both children and adults, this lanyard is suitable to use with most face masks. The lanyards also feature included ear savers, so it can easily be adjusted for a better, snug fit.

Stylish Face Masks

1. Lele Sadoughi Face Mask

For those truly looking to make a subtle fashion statement, this beautifully beaded face mask has a double-layered design and a filter pocket. The ear loops can also be adjusted, thanks to the sliding beads that help provide a better fit.

2. BalancedCasa Bow Face Mask

A unique take on self-tie masks, these adorable gingham print face masks can help you stay protected in style. The masks are available in both kid and adult sizes and feature a double-layer design crafted from cotton with a filter pocket and an adjustable wire around the nose.

3. BaubleBar Adjustable Face Mask (Set of 2)

BaubleBar just added additional styles to its popular face mask collection, so you can now choose between a total of five different sets of designs. The masks are sold at cost, so you can stock up and rotate as needed.

4. Jackie Yazmin Holographic Face Mask

This holographic mask is a fashion statement all on its own, but for a little extra flair, you can purchase the matching scrunchie. The inside is made from soft cotton while the outside is made from a polyester blend, but to maintain the sleek look the seller recommends hand-washing the mask.

5. Stoney Clover Lane Pastel Heart Face Mask (Set of 2)

These cute fabric face masks are back in stock and are decorated with matching pastel heart beads for an accessorized look. For a custom fit, these masks use self-tie straps to ensure all-day comfort and protection.

6. Araks Protective Face Mask

Available in seven different designs and patterns, these masks are made from a durable cotton and feature adjustable, intricate self-ties. Twenty percent of the proceeds from these stylish masks will be donated to the non-profit GetUsPPE, which works to address the shortage of PPE worldwide.

Accessories for Face Masks

1. Mainely Crochet Design Button Headband

These innovative headbands use thick buttons that you can loop your mask's ear loops over to not only achieve a better fit, but to also keep the pressure off of your ears. You can choose from 25 different styles to rotate through, so you can wash one while wearing the next.

2. Tasha Imitation Pearl Hair Clips

To combat ear irritation, one hairdresser took an innovative approach by using chic barrettes instead of a typical ear saver, Allure reported. These clips come in a set of two and can make wearing a mask both stylish and comfortable.

3. Anthropologie Tortoise Hair Clips

These tortoise clips are another fashionable way to accessorize your face mask.

4. Milan J Creations Boutique Hair Bows

For little ones, these adorable hair bows can be used to clip ear loops. You can choose from over a dozen different colors to match your mask.

5. Hanna Roberts Headband with Ear Savers

This stylish headband currently ranks among the top five fashion headbands on Amazon. You can choose between seven different styles that all feature convenient buttons, which function as ear savers for reusable face masks.

“After a long day of mask usage, ear pains are definitely a problem! This product provides the comfort as advertised,” one verified reviewer wrote. “The headband material is also sturdy and soft!”

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