Best Buffs for Women

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

57 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
128 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best buffs for women

Walk down a busy street on a cool morning, and it may seem like buffs are taking over the world — at least in casual and athletic fashion. This stretchy tubular accessory has so many applications, both fashionable and practical, that many women find them a nearly indispensable part of their wardrobe.

Despite this, choosing a buff isn’t always as easy as picking a color and putting it on. There are different factors to consider along with style, including the purpose the buff will be used for. This can make the buying process a little more involved. We created this buying guide to help you become more familiar with the buff, its popular uses and configurations, and the most important factors to consider when purchasing one.

Read on for our guide to buffs for women, and don’t forget to check out our favorite buffs, which we have spotlighted on this page.

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Lightweight and versatile, a buff is a must-have for anyone spending time outside in cold, warm, windy, or sunny weather.

Key considerations

A buff’s strength lies in the simplicity of its design. It is a single loop of material, joined at the ends by a seam, that easily slips over the head and is worn around the neck as a fashion statement or protection from the cold. Its size makes it easy to pull the buff up over the nose and mouth to protect the face. Alternately, it can be scrunched into a headband that keeps the hair out of your eyes or shields your ears from cold. In the summer, a buff can provide a layer of sun protection to prevent sunburns or simply protect the skin from long-term sun damage.

Purpose

Sports: A buff is a simple, inexpensive way to protect yourself from the sun, block sweat, or keep your ears, face, or head warm.

Weather: A cold, windy day is the perfect time to put on a buff.

Fashion: There are so many colors and patterns available that it’s easy to find a buff to complement your favorite outfit.

Health: A buff’s biggest boost to health is in shielding the skin from sun. A few brands provide a moderate level of filtering that makes it tough for viruses and bacteria to pass through the material.

Your activity

Camping: A buff protects campers from sun and wind and from insects and smoke at the campfire.

Hiking: An easy-to-wear buff is a must-have for serious hikers because of the protection and warmth it provides.

Running: You can use a buff to keep your breath warm during an icy winter run, prevent sweat from dripping into your eyes or running down your neck, and protect yourself from sunburn and windburn.

Beauty routine: You can use a buff to pull hair back from your face to put on or remove makeup worry-free.

Outside activity: On sunny days, wear a UV-protectant buff around your neck to prevent sunburn. On blustery days, use it to cover your neck, stretch up into a face mask, or cover your head as a makeshift hood.

Cleaning the house: Pull a buff up over your mouth and nose to protect yourself from fine dust, which can irritate your sinuses.

Socializing: When unexpected visitors arrive, configure a quick headscarf, headband, or neck scarf to instantly look like you’re all put together — even if you only had 30 seconds to prepare.

Configuration

You can wear a buff in a variety of configurations.

Headband: Scrunch the buff into a circle and pull it over and around your head, above your ears.

Earmuff: From the headband position, tug the back of the buff downward to cover your ears. Adjust as needed.

Headscarf: Pull the buff over the top and back of your head, tucking your hair inside. You may leave your ears exposed or cover them with the buff. Tuck the loose part of the buff under the back bottom portion, or let it dangle.

Bandana (or tight headscarf): Turn the buff inside out. Reach through the middle with both hands and grab the opposite ends of the buff, then pull. This creates a half-knot. Adjust so the knot sits toward one end of the buff, and tug some extra fabric out. With the knot placed behind your head, pull the loose end of the buff over the top of your head, and pull the knot down and away to create a tight fit.

Neck scarf: Hold the buff with both hands, scrunch it into a circle, and pull it over your head and around your neck. Tug on the top and bottom of the buff to cover as much of your neck as possible.

Balaclava: From the neck scarf configuration, pull the top back portion of the buff over the back and top of your head. If you want to cover your mouth and nose as well, pinch the sides of the buff, and pull the top front portion up to your face.

Half mask: From the neck scarf configuration, simply pull the top front portion of the buff over your mouth, nose, and ears. This leaves your eyes and the top of your head exposed.

Face mask: Pull the top portion of the buff up over your mouth and nose. Adjust the buff behind your head to increase the tension for a secure fit.

Buffs have been used for emergency first aid in the wilderness, where their elasticity can provide steady support for a sprained ankle or injured arm.

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Features

Size

In most cases, buffs are one-size-fits-all items. However, those created for specific applications, like winter sports, may have additional cuts and styling as well as optimal sizes for users.

Fabric

Buffs were originally made of a polyester microfiber, but many brands now offer buffs made of spandex or Lycra. You can also find buffs made of cotton, fleece, and wool.

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Did You Know?
Buffs are sometimes called neck gaiters, but they are far more functional than a simple protective accessory.
Staff
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Accessories

A buff is quite versatile on its own, but there are some helpful accessories that will make you even more comfortable and stylish.

Beanie cap: OZERO Winter Beanie Fleece Ski Cap
On icy cold days, pairing a tight-fitting beanie hat made of sweat-wicking synthetic material with a buff configured into a balaclava or half mask is a paragon of comfort and warmth.

Scarf slide: Joyci 3-Piece Retro Scarf Ring Slide
A scarf slide can add function and dressed-up style to an otherwise simple buff.

Lapel pin: The Mandalorian Child Lapel Pin
Add a little flair, and maybe a conversation starter, to your buff with this cute little guy.

A buff can be fashioned into a hair elastic. Gather your hair into a ponytail and thread through the center of the buff. Twist the buff and thread your hair through the center again. Repeat until the hair is tightly held.

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Buffs for women: prices

Lower-end: Basic buffs made of thinner material with a solid color or simple pattern can be had for as little as $4 to $9. Thicker materials and a wider range of available patterns are available when you pay up to $25.

Higher-end: Premium buffs made for specific sports like skiing or running, as well as those with extra layering or filtering properties, can cost from $30 to $120. Most buffs at the top of the price range are made of wool and must be maintained carefully. (Avoid the washing machine, and consider dry-cleaning.)

Tips

  • Wash in cold water, or dry-clean. Buffs should only be washed in cold water to prevent damage to the fabric. If you have a buff made of wool, dry-cleaning is advised. Air-dry your buff after washing, or rinse and hang it to dry in an airy spot away from direct sunlight.
  • Look for a UV-protectant buff to help prevent sunburn or sun damage. Although it cannot take the place of sunscreen, a buff can be a helpful protectant.
  • If you want to avoid synthetic fabric, look for buffs made of natural material. Cotton and wool are two great choices. They may not be as stretchy as buffs made of synthetic material, but they provide many of the same features.
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The buff as we know it was invented in Spain in 1992 by Joan Rojas, a textile businessman and avid motorcyclist. Motorcyclists, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts helped popularize the buff.

FAQ

Q. Can a buff be cleaned in a washer and dryer?

A. Check the label. Because buffs are often made of polyester, washing them in hot water is probably not recommended. The good news is, that fabric cleans easily with mild soap and cold water, and it dries fast when hung on a line (or pinned to the side of a backpack during a hike).

Q. I’d rather use a buff than wear a face mask to protect myself from respiratory viruses. Will this work?

A. Buffs are great for filtering out trail dust, but unless they are clearly marked as being able to filter bacteria and viruses, a buff is not the best way to protect yourself or others from airborne viruses. Notably, however, more buffs are on the market now with multiple layers and even pouches to slip in a mask filter.

Q. How many buffs should I take on a three-day camping trip?

A. As many as you like! Most hikers take at least one buff with them because they are super-light, fold up small, and are useful for all sorts of purposes. Some campers bring three: two to wear and one to use around camp.

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