Face mask usage is a critical means of limiting SARS-CoV-2 airborne transmission. To the best of our knowledge, a single study reviewing all major life stages of a mask has yet to be conducted. Here, we first describe the production and material sourcing of respirators, surgical/procedural masks, and cloth masks. We then evaluate filtration efficiency, fit, and breathability in estimating emitted viral load and personal compliance. In decontamination, vaporous hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation are feasible and effective methods for large healthcare systems, while washing is recommended for masks with no electrostatic charge (e.g., cotton masks). Finally, we discuss how disposal of masks only contributes marginally to current environmental issues. Insights into the life cycle stages of masks may inform mask use and support mitigation strategies in preventing the spread of respiratory diseases.