five covid-19 face masks

Wearing a face mask is a vital measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. While surgical and cloth masks offer some protection, N95s and KN95s masks, called respirators, are the gold standard in 2022. These masks filter out 95 percent of aerosol particles.

Read on to learn more about the different types of masks, how to avoid counterfeits, and which masks are most effective. You can also check out our picks for the best face masks for COVID-19 protection in 2022.

Disposable face masks are made of cotton or nonwoven fabrics, such as polypropylene. Examples include N95, KN95, and surgical masks. N95 and KN95 masks form a tight-fitting seal, while surgical masks are loose-fitting.

Cloth masks are machine-washable. Cotton is a tight woven natural fabric that offers the most protection. Cloth masks are less effective because they have gaps near the nose, cheeks, and jaw. The effectiveness of a cloth mask is still more effective than a no mask one.

For maximum effectiveness, it is important to wear masks properly and ensure they fit correctly. Avoid touching them or taking them off frequently.

“It is important to buy authentic N95 and KN95 masks. Buy from a manufacturer’s website.”

Markings are printed on respirators to show that they are genuine. N95, N99, N100, P95, P100 masks are the only types that have National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approval. They will have a certification mark and the term “NIOSH-approved”.

Make sure the masks are of high quality. Look for loose straps or misalignment. There should be no decorative add-ons in masks.

We considered the following criteria to find the best face masks.

  • Quality. Our list offers high quality, durable masks that provide plenty of value for the cost.
  • Fit. The masks on our list fit most faces and provide a secure seal with no gaps. They cover your nose, mouth, and chin. Many options have adjustable ear loops or headbands.
  • Comfort. We selected masks that are breathable and comfortable enough for all-day wear with no need for adjustments. They’re tight enough to be effective while minimizing skin irritation and pressure points.
  • Effectiveness. The N95s and KN95s filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles.

Most face masks are cheap and available in packs. If you buy in bulk, you can get a lower cost per mask.

The cost is indicated using the following key.

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best overall

evolvetogether Mount Fuji white KN95 Mask

Price: $

The evolvetogether KN95 masks feature double filters and a streamlined profile. The interior absorbs water and the exterior is water resistant. The design has soft ear loops and an easy to use nose bridge. The pack has a storage pouch.

Best fit

Powecom KN95 Respirator Face Mask

Price: $

The lightweight, breathable design of the Powecom KN95 Respirator Face Mask offers five layers of protection. It features latex-free ear loops and an adjustable metal nose piece for a comfortable, secure fit. The tight seal is made to help prevent foggy glasses.

Best recyclable mask

Vida NIOSH and FDA Authorized N95 Mask

Price: $$

The FDA authorized N95 mask has four protective layers, two headbands, and an inverted nose bridge. The bright shade of the cyan is great for adding color to your look.

Each order comes with a pre-paid label so you can easily send back used masks for proper recycling.

Best sturdy mask

WellBefore N95 Medical Respirator Mask

Price: $

The Well Before N95 Medical Respirator Mask is made of soft, skin-friendly material. The head straps are made to fit snug and are comfortable enough to wear for long periods. The seal is designed to keep glasses out of sight.

You can keep a few in your bag because the masks are wrapped in paper.

Best soft mask

Private Stock Labs KN95 Protective Mask

Price: $$

The soft inner lining of the masks is good for sensitive skin. The foldable design has ear loops for extra comfort. The mask is very large.

Each mask is sealed for easy storage.

Best for small faces

Protective Health Gear N95 Model 5160 Disposable Particulate Respirator

Price: $$$

The N95 respirators have a premium filter and four layers of leak-proof protection. They have a foam nose cushion, fitted nose clip, and latex-free head straps. The masks are soft and absorbent.

The masks that are manufactured in the United States are made by Protective Health gear.

Best comfortable mask

Harley N95 Respirator Face Mask Model L-188

Price: $$

The Harley N95 Respirator Face mask has a padded nose piece and headbands that are latex-free for a snug fit that can be adjusted to different face shapes. The foldable design is convenient for storage.

Best printed mask

Maskc Tie Dye KN95 Face Mask

Price: $$

The mask has an ear loop for a comfortable fit and an option to have a nose bridge. The design stays put during long wears. The pack has a bag.

Best cup mask

DemeTECH Cup Style N95 Respirator Mask

Price: $$$

The molded nose bridge and head straps on the Cup Style N95 Respirator mask are made in the United States. The mask is designed to provide a seal and reduce pressure points. It has a strong, rigid outer shell that makes it easy to breathe in.

Best for kids

evolvetogether Santorini navy Kids KN95 Mask

Price: $

The kids masks fit most children. The masks have four layers, including a water-resistant exterior. They have a flat profile, no-tug ear loops, and an adjustability of their nose bridge. The pack has a storage pouch.

Which is better for COVID-19, N95, or KN95 masks?

A well-fitting N95 mask approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) offers the most protection from COVID-19. They are also approved for use in a healthcare setting. The second-best option is a KN95 mask, which meets China’s standards of protection. However, they are not regulated by the United States. N95 and KN95 masks capture at least 95 percent of tiny particles.

How many times can you reuse an N95 or KN95 face mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to reuse an N95 or KN95 face mask a maximum of five times or 40 hours. It may be advisable to air out each mask in between uses and wait at least 1 or 2 days before using it again. If a mask no longer fits or is damaged or dirty, throw it away.

What’s the most effective face mask for COVID-19?

According to the CDC, the most effective mask for COVID-19 protection is a NIOSH-approved respirator, such as an N95. For maximum effectiveness, the mask should fit snugly on your face with no gaps.

“The N95 or KN95 face mask is the best choice for maximum protection against COVID-19. You can purchase a brand directly from a website or a dealer. If you don’t have access to a mask, you can wear a surgical or cloth mask which provides more protection than going without a mask.”