Face masks 101 – the complete guide to choosing the best face mask for you
Face masks have been the most debated accessory throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, being rejected altogether by some people and leaders while being recommended and enforced by health organizations and regions around the world.
The COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out and more and more people are getting vaccinated, but face masks will still be playing a major role in keeping people safe at least until herd immunity is reached and likely afterwards as well. The CDC recommends that people wear masks when out in public and anywhere where they are around other people. As of February 2021, masks are mandatory when using public transportation and planes as well as airports and public transportation stations.
But whether accepted or hated, the numbers speak for themselves and there is a strong correlation between areas where public face mask wearing combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing compliance is high to effectiveness in reducing the COVID-19 transmission rate.
The market is flooded with different types of disposable and reusable masks that come in all shapes, colors, number of layers, materials and prices, which makes it very hard to know what to choose.
So, what types of masks are out there, what should you look for in a face mask and how can you find the mask that is right for you? Here is a guide to help you choose the best option for you.
What are the different types of face masks?
There are different types of face masks available to you. These include disposable face masks and reusable face masks. The first decision to make when choosing your face mask is whether to go with a disposable, single-use face mask or a reusable, washable face mask. The choices on the market are endless, but the decision comes down to your budget, the protection level you are looking for and the comfort level you expect.
What are reusable, washable fabric face masks?
Fabric masks come in a variety of fabrics ranging from one-layer masks for a few dollars to premium masks that can cost well over $100. Just like the name implies, reusable face masks can be used over and over again, and are to be washed each time they are removed and before the next time you wear them. The CDC recommends fabric masks are used by the general public except in specific cases. Per recommendations by the CDC, you should look for masks that:
Have two or more layers of breathable, washable fabric
Include an adjustable nose wire to prevent air from escaping the mask.
Are made of material that is dense enough so that it blocks light when held up to bright light source.
Completely cover both your nose and your mouth
Fit snugly including the sides of your face without gaps
What you are looking for in a face mask is a high protection level to keep you safe. You want to choose a mask that has a high filtration level (click here to find out more about how face masks work). Unfortunately, many face masks go unregulated and do not provide filtration performance data, making it difficult to know which mask to buy. Other fabric masks do not meet the CDC’s recommendations for mask structure, features and number of layers and therefore may offer poor protection levels. It is easy to get lost among the different options, so finding a manufacturer you can trust becomes key. Some mask manufacturers do stand behind their masks’ performance, getting them tested in independent labs and offering full transparency of the lab results to the public. One such company is Sonovia, whose mask, the SonoMask™, comes with lab-backed data and offers a whopping 98% filtration rate of 5-micron particles.
The SonoMask™ also comes in 3 sizes: kids, juniors and adults to ensure a good fit for people of all ages and sizes. It is made of two layers of tightly-knit, soft, breathable fabric and comes with two options of adjustable straps – your choice of head straps or ear straps, both adjustable to ensure a snug, protective fit against your face. The built-in nose wire in Sonovia’s mask allows you to adjust it to the contour of your face to ensure no air leaks out of the mask.
What are technologically advanced face masks?
Some masks have more to offer than the basic passive filtration. The SonoMask™ by Sonovia does offer another level of protection in addition to its high filtration level. The fabric in Sonovia’s innovative mask includes active zinc which is completely safe for humans but lethal to viruses, bacteria and fungi. In fact, lab results prove that the fabric in the SonoMask™neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus with over 99% efficacy! This means that in addition to high filtration, you are getting antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal performance from the fabric. The active zinc in the fabric is also proven to eliminate acne-causing bacteria with over 99% efficacy, so you never have to worry about getting acne, or maskne
What are disposable, single-use masks?
Disposable masks are meant for one time use and are good for a few hours of wear. When those hours of use are up, the contaminated disposable mask needs to be tossed in the trash and replaced by a new, unused disposable mask.
Among the disposable, single-use face mask options you may be familiar with N95 or KN95 masks and the surgical mask that can be worn for a few hours and then discarded.