In these strange times, it's never been more important to keep learning and adapting. With new information about COVID-19 constantly rolling in, we've been taking stock of the best ways to prioritize our safety. Face masks aren't going away any time soon, and with the Omicron variant as the dominant strain, it might be time to give our old masks a medical-level upgrade.
Though masking up of any kind is important, doctors now recommend steering away from cloth masks and switching to masks with filtration systems, like N95s, as your personal protective equipment.
N95 face masks are disposable masks worn by healthcare workers for occupational safety (think: surgical mask), but they have the most optimal filtration system for the US to keep any unwanted airborne particles away from your face (and respiratory system).
As public health precautions increase in popularity, it might be harder to find an N95 mask, so start purchasing right away. If you can't find any N95 masks, you can also buy KN95 or KF94 masks. Not sure what those jumble of letters and numbers mean? Don't worry, we'll help break it down for you.
KN95 masks are made in China and meet the Chinese standard for aerosol particle regulation but not the US standard. So they are not given to healthcare workers, but they could be a good option if you are out and about. The KF94 masks are made in South Korea. The KF stands for Korean Filter, and it blocks 94% of airborne particles as opposed to the KN95, which blocks 95%. Both are great options for filtered masks.
If you're still feeling unsure, you can look through the CDC-approved list of masks and how to find them.
And if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, ET has gone ahead and compiled a list of our favorite medical-grade N95 and KN95 mask options to keep you and your family COVID-free during the latest wave of the pandemic. Check them out below.
Worried about storing bulky masks? This N95 folds down for your convenience, so you can protect yourself without sacrificing space.
$65 FOR A PACK OF 20
The soft cotton exterior of this N95 face mask makes it perfect for extended wear, so you can stay comfortable and safe all day long.
$60 FOR A PACK OF 30
We know that safety is of the utmost importance, and with this masks's ultra sonic seals, they ensure no airborne particles will sneak through.
$18 FOR A PACK OF 10
N95 face masks are hot items and these Harley Commodity N95 Masks are some of the best out there. (If you're concerned about buying a counterfeit mask, Bona Fide is an authorized distributor and have certified that they are authentic masks.)
$45 FOR 20
For a comfortable and breathable option with optimal filtration, try out this N95. It meets CDC guidelines for particle filtration efficiency, meaning it's healthcare worker appoved.
$100 FOR A PACK OF 50
This N95 face mask is made with non-woven melt-blown material to make sure you're getting the most efficient filtration.
$26 FOR A PACK OF 10
Though this N95 was intended for professional use to keep out sawdust, sand and smoke, it's 95% filtration efficiency makes it a great choice for protecting your face against Omicron.
$23 FOR A PACK OF 20
KN95 and KF94 Masks
The softer elastic ear loop and adjustable nose clip design help this mask perfectly attach to your face for protection and high filter efficiency.
Not looking to buy quite so many at a time? This small pack of 5 KN95 protective masks has you covered.
$13 FOR A PACK OF 5
5 individually sealed KN95 masks that feature an aluminum nose piece for a more secure fit.
Whether your kids are vaccinated or not, a cloth mask won't have enough filtration efficiency. It's best to swap their reusable mask for this KF94 mask from Walmart.
$21 FOR 50
If the idea of using KN95s is attractive, but you're worried about the disposability of the masks, these are for you. Each order comes with a prepaid label to ship back used masks to be recycled, so you can prioritize your safety and the earth's.
Get masks made at the new KN95 standard with upgraded breathability with this Powecom KN95 disposable respirator mask from Bona Fide Masks.
This 60-pack of KN95 masks comes individually wrapped, so you can store them wherever you need them in a pinch without worrying about contamination.
$86 FOR A PACK OF 60
With five colors to choose from, these breathable masks with 5-ply protection are foldable for more convenient carrying and usage.
Made in Korea, this KF94 mask uses a 4-ply filtration system with structured, non-woven fabrics for a safe and breathable experience.
$33 FOR A PACK OF 20
These breathable KN95 face masks are made of two layers of non-woven cloth, two layers of fabric and one layer of hot air cotton. Plus, the inside is skin-friendly and made to absorb moisture from your breath to help facilitate easy and healthy breathing at all times.
$46 FOR A PACK OF 20
Manufactured in an FDA Registered facility, these masks are breathable, recyclable, and are available in both adult and kid sizes. More colors include Coral, Denim, Blush, Seafoam, and Lavender.
Tired of your mask constantly falling down and exposing your nose? This 5-ply KN95 mask has all the filtration benefits, but it also has a fixed metal nose clip to ensure that it stays on for a safe and wearable fit.
$43 FOR A PACK OF 20
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