As a reminder, for accurate information about COVID-19, you need to check CDC website!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions, such as hand washing, to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.
The infamous virus is fast spreading all over the world right now and it is understandable why so many people are afraid of it. Most of those who do not want to contract the virus are looking for the best face mask for virus protection.
Tens of thousands of people all over the world have been infected by the deadly virus that originated from the province of Wuhan in Mainland China. The main way for this virus to be transmitted is through the saliva when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Anybody within six feet is susceptible to the virus.
If another person inhales the water droplets that carry the virus, he will most likely contract the disease. The question now is how to not get a virus? Aside from practicing good personal hygiene (keeping your hands clean most of all), the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is by wearing a face mask.
You need to pick a mask that can filter the virus particles. However, many people still ask “can wearing a face mask protect you from the new virus?”. The answer is yes but it is still important to look for and wear the right one.
Not all face masks can protect you from viruses and because the virus is still spreading, knowing which ones are effective is of the utmost importance. The following article will teach you all of the things that you need to know about the right kinds of face masks and why face masks are good preventative measures against the virus.
You may also want to check out the following face masks recommended in this article.
Table of Contents
- Best Face Mask for Virus Protection Reviews of 2021
- 1. 3M 8511 N95 Respirator Mask
- 2. Coopower Disposable Face Masks
- 3. Honeywell Nuisance Disposable Dust Mask
- 4. 3M 1860 Medical Mask N95
- 5. Disposable Face Mask 3-Ply Breathable Filter Safety Mask
- 6. Dynarex 2201 Medical Surgical Face Mask
- 7. SolidWork Foldable Respirator Mask
- 8. Kimberly-Clark Fluidshield Procedure Face Mask
- 9. Universal 4530 Heavy-Duty Non-Toxic Safety Mask
- 10. GVS SPR451 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator
- What is a Face Mask for Virus Protection
- How Does It Work
- Types of Face Masks for Virus Protection
- Why Do You Need a Face Mask for Virus Protection
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Face Mask for Virus Protection Reviews of 2021
1. 3M 8511 N95 Respirator Mask
First of all, this 3M face mask/respirator is certified N95 by the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). This means that it can effectively keep out particles larger than 0.3 microns. This is enough to block the water droplets carrying the virus.
I am happy that this respirator/mask comes with 3M’s patented CoolFlow valve. This helps let out the heat and water vapor from my breath. It even helped keep the inside of the mask cool and dry. This infected mask also comes with an adjustable metal nose clip. This feature made it easy to create a good seal around my face.
There are no gaps that will allow foreign particles from getting inside my nose and mouth. The braided elastic band provided just enough tightness to keep the mask secured against my face. Fortunately, it is not so much that the mask will leave a mark on my skin when it goes off.
2. Coopower Disposable Face Masks
Many people say that medical face masks are not effective in protecting against viruses. However, by putting two layers of tissue paper inside, this disposable face mask can be of great help. One thing I liked about this face mask is that it is quite cheap. For its affordable price, you can get 100 pieces of disposable face masks.
On its own, this mask can block particulates that are larger than 2.5 microns wide. To give you some perspective on how small that is, a single human hair is 70 microns thick. Another thing I liked about this face mask is how soft and comfortable it is to wear. It is made of three layers of non-woven fabric which serves as the filter.
They are also soft to the touch. I can wear them for hours on end without feeling any discomfort whatsoever. I am also greatly satisfied with the fact that it comes with a soft metal nose clip. Just by pressing on the metal nose clip, you can create a good seal around your mouth and nose.
3. Honeywell Nuisance Disposable Dust Mask
This dust mask may not be NIOSH-approved, which is why it does not have any rating but it does do a good job at filtering common airborne particles. Even though there is nothing that states if this is good for keeping out viruses, it is still better than using nothing at all.
I like that the mask material is very soft. This allows it to fit snugly against my face. The material has no problem following the contours of my face. This mask also has a metal band at the bridge of the nose.
You can pinch it so it can clip onto your nose and create a good seal around your nose and mouth. At first, I thought that the single elastic band will not be enough to keep the face mask in place but when I tried it on, it surprisingly held on quite well.
4. 3M 1860 Medical Mask N95
Aside from being NIOSH-certified, this surgical mask is also cleared by the FDA as safe for medical use. These are rated N95 so they can filter at least 95% of all airborne particles and that includes most bacteria and viruses.
The small detail that I like about this mask is that there is a bit of foam padding over the metal nose clip. This provides a bit of comfort and makes it bearable to wear the mask for hours on end.
The two elastic straps that go over the head provide the right amount of elasticity to keep the mask firmly in place. Having two bands also helps distribute the pressure evenly over the mask. This prevents it from twisting out of place after a while.
5. Disposable Face Mask 3-Ply Breathable Filter Safety Mask
At first, I was worried as these are just generic surgical masks but they do perform quite well. With a bit of tweaking, these face masks will be able to block foreign particles from reaching my nose and mouth.
The fit of this mask is also great. Although this is sized for an average adult face, the elastic bands are flexible enough that they can even properly fit on small children. Also, even if these are generic face masks, the fact that they are made in the USA gave me a bit of relief.
With the virus spreading as fast as it is right now, it pays to be picky. Furthermore, even with all of the panic going around, this face mask is still being sold at a reasonable price while still having a decent enough quality. The price is affordable and reasonable for a day or two of breathing protection.
6. Dynarex 2201 Medical Surgical Face Mask
These masks are not N95 rated but they will do in a pinch. A lot of people are saying that these kinds of face masks are not effective but in the absence of true particulate filter masks, you can still expect them to be great substitutes.
Another reason why I like this product is that it is very affordable. You can get a modest amount of protection every day for just a low price, which is more practical than getting sick.
Although this product is affordable, take note that this does not mean it slacks at giving proper protection. First of all, this is made of medical-grade materials and can block most particulate matter in the air.
The elastic bands also provide just enough tension to keep the mask firmly pressed against the face but without restricting breathing. The bands are also durable that they could last an entire day.
7. SolidWork Foldable Respirator Mask
The thing that I am so impressed with in this mask is that it has an exhalation valve. This helped keep the inside of the mask cool and dry, which is an issue that I usually have with plain surgical ones.
If you are doubtful then I can reassure you that this mask is NIOSH-approved as an N95 respirator. This means that it can block at least 95% of all known airborne non-petroleum based particles.
This also has a durable double layer of filter material for optimum protection and durability. This product is originally intended as a dust mask used by craftsmen, so they need to be durable.
Another thing that I loved about this mask is that it is very comfortable. Although it might look like it is stiff and hard, it conforms to the contours of your face and creates a complete seal around the nose and mouth.
8. Kimberly-Clark Fluidshield Procedure Face Mask
The best thing about this medical face mask is that it has the highest fluid resistance rating, which is level 3, according to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
I am greatly satisfied with this product because it came from one of the most trusted pharmaceutical companies in the world, Kimberly-Clark, and they will not risk putting their brand on just any surgical mask.
A tiny detail that many might have overlooked is the small foam strip that is placed on the metal nose clip. This small piece of foam provides a bit of padding that helps make the face mask a bit more comfortable to wear.
Another thing that I liked about this mask is that it is soft and breathable. One would think that with the level of protection this provides, the user would have to compromise on comfort but it does not at all.
9. Universal 4530 Heavy-Duty Non-Toxic Safety Mask
This mask is great at creating a good seal around the mouth and nose. At first, I thought that this is too stiff but when I gave one a try, I was surprised that it conformed to the shape of my face rather well.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how lightweight this mask is. After an hour or so, I completely forgot that I was wearing it. The mask features a metal band positioned around the nose. When pressed against the nose, the band will bend and form around the bridge of your nose, creating a good seal around your nose and mouth.
The mask is held in place by a single yet strong and elastic band. The band has just enough elasticity to securely keep the mask flat against your face but not so much that it is uncomfortably tight.
10. GVS SPR451 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator
The best feature of this respirator is that it is NIOSH-approved and rated P100. This means that it can filter almost 100% of all particles suspended in the air, including petroleum-based chemicals.
This N95 respirator mask is made of 100% silicone, which means it is completely hypoallergenic and very soft. It can make a complete seal around the nose and mouth, nothing can get inside the mask.
Speaking of the filters, if you will not be using them for construction purposes, they can be used for a couple of weeks to a month. You just need to replace the filters when they get too clogged up with dust.
The mask also has a downward pointing exhalation valve. What this means is if you are wearing glasses, they will not fog up every time you exhale. This also keeps the inside of the mask dry and cool.
What is a Face Mask for Virus Protection
While there are no face masks that are specifically made to protect against viruses alone, you can still find highly effective products that can filter viruses and other airborne particles. If you are worried about getting infected by viruses, then you need to get face masks that are NIOSH-approved and given a rating of N95 or P100.
These are the ones that are proven to be able to block viruses most of the time. You can tell which face masks are rated N95 or P100 because they are required to print this detail on the mask itself.
If you cannot find any indication of the mask’s rating on the surface, or even on the box that it came from, then it is likely that it is not NIOSH-approved at all. Aside from N95 and P100 face masks, you can also use medical-grade masks that have high fluid resistance.
Ideally, these should be the ones that have level 3 resistance according to the ASTM.
How Does It Work
Face masks are air filters that you wear on your face. The masks are made of non-woven materials. These are fibers that are stuck on the surface of a static-charged mesh. This creates a lattice of very tiny holes arranged randomly. This filter will provide a physical barrier between the outside air and your nose and mouth.
Face masks work by blocking harmful particles, including viruses, in the air from getting into the nose or mouth. It is like a tiny net that catches those extremely tiny particles in the air, thereby preventing them from getting inside the nose and mouth.
Types of Face Masks for Virus Protection
There are many different types of face masks that you can wear to serve as protection against viruses. Here are some of the more popular choices:
Medical/Surgical Mask – This is the most common mask that people are using nowadays. These look like pieces of paper that have elastic bands at the sides that hook behind the ears. This form of breathing protection relies on the filter material that makes up the entirety of the mask.
The colored side of the mask is the fluid-resistant side. This is the part that you want to be on the outside if you want to protect yourself from diseases. Now, if you are the one with the flu, you need to put the colored part of the mask inside.
Disposable Dust Masks – This is the kind of mask that is usually used by craftsmen like woodworkers, drywall installers, carpenters, welders, and others who need respiratory protection. You will notice that these masks look like they are made of stiff paper.
However, the truth is they are made of fibers that are joined together to create a fine mesh network, thereby preventing solid and liquid particles from getting through. Just like the medical/surgical masks, dust masks can only be used once.
After that, you should then properly dispose of it. You must never reuse this mask as its effectiveness will have already diminished by quite a lot.
Half-face Respirators – These are the heavy-duty ones that are used for hazardous work environments. These have removable filters that are NIOSH-approved and rated N95 or P100, because they need to be able to block microscopic irritants in the air, like asbestos fibers, fiberglass, silica, and others.
Will these masks be able to protect against viruses? Of course, they could. The only problem is that they will look alarming when worn outside the workplace. Also, they will be very uncomfortable to wear for an entire afternoon or so.
Why Do You Need a Face Mask for Virus Protection
When it comes to the virus outbreak, the reason why you need a face mask is so you can significantly lower the chances of you getting infected with the deadly disease. If your nose and mouth have a barrier that prevents the aerosols that are carrying the virus from getting through then you will not get infected by them.
The way that the virus is spread is through sneezing or coughing of an infected person. The virus is carried in their saliva and at the limited time that these particles are in the air, if another person inhales it then there is a good chance that they will get infected by the disease themselves.
As of now, the virus is not airborne but it has a limited distance that it can travel. Aside from wearing a mask, you should also practice good personal hygiene as well. You need to keep your hands clean because you might unknowingly touch a surface that is covered with the virus.
This might put you at risk of touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with the virus, leading to you contracting the alarming disease.
When it is your health that is on the line, you need to make sure that the face mask that you buy can truly provide you with enough care and protection that you need. Here are some of the things that you need to keep an eye out for when shopping for a good face mask designed to protect you from the virus:
Protection – The first and foremost reason why you are thinking of buying face masks is that you want to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting infected with the deadly virus that is going around right now. This is why, as much as possible, you should get one that is listed in the CDC’s approved list of face masks.
Now, it is understandable that due to people panic buying face masks in bulk, most of the things in the CDC’s list might be out of stock. If that is the case, then you should get one that is NIOSH-approved and rated N95 or P100.
These have the highest chances of blocking harmful particles in the air, which also happens to include bacteria and viruses.
Comfort – Many might think that comfort is not that important when it comes to face masks but it is. Even if you are dead serious about wearing your mask for protection if, after an hour or so, it becomes unbearably uncomfortable under the mask, you will not want to wear it anymore.
This might also be the time when you will start to get complacent and more prone to infection. A good face mask should be so lightweight that you will forget that you are wearing it after a while. Also, there should be a way for your exhaled breath to get out of the mask.
This will prevent the inside of the mask from getting hot and balmy. Also, this will keep you from recycling your breath, meaning you will not be breathing in the carbon dioxide that you just exhaled.
Another factor that can contribute to comfort levels is the head strap that is used for keeping the mask in place. This should neither be too tight nor too loose. It should provide just enough elasticity to keep the mask in place.
Type of Mask – As mentioned earlier, many different types of face masks can be used to protect oneself against virus infections and the levels of protection they provide vary as well.
First, there is what we call as the disposable mask. You can buy this disposable type in bulk for just pennies apiece. The level of protection they provide is moderate at best but if you are in a bind then you can expect this to work already.
There are also the reusable N95 or P100 masks. These masks are much better at protecting against viruses but they are a bit more expensive. Also, you can use them for more than just one day but not by much. Most of the reusable face masks can be used for around three days or until they get too dirty.
There are also heavy-duty half-face respirators. These are the ones used by professional tradesmen when they have to work in hazardous environments, like when they have to tear down walls and ceilings containing asbestos or if they have to work with fine fiberglass.
Although these will provide you with more than enough protection, they are cumbersome to use in public and you will also look very alarming to other people.
Fit – Regardless of the type chosen, a good face mask, should fit properly over your face. There should not be any gaps along the sides that will allow outside air to get inside the mask. This defeats the purpose of wearing the mask in the first place.
One good way to find out if there is a gap between the mask and your face is to wear glasses while wearing the mask. If you fog up the lenses when you exhale then there is a gap around the nose of your mask.
To close this gap, pinch the metal band in the mask that is located at the bridge of your nose so that it will take the shape of your nose. This will close off the gap at the top of the mask.
Length of Use – Medical masks and dust masks are usually just one-time use only. Medical masks are just usable for three to four hours. If you feel that the inside is already moist then you need to dispose of it immediately.
There are also reusable face masks. They are usually the ones that have exhale valves. You will often find the mask usable for at least three days up to a week depending on the brand and make.
Then there are professional-grade ones. These are the masks that can be reused indefinitely. You just need to replace the filter cartridges once they are full. Most masks that fall into this category are large and bulky and would look weird when worn in public.
However, you can also find some of them that look like regular face masks but with smaller filter cartridges/pads.
Cost and Quantity – If you are thinking of buying the disposable type of face mask, you should make sure that you are getting the most out of your money, literally. Disposable masks, like medical face masks, are quite cheap, unless the seller jacks up the price because of the surge in demand, which is unethical by the way.
This does not mean you should get the cheapest out there. It is because you cannot be sure of their quality. You should buy masks that you are sure of the quality in bulk. This is because they are generally cheaper that way. A box of 100 masks may be a lot more expensive than a pack of 6.
When you do the math, you will find that the box of 100s has a much cheaper unit price. Besides, with the way things are going right now, you might need to wear face masks for a long time, so it is best to have a lot in stock.
If you want something that is on the heavy-duty side and is worthy of being put in anyone’s survival kit, expect to pay upwards of a hundred dollars for a full-face or half-face respirator.
Care and Maintenance
If you will be using disposable face masks then you should immediately dispose of them at the end of the day. You should never reuse disposable face masks, especially the medical masks.
Also, if your medical face mask gets wet, dispose of it immediately and use a new one instead. Another thing to remember is that when you start to feel that the mask is already moist inside, it is no longer usable.
Typically, all disposable masks, regardless if they are medical or dust masks, need to be disposed of after a day of use. If any viruses are caught on the surface of the mask, reusing it will most likely get you infected.
You need to dispose of masks properly. First, place them inside a plastic bag, tie it off and then place them in the hazardous waste bin. On the other hand, if you have a reusable face mask, you should still dispose of the spend filter cartridges properly and properly clean the mask itself.
Most reusable masks are made of silicone so they are quite easy to clean. Just wipe them down with a solution made of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol and you are done.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most popular brands of face mask for virus protection?
Because there are so many different brands and makers of face masks, some of them may not be as reliable as the others. Fortunately, I have tried and tested a lot of different masks in the last couple of years and I have discovered some truly reliable ones.
Among these trusted brands are 3M, Coopower, Honeywell, Dynarex, SolidWork, Kimberly-Clark, Universal, and GVS. If you can manage to find face masks from these brands, there is a good chance that you will be getting the best that your money can buy.
How to use face mask properly?
First of all, you need to make sure that the mask is right-side up. For most disposable masks, the top is where the metal nose clip is located. If there is branding on the mask, you can also use that to orient the product to the right position.
Now, which side should you wear against your face? If you will be using according to most health workers, you should put the colored side of the mask on the outside because that is the layer that prevents liquids from penetrating the layers of the mask.
Since the virus is carried by the saliva of the infected person, the colored part will prevent it from reaching your nose and mouth. Now, if you think that you are already infected, you can put the colored side inside before wearing the mask and then promptly head to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Now that you know the correct position and orientation of the masks, you will need to learn how to wear them properly. First, place the mask on your face using one hand and with the other hand, place the elastic loops around your ears.
Adjust the mask so that it is not skewed or crooked. Once the mask is straight, pinch the metal nose clip that is on top of the mask. Make sure that the metal band follows the shape of the bridge of your nose. When done properly, this will prevent gaps from opening at the top side of the mask.
While holding the top of the mask with one hand, use the other to pull down the bottom of the mask until it covers your chin. This will help remove the gap on the underside of the mask.
What is the warranty?
There is usually a 7-day money-back guarantee on these products for factory defects. If you receive your masks and you find that the packaging seems tampered with then you can return them to the manufacturer at no cost and receive a replacement unit or a complete refund for the item.
Also, if you find that some of the masks are damaged or ripped, this is a good reason to return the item for a refund or replacement. You should never use masks if the packaging that they came from are already open. Note that such is a major health risk if anything.
Where to buy a face mask for virus protection?
Face masks can be found in many supermarkets and groceries, like Walmart, usually in the medical supplies aisles. You can also find them in pharmacies. Respirators, on the other hand, can be found in most hardware supplies stores.
However, because of the sudden spike in demand due to the virus scare, you might discover that there are no more stocks of face masks in your local stores. If this is the case for you, then you can try shopping for face masks online.
Retail sites like Amazon and eBay have hundreds of listings and although these days many of the products are sold out, there are still many that are available. You can still purchase face masks whenever you need to and get them for far cheaper.
Can a disposable face mask prevent me from getting the virus?
Yes, many N95 and P100 respirators and disposable masks can help prevent airborne viruses from infecting you, including the virus. On the other hand, surgical or medical masks and dust masks do not offer as much protection. However, by adding a few sheets of tissue paper inside, you can expect them to help block viruses as well.
Keep in mind that it was also found out that the virus can be transmitted via the eyes, so if you touch a surface that has been infected by the virus and you unwittingly touch your eyes, you can still get infected.
The best way you can protect yourself is by practicing good personal hygiene, especially washing your hands. Also, avoid traveling or going to crowded areas for the time being unless it is truly necessary.
Can I reuse a disposable face mask?
No. Disposable face masks are only meant for one-time use and should be disposed of immediately. Once a mask is used, it is already considered contaminated, hence it can pass viruses and other harmful particles to you if you will use it again.
Do not think of it as a waste. Think of it as an investment in your health. Besides, these masks cost less than a dollar each so it is not like you are spending a lot. Follow the instructions properly so you do not compromise your health.
How should I throw away a disposable face mask?
To prevent other people from getting infected by the potential viruses that have been caught in the face mask, you should place the contaminated mask in a small plastic bag, tie the end tightly and throw it in the hazardous waste bin.
Never throw the used mask in the regular trash, as the viruses might find their way back into the air. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward so that you do not get infected.
How is the novel virus transmitted?
There are two known ways that this deadly disease gets spread: person-to-person and from infected surfaces or objects. The virus is known to mainly spread from one person to another.
When the infected person is within 6 feet of a healthy person and the person with the disease sneezes or coughs in the healthy person’s general direction, tiny droplets of sputum carrying the virus can be inhaled by the healthy person. Any farther than six feet and the sputum will fall to the ground.
However, even if the virus is no longer airborne, that does not mean it is no longer dangerous. A healthy person can still get virus just by accidentally touching surfaces and objects that have been infected by the virus and then unwittingly touching their faces, usually the nose and mouth.
Medical experts speculate that the virus can also be transmitted through the eyes but this is not the usual way that the virus spreads.
Can someone with no symptoms still spread virus?
Medical experts all agree that people who show the most symptoms, in other words, the sickest, spread the virus more readily. This is the reason why it is easier to catch and quarantine people who are infected by virus before they can infect other people.
However, there are some cases wherein people not showing any signs of the disease have been known to unwittingly spread the virus.
Although face masks do not fully protect people from getting infected by virus, they do help keep it at bay to some extent. It is still advised that you wear respiratory protection when you need to go to crowded places, especially when there have been reported cases of the disease in your city.
Hopefully, by now, you already know what kinds of face masks are effective against getting infected by the deadly virus. Apart from wearing respiratory protection and the best face mask for virus protection, it is also recommended to practice proper personal hygiene.
Always keep your hands clean and carry a small bottle of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer with you to keep you protected.