In today’s post-pandemic world, there’s no denying it:. Face masks are here to stay. They’re a fundamental part of keeping ourselves and others safe, along with social distancing and regular handwashing. Per CDC guidelines, these precautions apply to everyone, vaccinated or not.
Cloth face coverings and medical face masks have become ubiquitous since the beginning of COVID-19, to the point where you can find multiple styles for sale everywhere you turn. And while we’d like to reach the point where we can all hang up our face masks for good, we’re not quite there yet.
That said, we might as well make the most of masking up. Luckily, the options are seemingly endless.
4 Different types of face masks
When selecting a face covering, you have plenty of choices: reusable masks, disposable masks, masks with exhalation valves, pleated masks, fashion masks, bedazzled masks, bandana masks, masks made of high-grade medical material. We could go on and on. But what is the best face mask for virus protection?
For this list, we’ve selected four of the pandemic’s most popular styles of face masks to help keep you and others safe.
Before the pandemic, healthcare workers used these to protect themselves from blood and other bodily fluids (dental workers and the procedures they perform are an excellent example).
These days, you’ll see face shields worn by retail and food-service employees looking for extra protection—namely for their eyes—from sneezes or other airborne droplets. You’ll see these masks donned by those who cannot wear traditional masks for various reasons, including young children.
With face shields, expect a transparent sheet of plastic to cover the front half of the head, traveling from temple to temple before dipping down past the wearer’s chin. Usually, it’s held in place by a padded headband. While the face shield is an alternative to the simple face mask and can protect against respiratory droplets, it isn’t as foolproof because of its open closure around the nose and mouth.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you wear the face shield and a face mask, especially in healthcare settings, to give yourself an added layer of protection.
Disposable surgical masks
When you think of masks, the first image that may come to mind is thin, blue and made of medical-grade material. Maybe it sports a pleated design or elastic straps around the ears.
The blue surgical mask has since turned mainstream, previously favored by medical professionals and surgeons. It is now used by healthcare workers and the general public at large.
You can buy surgical masks in bulk for cheap. It can be easily disposed of after one use, which can certainly come in handy at times. You’ll see these masks worn by nurses and other healthcare workers staffing drive-in COVID testing sites. Sometimes they’re paired with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Are disposable masks effective? Most definitely. You’ll find them everywhere, too, from your neighbor donning one on a walk to a family member making a trip to the grocery store.
The upside to these surgical masks is that they can filter out many airborne particles. If you wear them consistently, it can decrease your risk of infection.
The downside: Because these masks are disposable, and you’ll go through many of them, they can create environmental waste. Think of how many masks you throw out per day, and multiply that number exponentially.
N95 respirators or KN95 masks
N95s and KN95s are top contenders when it comes to face masks. In the hierarchy of PPE needs, they’re the kinds of masks that everyone wants, but supplies can’t keep up with the demand.
Perfectly designed to deal with airborne contagions like COVID-19, both the N95 and the KN95 form a tight seal around your face and filter out most particles. Because of this high-quality filtration system, these masks are usually reserved for medical workers who need access to quality equipment, as their risk for exposure is greater.
Because of the supply issues for filtering facepiece respirators and the proliferation of counterfeit N95 and KN95 masks, always check the details before you buy.
Reusable cloth face masks
Of course, no one wants to wear less-than-appealing surgical masks forever. Because N95 and KN95 supplies are low, the general public is also searching for other mask options.
When the world needed masks at the beginning of the pandemic but options were limited, people made their face coverings to keep themselves protected. Retailers took notice. Since then, the cloth mask trend has stuck.
Today, you can find options for reusable face coverings everywhere, with various colors and patterns that are sure to match your outfit. In an excellent reusable cloth mask, expect to see two to three layers in its construction: the exterior layer, the interior lining and sometimes a filter pocket in between. It’ll have adjustable or elastic ear loops and perhaps a nose wire along the bridge of the face to keep things more secure.
Although cloth masks are not suitable for a medical setting, they work fine for everyday events. An additional benefit to reusable masks is that you’ll cut down on the amount of environmental waste.
Jaanuu’s face masks
The proliferation of face masks has been so rapid that it may be challenging to figure out which ones you should buy. Fortunately, we can help with the confusion by recommending one option that we know will work: our Jaanuu reusable face masks.
These stylish, form-fitting masks are made from our antimicrobial-treated SPINryx™ fabric (and we love it!). They come in multiple colors and are sold in bulk , too.
On top of their antimicrobial finish and easy buying options, these reusable masks are double-layered, which helps you cut back on particles that may filter through the fabric weave. The elastic, adjustable ear straps keep everything in place. If you’re looking for a simple mask to wear out on the town, this option works wonderfully.
To learn more about buying masks from Jaanuu, check out our mask FAQ section.