While the main priority of choosing a face mask should be safety, many of us have struggled to find face masks that are both effective and comfortable. Long hours of wearing face masks can lead to discomfort, itching, and foggy glasses — leading many people in search of the most comfortable and breathable face mask.
As of January 28th, 2022, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines on the different types of masks and respirators available, as well as their benefits and potential detriments.
Key considerations for choosing a mask
Wearing a mask is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 so it is important to find a most comfortable face mask so you will wear it properly. Some wear their mask wedged under their nose and that isn’t protecting anyone. Here are some things to consider when looking for the most comfortable face mask:
- Choose a face mask that fits properly. There shouldn’t be gaps around your face.
- Wear your mask consistently and correctly.
- Use multi-layered masks for increased filtration.
- Find masks that have been lab tested to filter viruses.
- Choose masks that allow you to breathe easily.
- Look for masks that can be adjusted to avoid fogging your glasses.
- Use a highly rated filtration system if you are immunocompromised.
- Workers in high-exposure environments like front-line caregivers in hospitals should use masks with the highest levels of protection.
- Wear masks made from materials that do not irritate your skin.
- Select the most effective mask that fits in your budget.
- PPE has become a big contributor to plastic pollution. Find an eco-friendly product.
Most comfortable and breathable face masks
It is crucial to find the most breathable face mask. Even though contagion threat levels go up and down, new COVID-19 variants keep emerging. That makes ongoing protection an important consideration. It is imperative to have comfortable masks available whenever you need them.
There are many factors that will make a mask comfortable and breathable.
Multi-layers: The CDC recommends multiple layers for protection. A single layer of either cloth or other materials is not adequate. Select a mask with at least two layers of protective material. Look for products that will have sufficient air flow despite being multi-layered.
Mask Materials: Cloth masks with natural fibers can be gentle on your skin and breathable but they are not as effective as N-95 respirators and lab tested surgical disposable masks. If you are using a cloth mask, find one that is tightly-woven with a high thread count. A good choice for a disposable mask is ELoMed’s bio face mask because these face masks are hypoallergenic, breathable, and lab tested.
A Good Fit: For adequate protection, be sure your mask is secure and covers your nose and mouth, the nose strips seal around the bridge of your nose, and the mask hugs your cheeks. If you wear glasses you can prevent fogging by either using glasses that do not touch your mask or by laying the rims on the mask so it prevents your breath from seeping behind your glasses.
Types of masks: pros and cons
Masks vary in levels of comfort, protection, and cost. Here are things you should know about when choosing the most comfortable face mask.
Pros: N95 masks provide comfortable head straps rather than ear loops that are good for long hours of wear. The molded shape keeps the mask off your face and provides easier breathing and prevents dampness. N95 masks are rated with a high level of protection.
Cons: N95 masks can be difficult to carry and store because they do not fold. The additional expense of an N95 mask may be unnecessary if you are not in a high risk health category or occupation.
Foldable N95 Mask
Pros: Foldable N95 masks have attached head bands to secure the mask to your face. These masks have multi-layers of protection and are highly rated for people in high-risk occupations.
Cons: Foldable N95 masks are considerably more expensive than N95 masks. At the time of this article’s publication, popular brands were advertised for between $65 and $75 for 20 disposable masks. At as much as $3.75 per mask that can really add up for the average consumer.
Pros: Reusable respirators offer an excellent level of protection for someone who has high-risk health conditions and will be traveling for a period of time in public spaces. There is a comfortable gel padding for the nose. Reusable respirators are both easy to assemble and to replace the air filters. Comfort options are available with a choice to wear head straps or ear loops.
Cons: The masks and the replacement filters can be expensive. These masks are conspicuous so they are not comfortable for those of us who are self-conscious.
Pros: Cloth masks are washable and reusable. They come in many styles, colors, and patterns so they can be fun for the fashion conscious and for children. Many fabrics are gentle on the skin and natural fibers may create a breathable experience with the mask.
Cons: Cloth masks do not qualify as medical devices or personal protective equipment. The efficacy of cloth masks vary depending on factors including how many layers of cloth, the thread count, and the materials they are made from. A cloth mask may not have a nose strip to pinch on the bridge of the nose to prevent fogging of glasses and a tight fit for protection.
Pros: While cloth masks are less effective than N95 and lab tested surgical disposable masks, some people like to double them up to increase protection. This can leave you with the comfort and convenience of using your fabric mask while adding more protection.
Cons: You must fit and secure two masks. If both masks have ear loops it can be uncomfortable because the masks are less secure and can slip off.
Surgical Disposable Masks
Pros: Not all surgical disposable masks are lab tested, but those awarded an ASTM rating can be very effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. These masks can be easier on your wallet than N-95 masks. ELoMed bio face masks have an ASTM F2101 lab tested bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) rate of over >98% and notably high breathability rate of 3.14mm H2O/cm2 (Differential Pressure). Breathable and hypoallergenic, these masks are an excellent protective choice in this category.
Cons: Not all disposable masks are created equally. Consumers need to check that their masks are lab tested. Most consumer masks are made from polypropylene fabric which is derived from plastic resins. This ingredient and other chemicals used to make the mask can cause skin irritation and a condition called maskne.
Every month, an estimated 150 billion disposable face masks are used and discarded. As a result, they are piling up in landfills, floating around in the ocean, and littering the streets. A biodegradable face mask made of plant materials can prevent more non biodegradable waste from filling our planet.
Face mask features to avoid
- Masks that squeeze your face
- Masks that are loose fitting
- Masks without nose bridges that will allow your glasses to fog
- Masks with slits that render them useless
- Masks that are not lab tested
- Masks that are not breathable
- Mask that are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19
- Masks made from plastics that contain formaldehydes and chemicals
Get ready to make the right choice.
EloMed’s bio face mask is a comfortable face mask for many reasons. It has three layers of protection which are hypoallergenic and breathable. The bio face mask has an adjustable nose bridge and soft eco-elastic ear loops that help to fit the mask perfectly on your face to stay safe and comfortable. So you can breathe easy knowing you aren’t inhaling chemicals and plastics. What’s more, ELoMed's bio face mask is ASTM lab tested with >98% bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE). So why not make the switch today and try the bio face mask?