The Mystery Behind Masks: What Makes Certain Types Better Than Others?
By now, we are all a bit tired of hearing about face masks. But whether we like it or not, they will be a part of our lives for a while longer – especially when traveling on airplanes or public transport, or in indoor areas with a lot of people. With the emergence of Covid-19 variants, it’s a good time to brush up about masks and what types actually work. But more than just offering great protection, we all want something that looks good and is also as comfortable as possible.
The Science Behind Masks:
Scientific evidence shows that certain types of face mask coverings are effective at protecting against many viruses. What types does this mean though? Well, viruses are incredibly small. In fact, the size of the current coronaviruses is just 0.1-0.5 μm , way smaller than a grain of salt or even a dust or smoke particle. And to be considered truly effective masks, it is mandatory that they can shield out 95% or more of particles that are 0.3 μm or above. To do so requires certain materials and a significant number of layers.
5 Key Mask Tips for Effectively Protecting Yourself:
- Filters grade: Filters are the key to protecting you against harmful particles. The number mentioned is in reference to the % of filtration. For example, KN/N95 masks filter 95% of particles, while KN/N99 work for 99%.
- Filter certification: There are a lot of fakes out there, and you need to insure that you are getting yours from a trusted place that offers certification for the filtration. Beware of knock-offs or fake claims, many of which exist on Amazon and other places. If it sounds too cheap, it probably is. Good masks and filters require some money investment, but for the safety and comfort you get, it is worth it.
- Fit of the Mask: If the mask seeps air near the top (nose), sides, or bottom (chin) then you’re more prone to breathing in unfiltered air. Though it might be uncomfortable, making sure a mask fits tightly is the key to optimal protection. Order a size that fits you well and adjust the straps or earloops to make sure a tight fit.
- Care of the Mask: To take care of your mask, keep it in a bag and don’t touch it with dirty hands if possible. Remember to wash it frequently and change the filter as instructed or as need be.
- Easy to Find: Keep a mask in a bunch of places so that you don’t forget them. For example, you could have a box of disposable ones near your door, and a few in your backpack or bag in case you forget your higher grade one. Invest in a high-grade premium mask when traveling or in a more dense area. For active people or athletes, a sports-targeted one can be great for the gym and jogging, so that it doesn’t fall off when moving around.
The Different Types of Masks:
Here are some types of masks and their effectiveness when used against viruses:
The purpose of cloth masks is to trap respiratory droplets released when people cough, sneeze, or talk. They also act as a barrier of protection to protect against droplets released by others. Cloth masks are often more comfortable than medical ones, due to their softer and more face-friendly material. In fact, people have been known to DIY their own cloth masks out of various articles of clothing or materials.
However, every type of cloth mask is not equal. In fact, a good bit of standard cloth masks may not be particularly effective, especially against the very small particles mentioned above. The ones that do best are created with multiple layers of tightly woven fabric. These type of layered masks stop more droplets from getting through the mask, as well as escaping from it. But even still, without having filters, they will lag in protectiveness when compared with some other mask types.
These standard light blue and white medical (or surgical) masks are well recognized by all of us by this point. Disposable, cheap, and easy to handle – their original use was for surgeries and other similar hospital cases. And in fact, they are good at protecting against particles, such as dust and other air pollutants, smoke, pollen and other allergens. The ease and flexibility of these masks makes them perhaps the most commonly used, but like cloth masks they also do not protect as effectively against the smallest of particles and viruses. Which leads us to the next category…
N95 and KN95 Masks
N95 and KN95 masks use multiple layers of synthetic material to protect against outside particles. Both are required filter out 95 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger (hence the 95 in their name).
In general, N95s are not available for sale to the public, as they are reserved for health practitioners and those working in similar high-risk settings. That is why KN95 masks have become the most favored standard during the pandemic, as they are approved for public sale and still highly effective.
Combination KN95 Cloth Masks
So what to do when you want to get both the high safety of KN95 masks with the comfort and style that cloth masks offer? In this case, the best option is to buy a mask with antimicrobial fabric that also includes replaceable KN95 filters. In fact – the xMask Pro, xMask Sport, and xMask Air all reach these standards, but with some difference in usage and construction. A lot of it is just by preference and usage that best fits your personality - why not try one of each?
xMask Pro - The most premium mask xMask option, combining top US technology with the most comfortable materials. A maximum-grade face mask with 360° seal, fully adjustable silicone ear strap, and advanced filtration - to provide you with the ultimate protection and comfort. Perfect for airplane travel and other longer-term use.
xMask Sport – A super breathable mesh mask with 6 layers of high-grade protection. Perfect for active wear and everyday use. Besides its mesh feel, the main difference with the xMask Sport is that is uses a two-way valve system, which ensures that both you and others are protected. While all three mask types are effective, this is a style and feel preference that some prefer compared to the cloth-type of fabric
xMask Air – This mask offers convenience and high-grade protection that's designed to keep you safe anywhere you go. Super soft and made for convenience and everyday wear, you can use it with or without a filter depending on the situation (of course a filter will be more effective). With such a great price, you can easily stock up on a bunch for the family, including pink and blue ones that fit children.
Whichever type of mask you order, they all include beautiful xMask box packaging and individually wrapped high-quality KN95 filters. And our website offers replacement filters to keep your peace of mind wherever you go.
Other Common Mask-Related Questions:
Here are some other mask and protection related questions that often come up:
How do I know which size to get?
On xSuit’s website, you can find detailed size charts with all the measurements needed to find your size. Please double-check your measurements before placing your order. Ordering a size that is too large or too small can affect both comfort and protectiveness.
Are xMasks machine washable?
The masks are machine washable, but its best to use cold water in delicate mode. Detach any filters or valves before washing. To ensure the longest lifespan of your xMask, its best to hand wash with soap. To dry, lay flat and make sure it is fully dried before using or storing away.
Can you wash the filters?
Filters are not washable due to the static filtering technology. If the filter is soaked in water, the static filtering efficiency will be reduced. So you need to replace with new filters after use of around 100 hours.
What about ‘double masking’?
For surgical masks, there are some indications that double-masking can be effective at increasing protection. However, for the xMask Pro, Sport, and Air there is no need to double-mask, given they already incorporate multiple levels of protection, both in their fabric and filters.