If you regularly have to brave exhaust fumes, dust and allergy-inducing particles, one of these face masks could literally save your lungs. Conventional reusable and disposable face masks work but they make those who use them look like background actors out of a disaster movie.
If you feel the same, don’t fret. The good news is there are creative face masks out there that can do almost the same job, but with an added style and convenience. These stylish masks not only keep out urban pollution, exhaust fumes, haze, allergens, fine particles, dust and smoke, they also fold easily and take up little spaces in bags!
So if you demand more out of your masks than what the ordinary can offer, below are three you can consider.
A word of caution: In order for a face mask to be effective, it has to wrap fairly tightly around your face to prevent air leaks and this can get uncomfortable, especially if you have never worn one before. So like any face mask, those highlighted here do require some getting used to.
Lastly, the face masks below are only meant for reducing discomfort caused by non-toxic particles and casual use. They are not NIOSH approved and are not meant for industrial or medical purposes where hazardous gases, particles and vapors are involved.
1. Respro Techno Mask
Name: Respro Techno Mask
Outer material: Neoprene (washable)
Replaceable inner filter: Yes, hepa-type activated charcoal filter keeps out odors and sub-micron particles (down to 0.3 microns) such as pollens, dust, black smoke, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, lead oxide and hydrocarbons including benzene and pyrene.
Effective period: Filter is effective for about one month or 69 hours of use, whichever is sooner.
Fastener/fitting: Velcro and nose clip.
Vents: Yes, two exhalation valves allow easier breathing and expel moisture while preventing outside air from entering.
Sizes: Medium (suitable for average size women) and large (for average size men).
Package: 1 face mask and 1 filter.
Uses: Suitable for daily use, commuting, sports, riding and light work. May cause fogging of glasses and goggles if the mask is not properly worn.
Likes: Valves make breathing much easier and less claustrophobic than non-valved face masks. The nose clip is easy to bend, but that also means you should not bend it too often or else it might snap. The filter is thicker than the one in RZ mask, which may explain why it lasts longer.
Dislikes: While the mask comes in a few solid colors, it lacks the design varieties offered by RZ mask. Respro mask and its replacement filters are also more expensive compared to RZ mask.
Outer material: Microfiber (washable). The non-woven microfiber material filters 99% of particles 3 micrometers or larger. The mask may be washed but its filtering capability declines with successive wash.
Replaceable inner filter: None.
Effective period: The mask should be replaced when breathing becomes more difficult from previous use.
Fastener/fitting: 2 stretchable ear loops and 1 aluminium nose band.
Sizes: One size fits all.
Package: 1 face mask.
Uses: Suitable for daily use, commuting and light work. Can be worn under goggles and helmets.
Likes: Fits well and easily. Comes in a few nice designs to choose from.
Dislikes: Harder to breathe through than Respro and RZ masks, and tends to trap heat and moisture. Not suitable for prolonged use and strenuous activities such as sports.
3. RZ Mask
Name: RZ Mask
Outer material: Neoprene (washable).
Replaceable inner filter: Yes, N99* active carbon filter removes odors and filtrates 99.9% of particles that are 0.1 micrometers or larger.
*Note: The N99 active carbon filter will only provide protection if a full seal is formed with the face.
Effective period: Filter is effective for 20 to 50 hours of light use.
Fastener/fitting: Velcro and nose clip.
Vents: Yes, two one-way exhaust valves allow easier breathing and expel moisture while preventing outside air from entering.
Sizes: Regular (fit most people), XL (for those weighing 235 lbs and above) and youth (children 12 years and below).
Package: Comes with 1 face mask, 2 filters and 1 storage bag.
Uses: Suitable for daily use, commuting, sports, riding, and light work such as cleaning, gardening, mowing and sweeping. Can be worn under goggles and helmets. May cause fogging of glasses and goggles if the mask is not properly worn.
Likes: Valves make breathing much easier and less claustrophobic than non-valved face masks. Comes in many vibrant designs and solid colors to choose from.
Dislikes: The metal nose clip is harder to bend compared to Respro mask. The filter is thinner too, but that also makes breathing a tad easier when using RZ mask.