A Simple Guide to Face Masks

A Simple Guide to Face Masks

A year into the pandemic, masks have inundated our lives and the various types and changing guidelines have created a lot of confusion.  As experts advise us to upgrade our masks to protect against more contagious variants of the caronavirus, Layers' team of experts is here to help you navigate the overwhelming list of mask options in front of you. Here is what you need to know about mask fundamentals: 

  1. N95
An N95 mask filters out 95 percent of 0.3 micron particles, the hardest size to trap. Avoid N95s with respirator valves, which expel your germs onto others.



2. KN95

The KN95, made in China, also filters 95 percent of hard-to-trap particles. It has ear loops instead of head straps, so may not fit as snugly. Careful: the mask supply chain is also riddled with counterfeit KN95s, which may work only about as well as a cloth mask.

3. KF94

The KF94 is a top pick among health experts for its quality, high filtration rate and snug fit, with top and bottom flaps, and a moldable nose bridge. It can be easier to speak wearing a KF94. Make sure yours is made in Korea, where quality control efforts make counterfeits less likely.

4. Surgical Mask

A rectangular surgical mask is made from pleated synthetic fabric that expands to fit around your face.  It can trap 60 to 80 percent of particles in the lab, but in the real world, gaps around the edges make surgical masks a bit less effective. You can improve the fit by knotting the ear loops.

5. Multi-layer Cloth Mask

Studies show that a three-layer cloth mask is the best non-medical mask. But filtration rates vary depending on the fabric. Layers' experts have vetted all of the cloth masks on our site to ensure maximum safety. 

Pro tip: Head ties create a tighter fit than ear loops.

6. Double Masking

Double masking is an easy way to upgrade a favorite cloth mask. Just wear a cloth mask over any type of medical mask to help seal gaps around the edges and add another layer of protection. Remember, any face covering is better than nothing, and the best mask is the one you will wear consistently.