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Although face masks are no longer required on most airlines, some travelers have opted to continue wearing face coverings, especially in places with large numbers of people like airports, trains stations, subways and buses.
While the CDC recommends wearing a face mask in “indoor transportation settings” the agency notes that local or state authorities may require masks in other places.
If you’ve been looking for a face mask for Labor Day travel and more, we found some of the best-selling and top-rated N95 and KN95 masks that you can buy right now.
Keeping your budget in mind, the masks listed below range in price from $12-$50. But before you get started, there are a few things to consider first.
How to Choose the Right Face Mask
When shopping for a face mask, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll want to choose a mask that’s breathable and comfortable with at least two layers of fabric. Comfort is pretty high on the list for most mask wearers, so you’ll also want to make sure that the mask fits well enough to wear for short or long periods of time, if necessary. When picking out a mask, make sure that it’s large enough to cover your nose, mouth and chin and fits snuggly against the sides of your face (no air gaps!).
N95 vs. KN95: What’s the Difference?
After two years in a pandemic, most people have realized that cloth masks aren’t nearly as efficient as an N95 or KN95 mask (unless you pair them with a thicker mask). What’s the difference between N95 and KN95? Not much.
When it comes to respirators, both N95 and KN95 masks are designed to offer the same level of protection. However, N95 masks are the standard in the U.S., while KN95 are the standard in China. The best N95 masks have been evaluated and approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and can provide the highest level of protection from COVID-19 “when worn consistently and properly,” per the CDC.
With a seemingly endless number of mask manufacturers online, we narrowed the list down to a handful of options.
The 3M Aura Particulate Respirator is a disposable N95 face mask that has been approved by NIOSH for meeting the 95 percent filtration efficiency criteria. Designed to fit a range of faces, this mask has a three-panel design that conforms comfortably to your face. Plus, the mask is constructed to direct exhaled air to stop your glasses from getting foggy. You can find the 3M Aura at several major retailers including Amazon, Home Depot and Staples.
This MASKC KN95 mask is one of the best reviewed masks online. According to almost 1300 customer reviews, the mask is comfortable, durable and stylish. MASKC masks are made from high-quality premium materials with a texture that’s soft to the touch. The 5-ply masks are equipped with gentle but comfortable ear loops and an adjustable nose bridge for a secure fit. Rihanna, Hailey Bieber, and Hilary Duff are a few celebs who have been spotted sporting one of these masks.
Kimberly Clarke is on the approved list of N95 and KN95 masks. The Kimtech N95 Pouch Respirator pictured above provides a minimum 95 perfecnt filtration efficiency of 0.3-micron particles which basically means it’ll protect your from airborne droplets. The pouch-style design offers a large breathing chamber to maximize fit and comfort. Several user reviews noted that the mask is extremely comfortable — even if it makes you look like a duck. The mask measures: 7.5 x 6.5 x 5.5 inches and is not designed for medical use. You can usually find these masks online or in a pack of 10-50. If you need even more than that, try this massive pack of 300 masks from Staples.
Another NIOSH-approved mask, this Benehal N95 is a decent and affordable alternative to 3M and Kimbelry Clark masks. The mask features four filter layers of protection and boasts a 99 percent filtration efficiency, as opposed to the standard 95 percent.
Pewcom’s N95 Respirator is a fan favorite, according to over 13,000 satisfied customers, many of whom gave high marks for the mask’s breathability and comfortable ear loops. The mask features an upgraded polypropylene cotton filter layer for better breathability but doesn’t skimp on filter efficiency.