With new and more transmissible variants of COVID, like the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization are both recommending that even vaccinated people should mask up, with the CDC’s recommendation pertaining to those who live in areas with a high level of COVID transmission (which, currently, is almost everywhere in the U.S.).
While you already have a repertoire of reusable cloth masks, you should also have a stash of disposable face masks in case you’ve been putting off your laundry day (it happens!) or you want a more predictable level of protection, since some disposable masks are evaluated for their ability to filter respiratory particles.
That being said, the fit of your mask, whether cloth or disposable, is a big factor in preventing the spread of droplets. That’s why it’s important to make sure they have adjustable earloops and flexible nose wires so you can successfully secure your mask to your face and avoid the gaps that form on the side of your face.
“The existence of the Delta variant does not change what we’re looking for in a mask. The mask should consist of 2-3 layers and cover the nose, mouth, and chin to ensure an appropriate barrier to the outside world; there should be no gaps at the side. Surgical masks are typically made of polymer polypropylene and are better able to filter out (or contain) potentially infectious respiratory secretions than cloth masks.”, Cassandra M. Pierre, M.D., a physician specializing in infectious disease and the medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, tells Teen Vogue.
What does Dr. Pierre look for when purchasing disposables masks online? An ASTM rating. “ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is an organization that evaluates and certifies medical-grade masks for healthcare workers (our surgical masks are generally rated ASTM level 2 and our procedure masks are of higher quality and are ASTM level 3) as to ensure the proper protection,” Dr. Pierre shares.
So, to keep those around you safe and do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19, we’ve worked with Dr. Pierre to round up some of the better disposable masks on the market.
Best Disposable Masks with ASTM Rating
BYD CARE Single Use Disposable 3-Ply Surgical Mask (ASTM Level 3)
With over 1k positive reviews, these disposable masks also pass Dr.Pierre’s approval since they are labeled as level 3 ASTM masks, which is the highest level rating for medical-grade and surgical face masks. Plus, they also check off the basic necessities, such as having a nasal bridge adjustor and ear loops.
Plastcare 100 4-Ply ASTM Level 3 Face Masks
Dr. Pierre shares that the combination of having four layers of protection, a level 3 ASTM label, and nasal adjustable strips and earloops suggests that this would be a good option for those looking for a higher level of protection in a non-KN95 face mask.
MagiCare Blue Disposable Face Masks (ASTM Level 1)
Similar to the masks above Dr. Pierre suggests these masks since they have an ASTM rating and bendable nose bridge to ensure proper protection. Plus, Amazon reviewers also highlight how comfortable and soft they are!
In absence of an ASTM rating
Evolvetogether Color Multipack
Evolvetogether’s disposable face masks are a celeb fave. Their major con, according to Dr. Pierre, is that there is no report on Viral Filtration Efficiency (VFE), a test that computes the percentage of viral material blocked by a mask, and no ASTM rating. However, while Dr. Pierre still highly recommends the above with an ASTM rating, she highlights that these report good filtration, are multi-layered, and have that adjustable nasal band and earloops for a good fit
Bio-th Face Masks
With five layers of fabric, Dr. Pierre comments that these disposable face masks should offer excellent filtration. Plus, the self-advertisement of being breathable and lightweight checks out with the reviewers, too. However, Dr. Pierre calls out that despite them being labeled as reusable she still recommends limiting the wear of disposable face coverings to a day. Another friendly shopping tip Dr.Pierre shares is that just because a disposable mask is in the shape of a KN mask doesn’t mean it actually functions the same way.
“You can’t really draw the conclusion that this is a KN mask based on its shape as KN masks need to meet regulatory standards for fit and filtration. So please don’t make any assumptions!”, Dr. Pierre shared with Teen Vogue.
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