The Best N95 And KN95 Face Masks To Wear For COVID Variants

It might be time to step up from cloth if you're in an area with high transmission.

For a brief moment in time, it seemed like some vaccinated people in the U.S. might get to enjoy something close to “normal” life. The coronavirus had other ideas.

In fact, some areas of the country are experiencing the worst spread of COVID-19 yet in this pandemic thanks to the delta or omicron variants, so it’s important to protect yourself in as many ways as possible ― including vaccination and wearing the best mask you can for stopping transmission.

Depending on your situation, the latter might include switching for now from cloth masks to styles like snug-fitting surgical masks or KN95, KF94 and even N95 masks that aren’t prioritized for health care workers. Studies have shown that N95 masks filter out small particles in the air most effectively, followed by surgical masks, and both are better than cloth. KN95s are the Chinese version of the American N95, and have been more readily available to buy during the pandemic.

It’s important to know how to spot a counterfeit face mask while you’re shopping. Meanwhile, check out these solid options that are either highly recommended by reviewers or carry specific agency approvals.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected. Prices and availability are subject to change.

An N95 with an antiviral and antibacterial layer
These N95 masks were tested and certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for filtering out at least 95% of airborne particles (you can verify this in the NIOSH database, where they are listed under the name of parent company Innonix). They also have a layer with antiviral technology that reportedly inactivates particles like flu viruses within minutes. Amazon is one of the company's official distributors.

Get a five-pack in size large from Amazon for $14.90. You can also buy a 30-pack in medium for slim and small faces for $75.90 at Amazon, or small, medium and large masks in quantities of 5 or more for $2.99 each at WellBefore.
A NIOSH-Certified N95 mask you can purchase guilt-free
The CDC doesn't recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators that are prioritized for health care workers. But some manufacturers that started producing N95s at the onset of the pandemic were unable to secure contracts with the health care system due to "ingrained purchasing habits," so they sell masks to the general public. These are made by a Florida-based medical device company and are NIOSH-certified .

Get a 20-pack from Amazon for $65 .
Or the same mask in a 5-pack
Need just a few N95s, maybe for travel? The mask above also comes in this handy bag of five that's easy to grab on the go.

Get a five-pack from Amazon for $22.50.
Duck-style N95 masks from Kimberly-Clark
If you feel better buying from a brand you're familiar with, these pouch-style masks are available from Kimberly-Clark on Amazon in both regular and small sizes. Although they aren't intended for medical use, they are NIOSH-approved N95 masks with a 95% filtration efficiency and cost less than a dollar each.

Get a 50-pack from Amazon for $41.99.
Powecom KN95 masks
These KN95 masks carry a stellar 4.5 rating on Amazon, with more than 20,000 customers weighing in. They have elastic ear loops and an adjustable nose bridge, and, according the manufacturer, fit small and medium adult faces.

Get a 10-pack in white from Amazon for $16.60 (stock may be low) or buy a 10-pack in black from BonaFideMasks for $11.80 .
The same mask, but with headband-style loops
Sometimes your ears can use a break. If yours are too tender or floppy to keep a mask snug against your face, try this style that wraps around your head for a secure fit. They're available direct from Bona Fide Masks, which is the brand's official importer and distributor, according to the New York Times.

Buy a 10-pack from Bona Fide Masks for $15 .
And the same mask, again, but sized for kids
These child-sized masks come with an anti-fake sticker that can be used to verify authenticity. They're 15% smaller than the standard Powecom masks to fit small faces and are sold in packs of 10, 20, 30, 50 and more.

Get a 10-pack from Bona Fide Masks for $12.50.
Individually wrapped NIOSH-certified N95 masks available to the public
Like Demetech, New Jersey's Protective Health Gear began producing N95s during the pandemic and sells directly to the public. Their four-layer NIOSH-certified respirators, which come individually wrapped, have both a nose clip and a foam nose pad for comfort.

Get a box of 20 from Amazon for $64.99.
A soft KN95 with adjustable ear straps in three sizes
WellBefore's KN95 comes in three sizes for most types of faces, as well as with adjustable ear straps or adjustable head straps -- and in white or black. So many options! This 5-layer mask has a smooth texture for comfort.

Get it from Wellbefore for $1.59 each (minimum order of 10).
Bona Fide Masks
Harley's KN95 mask in black
Harley promises this mask is made for "better breathability" while still offering filtration efficiency better than 95%.

Get a 10-pack from Bona Fide Masks for $13.
A NIOSH-Approved N99 with adjustable head straps
These four-layer cup-style N99s fit regular and large faces best, and come with adjustable head straps for a great fit.

Get it from WellBefore for $1.59 and up each in white or black (minimum order of 10)
Surgical masks with ASTM level 3 filtration
Prefer the style of procedural masks or using them as filters under cloth? This pack of 50 3-layer masks from Demetech are ASTM level 3, the highest filtration level for surgical-style masks.

Get a box of 50 from Amazon for $22.99.
5-ply KN95 masks in white, black, or assorted colors
These disposable KN95 masks have more than 26,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and come in both black and white color options. The bendable nose piece helps fit the mask securely against your face.

Get a 25-pack in white or black from Amazon for $43.74, or a pack in pink, green, yellow, purple or blue for $49.74.
The same mask in a pack of mixed colors
This 50-piece bundle of KN95 masks has all the same features as the mask above, but comes with 10 each in pink, blue, grey, red and purple. (Could make a great gift for teachers!)

Get a pack of 50 from Amazon for $59.74.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

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