22 Best N95 Face Masks to Prevent COVID
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22 Best N95 Face Masks to Prevent COVID

May 23, 2023

By Malia Griggs and Sara Coughlin

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Even if you've gotten a vaccine booster recently or are dealing with pandemic fatigue, it's still smart to wear the best N95 face masks (or KN95 or KF94) you can find. With a new omicron subvariant called XBB.1.5 on the rise in the United States, masking, especially indoors, and getting tested frequently is as important as ever.

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Even if you don't live somewhere with rapidly rising case counts, there are still plenty of reasons to wear a mask: Maybe you’re about to visit someone who has a higher risk of COVID-19 complications (say, a person who is older or who is immunocompromised). Maybe you are that person or live with them. Or maybe you just don't want to risk catching COVID-19, especially as its variants and subvariants continue to evolve and become more infectious.

To identify the best face masks for reducing the transmission of COVID-19, we spoke with health experts to answer common mask-related questions and define the differences between cloth masks, surgical masks, and high-filtration respirator masks. Plus, we’ll offer guidance on how to spot a fake. We also rounded up (real and in-stock at the time of publication) N95, KN95, and KF94 protective masks in various sizes (including kids’), styles, and colors available at retailers like Amazon, Bona Fide, Vida, EvolveTogether, WellBefore, Honeywell, and more.

According to guidelines for health care facilities issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing any kind of face mask indoors is associated with much higher protection from the coronavirus. However, a high-quality N95 or KN95 respirator mask provides the strongest protection overall. Surgical masks and reusable cloth masks are generally made with more breathable materials for a looser fit, experts say. That means they are not able to filter smaller airborne particles as effectively or provide the same level of protection as high-filtration face masks. A CDC study found that wearers of cloth masks lowered their chances of testing positive for COVID-19 by around 56%. Those who wore a surgical mask reduced their risk by 66%, and those wearing well-made N95 and KN95 masks reduced their risk by at least 83%.

Of course, the best type of face mask is the one you’ll actually wear. Cloth face masks and surgical masks still provide some protection—so this isn't an excuse to ditch your mask altogether if you can't find an N95.

Regulation: The main difference between N95, KN95, and KF94 masks is where they are regulated. Legitimate N95 face masks are regulated to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases by the U.S. government and the CDC through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (or NIOSH). KN95 masks are regulated by the Chinese government, and KF94 masks are regulated by the Korean Ministry of Food and Safety (KFDA).

Filtration: According to the CDC, when worn properly fitted and tightly sealed to the face, N95 masks are meant to filter out at least 95% of tiny airborne particles. KN95 masks also filter out at least 95% of small particles, per China's regulations, but the NIOSH regulations of N95 masks are considered to be stricter. KF94s block at least 94% of small particles, according to research.

Design: All three types of masks offer multiple layers of non-woven polypropylene plus a melt-blown inner filter layer (versus the one to two layers in a typical cloth mask). The fit of the masks, however, is different: The N95, which comes in a cup, flat-fold, or tent shape, creates a tight seal across the face with head straps, while the flat-fold KN95 typically stays on with two ear loops (comfier for some, but potentially prone to more leakage). The KF94 has ear loops too, as well as distinctive side flaps that mold across your nose bridge and under your chin.

If you’re trying to decide between an N95, KN95, and KF94, Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF that you can consider an N95, KN95, or KF94 as "functionally equivalent." "There's not really any difference in the protection these three types of mask afford because they are all aimed at a standard of 95% filtration of certain size particles," Dr. Adalja says.

If you are looking for a top-of-the-line N95 face mask or KN95 mask that offers multiple layers of protection, actually finding one can be tough, especially when there is a flood of similar-sounding masks on the market—many of which are fake (in fact, around 60% of KN95s are counterfeit, according to the CDC).

According to The New York Times, in order to avoid winding up with a counterfeit mask, look closely at its markings. N95 masks are only certified by NIOSH (never the FDA) and should be stamped with NIOSH as well as an approval (TC) number. The CDC has a helpful guide to spotting fakes, which you can look over here, as well as the CDC's list of approved, NIOSH-certified facepiece respirators.

KN95s (real ones) are regulated by the Chinese government to meet the country's respirator standards and should be stamped with GB. This condition requires that masks produced following July 1, 2021, are labeled GB2626-2019. Any mask that has a GB number ending in 2006 was produced following standards previously released but is still good to use if its expiration date hasn't passed.

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Another helpful way to determine the legitimacy of a KN95 is to see whether it once had emergency-use authorization per the FDA. Early in the pandemic, the FDA gave authorization for health care workers to use certain KN95 masks as personal protective equipment (PPE). This authorization for medical use as PPE was later revoked. However, the FDA recommended the masks only be used in non-medical environments (i.e., they’re likely well-made enough for most people's everyday lives). You can take a look at the KN95 models that were once originally cleared by the FDA here. Notably, many sellers claim that their companies are "FDA-listed" or "FDA-registered," but that simply means that they filed paperwork to flag their existence to the FDA, not that their masks have been authorized.

KF94s, on the other hand, should have a clear seal from the KFDA (the Korean FDA) or some mention that they’re KFDA-approved. Neither KN95s or KF94s should ever claim that they are approved by NIOSH.

Notably, there are no N95s in production for kids that have been approved by a government agency; NIOSH approves only adult versions (though there are N95-style masks, as well as KN95 and KFDA masks for kids certified through their respective governments).

Technically, no: Particulate respirators are single-use after one wear. According to CDC guidelines, N95 masks should ideally be used only once and (less than ideally) up to five times. The more you reuse a mask, the more you compromise its fit and filtration performance. That said, realistically, the prospect of buying hundreds of disposable face masks for single use is daunting. Health experts have strategies for extending the life of your respirator mask, which you can learn more about by reading our story on how to reuse N95 masks. If the environmental impact of disposable protective masks is a concern for you, some companies, such as Vida, also offer free recycling send-back programs for their masks.

Below are the best N95 face masks, KN95 face masks, and KF94 face masks (including kids’ mask options) on the market. All masks were available at the time of publication.


There are a ton of white N95 face masks, which admittedly have a medical look to them. One of our favorite protective face mask brand is Vida. Its pack of N95 masks come in white (with a subtle green border), black, sapphire blue, and jade green. You can choose the Mother Earth variety pack or packs of single colors. The NIOSH-approved face masks have four layers which offer at least 95% filtration, and they come in packs of 10 through 1,000. Nicely, Vida will also send a shipping label with your purchase so you can return your used respirator masks for recycling when finished.

Editor's note: NIOSH's approval extends only to adult N95 masks, including this mask. However, the brand's kid size is made with similar standards to the adult version with five layers of filtration, and claims to offer 95% to 99% efficiency.


Though the NIOSH-approved pouch respirator mask may not be the most stylish, it's possibly the comfiest and most breathable face mask (and over 12,000 Amazon shoppers agree). Its duck-bill design provides a larger space for breathing, and its lightweight material is soft and easy to shape while still sealing tightly to your face.


"This is an awesome, low-cost N95 mask," writes an Amazon shopper of the BNX N95 mask. The NIOSH-approved mask has a flat-fold shape (closer to a KN95's shape), is made in Houston, offers five layers of filtration, and is latex-free. Plus it comes in black (for the fashion-forward)—and white as well (in packs of 10, 20, and 50).

Everbright Global

You can't go wrong with a 20-pack of the Benehal N95, which has a flat-fold design, offers four filter layers, and has an adjustable nose bridge with a soft inner foam nosepiece for comfort.


A moldable nose clip with anti-fog cushioning foam provides a tight seal on this N95 to your face and decreases the pesky fog that occurs when wearing glasses with a face mask (sigh). Each mask is individually wrapped for additional protection.


Here's a 20-pack of highly-rated N95 face masks on Amazon (though you can buy a three-pack for around $10). These NIOSH-approved 3M masks fit snugly around the head and have a curved design that contours around your nose, as well as a chin panel that ensures the mask doesn't slip around.


If you’re allergic to latex, these NIOSH-approved N95 face masks from PHG are latex-free, offer at least 95% filtration efficiency, and come in a bulk pack of 50.


This is another flat-fold NIOSH-approved N95 face mask (though Honeywell also makes masks of the molded-cup design). These high-quality masks have a foam-cushioned inner lining for support and comfort and a filter for moisture resistance.

Bona Fide Masks

Sold at Bona Fide, this particulate respirator mask has a semi-rigid molded-cup design, is NIOSH-approved, has a padded nose bridge, and filters at least 95% of aerosol particles as small as 0.3 micron.

Bona Fide Masks

If you prefer a foldable mask, here's an NIOSH-approved N95 mask from Harley that's also made of non-woven, melt-blown, latex-free fabric, and has a nose piece that is adjustable and padded along the nose bridge for comfort.

Bona Fide Masks

If you’re on the hunt for the best KN95 face mask, you’ll likely run into Powecoms, which are exclusively distributed at Bona Fide Masks. Powecom KN95 masks are stamped with up-to-date GB2626-2019 standards, are easy to slip on and off, and have an adjustable nose bridge for snugness. If you’re looking to bulk shop for the family, this model is available in packs ranging from 10 to 5,000. The masks come in fuschia and black as well.

Available in adult and kids' sizes.


We’re very big fans of these KN95s (see the Vida face mask review here), which were lab-tested with 95% to 95% efficiency, according to Vida (though they lack Chinese regulation, as they’re made in the USA). You’ll find the masks in a range of colors (including versatile denim, black, and fun shades like lavender and blush), sizes (including for kids), and packs of 10 to 250. Vida also provides return envelopes so that masks may be recycled by the company when you finish using them.

Available in adult and kids' sizes.


This popular, highly breathable KN95 respirator from Evolvetogether meets GB2626-2019 standards (the most current). It has six layers (including a water-resistant outer later, two melt-blown filters, two moisture-absorbing interior layers which help with limiting the fogging of glasses, and even a layer of activated charcoal that reduces smells—nice for anyone who finds it annoying how masks hold odor). The company also sells a range of versatile colors, including green, grey, and burgundy (as well as variety sets).

Available in adult and kids' sizes.

Bona Fide Masks

In addition to its two styles of N95s, Harley also produces a foldable KN95 respirator mask made of non-woven polypropylene in a wide range of packs, from 10 to 10,000. This mask meets Chinese regulation standards and is stamped with GB2626-2019.


At under $25, it's tough to beat this Wired-tested pack of 50 KN95 masks from Wwdoll, which meets the current GB2626-2019 standard, has five layers of protection, and comes in a variety pack of grey, dark red, navy, sky blue, and pink.


For the kid who loves bright colors, Vida makes a pleasing assortment of KN95 masks for children (and sells variety packs too) in sets of 10 up to 1,000. The masks are tested by kids, and the company says they offer at least 95% filtration as well as five layers of protection.


Available in dark green, burgundy, denim, and white, these GB-stamped KN95s crucially include adjustable ear loops—a real plus if you’ve got a kid with a smaller face. Masks may be ordered in various quantities, and there's a subscription option that reduces the unit price as well.


Tested by a nationally-regulated Korean lab, these four-layer KF94 face masks claim to have at least 94% filtration. They’re available in various colorways, including pale blue, pink, mint green, and black.

Available in kids XS, kids, and regular sizes.


There are many reasons to love WellBefore's KF94-style masks (which follow the KF94 Korean standard): They have comfy adjustable ear loops, an adjustable nose band, and come in a wide range of colors (including vibrant gradients). You’ll find them in small, regular, and large sizes (ideal for anyone who struggles to find a mask for their face size), and you can even subscribe for regular shipments of the masks for a lesser price.

Available in adult and kids’ sizes.


This airy KF94 mask is KFDA-approved and has four layers of material, over 5,000 4.5-star reviews on Amazon for its snug fit, soft nose bridge, and trifold design that includes separate nose and chin panels. The mask is also tested by Wirecutter, who found that it blocks 99% of small particles.

Be Healthy

Here's a KF94 face mask that's approved by the KFDA as blocking over 94% of particles as small as 0.4 microns. The mask was also tested by a Wirecutter panel, who found the mask to be lightweight in feel.

Be Healthy

For the kiddo who cares about style, Be Healthy makes an array of whimsically printed KF94s for children that are KFDA-approved. These fun masks are designed with four layers of elecrostatic filters, a comfy nose wire, and adjustable ear loops.


Jump to: Regulation: Filtration: Design: N95 Face Masks Editor's note: KN95 Face Masks KF94 Face Masks Related: