December 10, 2020 By Off

What Face Masks are most effective and the ones that just got banned

Amazon and Google may not list them, here’s how to source N95 and KN95 masks available online

Understanding some critical basics about face masks can change everything you thought you knew about the most effective facial coverings.

I was able to source N95, KN95, a Respokare NIOSH N95 antiviral respirator mask, and layered reusable cloth masks online. N95 masks are generally made available online to consumers only after institutional and medical orders are first filled.

The CDC says face masks will slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 and fall into the following areas:

  • Layered reusable cloth masks and disposable surgical masks help keep others from being contaminated by the wearer.
  • N95 and KN95 respirator masks protect the wearer from outside infection.


N95 is the USA standard and KN95 is Chinese standard designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles to keep wearer protected from others.   NIOSH, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, certifies the filtration for US N95 standards for approval.  The FDA authorizes KN95 masks for emergency use but does not perform independent testing on them.  Many KN95 masks have come under scrutiny for quality and effectiveness.  The FDA has removed authorizations for dozens that are circulating in the U.S.  At the end of the day, you want to know which ones work and which is the best.



  • Reusable, layered cloth masks with either ear loops or head/neck loops.
  • Disposable surgical masks
  • Primarily to keep others from being contaminated by wearer.


  • KN95 respirator masks meet similar USA N95 standards but are not certified by US.
  • Keeps wearer from being contaminated by others.

While 200 KN95 model samples were tested, they are not NIOSH-approved but may be effective.
Several KN95 masks have come under scrutiny for quality and effectiveness. The FDA has removed some of the previously authorized KN95 masks from their database.



  • NIOSH-certified N95 respirator masks
  • Keeps wearer from being contaminated by others.
  • Cup Style for best fit that are sized in S/M/L
  • Head and neck loops keep mask sealed to face best



  • An upgraded and patented N95 mask is Respokare NIOSH N95 antiviral respirator mask
  • It filters at least 95% particles and the anti-viral material kills 99.99% of contamination on the mask
  • Revolutionary patented design by Innonix, a company at the forefront of cutting edge innovation in personal protective equipment for over 19 years.
  • Advanced antiviral technology not only blocks 95% of small (.3 micron) particles, but inactivates up to 99.9% within minutes.”

While it is still unlikely to find a NIOSH-approved N95 mask on sites like Amazon and Google, the online retailers I tracked down explains that they only sell consumer N95 masks once their institutional medical orders are fulfilled.  Available online here.

These are the masks we tested that worked and met or exceeded their claim:



N95 masks with air valves designed for construction use allowing the wearers unfiltered air to escape are no longer allowed on some major air carriers including Delta Air Lines.  Avoid N95 construction masks with air release valves like the 3M 8511 N95 designed for particles like sawdust.  N95 respirator masks with exhale valves do not prevent the wearer from spreading contaminants.

3M 8511 N95 air valve mask banned on Delta Air Lines.

Check these two lists:

  • FDA searchable mask database here
    FDA list of Emergency Approved masks for medical use. The list is maintained and previously approved masks that fail or get complaints are removed.
    Look on your mask, the packaging or a piece of paper that came with your mask for the model and product line


  • NIOSH tested 200 KN95 mask models showing test results here but they are not put through the same rigorous standards testing of N95.