Ideas for Masks
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
I am a big fan of 3M 9322K+ disposable masks, but I realize some people think they look a little bland. Thankfully, some other Clean Air Ideas In Korea FaceBook Group members added some photos of what they like.
You'll note that some are rated as KF80/N80, or KF94/N95, or even N99. In general, higher is better, but not always. Doctors suggest wearing a KF94/N94 mask, as the N99 can be difficult to breathe through, and hot. Some sensitive people with breathing difficulties, children, and the elderly, should not wear above a KF80/N80 mask. It's worthy of note that reputable mask companies like 3M warn about this. It's also why you will find it difficult to purchase masks for an infant -- because you shouldn't be putting a mask on an infant, for fear they may suffocate!
So what to do about infants? Keep them inside on bad days, and in a stroller with a cover and a stroller air purifier. DO NOT put a mask on an infant. Please ask about this topic in the Clean Air Ideas Facebook group, as it is often discussed, and many have recent good advice as to what's working for them. For young children, a mask higher than N80 can be very annoying and stifling to breathe through. They end up taking it off. It's best to limit time outdoors in bad air, and keep them in cleaner locations.
When to wear a mask
Let's look at several masks, in no particular order:
Here is the high-end Respro mask, from the UK. I am told these can sometimes be purchased either online in Korea, or from bicycle shops in Kangnam. You can also order them internationally. They are a high-end mask with washable hepa filters. There are a variety of models and styles, for bikers, ultralight city wear, and so forth.
The Respro masks come in all sorts of designs and colors. Originally, they were popular with bicycle enthusiasts, but many people want a high-quality reusable mask, and this is definitely in that category. There are also several cheap Chinese knock-offs of this mask sold on Aliexpress. I tried one of the knock-offs, and it didn't fit me well, so I sold it.
Akira Camille is here, wearing the Size S Vogmask. She really likes it, and find it seals well for her. You can buy these from Amazon, as well as popular Korean sites like Gmarket. They range in sizes from child to adult. There are a huge variety of colors and designs.
As for me personally, I've tried the Vogmask brand, and I didn't care for it. I also purchased them for my daughter, and my wife. My daughter lost hers. My wife and I wore ours for a few months. I found it too large and hot, and it didn't seal so well around my big nose. I also found that it was difficult to clean. Many people do like them, however, and Camille does, so she's happy! By the way, another popular brand of high-quality mask, similar to the Vogmask is the Cambridge Mask.
I have also recently learned about a mask made in Korea, called 6Mask, sold by Sinsaegae online, or Gmarket. They are a more affordable version of the Vogmask, and they appear to be nearly identical.
The filters inside may be KF94, rather than N99, from what little I could gather from the advertising. Honestly,I prefer that, because I find N99 masks too difficult to breathe through (that was a complaint I had about my Vogmask).
The sizes of the 6Mask range from infant to large adults, and there are many colors and designs available, similar to Vogmask. You can buy mask ties for them, to add adjustment to the strings (see photo below). They might be an interesting option for you, if you want good performance at a better price.
Here is Stephany Adara Bartolo wearing a Korean brand 크린탑 N99 mask which her husband purchased. She was asking what people thought about it, as she felt it might be a little large. She said it seals well, and it's an N99 mask. The N99 masks tend to be a bit more difficult to breathe through, but the are excellent at filtration. I prefer KN94/95 masks, but many are comfortable with as much protection as possible. The Korean on the mask reads, 크린탑 방역마스크 755 "Clean Top 755." They are a somewhat expensive mask of high quality. You can find them here, along with other models by the same company, at varying prices.
Another interesting mask, which can be purchased at 7-11 stores, comes to us from Lynnea Elsasser. She loves the black color of the Dobu Mask. It comes in a green and white package, and is a KF94 mask with a valve. There is also a soft nose piece. She also says it fits well, which is one of the most important points in purchasing a mask. It's nice to know you can find one quickly, at a 7-11, when you need one!
Another mask worth a look, if you are into premium models, is the Airinum Urban 2.0 Mask. They are multi-layered and have filters that last for weeks or months. They are changeable filters. If you are in Busan, you can find them at Boon The Shop / Shinsaegae at Centum City. They have them to try on. No word on if other stores located in Seoul have them, but they are worth a look. You can also purchase them online. They are a premium mask, costing around 79,000 won.
As for me, and what I wear...
At this point, I am most impressed with the 3M 9322K+ respirator. In my opinion, it's some of the best mask protection you'll find for about 2,000 won per mask. They sport a working exit valve, soft foam nose piece, and the most comfortable, snug seal I have experienced in a disposable mask. Their value is also in how long they last. I an wear them for over a week, before they start to smell or become ugly. They don't degrade, or lose their ability to filter, in that time. One independent tester, using professional equipment, found them to actually filter 97% of the particles from the air. This mask has a more expensive brother, the 9332K, but it's twice the price, and filters to N99. For me, I don't think the extra cost is worth it. An honorable mention for a 2nd mask I like is the 3M 9310K mask. It's an N80 mask, but very similar to the 9322K+, minus the value and a bit thinner material. It also includes the soft nose piece and snug, yet comfy fit. You can get 20 of these for about 23,000 won delivered. I use them to exercise in, or on days when the PM2.5 is between 25 ug/m3 and 75 ug/m3. I usually cut the head straps in half on both masks, and re-tie for ears.
Lastly, I would like to add that there are mask ties available, if your masks do not pull tight enough. These are great for kids who buy reusable masks. These are from Benian mask, and will help tighten-up a loose mask for a very