We’ve spent a fortune on face masks, trying on dozens to find the best KN95 masks and KF94 masks for our family and friends. My husband and I are both physicians; while he sees patients at the hospital, my work centers around online education. As such, safety for our community and yours is top priority. To help you narrow down the options, we’ve reviewed our favorite high-filtration KN95 masks and KF94 masks for kids and adults.
Due to the surging delta and omicron variants, we’ve upgraded to high-filtration KN95 and KF94 masks in our daily routine. In addition to safety, comfort is key for long days at school, work, grocery stores, sports practice, music lessons, and doctor’s appointments.
For context, my husband and I have also received 3 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and our children have received 2 doses. So far, none of us have contracted Covid-19, and we credit masks for providing additional protection to our family.
Review and comparison of cloth masks, KN95 masks, and KF94 masks for kids and adults
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general educational purposes only and based on current available guidelines. The recommendations may change as new information and research become available. Please see your local, board-certified, licensed physician for personal medical advice.
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Which kind of mask is best for my kids and family?
In addition to physical distancing, hand washing, and disease prevalence, mask effectiveness depends on 3 main factors: filtration, fit, and comfort.
How well does your mask block out infectious particles from other people? And how well does it keep in your own germs? This is the mask’s filtration efficacy.
Filtration efficacy depends on the mask material, number of layers, and the size of bacteria and virus particles being filtered. When mask companies advertise their filtration efficacy, the data should be from a reputable, independent laboratory (eg, Nelson Labs).
Health-care professionals undergo fit-testing to make sure their N95 respirator mask has no leaks around the sides.
Since most of us are not able to undergo official testing, the best we can do is aim for a snug fit. The mask should cover the nose (including bridge), mouth, chin, and cheeks without gaps.
According to ACS publications, “gaps (as caused by an improper fit of the mask) can result in over a 60% decrease in the filtration efficiency.” In other words, a mask becomes drastically less effective when it is loose.
Generally, an adjustable nose wire and ear loops can minimize leaks. But if a mask fogs up your glasses, there’s a gap above your nose.
Last but not least, how a mask feels will influence proper and consistent wear. Modern mask companies are trying to offer adjustable ear loops and softer, lightweight materials to make the mask tolerable for long hours.
Which mask is most protective against infection?
As mentioned previously, protection from infection depends on multiple factors, and masks are just one part of the strategy.
Strictly speaking to filtration efficacy, fit-tested N95 respirator masks are the most effective. However, they are usually reserved for extremely high-risk exposure, such as physicians and firefighters.
For the rest of us, KN95 masks (made in China) and KF94 masks (made in South Korea) provide up to 95% filtration efficacy.
Generally, cloth masks have low filtration efficacy compared to the above options. However, thanks to modern technology, there are 2 reusable cloth masks with high bacterial and viral filtration.
But keep in mind the other factors, fit, and comfort. And consistency is also key. KN95 masks and KF94 masks are bound to fail if you take it off to talk, take photos, eat dinner at a crowded restaurant, etc.
What age can kids wear face masks?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over age 2 years can wear face masks. Babies and toddlers under age 2 years should not wear masks due to the risks of suffocation, strangulation, and choking. Per the CDC, face coverings should also be avoided in people who cannot remove a mask without assistance.
How many masks do you need?
Everybody’s face shape is different, so I recommend trying multiple brands to see which one is most comfortable. The ideal number of masks to buy also depends on how frequently you are able to do laundry or if you’re using disposable masks.
Keep in mind that masks should be replaced when they are wet (eg, drool, sneezes, sweat) or soiled. For each day that your family plans on going outside, I suggest having a few masks ready per person.
In addition to the mask my kids wear to school, they bring 2 extra in their backpack. In my car, I have a dozen extra KN95 or KF94 masks as backup.
Comparison and review of the best cloth, KN95 masks, and KF94 masks for kids and adults (coupon codes)
For reference, my children are currently 5 and 8 years old. They were 3 and 6 when I first published this post, and I’ve kept one of the original images for reference.
Our family’s current measurements from the top of our nasal bridge to bottom of chin are as follows:
- 5-year-old son: 4 inches
- 8-year-old daughter: 4.5 inches
- Mom: 5.25 inches
- Dad: 6.25 inches
The best reusable cloth masks with high filtration for kids and adults
If you’re looking for high-filtration cloth masks, check out Enro Masks and Happy Masks. The NYTimes Wirecutter also independently tested and recommended these 2 brands. If you feel strongly about reducing environmental waste, consider these two brands.
Plus, they come in fun designs! While function is more important than fashion, having a mask in your favorite color or design is a nice bonus!
These reusable cloth masks are very light and comfortable and come in 2 styles: the Enro Tech mask which sit closer to the lips, and the Enro Curv mask which curves away from the mouth.
My children have worn the Enro Tech mask at school and while playing sports. Other perks:
- Adjustable ear loops
- Machine washable and driable up to 100 times
- Comes in 5 sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Both children prefer Enro Tech over Enro Curve. For reference, my son wears size XXS, my daughter wears size XS, and I wear size M.
Happy Masks are my children’s absolute favorite to wear at school, playground, and sports. They are restocked a couple times per week and come in 2 styles: Pro, which requires hand-washing and air-drying, and Ultra, which can sustain a few machine-washings. My children wear both Pro and Ultra Happy masks at school.
- Adjustable ear loops
- Structured beak-shaped fabric keeps it’s shape and doesn’t bump into your lips.
- Hand-washable for at least 50 times
- Comes in 4 sizes: S, M, L, XL
To track how often they have been worn, we mark the date on the back of the tag and keep tally on an excel sheet.
*Promo code is valid for 1 order.
The best disposable KN95 masks and KF94 masks for kids and adults
A disposable mask is convenient to throw away after a potentially high-risk exposure, such as the airport, a doctor’s appointment, or busy school day.
These masks have become a great back-up to keep in the car and backpacks. What we like:
- Well-made, light-weight mask material – they have not ripped on us
- Adjustable nose wire
- Soft adjustable ear loops for the small (kids) size
- Comes in 3 sizes: S, M, L
The small kids size fits my son very well, and it’s his “second favorite mask” after Happy Masks! Unfortunately, neither size small or medium fit for my daughter. And size medium is too tight and uncomfortable for me. I wish the adjustable ear loops were an option for all of the sizes.
If your child is motivated by designs, the other downside is the plain white color!
Bluna KF94 Masks
These are personally my favorite KF94 mask, and the adult size fits my husband, too! They are the softest disposable masks that we have tried, and the adjustable ear loops don’t hurt. Yes, you heard correctly. Adjustable ear loops, whoohoo!
While they also fit my children well, unfortunately, my children find the boat-style mask a bit awkward to put on and wear. However, many of their classmates wear Bluna masks.
Bluna masks often sell-out quickly, so keep an eye out for when they restock at the following shops:
Posh KF94 masks
Posh KF94 masks come in lots of fun designs, like houndstooth and faux Burberry check! The boat-shape gives great coverage – if fits your face. Compared to the Bluna masks, they run a bit smaller and are a bit stiffer.
I am able to wear the adult size Posh mask for a few hours before my ears ache. The kids size is too small for my daughter. While it fits my son, it is a bit tricky for him to wear independently.
While Posh masks didn’t work for my kids, many of their classmates wear these masks. Check how your measurement compares with our family to see if this mask would work for you.
Mask has well-made KN95 masks and surgical masks in fun colors and designs. Note that the ear loops are not adjustable
- MASKC KN95 masks:
- The kids size fits my 8-year-old daughter well, but the ear loops are a little tight. My son also likes the MASKC KN95 mask but there is a slight gap above his little nose.
- Unfortunately, the ear loops are too tight for my face. I’ve given my adult-sized masks to a friend with a narrower face.
- MASKC Surgical masks
- They fit our entire family, including my husband, very well! Now that we have a ready supply of higher filtration options, we currently do not wear their surgical masks.
Disposable versus reusable masks
If you’ve read this far and find yourself debating between disposable versus reusable, here are pros and cons to consider.
- Filtration after washing: Many people believe that single-use KN95 masks / KF94 masks are more trustworthy than reusable high-filtration cloth masks. While testing at independent labs have shown continued high filtration in Enro and Happy Masks, there is potential for user error and losing track of washes.
- Fit, comfort, and compliance: Many kids, including my own, feel strongly that disposable masks are less comfortable than Enro and Happy Masks. And most KN95 masks and KF94 masks also do not fit my children’s face as well as the Happy and Enro Masks. As mentioned before, if there’s a gap, then the KN95 / KF94 mask efficacy will be lower, anyway.
- Environment: Obviously, the giant downside of disposable masks is all of the garbage. To mitigate this, we are using the Terracycle Zero Waste Recycling Program. We also use this grabber tool to pick up trash in the parks and beaches.
Masks that didn’t work for us
Remember: function over fashion!!
We have tried Dr. Puri KF94, Vistaprint, Jaanuu, Figs, Under Amour, Reebok, Everhart, Elestory, Vivian Chan, HiddenBloom, Gap, Target, and so many more. These masks were uncomfortable, did not fit well, and/or had low filtration.
At this point in the pandemic, there are so many better options.
Dangerous masks to avoid
Please DO NOT buy masks with valves, because exhalation valves can push infected air from your body into the room or area that you’re in.
Valved masks protect workers from dust at a construction site or people in heavily polluted cities; they were not designed for this pandemic.
Masks for people with hearing loss
Clear Mask is a popular, FDA-cleared option for audiologists, speech and language pathologists, nannies, and other professionals who work with people with hearing loss.
- TCP Global Salon World Safety Face Shields with Glasses Frames – These highly-rated shields are commonly worn by health care professionals, hair stylists, and other people working in close contact with other people.
- Stoggles – These stylish goggles are intended to be comfortable like glasses while protecting the eyes from infectious droplets.
Tips for organizing masks
What are your family’s favorite KN95 or KF94 mask?
Please share your experience in the comments below!
Even though we aren’t near each other, it’s a small world and we’re all in this together!