With the global viral pandemic continuing to spread, we must all take cautionary measures to protect each other from the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). And one of the essentials in this time of danger is a surgical face mask. By wearing them, you prevent your cough and sneeze fluids from travelling into the air and potentially infect others.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself and others during the pandemic is by staying home and practice social distancing. But we are now entering recovery mode to ease into our new way of living with this horrible virus. With that in mind, it’s important to keep yourself safe (and avoid any fines) by wearing a face mask at all times.
Sewing a good quality face mask is not easy. Moreover, ensuring that it has the right filter protection is important.
Here are some popular surgical face mask brands, cloth face masks with cool patterns, and merchants that you may want to stock up from. We also have a list of FAQ after our recommendations for your information on surgical face masks.
Durio, a local brand, has committed to using high-quality, raw materials to produce not only comfortable masks but also durable and value-for-money face masks. Why not show your support for local produce with this 3-ply option? They feature good-quality ear loops that will not irritate the ears, as well as cute "I *heart* Malaysia" logos.
Unlike many other well-known face mask brands, Durio's sets come with mask adjuster tools.
Get the most bang out of your back with a bundle of face masks. This earloop face mask is designed with thick 3-ply cloth, made of 70% nonwoven + 30% meltbond material. The mask promises an eco-friendly product that'll effectively help filter dust, germs and viruses while staying comfortable on the skin. It's also FDA approved for those who are concern about its safe use.
With about 50 pieces per box, this is sure of great value for your family.
If you’re coughing or sneezing, it’s best to go for a disposable face mask to avoid cross-contamination. This one from Mydin has a Bacteria Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 95% to protect yourself and others from harmful bacteria. The earloop mask is also lightweight and comfortable to wear with high breathability rate.
Muslim women who wear hijabs might find it difficult to wear earloop face masks. To avoid having your mask slipping underneath your hijab every 5 minutes, opt for a tie-on face mask instead. The 3-ply face mask has tie-on strings to ensure it stays nice and secure on your face.
With tie-on face masks, you can easily adjust the level of tightness for your mask. However, it’s important to note that your mask must be worn securely without gaps. This mask is made with an inner lining that promises a soft, non-irritating surface to ensure all-day comfort on your skin. It’s also odourless and hypoallergenic to the skin.
Neutrovis presents quite a good value with this box of 3-ply masks, containing 50 pieces of it. Aside from the BFE > 98% and PFE > 96% rating, the masks' earloops are looser than your standard masks, which allows for bigger faces to fit the mask on. Otherwise, those with smaller faces can still double-loop around their ears for a more snug fit.
Wearing a face mask is one of the easiest and best ways to protect yourself against viruses. This surgical face mask by Kamdar is made with 3 layers to offer protection against dust, smoke particles and airborne bacteria. With the nose bar metallic strip, this mask can fit most adult face shapes well.
Keep your little ones safe by ensuring they are wearing face masks that fit well. For instance, this mask is designed to fit children’s smaller face shapes. It has a 3-ply and non-woven fabric to filter germs and dust. On top of being made with skin-friendly materials to prevent skin irritation, parts of the masks are also antibacterial.
Being one step further ahead from most masks is that these have a patented v-shape cutting near the edge of the cheeks area to ensure proper fitting and comfort for long usage.
For maximum protection against the virus, the N95 mask is your best bet. With a 99% filtration rate, this KN95 Face Mask by Alpro Pharmacy can effectively block and filter dust, pollen and virus bacteria. It’s made with a non-woven and comfortable material to keep your skin irritation-free.
3M has one of the highest quality face mask available for purchases. Its round-shaped cup is attached to a pair of strong elastic bands to be fit behind your head. Disposable and suitable for 3 to 5 times of use, the NIOSH-approved mask should provide about 95% of filtration from external particles.
Although it'll go on quite tightly, the mask is made of 0 components and natural rubber (for the elastic bands) with a sponge at the nose area for cushioning to help ensure a snug fit without causing much discomfort.
N95 masks are best used when you're at a construction site due to all the dust floating in the air which can irritate your respiratory system. They are also effective against liquid or non-oil based particles that derive from sprays, which means it's good for protecting you from coming in contact with or spreading sneezes and coughs.
This mask is approved by the NIOSH for use. It does not have a respirator that can potentially spread your bodily fluids to others, making it truly safe for public use.
N95 masks are used frequently when there's exposure to haze and smoke as they can affect your lung development and cause breathing difficulties. Aside from virus (flu) season, be sure to protect yourself with an N95 mask during haze season too. N95 masks are effective against haze as it has 4 layers and can effectively filter airborne PM2.5 haze particles.
Your mask shouldn't only protect you, but it also has to be comfortable to wear all day.
Introducing the UNIQLO AIRism Mask. Its inner first layer is Uniqlo's AIRism material which is made to be moisture-wicking while providing ease of breathability. Whereas, the second layer consists of a washable filter, eliminating the need to buy any. And finally, the outer layer is of a UV-blocking AIRism mesh-like material.
As Malaysia is quite a hot country, this mask is a fine choice for those who need to keep their mask on all day and for long term use. In fact, this mask has been proven by several users to stay just as comfortable as the first wear after extended use.
Each package consists of 3 uses for your convenience, making this pack quite a value-for-money set.
Each aiRmask is comprised of 3 layers: Nanotechnology-treated Egyptian cotton for the outer and muslin cotton for both the second and inner layer. The former cotton-type repels small water droplets that may carry bacteria and viruses, whereas the latter is a hypoallergenic material that's comfortable, airy and lightweight to wear.
The mask comes in several colours and sizes to suit your preferences for a perfect and secured fit.
Editor's review: "I can feel a big difference between wearing this fabric mask and the regular type. The inner layer allows you to insert a PM2.5 filter as well, and I can imagine that this would be a comfortable mask to wear even for those needing to stay outdoors."
Due to the increase in demand for disposable masks, it can be hard to get your hands on them. As an alternative, you can opt for washable fabric masks. This cloth mask comes with an insert for you to insert a 3-ply, non-woven filter, such as wet tissues. With less produced waste, this mask is also an eco-friendly alternative.
If you want a low maintenance washable mask for reusing, Pitta has this mask that's made of Polyester. Being able to trap microns as small as PM2.5, this mask can help slow down the spread of your coughs and sneezes. The mask also offers some UV protection and needs only to be rinsed by hand, and disinfected by hot water. Due to the polyester material used, the mask is not easily deformed, easing your way of storing the mask.
Even though the price is a little on the higher side, but protection is ensured when you use this mask thanks to its thick 4-layers.
Made of 100% fine microfiber which is a durable cloth material, the polypropylene layers in the mask is designed to act as micro-filters while ensuring easy breathability, being cool to wear and stays anti-odour. It's also skin-friendly and washable to lower the risk of any skin irritation.
The designers recommend washing the mask for up to 100 times and then changing it out. If you want to be calculative (like us), that's about RM0.50 per wear!
Being made in South Korea, this mask is made from a type of anti-bacterial yarn that contains silver fibres to eliminate bacteria. While it won't really "kill" virus, the thick-layered fabric itself will help slow down the spread of any bodily fluids.
Aside from being anti-microbial, the mask also offers UV protection and will not accumulate odour. Totally washable, the mask is also quick drying and comes in many designs to suit your preference.
Stay responsible yet stylish with these cute masks which take on the design of Origami art in some ways. Made of cotton-poly for comfort and breathability, the mask also features a filter pocket that's wide enough to easily insert disposable filters. Not to worry about fitting, as the mask has adjustable earloops too.
A really nice feature of this particular mask is how many colours it comes in. Although simple in design, the mask has quite good reviews, being commonly praised for its comfort and is made with care.
Switch out your disposable face masks and adorn this Batik-designed washable face mask which would make quite a beautiful statement piece. Available in several colours, all with a PM2.5 mask filter too, the handsewn mask features thoughtful craftsmanship. This is noticeable at the nose section, where there's a sewn-in nose clip to help fit the face contour better.
Made with 100% cotton, the mask provides a snug fit to keep everything in and within. The mask is also reviewed to be quite breathable and lightweight, with no signs of irritation. Moreover, it is not only handwash-safe but also for the washing machine!
Face shields offer additional blockage of cover your eyes, nose and mouth - the three vulnerable areas for COVID19 infection. This face shield is anti-fogging, meaning your breathing will not fog up the shield. It also comes with an adjustable headband to ensure you’re well protected and comfortable at the same time.
For those who do not like loose masks, hate the feeling of tight earloops, or for those who have trouble looping the earloops over especially for Hijab-wearers, consider a mask buckle to hold the mask earloops.
No matter the size of your head, this mask buckle comes with 3 pairs of hook for adjustability. It's also made of durable, flexible material to ensure long use. And if you're concern, the product is safe to be washed. A bonus is that this buckle is very affordable, so no excuses for not wearing your mask!
The American Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has provided a guide for double-masking. Basically, it was shown that double-masking can filter out up to 85.4% of particles compared to only 56.1% of filtration if we wear an unknotted surgical mask.
In short, double-masking is effective & offers almost double the protection.
With this, health Director-General - Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had previously advised Malaysians to double-mask in order to achieve optimum levels of protection when we are out and about.
Types of Masks
Surgical face masks are disposable masks that healthcare professionals wear when treating patients. These masks are useful in preventing large droplets of bodily fluid from escaping. Hence, they protect the wearer from spreading any sneeze and cough sprays. Likewise, it also serves as a protective layer against bodily fluids from others.
N95 respirator masks are tighter in fitting and are designed to protect the wearer from small viral particles in the air compared to surgical face masks. The name itself, “N95”, actually derived from the fact that the respirator mask can filter out 95% of airborne particles. Unlike a surgical mask, the respirators work to filter out both large and smaller particles.
Cloth masks are meant to help slow down the spread of body fluid droplets as they get trapped in the woven cloth. Even if they do not contain filters unlike surgical and N95 face masks, cloth masks are still efficient in slowing down the spread of sneezes and coughs compared to not wearing any mask. These masks are preferred by many these days as they can be washed and re-used.
Which Face Mask Should I Get?
In terms of usage, surgical masks should be changed daily or when there's bodily fluid on them from the wearer. They are cheaper and easily accessible. As for cloth masks, washing them daily is best to keep the item clean always.
For N95 masks, however, they are more expensive but they can be used about 3 to 4 days before needing to be changed. They offer the most protection but should be reserved best for medical practitioners that need them urgently as they are more exposed when treating patients.
Some N95 masks have a one-way respiratory valve that lets the wearer breathe out unfiltered air. This can actually spread the virus. So, it's best to not get those kinds.
Best Fabric/Material for N95 Mask
Because Coronavirus is spread airborne through our (respiratory) breathing and body fluids such as sneezes and coughs, the government has made it compulsory for surgical masks to be at least 3-ply for maximum effectiveness and protection. In terms of the best material, they should be non-woven fabric between 20 or 25 gsm polypropylene.
For the N95 masks, the inner and outer layers should be a protective non-woven fabric between 20 to 50 grams per square meter (gsm). This is to ensure a density that works effectively as a barrier.
But if you are unable to afford surgical or N95 masks (due to being high in demand), have at least a double-layered cloth mask in hand to lower the risk of passing your respiratory and body fluids into the air.
How To (Properly) Wear a Face Mask
Follow these steps to ensure you’re wearing your face mask properly for maximum protection:
Before wearing your mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water to prevent accidental contamination.
Consider shaving off your facial hair to ensure maximum coverage (for a sealed fit).
Have the darker/coloured side of the mask facing outwards.
Earloop the mask over your ears without touching the mask.
Pinch the metallic strip (at the top of the mask) against your nose. Then mould it according to your nose shape.
Pull/spread the mask down to properly cover your mouth and chin.
Ensure your mask is snugly fit with no gaps.
When Do Face Masks Expire?
Surgical masks generally start to break down and lose their effectiveness between one to three years after the manufacturing date when not stored in proper conditions. Especially when its packages are left open, you should dispose of them after 3 months to avoid potential skin-infecting micro-organisms.
N95 masks sealed in packages have a shelf life of up to five years from the production date. This duration is dependent on the storage condition. Do check for any signs of degradation in the headband or nose foam before putting it on. If you notice high difficulty in breathing, dispose of the mask and pick up a new one.
Cloth masks should be washed daily for hygiene purposes such as avoiding skin infection and leftover virus trapped between the cloth layers. Use until you start seeing signs of breakage and being worn out such as holes, or if the layers feel thin.
Best face mask brands in Malaysia?
While most brands technically meet the safety standards, there have been certain brands that have caught the attention of buyers for their affordability and high reviews.
To note, a good quality mask is thick with 3-ply, with the earloops not tearing apart easily. Moreover, they should fit over the face like a glove and that it does not easily irritate the skin.
Here's what we found out.
Medicos face mask review:
The brand commonly offers some of the best deals among many other face masks brands. Their thickness is satisfactory, with the fitting meeting most face sizes. However, several do think that the stitching quality of Medicos' face mask can be better, as the ear loops for unworn face masks can happen often.
Neutrovis face mask review:
This brand has quite a few interesting mask options, with one that's also made with Lavender. Their masks seem to be quite sturdy and do not randomly break away easily. Their offerings are also reported to be soft and comfortable to wear.
We do think that adjustments need to be made in order to have the mask fit on securely, considering the fact that their masks' fitting is often not a one-size-fits-all.
Watsons face mask review:
As a leading pharmacy brand, you can trust Watsons to have a reliable surgical face mask to buy. While their sets are not cheap, but their masks are thick, fairly comfortable and fit securely even on small faces (adults). Moreover, their mask comes in several colours to suit your fancy.
Durio face mask review:
To tackle shortages of surgical face masks in Malaysia, local brand Durio seek to supply Malaysians surgical face masks that are made with melt-blown fabric, which offers protection while staying comfortable on the skin. The brand's core is surrounded by the idea of high-quality masks at reasonable, low prices.
Their masks are made with high-quality materials to ensure durability and sufficient protection. Durio doesn't only make 3-ply masks, but also 4-ply and N95 masks. Aside from its quality, many users adore the cute prints found on their masks.