Reviews

LAST UPDATED: October 12, 2019

Best Face Masks: Protect Yourself From Air Contaminants 

Protect yourself from breathing polluted air with these face masks

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  • Product Network

    19 Products

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  • Reviews

    11 Reviews

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PUBLISHED ON October 12, 2019

The air is filled with all sorts of pollutants that are potentially harmful. It gets worse when your job requires you to deal with harmful pollutants, such as when you’re woodworking, metalworking, auto detailing, and performing other forms of mechanical work. Our buying guide will help you find the best face masks for safety and health in polluted workspaces.

  • Best Overall
    3M Large Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
    Summary
    Summary
    The silicone material of this face mask increases its comfort and durability. The material doesn’t feel rough on the skin. 3M’s patented CoolFlow Valve makes it easy to breathe when you’re wearing the mask.
    Pros
    Pros
    The dual-mode head harness easily adjusts for drop-down or standard mode. The exhalation valve cover prevents fogging by directing exhaled breath downward. The mask is color-coded for easy identification of sizes.
    Cons
    Cons
    It is impossible to release the buckle with one hand. It does not come with filters, so you have to buy them separately.
  • Best Overall
    3M Large Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
  • Best Value
    3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
    Summary
    Summary
    This lightweight face mask feels soft on the face. Its easily adjustable head straps make for a custom fit. You can disassemble it, clean it, and reuse it. It comes with a reclosable storage bag.
    Pros
    Pros
    When used with the proper cartridges and filters, it decreases exposure to particulates, gases, and vapors. It is compatible with other personal protection equipment. It is ideal for industrial and occupational use.
    Cons
    Cons
    The mask has an unpleasant plastic and rubber smell when new and is uncomfortable to wear. It doesn’t stay in place when you sweat.
  • Best Value
    3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
  • Honorable Mention
    Honeywell Multipurpose Reusable Half Mask
    Summary
    Summary
    Its two P100 cartridges and filters offer superior protection against particulates, gases, and vapors. The cartridges and filters are easy to replace and allow the face mask to be used many times. It works with all N-Series cartridges.
    Pros
    Pros
    The mask fits most head shapes and sizes thanks to its contoured face seal which offers the best seal to all facial areas. Its cartridge connectors are threaded to prevent accidental disconnection.
    Cons
    Cons
    It is of medium size and may not fit larger face shapes. The filters and cartridges are quite pricey.
  • Honorable Mention
    Honeywell Multipurpose Reusable Half Mask

    The air is filled with all sorts of pollutants that are potentially harmful. It gets worse when your job requires you to deal with harmful pollutants, such as when you’re woodworking, metalworking, auto detailing, and performing other forms of mechanical work. Our buying guide will help you find the best face masks for safety and health in polluted workspaces.

    Best Face Mask Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    If you're looking to buy the best face mask that will protect your lungs from dust, chemicals, paint, mold, and other pollutants, look no further than this mask. It has scooped the top number on our list because of its superior construction. 3M has been making quality face masks for many years now and this respirator attests to the company’s competency.


    What we love about this face mask is it's made from advanced silicone material and feels soft on the face. The material also makes it very durable. 3M's proprietary CoolFlow valve helps make breathing easier. The face mask has been designed with comfort in mind and meets all government safety standards. It provides respiratory protection for chemical or pollutant concentrations up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Limit.


    However, it does have a few downsides. For starters, you have to use both of your hands when releasing the buckle. It also doesn't come with filters and cartridges, so you have to buy them separately.

    Best Value

    Having a respirator close by means you have one less thing to worry about in case of a wildfire or a disaster. When used properly, this 3M reusable respirator captures inhaled particulates, vapors, and gases. It is NIOSH-approved for industrial and occupational use. The government agency has tested and approved the face mask for use with specific filters, cartridges, and supplied air systems.


    The reusable respirator can be disassembled, cleaned, and reused and comes with a reclosable storage bag. When you use it with the approved cartridges and filters, it protects you against concentrations up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Limit. The cartridges have a unique design and help improve visibility and balance. This face mask can be used in a variety of applications. It feels gentle on the skin and is comfortable to wear.


    However, the plastic and rubber smell it produces when new may put you off. It may also get dislodged when you sweat and it doesn't come with filters.

    Honorable Mention

    If your job puts you at a high risk of inhaling gases, vapor, dust, and particulates, it's important that you get the best mask. A mask with high-quality filters and cartridges traps harmful elements that can make their way into your lungs. This Honeywell face mask is latex-free, hypoallergenic, tough, and long-lasting. It comes with two P100 cartridges and filters for superior protection.


    The mask is built to last and offers great value for the money. Its filters and cartridges can be easily replaced, allowing you to reuse it. The strategically-positioned exhalation valve ensures it stays cool for longwearing comfort. It fits most face shapes and sizes thanks to its contoured face seal with varying thickness. You’ll never have to worry about accidental disconnection while working, as the mask has threaded cartridge connectors.


    However, since it is a medium-size mask, it may not fit larger face shapes. Additionally, its replacement cartridges and filters don't come cheap.

    Why Trust Us


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    Benefits of Face Masks

    • Safely perform potentially harmful tasks. You should wear personal protective equipment such as a respirator mask when you're removing mold, spray painting, or are in a smoke-filled environment. It also provides good respiratory protection if you expect to encounter a lot of toxic dust.
    • Protect your eyes and face. The best respirator masks include a particulate filter, provide a tight seal, and keep harmful chemicals and vapors from damaging the sensitive areas on your face.
    • Breathe better. Some people are more sensitive to air contaminants than others, but it's a good idea to wear a high-quality, reusable respirator when you know you're going to be exposed to potentially harmful elements in the air, such as wildfire smoke or earthquake rubble.
    • Prevent illness. When you're exposed to dust, fumes, gases, or vapors, it can be potentially harmful to your health. The right particulate respirator will ensure that the wearer’s respiratory system is not adversely affected by these contaminants.

    Types of Face Masks

    Air-Purifying Respirators (APRs)

    APRs remove contaminants such as dust, mist, and metal fumes by absorbing the gases and vapors through a cartridge or canister. These types of respirators fit snugly against your face and come in several types: mouth bit respirator, quarter-mask, half-face mask, and full-face mask. Full-face masks cover everything from above the eyes to below the chin. All of the products in our review are APRs. 

    Supplied-Air Respirators (SARs)

    SARs use an air tank, air compressor, or air line to supply clean air to your body. These respirators have either tight or loose-fitting respiratory inlets. Half- or full-face respirators use tight-fitting inlets. Hoods or helmets that cover the head or neck and rubber or fabric side shields have loose-fitting inlets.

    Top Brands

    3M

    With its headquarters based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 3M has been around since 1902. The company launched as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and initially focused on mining for a mineral to make sandpaper and grinding wheels. The company currently produces more than 60,000 different products. One of its top face masks is the 3M 7503 Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator.

    MSA

    American-based MSA has been around since 1914. The company develops, manufactures, and supplies a variety of safety products to protect people and infrastructures. Its products are used by the military, construction industry, and fire services. One top product is the MSA Advantage 200 Half Mask.

    Honeywell

    Honeywell, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, designs products related to many areas, including safety and security, energy efficiency, and clean energy. Its technologies are used in homes, cars, and manufacturing plants. One popular product is the Honeywell 5500 Series Half Face Mask Reusable Respirator.

    Face Mask Pricing

    • Under $30: The type of respirators in this price range can be used for a variety of tasks, including painting, sanding, welding, smelting, construction, abatement, and mining. They tend to be lightweight, made with silicone facepieces, and are usually easy to clean. Disposable respirators are cheaper than reusable ones.
    • Over $30: At this price point, you will find high-end respirators that are much more durable than their less-expensive counterparts. They resist distortion and have minimal dead air space. They typically include contoured sealing flanges and advanced cradle suspension systems to provide optimal comfort.

    Key Features

    Material

    The best respirator fits tightly and does not leak. This feature is largely dependent on the type of materials that are used in manufacturing. The facepiece can be constructed of several types of materials, depending on the brand and the type of mask. This includes silicone, neoprene, and natural rubber. The canister is typically made of styrene plastic, which is very durable.

    Durability

    Another important feature on a face mask is its durability. This is directly related to the type of material that is used to make the mask. If you want a reliable respirator, you need to look for a product that is long-lasting. Many high-end face masks contain silicon rubber, which provides a tight seal and is very dependable.

    Fit

    The better a respirator fits, the more comfortable it will be. It should be secure, and there should be no gap between your face and the seal. Keep in mind that while respirators are tested by the manufacturers, not every person has the same size head nor the same facial features. As a result, not all masks will fit you the same way. Therefore, look to see if the product is adjustable for a comfortable fit.

    Respiratory Hazard

    Consider why you are buying the face mask and what type of contaminants you need to ward against. Note the toxicity levels of these particular contaminants to make sure the half facepiece respirator or full-face respirator will stand up to them. Other things to take into consideration include length of exposure, contaminant concentration, and your sensitivity to the contaminant.

    Other Considerations

    • Cartridge Ratings: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assigns ratings that are used on filter cartridges. For example, an N95 respirator filters at least 95 percent of all airborne particles but has no resistance to oil, while a P99 respirator filters at least 99 percent of airborne particles and is strongly resistant to oil. The letters AG mean a respirator is approved for acid gas filtration, while an OS respirator can be used for organic vapor filtration.

    Best Face Mask Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    If you're looking to buy the best face mask that will protect your lungs from dust, chemicals, paint, mold, and other pollutants, look no further than this mask. It has scooped the top number on our list because of its superior construction. 3M has been making quality face masks for many years now and this respirator attests to the company’s competency.


    What we love about this face mask is it's made from advanced silicone material and feels soft on the face. The material also makes it very durable. 3M's proprietary CoolFlow valve helps make breathing easier. The face mask has been designed with comfort in mind and meets all government safety standards. It provides respiratory protection for chemical or pollutant concentrations up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Limit.


    However, it does have a few downsides. For starters, you have to use both of your hands when releasing the buckle. It also doesn't come with filters and cartridges, so you have to buy them separately.

    Best Value

    Having a respirator close by means you have one less thing to worry about in case of a wildfire or a disaster. When used properly, this 3M reusable respirator captures inhaled particulates, vapors, and gases. It is NIOSH-approved for industrial and occupational use. The government agency has tested and approved the face mask for use with specific filters, cartridges, and supplied air systems.


    The reusable respirator can be disassembled, cleaned, and reused and comes with a reclosable storage bag. When you use it with the approved cartridges and filters, it protects you against concentrations up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Limit. The cartridges have a unique design and help improve visibility and balance. This face mask can be used in a variety of applications. It feels gentle on the skin and is comfortable to wear.


    However, the plastic and rubber smell it produces when new may put you off. It may also get dislodged when you sweat and it doesn't come with filters.

    Honorable Mention

    If your job puts you at a high risk of inhaling gases, vapor, dust, and particulates, it's important that you get the best mask. A mask with high-quality filters and cartridges traps harmful elements that can make their way into your lungs. This Honeywell face mask is latex-free, hypoallergenic, tough, and long-lasting. It comes with two P100 cartridges and filters for superior protection.


    The mask is built to last and offers great value for the money. Its filters and cartridges can be easily replaced, allowing you to reuse it. The strategically-positioned exhalation valve ensures it stays cool for longwearing comfort. It fits most face shapes and sizes thanks to its contoured face seal with varying thickness. You’ll never have to worry about accidental disconnection while working, as the mask has threaded cartridge connectors.


    However, since it is a medium-size mask, it may not fit larger face shapes. Additionally, its replacement cartridges and filters don't come cheap.

    Tips

    • In addition to wearing a face mask, consider installing air filters in your garage or auto repair shop if the air inside is compromised with airborne contaminants. It will significantly reduce respiratory-related problems. 
    • Face masks may not be effective for people with facial hair. The hair prevents the mask from making a tight seal with the face, and dust particles may sneak into the cover.
    • You should always travel with your face mask in case you find yourself in places with excessive pollution. Select a compact design that can fit in your bag or glove box.

    FAQs

    Q: Can a face mask keep me safe from smoke fumes?

    A: Only if it's designed to filter smoke, or carbon, particles. An ordinary face mask may not do much to protect you from inhaling smoke fumes. However, a respirator may help you breathe more comfortably and give you enough time to get to a safe place in case you are caught up in a fire.

    Q: How often should I replace a face mask?

    A: You should replace a dust mask every year or after about six months with frequent use. A respirator should be replaced every two years. Consider replacing it sooner if you notice reduced filter performance or if it’s no longer a snug fit.

    Q: How do I know that a face mask is effective?

    A: You can place both hands over the mask as you breathe in and out to test for any leaks. The mask should bulge out slightly when you exhale and collapse a little when you inhale. Also, look at the inner side of the mask. If you notice any dirt or dust particles, then the mask isn’t very effective.

    Final Thoughts

    Our pick for the best face mask is the 3M Large Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator. It's comfortable, makes a tight seal, and you don't have to rebreathe a lot of your own air because it has a low dead air space.

    If you are looking for a cheaper face mask, consider the 3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator.