Reusable masks are fast becoming a fashion statement these days. However, stylish, yet comfortable masks can be quite costly. I’m on a constant lookout for comfortable and breathable reusable masks for my family, and found some which my children and I like, and I will share my review here with you! There are many brands of reusable masks in Singapore which I have yet to try. “How many masks do you have?”, my hubby asks. Oops. I shall try to control my mask obsession (for now, at least).
1.Why wear a mask?
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Majority of people infected with the COVID-19 virus experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, older people and those with underlying medical conditions (eg. diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, etc.) are more likely to develop serious illness.
The current information suggests that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through respiratory droplets and touching contaminated services. Respiratory droplets are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person who is in close contact (within 1 metre) with someone who has respiratory symptoms is at risk of being exposed to potentially infectious respiratory droplets.
People infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before symptoms develop, hence, wearing a mask may help prevent the spread of their infectious droplets to other people around them. Face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
By now, I’m sure you’re aware that it is an offence in Singapore if you don’t wear a mask outside your home. First-time offenders get fined $300, while repeat offenders face higher fines or prosecution in court. You may remove your mask only when you are eating or engaging in strenuous exercise outdoors such as running and jogging, but you must put it back on once you have completed your meal or exercise. Some exemptions for wearing masks include young children below the age of two for safety reasons. Enforcement will be flexible for groups with difficulty wearing a mask, such as children with special needs.
2. Surgical mask v.s. Cloth mask
A surgical mask (also known as a medical mask) is a loose-fitting disposable mask that filters out large particles in the air, and protects the wearer's nose and mouth from contact with droplets and sprays that may contain germs. Surgical masks may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.
Cloth masks can be made of sheets of tightly woven cotton and should include multiple layers of fabric. Unlike surgical masks, cloth masks can be washed and reused. A cloth mask traps droplets released when the wearer talks, coughs, or sneezes. When widely used by people in public settings, cloth masks may reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Environmentalists warn that an increase in the use of disposable masks and gloves to prevent the spread of coronavirus is contributing to the rising threat to ocean life. Surgical masks have been found on the beach near Hong Kong in February 2020. Masks that are not disposed of properly may be washed down drains, ending up in the ocean.
As such, besides ensuring proper disposal of masks, you might also want to consider getting reusable cloth masks to save the earth. Surgical masks, if short in supply, should be conserved for healthcare workers and those who are sick.
3. How to wear a mask safely
The world health organization provides advice on how to wear a medical and non-medical fabric mask safely.
4. Selecting a reusable mask
I will be happy to wear a comfortable mask that I can easily breathe in. Some masks feature adjustable earloops and a nose wire for you to adjust the mask according to your face shape and size. Some masks have fixed structures, while others can be pulled under the chin. Some masks have built-in filters made of water-resistant material, while others have filter slots for you to insert your own filter. Everyone is different and will have individual preferences, so let’s help you find a mask that will best suit you or your child!
These are some features you should consider when selecting a reusable mask:
- Numbers of layers of fabric
- Breathability of material used
- Water repellence/hydrophobic qualities
- Shape of mask
- Fit of mask
These are some of the brands of reusable masks which I have tried:
I ordered the 2-ply kids masks which are made of 100% cotton and come with a filter slot for you to insert your own filter. The inner cotton gauze layer has antimicrobial treatment. I like their prints and matching colored elastic ear binds. Their masks material is breathable and hypoallergenic, so it may be good for those with sensitive skin.
The masks, however, are only sold in sets, and I purchased a set of 4 kids masks for $39 (excluding the $5 shipping fee). The kids masks come in three different sizes, starting from XS (for 2-4 years old) to S (for 5-8 years old) M (for 9-years old onwards). However, I find that the kids mask sizes run a little small, so my kids have to wear the mask meant for their older brother. I suggest that you consider ordering a size larger for a better fit. I did not purchase the adult-sized mask because I didn’t fancy any of the colours or cartoon prints. The masks were delivered within 5-7 working days.
These masks are 3-ply, consisting of 2 layers of cotton and 1 layer of waterproof fabric to block water droplets. What attracted me to this mask was that there was no need for a separate filter insert, and the masks are also priced affordably.
I purchased the basic colour kids mask at $5 and the adult mask at $7. However, my 9-years old son and I found the material of these masks a little too stiff to our liking, and the fixed mask structure did not quite fit our oval face shape. My 5-years old son, however, doesn’t mind wearing the mask as it fits his round face shape better. Shipping is free if you opt for the normal mail option, otherwise by QXpress (standard mail), it will cost you $3.50. You should receive your masks between 3-9 working days, depending on the mailing option you select.
This was recommended by a friend of mine. There are many cute cartoon designs to select from and I was spoilt for choice. I opted for the outer layer to be fabricated from soft canvas, as recommended by my friend. The inner lining is made from 100% cotton. These masks come with a filter slot for you to insert your own filter. Nose wires and print placement requests are optional at an additional cost of $1 each. The masks come in both adult and kid sizes. You can specify the age of your child and the mask will be sewn accordingly.
I purchased the kids mask for $8 and the adult mask (with a nose wire) for $9. My mask order was made within a day and I received the masks within a week of placing my order. There is no additional shipping cost if you opt for your masks to be sent via normal mail. I like the soft canvas material and the soft and comfortable ear loops. My 5-years old son adores his mask, because to him, it’s the cutest and most breathable mask he owns. If you have difficulty convincing your children to wear a mask, here’s a tip for you - as tempting as it may be, do not select the print for your child. Let your child select a print so that half the battle is won!
I stumbled upon this brand of masks when I was searching for cloth pleated masks designed similar to the shape of disposable surgical masks. My son loves to pull the mask over his chin for complete coverage, so I hunted for a local company producing these masks. Getting a mask shipped from overseas would be too costly for me. I was delighted when I found that this company produces the type of mask I had been searching for. However, because the masks were sold out, I waited for the next launch the following month to place my order. These masks are made of 100% premium cotton, sized similar to the regular surgical masks, and come with a nose wire and filter slot for both the adults and older kids. The kids masks come in 2 sizes: toddlers (for 2-3 years old) and kids (for 3-9 years old). The material is has a high thread count and is OEKO-TEX certified, using only safe inks for your skin and the planet.
The nose wire prevents the mask from slipping down and my glasses from fogging up. I found the floral prints to be so attractive that I had to grab a set of 3 (costing $44.70) for myself. I also ordered a toddler mask at $14.90, a kids mask at $14.90, and paid $1.95 for shipping via normal mail. I waited for a couple of weeks for my masks to arrive, because they are sewn after an order is placed. While my toddler and 5-year old son do not mind wearing these masks, these are one of my (and my 9-year old son’s) favourite masks because of the comfort, fit, and soft ear loops. Unlike masks with structured shapes, these masks also do not slide down my nose when I yawn. These are definitely worth the wait, if you ask me!
The masks are handmade as well, and those for adults consist of an inner layer of breathable material and an outer layer of soft cotton. Those for kids (aged 3-10 years old) are made of 2 layers of soft cotton. There is a filter slot for you to insert a filter for both mask types. Also, 5 pieces of washable filters are provided with each mask purchased, so, you can save some time sourcing for your own filters! These filters are made from non-woven fabrics comparable to the ones used for N95 surgical masks, and have a 95.5% - 99.8% BFE reading after 15 washes, which means they retain their efficacy fairly well even after repeated washes. The filters can be folded or cut to fit your masks.
Although there is no nose wire, my glasses did not fog up when I wore this mask. The ear loops are also soft and comfortable. I find this mask so breathable that I forgot to remove this mask when I reached home – on two separate occasions! These masks are also easy to wash because there isn’t a nose wire. I’ll get these again if I need more masks.
My 2-year old son is a huge fan of the kids mask (yes, it fits a 2-year old too!) because it’s comfortable and he loves the print. You see, there’s an excavator on his mask print, and he’s currently infatuated with excavators. I purchased these masks at $16.90 each including the filters. I like that there is a ready-stock of masks available and these will be sent to you via courier service within 5 working days at a fee of $5. So, if you are in a hurry to get masks that are sold together with filters, you can consider purchasing these comfortable and breathable ones!
RL MaskI received this as a gift from a close friend because she and her friends are big fans of this mask. I love the super-soft and comfortable material. There’s no nose wire so it’s really easy to wash. However, my glasses fog up when I wear this mask, and perhaps because of my face shape, the mask sometimes slides down my nose. They have kids masks too, which my friend also recommended, but I have yet to purchase these.
What attracted me to these masks was the built-in N95 filter layer. These 5-ply masks also have water-resistant material incorporated beneath the external cotton layers, leaving me with the impression that the masks offer a higher level of protection compared to other reusable masks. The price of these masks is generally higher. I purchased the S sized mask at $26.90 and the M and L sized masks for $29.90 each. Shipping is free via normal mail. The designs are also attractive, however, there is a long wait time for these masks. It took about 1.5 months from the date I placed my order to the time I received them.
The material of the masks is slightly thicker compared to others, and also have a thicker and flatter nose wire. The masks are more structured and slightly stiffer compared to 2-ply masks in general. I also find that the ear loops are not as comfortable as I would like them to be. If you like your masks to have a built-in N95 filter layer and can afford to wait, you can consider ordering these.
In conclusion, my favourite adult reusable masks are from Bearynaise and CaregiverAsia as they are comfortable, breathable, and fit my face shape better. If you wear spectacles and are looking for comfortable masks, I would suggest these. My children love the reusable masks from Stitch It and CaregiverAsia because they are soft, comfortable, breathable, and have prints that they adore. The one thing that all our favourite masks have in common is the soft and comfortable ear loops.
I think I have quite a large supply of reusable masks to last me the next few months. Do you think that I should end my hunt for comfortable and breathable reusable masks here?
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