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Whether you’re listening to the government or taking cues from your favorite celebrity, it’s never been more clear that wearing a face mask could help stop the spread of Covid. But with mask wearing guidelines looking like they’ll be in place for the foreseeable future, it’s time to upgrade to something more comfortable.
While lightweight face coverings are ideal for running and working out, the CDC says the best face mask for protection against the coronavirus is still an N95 mask. But even the best N95 masks come in different variations, from the 3M NIOSH masks typically associated with health and occupational safety sites, to the soft-sided folding N95 masks used by first responders. While both N95 masks have their benefits, a newer style of N95 mask has emerged, with many swearing by the comfort and protective features of a so-called Duckbill N95 Mask.
What Is a Duckbill Mask?
Named after its unique duckbill-style shape, the best duckbill masks are NIOSH-certified N95 masks said to offer better breathability, thanks to its flat breathing chamber, which protrudes away from the wearer’s nose and mouth. In other words, the material isn’t pressed right up against your face, which can often restrict breathing.
The best duckbill masks are also worn more like a headband, with straps that extend over and around the head, rather than hooking over your ears. In our experience, they’ve been the most comfortable N95 mask we’ve tried to date.
Duckbill Mask vs. N95 Mask
While duckbill masks are a type of N95 mask, the newest duckbill masks differ from some N95 respirators in their construction. Traditional NIOSH respirators often feature a hard outer shell (see example here). These Kimberly Clark Kimtech N95 pouch respirators (pictured above) fold flat when not in use, and are made with a more lightweight material.
Like other N95 masks, the duckbill face masks feature the same particulate filters that block a minimum of 95% of potentially harmful airborne particles and contaminants. The Kimberly Clark N95 pouch respirator pictured above is made with two layers of electrostatic-treated melt-blown filters (the electrostatic attraction basically helps with capturing dust and other particles), and fitted with a bendable nose piece for comfort.
How to Wear a Duckbill N95 Mask
The duckbill mask is designed to sit tightly against the face, forming a consistent seal. Though the duckbill shape allows for more room in front of your nose and mouth, you’ll still want the side of the mask to sit flat and tight against your face and below your chin, for better coverage. The CDC still recommends that the best face mask is one that “fits closely over your nose or one that has a nose wire to limit fogging.”
Where to Buy Duckbill N95 Masks Online
While N95 masks continue to go in and out of stock, there are still a number of duckbill n95 masks available online. Made in the USA, these duckbill respirator masks above are NIOSH-certified as an N95 particulate filter respirator, meaning it meets the requirements of providing a minimum 95% filtration efficiency of 0.3 micron particles.
Boasting much of the same filtration levels as N95 masks, people have also been turning to FDA-approved KN95 masks for a similar style with the same high level of protection. These KN95 masks have a beak-like shape that sits away from the nose, which may enhance breathability while still filtering out around 95% of airborne particles and droplets. KN95s also provide a secure, tight fit around the mouth and nose, which make them superior at filtering viral particles compared to cloth or surgical masks alone.
Like other N95 masks, these duckbill face masks are not meant to be re-used. And while mask wearing in an effective way to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, you should also continue practicing other Covid safety guidelines, like proper handwashing and frequent disinfecting of surfaces.