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Finding the Most Comfortable N95 Mask: Everything You Need to Know

Whether respiratory protection is critical PPE for your job function or if you are looking for personal use, comfort is king.  Here’s what you need to know about finding a comfortable n95 mask, the difference between respirators and how to ensure an air-tight seal.
Comfortable n95 mask

If your line of work requires you to wear an N95 respirator or a mask for long periods of time, or if you’re someone who continues to seek highgrade protection for public and indoor settings, finding a comfortable mask that fits properly and keeps you protected is paramount.

 

We have all seen the harsh results many healthcare workers have experienced from wearing disposable N95s for long periods of time.  Face acne, and mask rash are all too common.  Disposables are also difficult to wear with glasses and; goggles, cause fogging, can interfere with your PPE and can be very hot.

 

Whether respiratory protection is critical PPE for your job function or if you are looking for personal use, comfort is king.  Here’s what you need to know about finding a comfortable n95 mask, the difference between respirators and how to ensure an air-tight seal.

 

Elastomeric respirators make the most comfortable N95 masks

 

Comfort is at the core of everything we do at Dentec Safety. As a distributor and NIOSH-approved manufacturer of both disposable and reusable respirators and half masks for almost 20 years, we literally live and breathe (pun intended) respiratory protection. 

 

Disposable N95 masks are and will continue to be a critical piece of PPE for many industries and applications, but truth be told, they are just not comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  What makes them uncomfortable is that they are not adjustable.

 

If it’s comfort you seek, switching to an elastomeric respirator will feel like night and day compared to a non-adjustable disposable mask because a reusable respirator like the Comfort-Air®Nx has an 8-point adjustable suspension that allows you to obtain a proper and comfortable fit even with pony tales or hair buns.

 

The silicone seal on the 400NXMD half-face respirator is comfortable and soft enough that wearing the device for long hours is possible. Even when the headbands are tightened to achieve a good fit, the seal materials remain comfortable and tolerable – even in hot and humid conditions.1

 

elastomeric N95

 

The other important factor with mask comfort is breathability.   Having a low-pressure drop means that you must exert effort to draw air in or push air out.  This is what can also make disposable masks and respirators feel so uncomfortable and claustrophobic.  However, with an elastomeric half mask like the Comfort-Air®Nx Series, you will have much less breathing resistance.  The Comfort-Air®Nx has one of the lowest pressure drops in the industry. Internal temperature recordings inside the mask are 2° C cooler than wearing a disposable respirator including a surgical-style mask.

 

Regarding the comfort of the respirator in other areas, the name says it all. The  Comfort-Air®Nx respirator is very comfortable. I would go as far as to say this is the most comfortable respirator on this list.. Overall, the 400NXMD is a comfortable half-face respirator that excels in breathability.” Regarding the comfort of the respirator in other areas, the name says it all. The Comfort-Air®Nx respirator is very comfortable. I would go as far as to say this is the most comfortable respirator on this list.. Overall, the 400NXMD is a comfortable half-face respirator that excels in breathability. 2

 

Sleep Comfortably at Night

 

When it comes to PPE, you can also be comfortable knowing that using a reusable respirator has additional “health” and environmental benefits.  Elastomeric respirators are reusable so if you have one, you don’t need to worry about shortages of N95s or surgical masks when they are in short supply. Elastomeric respirators are a sustainable solution and are designed to be cleaned, decontaminated, and reused. The filters can last up to one year according to CDC guidelines.  Because of this feature, one elastomeric mask can do the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of disposable N95 masks. They help keep costs down and they can be used in more work environments due to their rubber-like material.

 

What is the best N95 mask for sensitive skin?

 

When you switch from a disposable mask to a reusable N95 like the Comfort-Air®Nx, you can say goodbye to face rash and mask acne.  The elastomeric rubber formulation offers a material that is a lot softer and more supple on the skin and surprisingly lightweight. In addition, the inside sealing flange is what gives the elastomeric mask a lot more comfort because you have much more pressure points. The ergonomic shape of elastomeric mimics the contour of your nose and the curvature of your jawline to provide a much more comfortable and secure fit.

 

 elastomeric respirators

 

In terms of comfort, the fit is much gentler on your face, more comfortable and just miles ahead of any disposable option I’ve tried.. Face rashes/ acne are no longer a constant issue for our staff.”

Dr. O’Toole

 

What is the most comfortable N95 mask for flying?

 

elastomeric N95

 

With a cloth face covering (Cloth FC), the user has 75% inward and outward leakage. Users may wear for source control but should limit time indoors with others and proximity to others.3

 

If you’re planning on wearing a mask for travel, it’s most likely because safety is a priority.  If that’s the case, not only, do you want to be wearing a mask that is comfortable and unobtrusive, but you also want something that will prevent aerosol transmission. Although more fashion-friendly, cloth and surgical-style masks will not cut it in terms of protection, especially for long periods of time.

 

With a surgical mask, the user has 50% inward and outward leakage A surgical mask may be appropriate to wear as source control. However, it does not provide adequate protection for users from inhalable infectious particles.4

 

With a fit-tested N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) (without an exhalation valve) like the  Comfort-Air®Nx, the user has a 1-5% inward leakage and outward leakage.5

 

Flying in my @DentecSafety for the first time! Disposable N100 I wore last time I flew bruised my nose – this is so much better!

 

elastomeric N95

 

For more information on the differences in masks and level protection check out: Choosing the Right Mask: KN95s VS. N95s (And Everything In Between)

 

How to fit a N95 mask?

 

Disposable respirators have failure rates of 20 – 50% when conducting quantitative fit testing. Whereas elastomeric respirators on average have a 94% fit pass rate. So, you are much more likely to have a comfortable and secure fit in an elastomeric vs. trying to fit test multiple disposables.

 

Check out this quick video on how to properly fit check your respirator: How to Fit Check the Comfort-Air®Nx Elastomeric N95 Respirator – YouTube[MJ1] 

 

 

 

Recently, Cooper University Health Network trialed elastomeric respirators and 85% of the staff stated that the Comfort-Air®NxMD Respirator is the most comfortable mask they have worn including disposable respirators. They did not have any issues fit testing the team and in fact where able to fit test one individual who was never able to get a proper fit and seal before.

 

Check out full case study here: Cooper Health Case Study CAN (dentecsafety.com)

 

elastomeric respirator

 

What is the best N95 mask for small faces?

 

NIOSH sizing protocols drastically underrepresent women and Asian face shapes and sizes for FFR’s. The Comfort-AirNx® Respirator was designed in two sizes to provide a better fit/ seal for all face shapes and sizes.

 

elastomeric respirators

 

What is the best N95 mask for large faces?

 

Traditionally disposable masks come in one size and can be especially tricky to fit for large or wide faces.  If you are a larger person or have a wide face you may find it difficult to achieve a proper fit with disposable respirators due to the sizing and lack of suspension adjustment.

 

The height of a nose bridge is not as important as both the vertical and horizontal measurements to help advise the proper size of respirator for your face.

 

See Our Size Guide: DENTEC Comfort-Air®NxMD Size Guide (dentecsafety.com)

 

Please note that the inside sealing flange on Dentec’s elastomeric respirator is quite generous in both the S/M and M/L sizes. This sealing flange is going to help provide a secure a comfortable seal regardless of nose bridge height.

 

See our Size Guide:

 

Comfort-Air size guide

 

What is the best N95 mask for beards?

 

Respirators require an optimal seal to guarantee their effectiveness and the beard or facial hair can impede this. According to SPI Health and Safety:

 

In 100% of cases, after 7 days without shaving, the respiratory protection masks showed a leak of more than 1%. This means that the air inside the mask contained more than 1% of unwanted particles!

 

Also, it has been noted that jobs requiring regular head movement increase the probability that poorly shaved skin will create a leak.

 

To give an idea of the average frequency of shaving required, the beard should, for a worker on duty, have been shaved no more than 8 hours before the face shield is installed. This will ensure a facial surface with a minimum of irregularity to facilitate the tight and effective installation of the mask.

 

The critical thing to remember about your respiratory protection mask is that any breach, no matter how small, can lead to toxic gases, vapours or particles being inhaled. Shaving all facial hair will promote an optimal seal and prevent leakage through the mask.  Any facial hair including mustaches, sideburns or stubble can impede the effectiveness of the respirator.

 

Here are the guidelines as per CDC and NIOSH:

 

 

How to wear an N95 mask comfortably

 

Check out this quick video on how to properly put on, take off and adjust an elastomeric reusable respirator:

 

 


 

Dentec Safety is a leading manufacturer and distributor of safety products in the North America since 2004. Dentec Safety is dedicated to providing the highest quality safety products and solutions delivering enhanced value and comfort. Our expertise from decades of experience in Industrial Safety and our innovative design technologies have solidified us as thought leaders in the field. Protection and comfort are at the core of everything we do at Dentec. As a leading manufacturer of Safety Solutions, it is our mission to help organizations do the right thing, keep their employees safe and exceed Industry Health & Safety Standard.

 


 

1Half-face Respirators – Why Choose a Half-Face Respirator, Best Respirators & More. (breathesafeair.com)[MJ1] 

 

2Half-face Respirators – Why Choose a Half-Face Respirator, Best Respirators & More. (breathesafeair.com)[MJ1] 

 

3and outward effectiveness of cloth masks, a surgical mask, and a face shield | medRxiv).

 

4and outward effectiveness of cloth masks, a surgical mask, and a face shield | medRxiv).

 

5and outward effectiveness of cloth masks, a surgical mask, and a face shield | medRxiv).

 

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