There are plenty of different options when looking to protect yourself against covid-19. Masks come in different forms, sizes, and even colors. However, depending on what you are looking for, the mask you need will differ.
Each form of protection comes with various strengths and weaknesses. So when trying to understand if a respirator or a regular face mask is better, you need to look at several places of comparison.
A regular mask is the most commonly used protective covering. This is the kind of mask you will see people wearing as they walk down the street.
A face mask is a loose-fitting section of fabric that covers the mouth and nose. Traditionally this is kept in place by loops around the ears.
The main function of a face mask is to catch droplets from the wearer escaping into the outer environment. Primarily, face masks protect others rather than the wearer themselves.
A respirator mask differs from a regular face mask because it is tight-fitting to the face. Its closeness creates a facial seal that should protect both others and the wearer.
The respirator mask filters air coming in and out of the mask. The efficiency to which the air is filtered will depend on the type of respirator mask.
Respirator masks can come in three forms: half-face, full-face, and disposable. Disposable respirator masks - such as the N95 mask - are more commonly known.
Healthcare workers predominantly use respirator masks (especially in their disposable form).
There are several points of comparison for face masks and respirator masks. Outlined in this article, you can see comparisons between the two on these topics::
Once these comparisons have been drawn, it should be clear whether a regular face mask or a respirator mask is better protection against covid-19.
Arguably, this is the most critical point of comparison. The aim of a mask is to protect the wearer and others against covid-19, slowing the spread.
A regular face mask does not filter air inhaled by the wearer. As previously mentioned, regular face masks are designed to catch droplets from the wearer. In doing so, face masks protect those around the wearer rather than the wearer themselves.
A respirator mask contains a filter that filters the air being both inhaled and exhaled by the wearer. The level to which a respirator mask filters the air will depend on the make, but efficiency is often high. Ultramasx Ultrafilters filter more than 99.97% of suspended particles and have a BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) of 99.96%.
When looking for a respirator mask, it is integral to check these filtration statistics before purchasing.
Winner: Respirator masks are more effective at filtration.
The price comparison is essential, as many have suffered this past year economically.
Price comparison is difficult to get clear cut, as different companies will offer different prices for the mask products. Ensuring you shop around to look at alternative prices is essential. By taking two example companies, however, you can compare the cost.
Although the Ultramasx mask is more expensive, you will save money in the long run, as it is long lasting and provides much better comfort than a cheap, disposable mask. Therefore, you can save money purchasing the Ultramasx in the long term, as its filters last up to 30 days so the initial investment is quickly paid off and will save you up to 80% over a year compared to a N95 respirator..
There is a wide price gap, however, the Ultramasx is still the better option due to its quality, comfort, and long term cost savings.
Winner: Ultramasx more Affordable.
Since the pandemic has been part of everyday life for over a year now, both masks are easy to buy online. There are several companies - from small businesses to large corporations - that sell both regular face masks and respirator masks.
Online stores like Ultramasx can offer you respirators, or Etsy businesses can provide you with homemade cloth face masks.
Draw: Both forms of mask are easy to find online.
You may have seen photos of medical workers after a shift with red marks around their faces from their masks. However, for the everyday user, damage like that shouldn't come from a mask.
Regular face masks shouldn't be uncomfortable on the face. If they are made of fabric, they should be soft and comfortable. Some come with a metal wire over the nose so they can fit the face well.
However, glasses-wearers have found issues with regular face masks. Due to the way air is allowed to escape, those who wear glasses have found their lenses steaming up, obscuring their vision.
Respirator masks, while being equally comfortable, do not face this issue for those who wear glasses. The strict facial seal stops air from escaping upwards and fogging up glasses.
Winner: Respirator masks are more comfortable for the everyday wearer.
The type of mask you choose will depend on your own personal specifications. However, against the criteria set up here, respirator masks seem to be the best choice of mask.
By filtering both the air breathed in and out of the wearer, respirator masks will protect you better against covid-19. They are easily accessible online and won't prove a problem for glasses wearers.
It is important to remember that a single mask won't offer you complete protection from covid-19. Masks - whether a regular mask or a respirator mask - should be paired with other protective techniques. Wearing other forms of PPE, washing your hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing is integral to avoiding contracting covid-19.