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The Best N95, KN95 and KF94 Masks for Smoke Pollution 2023 – The Hollywood Reporter


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As a result of the Canadian wildfires, the air quality on the East Coast is currently among the world’s worst, rivaling that of New Delhi, India. New York City’s air quality index (AQI) surpassed 200 last week, a level considered “very unhealthy” according to air purifier brand IQ Air.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health.” CNN points out that wildfire smoke is filled with PM2.5, the minute particulate matter that’s extremely dangerous and “can travel deep into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream” when inhaled. The pollutant is linked to respiratory illnesses such as asthma and heart disease.

Related: The Best Air Purifiers for Breathing and Sleeping Better

Though statewide coronavirus mask mandates have expired, many people have opted to continue wearing them to keep germs and other airborne viruses at bay. And with face masks now a part of our everyday life, many Americans are also using KN95, N95 and KF94 masks to protect their health against tiny pollutants in smoke (such as in New York as a result of the Canadian wildfires), smog and more.

Before you restock your mask supply, you’ll want to know the differences among the three most common types of respirators being used to protect against pollutants and airborne viruses. Keep reading for more on where to buy real KN95, N95 and KF94 masks, how to spot fake ones and more.

What’s the Difference Between Face Masks and Respirators?

According to a 2021 Geohealth study, “face masks and respirators, with their ability to filter out a fraction of particulate matter, may offer a means to reduce exposure to PM2.5 and thus reduce the associated risk of acute respiratory outcomes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended that people set aside fabric face coverings and upgrade to medical-grade protective masks to better safeguard against particulate matter. Surgical face masks (the pleated disposable three-ply masks used by medical professionals) are still the first line of defense to help stop the spread of the virus, but KN95, N95 and KF94 masks (also called air purifying respirators) are also recommended by the CDC to protect against pollutants in smoke.

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The U.S. agency notes that “a respirator has better filtration, and if worn properly the whole time it is in use, can provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask.” They also state that if N95, KN95 or KF94 masks are unavailable, then a cloth mask is still better than none at all.

KN95 vs. N95 vs. KF94 Masks: What’s the Difference?

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the agency that tests and approves air respirators for workplace use, has a list of approved particulate filtering respirators, according to the CDC. These NIOSH-approved air-purifying respirators protect by filtering particles out of the air while the user is breathing.

There are seven classes of filters for NIOSH-approved filtering face respirators available right now. The minimal level of filtration approved by NIOSH is 95 percent. The N, R and P designations refer to the filter’s oil resistance.
Here are the main differences among KN95, N95 and KF94 masks, which all filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns:

  • N95 masks are approved by NIOSH and filter 95 percent of airborne particles. They are not resistant to oil. The surgical N95 is a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator that has also been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration as a surgical mask.
  • KN95 masks are the Chinese equivalent of N95 masks and meet international safety standards. They are not NIOSH-approved, but they do filter out 95 percent of particles. Some manufacturers were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA when N95 masks were hard to find, but note that some brands have since had their approval revoked.
  • KF94 masks meet South Korea’s safety standards and filter 94 percent of particles. They are meant to give you a snug fit. Some KF94s are FDA-approved, and it’s important to check that the face mask was manufactured in South Korea.

How to Tell if Your Mask Is Authentic

It’s important to make sure you don’t purchase a counterfeit mask, especially from online marketplaces that don’t verify authenticity. You can tell N95 masks are authentic if they have a GB number, which tells you when the mask was constructed. No GB marking indicates it’s not a certified medical-grade mask. And, there is also no such thing as a kids N95 mask, since NIOSH approves adult-only masks. Brands do however create masks sized for children and others that give you extra comfort.

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Since KN95 and KF94 masks are not approved by NIOSH, a tell-tale sign that they’re fake is if they’re stamped with “NIOSH-approved.”

The FDA also states that it “does not issue any type of device registration certificates to medical device facilities,” and that also applies to face masks. Therefore, if a mask’s description notes that the item is “FDA registered or “FDA listed,” that means the manufacturer has simply listed or registered the product but that it isn’t necessarily “approved” or “authorized” by the agency.

Overall, your best bet for ensuring that a face mask or respirator is effective or approved by a government agency is by choosing one that is on the NIOSH Certified Equipment List or the FDA’s database of approved medical devices.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best KN95, N95 and KF94 masks that are guaranteed authentic.

The Best N95 Masks to Shop Online

Kimberly-Clark Professional N95 Pouch Respirator

The Kimberly-Clark Professional N95 Pouch Respirator is NIOSH-approved and comes with 50 per package. They are white, have a pouch design and two blue headbands to secure the mask. Per the brand, they provide “a minimum of 95. percent filtration efficiency of 0.3-micron particles.”

Kimberly-Clark PROFESSIONAL N95 Mask


Kimberly-Clark N95 Pouch Respirator $42.00 on

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3M Aura Particulate N95 Respirator

The 3M Aura Particulate N95 Respirator is also NIOSH-approved and has an embossed top panel designed to help reduce the fogging of eyewear from warm, moist exhaled air. It also has a soft inner material, sculpted nose panel and custom seal.

3M Aura Particulate Respirator 9205+, N95 Mask

Courtesy of Amazon

3M N95 Aura Particulate Respirator $13.37 on

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Benehal ​​N95 Face Masks

Benehal ​​N95 Face Masks offer 95 percent protection against PM2.5 particles. Reviewers say the nylon and cotton mask feels comfortable and has an adjustable metal nose clip to customize the fit.

Benehal N95 Face Mask

Courtesy of Amazon

Benehal N95 Face Mask $19.99 on

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4. Happy Masks

You need to keep your eyes out for Happy Masks, which sell out regularly and were recently restocked on the California-based company’s website. The brand has tons of unique designs and styles, from solid, bold colors to rainbows, strawberries and dinosaurs.

The masks feature five layers, including a three-ply nanofiber membrane filter, which has been tested by Nelson Labs to provide 98 percent filtration against viruses, bacteria, pollen, air pollution, smoke and other pollutants. It has a parrot beak style ideal for longer use and wear.

Happy Masks

Courtesy of Happy Masks

Happy Masks Pro Mask $24

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The Best KN95 Masks to Shop Online

WWDoll KN95 Masks, 25-Pack

WWDoll’s KN95 face masks feature a five-layer design with non-woven cloth, belt-blown fabric and hot air cotton as well as an adjustable nose bridge.

WWDoll KN95 Masks, 25-Pack

Courtesy of Amazon

Evolvetogether KN95 Masks

Sustainable brand Evolvetogether’s KN95 masks have a six-ply design that’s breathable and water-resistant. They have soft, no-tug ear loops. And the company’s mission to be sustainable comes down to the no-box packaging. They even come with a plant-based, biodegradable pouch for on-the-go travel. (The masks have been seen on stars including Pete Davidson, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Dakota Johnson, Anya Taylor-Joy and Sarah Jessica Parker.)

Evolvetogether KN95 Masks


Evolvetogether Biodegradable Masks, 10-pk. $38

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Vida KN95 Masks

Vida offers high-protection, recyclable KN95 face masks in different sizes, including a family pack, regular, kids and kids x-small. They’re available in quantities of 10 to 1,000. Colors come in black, white, gray, lavender, fuchsia, coral, denim, blush, seafoam and aquamarine, and the brand also offers UPF 50+ options with fun prints. An added bonus is that each purchase is a donation to the VIDA Global Education Scholarship Fund.

Vida KN95 Printed Masks


Vida KN95 Printed Masks $30

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Maskc KN95 Face Masks

Maskc’s fashionable KN95 face masks feature an ergonomic design in a variety of colors and five-ply construction that filters 95 percent of particles of 0.3 microns or smaller. The breathable masks are perfect for running or working out. Plus, they’re 50 percent off for a limited time when you use the code FLASH50.

The Los Angeles-based brand has been spotted on Katie Holmes, Naomi Watts, Jenna Dewan, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Garner, Bella Hadid, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Blake Lively, Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner and Olivia Wilde.

MASKC KN95 Face Mask


Maskc KN95 Face Masks, 10-Pack $39

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Powecom KN95 Masks, 10-Pack

Powecom’s KN95 masks come in a 10-pack and in denim blue, pink, gray, black and white. The masks are made of multiple filtration layers of polypropylene and electrostatic cotton, and they’re available in both ear loop and headband models. The 3D foldable design gives you extra comfort, perfect for ergonomic fitting.

Powecom KN95 Masks

Bona Fide

Powecom KN95 Masks, 10-Pack $11.70 and up

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The Best KF94 Masks to Shop Online

Vida KF94 Recyclable Masks

Vida offers six colors in recyclable KF94 masks, including white, gray, black, light blue, light pink and light green. Prices vary based on quantity, starting at $25 for a 10-pack to $1,200 for a set of 1,000. Vida also helps to support access to management education at Stanford, Harvard Business School, MIT and other world-universities through the nonprofit One League (the two companies were founded by Umaimah Mendhro.)

Vida KF94 Mask

Courtesy of Vida

Vida KF94 Face Masks, 10-Pack $25

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WellBefore 3D KN94-Style KN95 Masks

WellBefore says its face mask “follows the KN94 standard” for the South Korean equivalent of China’s KN95 and offers the best of both face mask styles, such as more comfortable adjustments and four layers of filtration.

WellBefore 3D KN94-Style KN95 Masks

Courtesy of WellBefore

WellBefore 3D KF94-Style KN95 Mask $0.69

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KF Flax KF94 Face Masks

These non-woven KF94 face masks are individually wrapped and come in a set of 20. Made in South Korea, each mask has four layers of protection against airborne particles.

KF Flax KF94 Face Masks


Kyungkin Flax KF-94 Face Masks $19.88 on

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Dr. Puri KF94 Micro-Dust Protection Mask

Dr. Puri’s KF94 masks comes in small, medium and large sizes and are proven to filter 99.4 percent of microns.

Dr. Puri KF94 Micro-Dust Protection Mask


Dr. Puri KF94 Face Mask $27.99 on

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