Which XL face masks are best?
When choosing the best mask to keep yourself and those around you safe from airborne pathogens, it’s critical to buy the one most able to filter particles from the air. But another big part of selecting the right face covering is picking something that you’ll wear consistently, wash regularly and dispose of when it’s lost its effectiveness. It can be challenging for those with large heads or prominent facial hair to find something that works well and remains comfortable for long periods.
With that in mind, the best XL face mask is the Kore Lyfe KF94. It’s practically identical to an N95 in terms of performance and it sports a Korean-made filter that adheres to the country’s strict filtration requirements.
What to know before you buy an XL face mask
The right mask can protect both you and others
Standard surgical masks help prevent the spread of droplets and airborne respiratory pathogens by slowing down and lightly filtering the air you exhale. The same can be said for fabric masks, which many people find more comfortable than surgical masks.
Unfortunately, those two types don’t do a ton to protect the wearer from pathogens around them (although they can do a little). Respirators such as N95, KN95 and KF94 masks do the best job of preventing the wearer from spreading and being exposed to airborne particles.
The more layers, the better
One layer is better than none, three layers are better than one, and five layers are the best of all. Many simple cloth masks have just a single layer of cotton, which isn’t incredibly effective. Many professional-grade respirators have up to five layers, which enables them to filter 95% of particles from the air you breathe. More layers also mean a mask will seem slightly more difficult to breathe through at first but rest assured that a properly fitted mask won’t lower your oxygen levels or cause you to inhale excess CO2.
Reusable masks must be washed regularly
No matter what kind of mask you use, start by not touching the main part of the mask any more than necessary to keep it as clean as possible. If you opt for a reusable cloth mask, make sure to have several on hand and wash each day’s mask immediately after using it for the best possible protection.
What to look for in a quality XL face mask
Adjustable ear loops
If a mask isn’t comfortable, you won’t want to wear it. If it doesn’t fit snugly on your face, it won’t be very effective. Therefore, ear loops with adjustable tension are the best bet for a consistent fit that doesn’t dig into your skin too much.
Unfortunately, some of the most effective extra-large respirators don’t have adjustable ear loops or the same reliable head straps offered by many premium N95 masks. In those cases, you can use head straps (also called ear savers) to secure the mask firmly and avoid hurting the backs of your ears.
Filter pockets on cloth masks
Some cloth masks have sewn-in sleeves for holding PM2.5 particulate filters. While these replaceable filters still don’t bring fabric masks up to the protection level of true respirators, they can make a difference. Luckily, they’re also highly affordable.
Adjustable nose wires
One of the most frustrating parts of masks for glasses-wearers is that your lenses will inevitably fog up. Even if you don’t wear glasses, it gets annoying if your mask keeps slipping. In addition to getting a properly fitting mask, a metal nose piece can go a long way toward minimizing fog and slippage.
How much you can expect to spend on an XL face mask
Disposable surgical masks cost about a quarter each, and disposable respirators such as KF94s are usually under $2 a piece. Reusable cloth masks generally cost a few dollars, and replacement PM2.5 filters cost a few cents.
XL face mask FAQ
Are disposable masks reusable?
A. According to the Center for Diseason Control and Prevention, you can reuse respirators such as N95 masks up to five times as long as they don’t show visible signs of damage like discoloration or fraying. To ensure they’re mostly decontaminated before reuse, hang them in a dry area for 48 hours. It is safer to avoid reusing them if possible, but if mask supplies are low in your area, a reused one can be almost as effective as a fresh one.
On the other hand, you should not reuse simple blue surgical masks.
Do masks work if I have a beard?
A. If your entire beard fits under the mask and the mask holds tightly to your skin, you’re in the clear. Unfortunately, facial hair that sticks out from under a mask will significantly reduce effectiveness. The bushiest and robust beards can render even the best respirators barely useful. Still, any mask is better than no mask.
Are masks safe to wear if I have asthma?
A. Yes. In almost every case, masks are safe and effective for those with asthma. In fact, asthma patients must wear a mask due to complications that can arise from viral or bacterial respiratory illness.
Do I still need to wear a mask if I’m vaccinated?
A. Yes. Aside from specific requirements in some regions, buildings and modes of transport, no vaccine is 100% effective. Wearing a clean, properly fitting mask can significantly reduce the chances of transmitting a respiratory disease in close quarters with other people, even if you’re fully vaccinated.
What’s the best XL face mask to buy?
Top XL face mask
What you need to know: Made in Korea to a stringent high standard, they work about as well as the best N95 masks.
What you’ll love: If you need the best possible protection, these black-colored masks are right for you. They come in a pack of 10, and if you’re careful, you can reuse each one a few times. They also come in a white version.
What you should consider: Unlike USA-made N95s, they use ear loops instead of cords that go around your entire head.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top XL face mask for the money
What you need to know: These durable cloth face masks can be washed and reused many times.
What you’ll love: They have all the features you need for comfortable wear, including bendable metal nose wires, adjustable earloops and a pocket for inserting a PM2.5 filter. You can choose from plain black, floral patterns, or a simple white and blue pattern.
What you should consider: Cloth masks like these aren’t quite as effective as actual respirators.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is one of the few options you can customize to meet your needs.
What you’ll love: You can select from XL and 2XL sizes in addition to various other options such as a filter pocket, nose wire and S-clip ear saver.
What you should consider: Since it’s made by hand, it’s somewhat pricey and lacks a perfect consistency that machine-made masks offer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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