In addition to choosing the right mask, wearing it correctly makes a big difference in efficacy. A well-fitting mask is one that fits snugly against the sides of your face AND covers your nose and mouth and can be secured under your chin.
Here are some reminders:
Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.
Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it. If you have to touch/adjust your mask often, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.
How to Improve Fit
Follow the user instructions for the mask or respirator. These instructions may show how to make sure the product fits properly.
Wear two masks (disposable surgical mask underneath AND cloth mask on top) can provide great protection. Do not double mask with a N95 or similar style.
A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace
Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask. Then fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges. (For instructions, see this video.)
N95 vs KN95 vs KF94 vs Surgical Masks: What to know
NIOSH-approved N95 respirators are the gold standard mask in the US. Surgical N95s are still prioritized for healthcare workers.
KN95s were emergency approved in the US in 2020 and are regulated by the Chinese government. According to the CDC, about 60% KN95 respirators in the United States are counterfeit (fake) and do not meet NIOSH requirements.
KF94 masks similar to KN95s in look and fit, filtering out about 94% of airborne particles. They’re regulated by the Korean government, not by NIOSH. There are often more sizes for this type of mask.
ASTM Level 3 Surgical Masks are also good alternatives
You may also want to check out N99, N100, P95, P99, P100, R95, R99, and R100 masks that offer protection like a N95.