The Project N95 Kids Masks Guide
Project N95 is the trusted nonprofit source for safe and authentic high-filtration kids masks. Take advantage of our expertise in this article and learn more about picking a mask for your children.
Tips on Masking
Masking absolutely helps protect your child and others from COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, and other airborne infectious diseases. Even a good mask, however, can only do good as long as it stays on the face. Fit, filtration, and comfort are the three pillars of mask selection that you need to keep in mind when picking something for children.
It can be challenging to find a mask with that perfect mix of comfort and coverage—a high-filtration mask needs to maintain a proper seal to provide its full level of protection—and it’s even harder with fast-growing kids than adults. Fortunately, we have some tips to help you find the ideal mask that your child can wear.
Tips on Fit
A good mask needs to fit your face well. Kids are constantly growing, so finding a mask in the right size is a constant challenge. Here are some guidelines to help you keep up with your growing child’s needs:
- Check to see if the mask has an age-range.
- Check for customer reviews on fit and whether the sizing tips indicate that it fits children.
- Masks with a flat-fold shape and masks with adjustable ear loops are a good option if you’re unsure about size or fit—these both tend to be adaptable to various face shapes and sizes.
- Buy a variety of different mask shapes and sizes in small packs so your kids can decide what works best for them.
- If you have a middle-school aged child that is in between kids and adult sizes, try a small-sized adult mask.
Tips on Filtration
The U.S. does not have a regulatory standard that applies specifically to face coverings for children, which makes it tricky to know which types of masks to consider.
Project N95 has been keeping up with the market and vetting products since the beginning of the pandemic, so we are in a unique position to help you choose the right model. We recommend high-filtration options that that will offer much more protection than 3-ply surgical masks or cloth masks.
Tips on Mask Types
Project N95 carries four major high-filtration masks types: KF94s, KN95s, N95s, and domestically-produced masks. KF94 and KN95 masks have become particularly popular.
KF94 masks—KF for "Korean Filter" and "94" for 94% filtration efficiency—were developed to help protect the Korean public against the notorious yellow dust that originates from the dry desert regions of inland Asia. They are fully regulated by the South Korean government, including sizes meant for children ages 2 and up.
Because the KF94 standard was meant for public use, these masks are consumer friendly. They almost always use ear loops with an adjustable nose piece and often come in the 3D boat-shape style. The space inside the mask often makes them feel cool and comfortable for breathing. They are individually wrapped and available in a wide variety of sizes and designs that make them a great option for kids and teens.
KN95 face masks are the Chinese equivalent of respirators and have become popular for personal use in the United States. Like an N95, a KN95 filters to a 95% efficiency standard, but because KN95 masks are not approved by regulators prior to sale, they are not subject to the same level of oversight as N95 or KF94 masks. That has resulted in the proliferation of fake and low-quality masks. To learn more, read our guide about avoiding counterfeit KN95 masks.
Nevertheless, legitimate KN95s are safe and offer good protection. We recommend purchasing only from reputable sources like Project N95, which comprehensively reviews every product in the online shop.
The large majority of KN95 masks have ear loops with an adjustable nose piece and come in the versatile flat-fold shape, which can be a good option for kids who are fussy about sizing.
You’ve probably heard more about N95 masks than any other type—in fact, it’s how we got our name. N95 particulate respirators are fully regulated as a workplace or medical device by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Accordingly, N95 masks don't have children's versions.
Still, NIOSH-approved N95 masks may work for children or teenagers who have outgrown child-sizes. Try starting off with a small as these masks fit well on petite faces.
Domestic High-Filtration Masks
American manufacturers have stepped into the market with their ingenuity to provide consumer-friendly masks similar to the popular KN95 and KF94 models. These domestically-produced non-NIOSH versions are great for the general public.
Companies such as BNX, DemeTECH, and United States Mask use the same melt-blown layers as in their N95s to produce protective masks for adults and children that are focused on comfort and convenience. These are outstanding for all-day wear at school or extracurricular activities.