What Are Your Respirator Mask Recommendations?

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I’ve concluded I need a reusable respirator mask that I’ll wear more often.

The allergist that had been dealing with me (I’ve stopped seeing him for various reasons) told me to get an N95 mask to wear whenever I’m around airborne allergens – like when I’m cleaning, gardening, etc. He wasn’t entirely clear how often I was supposed to be wearing it, but it’s supposed to help reduce my permanent rhinitis and my eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) symptoms.

My recent throat infection horribly flared up my EoE and made me realize I need something to reduce infections and filter allergens… on a regular basis. There was also a wildfire less than ten miles from my house, at the tale end of my infection, and it really brought the point home. My EoE is still completely flared up.

The disposable N95 masks make my face itch horribly after about 30 minutes, are always slipping on my fine hair, and fog my glasses if I’m even mildly exerting myself. They also stop working very well after about 24 hours of wear (estimate) and I like to be environmentally conscious, so it bothers me when I have to throw them out.

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I really hate these disposable masks!

So, I’ve managed to find three different masks that I think would work out for me: the Vogmask, the Breathe Healthy mask, and the I Can Breathe (sport) mask. However, I cannot decide which one I would, ultimately, like to order and try out. Here are the pros and cons I have for each one:

  • Vogmask is the only one of the three with an ‘N’ rating (N99). The N99 rating means that it has been certified by a national lab to filter 99% of airborne particles (non-oil based) down to 0.3 microns in size. chakturq_1024x1024It has an exhale valve, which is great for my asthma (so I don’t feel like I’m suffocating). It also uses a carbon filter so it should help filter out scents, like perfume, which can be one of my migraine triggers. You can hand wash and hang dry the mask, if necessary. Cons: says it does NOT filter germs and you cannot replace the filter. Since you can’t replace the filter, their website says it will need to be disposed of and replaced in about three years. It’s about $30 (depending on style).
  • Breathe Healthy says it filters down to 1.0 microns (the ‘N’ filters go down to 0.3 microns)honeycomb-steel-blue-mask-e1434636894862 and it’s treated with a special antimicrobial treatment that will “last the life of the mask.” It’s washable (machine wash, hang dry). It’s soft so it looks like I could possibly nap in it? (Side sleeper) Cons: it covers a massive amount of your face, no exhale valve so it may be difficult to breathe – especially if I’m exerting myself in any way, reviews on Amazon say it’s quite warm. It’s only $16!
    • I’d probably get the Steel Blue (adult) with adjustable ear loops
  • I Can Breathe masks do not have particle size or filtration specifications.beige34lsport_1024x1024 They use a coconut fiber filter (that’s supposed to be similar to a carbon filter) – as far as I know I’m not allergic to coconuts but I haven’t been tested (I very rarely eat them, in small quantities). It looks like you can get the masks with exhale valves, which is the one I’d get. It’s a small, family company. They have a pattern I really love, and the shape looks the most comfortable. The fabric is washable, filters are disposable and replaceable. They’re $37-39 for the ones with the valves (most expensive of the three).

I can get the Vogmask and Breathe Healthy masks from Amazon, which means I can get some other stuff and get free shipping. I was thinking that I might get either the Vogmask or I Can Breathe mask AND the Breathe Healthy mask… but I’m really not sure.

Both the Vogmask and I Can Breathe masks have elastic ear loops instead of adjustable ear loops, so they might pull on my ears. Hopefully, by getting the right size, that won’t be a problem. If it is a problem, I’m sure I can modify them in some way. My ears are rather sensitive, and I wear glasses, so my ears getting tugged on (hard) by elastic wouldn’t work out too well. EDIT: Apparently the I Can Breathe masks have adjustable elastic ear loops? Well, the website says they have “adjustable ear loops” and contain “latex free elastic” but don’t say where the elastic is exactly. So now I’m not entirely sure how exactly the ear loops would fit.

I probably won’t be wearing these every minute of every day. This mask is to help me when my allergies are bad, when my throat acts up, when I have to clean, if there are wildfires nearby (smoke in the air), when pollen counts are incredibly high, and if I have to be around sick people. I want to be able to wear it far more often than I wear a mask now, but I will probably not wear it around the house on a constant basis (unless Dan gets sick).

Originally, I was thinking I might buy one of each, but that’s just a waste of money and materials I think.

I really appreciate your help with this!!!

EDIT: Apparently the Vogmask also contains a coconut husk derived carbon filter. I have no idea if I’m allergic to coconuts. I’m “allergic to” all other nuts, but I’ve never been tested for any of them (one of the reasons I stopped seeing the allergist I mentioned earlier). I have extreme oral sensitivities to all nuts I’ve consumed. I believe I can eat coconuts, at least in small amounts, because I will eat baked goods with small amounts of shredded coconut and be fine. I tried drinking coconut milk once, though, and I couldn’t stand it and it made my mouth feel a little odd (just like it had been coated in a film, not itchy). I think this “coconut husk derived carbon filter” might be the same as the filter on the I Can Breathe mask, but the language on their site makes it a little hard to determine.


Mask Images: Vogmask image source, Breathe Healthy image source, I Can Breathe image source

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7 thoughts on “What Are Your Respirator Mask Recommendations?

  1. I have been using the organic cotton I Can Breathe mask (white). It has cotton straps with adjustable mechanisms similar to a bra strap. It is comfortable, doesn’t hurt my ears. I can forget I’m wearing it. However, after eight months of use (washing it about once a month) I’m unsure mine is still effective. The filter on this one is not replaceable. I’m sensitive to polyester and the smell of rubber, so I’m unsure other masks will work for me, but hesitant to buy another $30 mask that isn’t perfect and will need replacing again AND looks stupid. I also have their silk-and-wool cold-weather mask which keeps my face warm and works just as well as the cotton one. I’ve used it less and it seems like it is in better condition. It’s black, so I look like a ninja wearing it (in a cool way) instead of like an idiot (or a sick person). Did you ever buy the masks? What worked for you and what didn’t?

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    • I got both the Breathe Healthy mask and Vogmask – you can see pictures of them both in my Instagram feed (instagram.com/findinglifessilversun).

      While the Vogmask is more attractive, the nose doesn’t seal as well and it fogs my glasses frequently. Also, with it being an n99, it can be hard to breathe during exertion. However, the Vogmask does work EXTREMELY well. I was watching a public show (at the renaissance festival), that had smokers on both sides of the stage, and I couldn’t feel nor smell the smoke thru the mask!

      I wear the Breathe Healthy mask more often. It’s a littlw more comfortable since it has adjustable ear pieces, and it’s not as snug on the face. It still filters, and rarely fogs my glasses, it just doesn’t have the firm/tight feeling seal that the Vogmask has. I also carry it with me at all times. Since it only has the single metal strip in it for the nose, it folds down further and can easily be squished into my purse.

      I have washed both masks several times: Vogmask by hand, Breathe Healthy both by hand and in the machine. The Vogmask did seem to get slightly harder to breathe thru after washing; the Breathe Healthy mask has shown no change in quality, effectiveness, or in any way! I’ve had both masks since about 2 weeks after writing this post.

      I hope these help!

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