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Face Mask Types and Levels of Protection

By ShirtSpace | Mar 31, 2020 |  Updated May 25, 2023

The Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has changed our lives in many ways in 2020.

One of the major changes has been the desire of so many people to acquire and wear masks to protect themselves from the transmission of the novel virus. Wearing a mask and social distancing can be a highly effective method for slowing the spread of COVID-19. But with an apparent shortage of masks and new masks hitting the online storefronts every day, how do you know which face mask is right for you? Let’s break down the different types of masks and which scenario they are best used for. 

N95 Face Mask


Image Credit: Envato - SundryPhotography

The N95 face mask or respirator is a mask that fits tightly over your mouth and nose. This mask is either an actual filter in and of itself or contains a filter, and is rated to filter out 95% of small particles including viruses and bacteria. 

N95 masks aren’t one-size-fits-all and need to be fitted to work correctly. These masks are generally round or oval in shape and designed to fit tightly against your face. N95 respirators feature elastic bands that secure the mask tightly against your face. In order for the N95 mask to be fully effective, the seal between the mask and your face has to be maintained. It’s important to note, the seal can be difficult to create on children or people with facial hair. 

Surgical Masks


Image Credit: Envato - Rimidolove

Surgical masks are loose-fitting, disposable face masks that cover your chin, mouth and nose. They are used to protect the wearer from splashes, sprays and large-particle droplets. They are also used to prevent the wearer from spreading potentially infectious particles and droplets to others and surfaces around them. 

Surgical masks can vary by design with how you attach it to your face or head, but the mask itself is often a flat, rectangular shape with pleats or folds. The top of the mask contains a flexible metal strip that you can adjust to the contours of your nose, forming a better fit. 

These masks are not as effective at filtering out small particles like viruses and bacteria, but they can be incredibly helpful in stopping the spread of infectious material from the wearer. 

Cotton Blend Masks


Image Credit: Envato - Pressmaster

There are many varieties of cotton or cotton blend masks hitting the market these days. Most feature 2 or 3 layers of material to act as a de facto filter. Cotton blend masks are generally more comfortable to wear for long stretches of time. Many cotton blend masks feature adjustable elastic or spandex straps that fit over your ears or head. 

Cotton blend masks are available in a variety of colors and are easily customizable. These masks are washable and reusable. Cotton masks have shown to be an effective measure against the spread of infectious material by the wearer. 

Is Wearing A Mask A New Normal? 

The spread of COVID-19 and the pandemic that has followed it has certainly proven to be challenging for society to stop. New normal ways of going about our day to day lives have been popping up everywhere, from social distancing to empty store shelves. Hopefully, some of these new normals will disappear with time while others are certain to stay. Wearing a mask in public was already a growing trend in certain cultures and societies across the world and now with the Coronavirus as part of our daily lives, that trend will almost certainly grow, even after COVID-19 is long gone. Stay safe out there everyone!


Planet Halo Health12/16/2022 10:20 pm

Face masks are used to protect the user from the irritants in a given environment. They are classified according to their level of protection, or N95 mask versus P100 mask. N95 masks offer a 95% reduction in airborne particles, while P100 masks provide a 100% reduction. The N95 scale is used when dealing with small particles such as dust and pollen, while the P100 scale is used for larger particles such as smoke and gases.


ShirtSpace12/20/2022 05:30 pm

Thank you for educating us on the P100 mask. This is very useful information. Thanks for reading our blog and commenting!


Personalized face mask07/18/2020 10:03 am

these tips are really helpful.keep it up.Thanks for sharing the information.


ShirtSpace10/25/2022 07:56 pm

Hi! We are happy to hear you found our tips helpful! Thanks for reading!


Varun Jagetia07/13/2020 05:24 am

Loved your post! Vital information for living in the new "normal" With the new information provided by WHO, stating that the COVID-19 virus could be airborne in certain conditions, wearing facemasks at all times is now essential for personal safety and the safety of others. Cotton facemasks are the most comfortable option during these times. They are skin-friendly, reusable, and can be comfortably worn for long durations.


ShirtSpace10/26/2022 04:51 pm

Hi Varun! Thanks for reading!


Cece Nerison07/09/2020 08:23 pm

Love these masks!! Only one I have had issue with is the small.. these can only be used for small children under age 6 or so..


ShirtSpace10/26/2022 04:52 pm

Hi Cece! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


Ivy Baker06/24/2020 01:49 am

It is good to know that a cotton blend face mask can be really good especially since they can be customizable. That is great for me to know because I need to wear a facemask at my job. So, it would be nice to get some fun patterns on the mask.


ShirtSpace10/26/2022 05:03 pm

Hi Ivy! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


Levi Armstrong06/24/2020 01:49 am

It's great that you mentioned that cloth masks are great for everyday use by individuals working in retail, food service, public works, transportation, and other essential shops. My wife is planning to buy some masks for the family, and since hospitals have little supply of N95 and surgical masks, we figured we wouldn't want to buy these because they need it more. Perhaps we should consider buying a four-layer black reusable face mask for the family since it's also more eco-friendly and cost-effective. Thanks for this!


ShirtSpace10/26/2022 05:09 pm

Hi Levi! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!


Suhaib06/02/2020 09:54 am

These 100% cotton face masks are less expensive than many disposable paper face masks. I like clean face masks. These I can just throw them into the washing machine with other white clothing after every use, dry them and they become clean and good smelling face masks again and again. Also cotton is more comfortable than many other materials. Just remember these are not for medical use.


Nancy L Schupman04/28/2020 03:15 pm

I must agree with Thelma. I ordered the medium. I don't think even the large would be enough, just an extra 1/2". Any time I try to talk the mask pops off my chin. Loosened straps to very end. Will try to thread longer loops through them. They do feel soft and easy to breathe through. Received quickly, less than a week.


ShirtSpace10/26/2022 05:10 pm

Hi Nancy! Thank you for reading and leaving feedback!


ShirtSpace04/26/2020 03:22 pm

Hi Thelma! Thank you so much for this feedback and thank you for your order! We are reaching out to you directly by email so that we can help resolve this for you. In addition to adding new masks in the very near future, we will also be adding a larger size to the Easy Fit mask that you purchased. Thank you again for taking the time to leave this comment. We'll be in touch soon!


Thelma Achamire04/25/2020 09:09 pm

I received the masks I ordered, and I am disappointed in the sizes. Even the Large designed for a man is way too small. The ear loops are way too small. I will keep them thinking they might work for children in the family. I hope you reconfigure your sizing. The fabric is nice and shipping was fast.


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