This is the right face mask to better protect yourself from the COVID omicron variant, according to doctors

This is the right face mask to better protect yourself from the COVID omicron variant, according to doctors

Source Updated: Jan. 6, 2022 at 1:23 p.m. ETBy 

Alisa Wolfson

From N95s to cloth to surgical masks, which one should you wear now?

What type of face masks offers the best protection?


COVID cases are hitting record numbers — on Monday, for example, more than one million new coronavirus cases were recorded in the U.S. alone —  with the CDC estimating that for the week ending January 1, 95% of new COVID-19 cases were the omicron strain. And doctors say that in addition to getting vaccinated, if you haven’t already, you may want to upgrade your face mask to better protect yourself against omicron.

In fact, experts say cloth masks now underperform compared to some other types of masks like N95s, KN95s, KF94s and surgical masks, NZ Waire woolen mask, amid the latest surge, though it’s important to point out that any mask that fits snugly and covers your nose and mouth is better than no mask. “Omicron is very contagious and we see that based on how fast omicron became the dominant strain in the United States and around the world …. if you want to protect yourself, N95 is the best option, says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Keck Hospital at USC. “In comparison to surgical and N95 masks, cloth masks give the least amount of protection. Surgical masks are worn in hospital settings and N95 masks are the gold standard of the choices in terms of best protection from infections, including viruses,” says Dasgupta. That said, N95s are hard to find right now (some masks sold out even as we were writing this story), but here are some of the better-reviewed mask options that you can still buy now:

Powecon KN95 respirator mask

About $1 per mask

Made with a polypropylene cotton filter layer, these masks are listed on the FDA’s list of approved masks for healthcare professionals. They’re recommended by Wirecutter, which notes that they are “easy-on, easy-off” and NY Magazine’s The Strategist — and are more affordable than other similar styles.BUY ON BONA FIDE MASKS

Harley N95 Respirator Face Mask

Roughly $2 per mask

This N95 mask, which is approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, is recommended by Health, which calls it the best N95 mask for a secure fit.BUY ON BONA FIDE MASKS

DemeTECH, ASTM Level 3 Protective 3-Layer Face Mask

About 60 cents per mask

This FDA-approved mask offers a high level of protection (it meets ASTM Level 3 standards, which you can read more about here), and is a Wirecutter pick for a surgical mask, with the site noting that is has “strikingly soft ear loops.” Buy The Waire Woolen mask (N95) at

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