Stock up on KN95s and KF94s: These masks are under $4 a pop at Amazon

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These high-quality masks are available right now. (Photo: Amazon)
These high-quality masks are available right now. (Photo: Amazon)

As case numbers of new, highly infectious strains of COVID-19 continue to increase across the country, face masks are more important than ever. The good news is that masks work well to keep the virus from spreading. The bad news is that the most effective masks can be hard to get.

We’re not talking about the cute fabric masks emblazoned with the name of your favorite band. We’re talking about KN95 masks and KF94 masks to protect from possible transmission. Right now, KN95 masks and KF94 masks are in stock on Amazon.

And if you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $27,

“N95s?” you ask. Close, but not exactly. KN95s and KF94 masks are similar to N95 masks, aka the gold standard of face masks in the U.S. but a little different. While N95 masks are regulated by the U.S. government, KN95 masks are regulated by the Chinese government and KF94s follow South Korean standards. Since N95 masks are meant to be reserved for healthcare workers in the U.S., it’s best to reach for a KN95 or KF94. When the pandemic first hit and regular citizens were scrambling for masks, our hospitals were left short on this essential PPE. Now we know to leave them for the pros—and that’s why buying KN95 and KF94 masks is the smart move.

One particular KN95 mask we’re talking about—the one authorized by the FDA for the rest of us—is the Powecom KN95 mask. It’s Amazon’s Choice product, and it’s on sale on Amazon at this very moment.

A pack of 10 is just $27 right now—just $2.70 a mask!

Does the brand matter? Yes, according to the FDA, it does. Read more on this below.

Understanding the N95 / KN95 connection

A face mask that's both comfortable and FDA authorized. (Photo: Amazon)
A face mask that's both comfortable and FDA authorized. (Photo: Amazon)

KN95 masks are very similar to N-95 masks, Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. In fact, during the early days of the pandemic when medical-grade masks were in particularly short supply, the FDA granted what’s known as “emergency use authorization” for KN95 masks—meaning they could be used in hospitals.

But not all brands of KN95 masks are created equal. Recently, after researching effectiveness, the FDA removed its emergency use authorization for several manufacturers of KN95 masks. Powecom masks made it through the tests. They’re authorized by the FDA and officially included on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization List. Like the others on the list, the Powecom KN95 mask is confirmed to filter out 95 percent of particles or more.

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $27,

“If your source for a KN95 mask is reliable, you should be fine,” explains Dr. Schaffner. The good ones are “comparable to the N95 masks that we use,” he says.

“The basic difference [between N95 and KN95 masks] is regulatory,” says Dr. Kavita Patel, managing director of clinical transformation at The Brookings Institution’s Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform. “KN95 masks are approved by Chinese regulators, and in theory they are similar to N95 masks, which are approved by the FDA— but are also likely to be manufactured in China.”

Understanding KF94 masks

This KF94 mask comes in black. (Photo: Amazon)
This KF94 mask comes in black. (Photo: Amazon)

Most people aren’t as familiar with KF94 masks, but they’re quickly rising in popularity in the U.S. These masks offer a similar level of protection to N95 and KN95 masks—they’re just regulated by the South Korean government. KF94 masks are similar in design to N94 and KN95 masks, offering an adjustable wire nose piece to help get a secure fit over your nose. They also have a large band of fabric across the front and side flaps to help the mask better contour to your face.

Do you need to wear a KN95 or KF94 mask all the time?

Our experts tell Yahoo Life that three-ply disposable masks or cloth masks should do the job when you’re keeping at least six feet away from others. But KN95 and KF94 masks offer more protection and are protective in riskier situations—if you’re flying, for example, or taking a bus or train.

These masks, as we said, filter out up to 95 percent of particles. The three-dimensional design makes it easier to breathe if you need to keep your mask on for long periods. The material is non-woven soft cotton. And of course there are elastic ear loops and a metal piece to help customize fit over the nose.

Keep in mind that wearing any mask doesn’t mean you should stop practicing known methods of prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing and frequent thorough hand-washing are critical. Explains Dr. Schaffner, “We do these things in combination, not in isolation.”

KN95 masks that are authorized with the FDA’s emergency use authorization are actually hard to find these days. So stick with best practices—and secure some Powecom KN95 masks for higher-risk settings. You’ll be taking great care of yourself and others.

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $27,

Want to check out your options? Here are other excellent KN95 and KF94 masks available on Amazon:

SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack

Upgrade from your cloth face mask. (Photo: Amazon)
Upgrade from your cloth face mask. (Photo: Amazon)

These three-dimensional versions are thick and durable, and you get five for just $15.

“I feel so much safer with this over a basic cloth face mask,” says a shopper. “My intended purpose was to wear these exclusively when I go grocery shopping and run other errands where I know I will be in close proximity to other people but have found myself just wearing it everywhere I go. Happy with this purchase.”

Shop it: SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack, $12 (was $16),

LG Health Care Airwasher KF94 Black Particulate Mask

Protection and a sleek look in one. (Photo: Amazon)
Protection and a sleek look in one. (Photo: Amazon)

These masks feature the unique KF94 band across the front and adjustable ear loops for a just-right fit. One five-star reviewer said these masks are “a favorite,” adding, “the material is good enough for you to wear more than once and the mask can be made tighter around your face with the other strap. Its easy to fold and store away for another use.”

Shop it: LG Health Care Airwasher KF94 Black Particulate Mask, $4,

N95 Mask Co. KN95 Face Mask, 50-Pack

Use the metal nose bridge for a just-right fit. (Photo: Amazon)
Use the metal nose bridge for a just-right fit. (Photo: Amazon)

Want to not buy in bulk an eliminate the stress of restocking? This 50-pack is for you. Each mask has a roomy breathing area, a metal nose bridge for a snug fit, and folds for easy storage.

“Tested masks in heavy smoke of CA fires — they do not let any smoke smell in, which is a great test, because smoke is the smallest particle and only N95 works for it. At the same time, they allow easy breathing,” says a satisfied shopper.

Shop it: N95 Mask Co. KN95 Face Mask, 50-Pack, $130 (was $150),

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.


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