A wearable mask that is flexible enough for working people.
When I imagined 2020, I never envisioned a world covered with face masks. I remember being a child and thinking that 2020 would be the year I turned 40. It was a simple thought, but something I always hung on to. I’ve looked forward to this year for as long as I can remember, but it has become one of those ‘make lemonade out of lemons’ situations. Now we sit on the cusp of medical innovation as vaccines are finally coming to market for global use. Even though inoculation is likely the best weapon we have against this invisible, silent, deadly opponent, medical professionals and scholars around the world are still recommending that people wear masks and continue to social distance themselves from others until the coronavirus (COVID-19) is on the downward slope.
With that in mind, it’s important to find a mask that you can be comfortable in while it protects you. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all likely run the gamut of mask-wearing in the past 10 months. I know I personally have worn basic surgical masks the most, then my N95 masks (we only have a couple of them), and finally, a polyester/spandex-based mask. Some are more comfortable than others and some protect better than others. Since this entire pandemic began, I’ve wanted a reusable mask that could be as protective as the basic surgical masks. Fortunately, I was recently introduced to Airpop, a reusable/washable mask designer.
Airpop has a few different styles of face masks including the Airpop Light SE, which is the style I had the opportunity to try out. The mask is “engineered for long-wearing comfortable” according to airpophealth.com. It features a patented design that includes a cushioned TPU nose seal that provides anti-fogging properties for those who wear eyeglasses. The masks are ergonomically designed with adjustable earloops so that each mask has a custom fit for the user. The Airpop masks offer 99.3% filtration (PFE) and 99.9% bacterial filtration (BFE) as well as fluid resistance. The mask has a unique shape to it that is referred to as a “3D structure.” This shape keeps the mask directly off the face of the wearer so that they can breathe easier.
|TPE Cushioned Nose seal|
|Materials: Nylon, polyester, ABS|
|Filtration Efficacy: 99.3% particles and 99.9% of bacteria|
|Lifespan: Filter media effective for up to 40 hours of cumulative use|
|BSI Kite Mark Approved AFNOR Spec s76-001 Version 1.10 28th April 2020|
|Bacterial Filtration ASTM F2102-19 Particle Filtration ASTM F2299/F2299M-03|
|CEN CWA 17553: 2020 Compliant EU Community “barrier” mask guidelines|
|Skin friendly standards DIN EN ISO 10993-5: 2009-10|
The Airpop Light SE Mask comes in a plastic resealable pouch. This packaging is similar to a lot of the reusable masks I’ve seen in stores. Inside, there are 4 of the Airpop masks. The front of the package shows an image of what the mask looks like along with some of the product’s details. The back of the package provides some additional details including the lifespan of the Light SE Mask. While Airpop has masks that are reusable, the Light SE Mask is still technically a disposable mask. They rate this mask with a lifespan of up to 40 hours with the 99% efficiency listed above. The masks are machine-washable, but it does reduce the filtration of them to 70%. Airpop also recommends that all their masks should be hand-washed with 70% alcohol/soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds and air-dried for at least 24 hours in order to keep them as effective as possible.
So, one of the first things I noticed was that the Airpop Light SE Masks wear differently than other face masks. They have the nose seal that has to be adjusted to just the right spot in order for it to provide the correct closure for the mask. I had some trouble with this at first but finally figured out how to get the seal to make contact with both sides of the nose. The first real test I had was when we completed a photo shoot while wearing the masks. Nick and I both wore the Airpop Light SE Mask and while I thought they were fairly easy to breathe in, Nick has some troubles. The shoot was approximately 2 hours long and we were outdoors. I did notice that I sweated more with the Airpop mask than I did while wearing my N95. When I removed it, I noticed that there was condensation built-up beneath the TPU nose seal. And, even though the seal is meant to have anti-fogging properties, Nick noticed that he was still getting a build-up of fog on the viewfinder window of his camera.
Since the Airpop was more comfortable than other face masks I had with me, I decided to wear it in a grocery store. Once I was inside, I found that it was hard for me to take deep breaths of any kind. I tried to breathe with short, shallow breaths instead, but I still found it hard to catch any air at all. The feeling I had was similar to when you put on a pair of goggles for swimming and the seal suctions itself to your face. I was wearing the mask the same way I did when we were outdoors, but for some reason, this new feeling caused me to feel uneasy wearing the mask.
The Airpop Light SE Mask is a nice alternative to other face masks available. It is easy to wear and I love the adjustable ear straps. I’m not a big fan of how the comfort-factor changes on a whim, but the mask is very durable and they are easier to work in than some other face masks available. One of the things I like a lot about these masks is that they don’t shift around a lot while you wear them. They seem to stay in place easily.