Singaporeans are kiasu, and we have good reason to be.
Our air quality is routinely threatened – be it the onset of haze or a virus threatening a global pandemic – and as such the pharmacies nationwide are always running low on the stock for face masks. This phenomenon isn’t limited to just our shores. Western countries like the United States and Australia are also experiencing the same retail drought after a global virus outbreak and the aftermath of bushfires. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and a sheet protecting our respiratory system might just be the difference between life and death.
An ideal face mask has to reliably filter the air in and out while fitting snugly around your mouth and nose, preventing unwanted particles from entering. Rather than fall prey to the disinformation spreading around about which side you should wear a surgical mask, here are some options that will protect you better than the sold-out N95 masks.
You might have seen the futuristic AIR+ Smart Mask with its attachable micro fan. Yes, you heard right, this mask has a little fan on its side to aid airflow and keep it cool. The main mask itself has been N95-certified and comes in three sizes for both children and adults, while the rechargeable micro ventilator has a battery life of 2.5 hours.
The mask and the ventilator are sold separately, and are available at Watsons, Guardian, Unity, and Lazada.
Singaporean Francis Chu took matters into his own hands to design the Totobobo Mask, a reusable elastic face mask. The Totobobo mask prides itself on its seal check thanks to its transparent design: the edges turn clear when it comes into contact with wet skin, making gaps more identifiable. It can also be manually trimmed for smaller faces. The filters come in three grades – F96, F94, and F92, with the highest grade providing the highest filtration efficiency.
Parisian startup R-PUR launched its Nano mask in 2019 to combat the bad pollution in urban cities. Each mask comes with an easily-replaceable filter that lasts from 5 to 12 weeks. The filter itself comprises multiple layers including a water-repellant outer layer, memory fiber for breathability, and an airtight face seal. There are also four designs for you to choose from because if you’re paying USD$179 (S$250) for a face mask, you better be looking good too.
The Techno Plus mask from the London-based Respro isn’t just for the average city commuter, it’s for the sporty ones too. It uses a sealing technique that contours to a more global facial shape to provide better performance and comfort, while the inside is a combination filter that blocks out sub-micron dust, gas, and vapour.
The valves on the mask are also designed to efficiently expel heat and water vapour so your helmet doesn’t fog up. Check out their comprehensive sizing guide before placing your order to ensure a suitable fit.
If their portable batteries are anything to swear by, Xiaomi’s Purely smart face mask will also make for a stylish yet efficient accessory, only this time it’s a barrier between your lungs and haze particles. The mask utilises nano-fiber filtering technology supplemented by a micro fan that boasts three speeds to help with breathing. While it’s marketed towards the sports crowd, there’s no doubt this mask will come in handy when haze season befalls us again.