At this point, I’ll assume you’re already wearing a mask on a daily basis.
I really don’t have to explain why – I’m sure you’re up to speed with the basics of the coronavirus SARS‐CoV‐2 that causes COVID-19. It’s hard to avoid the blanket mainstream news coverage and guidance from government agencies about why and how to wear a protective face mask.
But if you would like a quick refresher on the science, this handy video explains why masks are useful.
Or if you want to dive into the nitty gritty details, this interactive essay explains the role masks play in halting an epidemic. The short version - when more people wear masks, everyone is safer.
For now, we can just accept that protective face masks are part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. That means wearing them for everyday activities like shopping, as well as travel, especially planes, buses and trains.
But which mask should you choose?
I’m glad you asked. Let’s dig into this a bit further.
Does The Type of Mask Really Matter?
Yes. Some masks are better at protecting than others. The most common mask types are surgical, cloth, and N95.
Disposable surgical masks provide decent protection but create significant landfill issues and aren’t great for the environment.
Reusable cloth masks are better for the planet, but often don’t filter microscopic airborne water particles quite as well.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, some government agencies issued guidance that N95 masks (that filter 95% of airborne particles) should be reserved for frontline medical workers. Now that supply has caught up with demand, it’s perfectly fine for everyday folks (like you and me) to use an N95 mask. But you have to be careful – over 60% of masks in the US claiming to be “N95 compliant” are fake.
And regardless of what mask you choose, it is only as useful as the fit – if there are gaps at the top, bottom or side, your protection will be greatly diminished.
Ideally you want a mask that has all of the above benefits rolled into one.
When I came across the FrontLine Protective Face Mask from LCP Medical, I knew I found something that fit the bill. So, I tried it out for a week, and here’s my findings.
Why I Like The LCP Medical FrontLine Protective Face Mask
N95 level protection
As good as it gets – filtration of 3-micron particles, even after multiple washes. This is the gold standard for medical-grade masks and respirators. Now you can enjoy the same level of protection that is designed for frontline healthcare workers.
Note: the filters contain materials that have N95 FDA emergency use authorization, but the product is pending N95 rating by the FDA and NIOSH (full disclaimer).
The adjustable straps and customisable nose bridge ensure a snug yet comfortable fit, even after hours of wear. And the stiff polymer frame ensures the mask doesn’t touch your lips and surrounding skin, so it’s perfect if you wear makeup. The interior is made from cotton and the no-flow neoprene chin panel and nose bridge panel ensure a tight protective seal while preventing glasses fogging (my pet peeve of disposable masks!).
Keep using the same mask, and just change the filters – in just seconds. This is much better for the planet than disposable surgical masks. The manufacturer recommends replacing the filter after 8 hours of continuous usage to ensure maximum protection.
2 optional filters are also available, and can be used in conjunction with the standard base filter.
The Anti-PathoGen Filter, made from pure copper, eliminates 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In a world-first, LCP Medical uses proprietary printed copper circuitry embedded into a filter that provides unmatched protection levels. Read more about the technology.
The Sport Filter is designed for demanding high-flow filtration situations such as exercise and sports, offering maximum breathability without sacrificing protection.
You can easily switch the filter based on your needs and environment.
Easy to wash
To sterilise the mask, simply hand wash with cold water and mild detergent, then air dry outside. It couldn’t be easier. Tip: don’t use a washing machine or tumble dryer, and don’t wash the filters.
Easy to choose size
5 sizes are available to suit all ages – from 5 years to adult. Refer to this sizing guide to ensure a good fit.
Note: The “width” refers to the widest part of your face, near the cheekbones. And the “height” is from the bridge of your noise to the bottom of your chin.
The mask should survive 25 to 50 hand wash cycles, so you’ll be getting the most bang from your buck compared to disposable alternatives.
Ok, I’m not going to be vain, but who looks good in a flimsy baby blue disposable surgical mask? No-one. Unless you’re an actor on Grey’s Anatomy. The stylish contours and black polyester outer layer of the FrontLine Protective Face Mask look dashing on any face shape.
What Could Be Better
While there’s a lot to love about LCP Medical’s mask products, nothing is ever perfect.
US shipping only
If you’re located outside the US, you’re out of luck at the moment. Hopefully they’ll support more countries in the future.
Medium size fitting limitations
I tested both the small and medium sizes, and found the medium size filter doesn’t fit quite as snuggly as the small size. The protection is fine, but the contour of the filter can be noticed if you stare really closely at the mask. It’s a pretty minor design flaw, and most users won’t even notice, but I’ll be frank… I’m looking hard for something to fault.
The Bottom Line
Mask wearing isn’t something to take lightly. Studies have shown that microscopic water droplets can hang in the air, carrying coronavirus for up to 3 hours. Even when you don’t see other people around you, the risk of virus transmission is still real.
In addition to regular hand sanitizing, the best thing you can do for your health is choose a well-fitting, highly effective mask like the FrontLine Protective Face Mask from LCP Medical. For the relatively modest cost, you might save yourself a hospital visit, weeks or months of debilitating recovery time, or even your life.
And you can’t put a price on that.
Price: US$24.99 for EasyBreathe mask only OR US$45.99 for FrontLine mask with 5x N95 replaceable filters
Where to buy: lcp-medical.com
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