Everything you need to know about KN95 masks—starting at less than $1 each at Amazon

Devon Kelley

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KN95 face masks are similar to N-95 masks—and just as effective. (Photo: Getty)
KN95 face masks are similar to N-95 masks—and just as effective. (Photo: Getty)

You probably know that N-95 masks are the most effective face coverings —and that they should be reserved for frontline workers. But do you know about the N-95’s sister, the KN95 mask? The few KN95 masks available on Amazon have been selling out quickly but are slowly being restocked. Here’s a rare chance to buy some. Read on...

What makes KN95 masks so effective?

KN95 masks are almost identical to N-95 masks. “The basic difference 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 N-95 masks, which are approved by the FDA but also likely to be manufactured in China. This means they keep out 95 percent of particles, which is essentially the highest filtration you can get.”

The KN95 mask’s interaction with the U.S. medical system has varied recently. When the pandemic first hit and N-95 masks and other medical-grade masks were in particularly short supply, the FDA granted an emergency use authorization for medical workers to use KN95 masks. Now, the FDA has removed its emergency use authorization for several manufacturers of KN95 masks after they failed to filter out up to 95 percent of particles—a hallmark of N-95 masks. However, others are still authorized for use.

Many healthcare professionals use KN95 masks, as there is still a shortage of N-95 masks for clinic-based doctors. “The sense is that these are better than the common surgical mask, which filters anywhere from 40 to 75 percent of particulates, depending on type and fit,” says Dr. Patel. “Compare this to cloth masks, which optimally can filter about 60 percent of particles.”

That said, while regular three-ply disposable masks or cloth masks should do the job when you’re social distancing at least six feet away, KN95 masks offer more protection in riskier situations, like on public transportation or when flying. 

High-quality KN95 masks prevent the spread of coronavirus as effectively as N-95 masks. “If your source for a KN95 mask is reliable, you should be fine to buy them,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “They’re comparable to the N-95 masks that we use.”

Magicare 4-Ply KN95 Masks, 20-Pack

Magicare KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)
Magicare KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)

We scoured Amazon for reliable KN95 masks and found a winner. Meet the best-selling Magicare 4-Ply KN95 Masks—and yes, they’re in stock. They offer four-ply protection and feature a three-dimensional design, making it easier to breathe. The masks feature elastic ear loops, a metal nose piece for a snug fit and fluid-resistant technology. And we’ve never seen them at a price this low.

It’s unclear if these Magicare KN95 masks meet the FDA’s emergency use authorization, but they claim to filter out more than 95 percent of particles.

SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack

SupplyAID KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)
SupplyAID KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)

These three-dimensional masks are thick and durable, and you get five for just $18.

A reviewer who bought several types of KN95 masks on Amazon is pleased with the quality. “They seem pretty reliable and good quality compared to another brand I had bought,” says the shopper. “Much better than cloth masks and doctor masks I'm sure.”

Feradyne KN95 Masks, 10-Pack

Feradyne KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)
Feradyne KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)

Made from five layers, including filtering polypropylene meltblown cloth and a skin-friendly non-woven fabric, these masks have you covered.

“Skip the others—this is your product,” writes a five-star reviewer. “As far as masks are concerned, these have been the best investment thus far. As long as you follow the directions, they’re primo. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to breathe properly, but I’m happy to report that I can breathe just fine since I can adjust the nasal strip while still covering my entire nose and mouth area. I will be purchasing more.”

COVAFLU KN95 Masks, 10-Pack

COVAFLU KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)
COVAFLU KN95 Masks (Photo: Amazon)

With a soft and flexible four-ply polypropelyne fabric, these disposable masks are a best-seller at Amazon.

“Comfortable, reduces fogging in glasses, individually wrapped,” writes a satisfied shopper. “I bought these due to the reported similar standard to N95s. Overall, better than most products on the market.”

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

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