These rare FDA-approved KN95 masks are in stock at Amazon—and they're on sale for just $2.60 each

Devon Kelley
·7 mins read

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Powecom KN95 masks. (Photo: Amazon)
Powecom KN95 masks. (Photo: Amazon)

We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is face masks are working well to keep COVID-19 from spreading. The bad news is that the most effective masks are still hard to get, because the demand is so great.

We’re not talking about the cute fabric masks emblazoned with the name of your favorite band (which, btw, we love). We’re talking about KN95 masks—the masks the FDA specifically recommends you wear in high-risk situations (say, on public transportation) to protect from possible transmission.

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $26 (was $45), amazon.com

“N95s?” you ask. Close, but not exactly. N95 masks are to be reserved for healthcare workers. When the pandemic first hit and people were madly purchasing masks, our hospitals were left short on this essential protective equipment.

The particular mask we’re talking about—the one singled out by the FDA—is the Powecom KN95 mask—Amazon’s Choice for KN95 masks. And it’s on sale on Amazon at this very moment. A pack of 10 is just $26 (was $45)—just $2.60 per mask. That’s a 42 percent savings!

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

Understanding the N95 / KN95 connection

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 for the moment 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, however, made it through the tests. They’re approved by the FDA and officially included on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization List. Each KN95 mask on the list is confirmed to filter out 95 percent of particles or more. 3M masks are top tier.

Powecom KN95 face masks. (Photo: Amazon)
Powecom KN95 face masks. (Photo: Amazon)

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $26 (was $45), amazon.com

Explains Dr. Schaffner. “If your source for a KN95 mask is reliable, you should be fine.” The good ones are “comparable to the N-95 masks that we use,” he says.

“The basic difference [between N95 and KN95 masks] is regulatory,” explains 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.”

Many healthcare professionals are using KN95 masks to this day, especially in clinic settings, because there’s still a shortage of N95 masks.

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

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

These masks, as we said, filter out more than 95 percent of particles. The three-dimensional design makes it easier to breathe over 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.

Powecom KN95 mask (Photo: Amazon)
Powecom KN95 mask (Photo: Amazon)

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $26 (was $45), amazon.com

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.”

Stick with best practices, stay the course—and secure some Powecom KN95 masks for higher-risk settings. You’ll be taking great care of yourself and others.

KN95 masks that are approved with the FDA’s emergency use authorization are actually hard to find these days. In addition to filtering out more than 95 percent of particles, their three-dimensional design makes it easier to breathe while wearing the mask for long periods of time. They’re also made from non-woven, soft cotton and have a melt-blown filter.

The masks feature elastic ear loops, a metal piece to mold the mask to your nose and fluid-resistant technology.

Keep in mind that wearing any mask doesn’t mean you should stop continuing to practice known methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19, like social distancing and regular hand hygiene. “We do these things in combination, not in isolation,” says Dr. Schaffner.

Shop it: Powecom KN95 Masks (10-pack), $26 (was $45), amazon.com

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

SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack

SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack (Photo: Amazon)
SupplyAID KN95 Masks, 5-Pack (Photo: Amazon)

We scoured Amazon for reliable KN95 masks. These three-dimensional versions are thick and durable, and you get five for just $16 (was $17). Plus, over 6,900 reviewers gave them a perfect five-star rating.

“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, $16 (was $17), amazon.com

Feradyne KN95 Masks, 10-Pack

Feradyne KN95 Masks, 10-Pack (Photo: Amazon)
Feradyne KN95 Masks, 10-Pack (Photo: Amazon)

These five-layer masks have an adjustable nose bridge for a customizable fit.

“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.”

Shop it: Feradyne KN95 Masks, 10-Pack, $31, amazon.com

COVAFLU KN95 Masks, 10-Pack

COVAFLU KN95 Masks, 10-Pack (Photo: Amazon)
COVAFLU KN95 Masks, 10-Pack (Photo: Amazon)

With a soft and flexible four-ply polypropelyne fabric, these disposable masks have a perfect 5-star rating from over 1,970 reviewers.

“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.”

Shop it: COVAFLU KN95 Masks, 10-Pack, $26 (was $30), amazon.com

The Unknown Store KN95 Face Mask, 5-Pack

The Unkown Store KN95 Face Mask, Pack of 5 (Photo: Amazon)
The Unkown Store KN95 Face Mask, Pack of 5 (Photo: Amazon)

With five layers of protection, these masks are a safe bet.

“I have lots of different mask types. This one is a good size, easy to breathe, comfortable fit,” writes a five-star reviewer. “My new favorite mask. I have to wear it on construction sites so breathability and comfort weigh in heavy on my review. Thicker than the blue surgical but not as thick as my old N95 from 3M that I can't get any longer.”

Shop it: The Unknown Store KN95 Face Mask, 5-pack, $14 (was $15), amazon.com

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

Read More from Yahoo Life:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Life's newsletter.