Types of face masks


Face masks come in many kinds. With so much noise our there it can be confusing to know which masks suits your needs. Here is a brief simplified explanation to give you a general understanding about the various kinds of face masks.

General use disposable face masks

At the most basic level are general use disposable face masks. These come in pink, white, blue or yellow colours. They are made of non-woven cotton. Three layers of materials is most commonly referred to as 3-ply offer the most protection amongst the general use face masks. This option is the lowest priced masks per piece. Offering the most basic level of protection for the wearer and those around the wearer. Suitable for being in public and social interactions. Please be aware that these are not suitable for a health care providers doing a procedure that generates aerosols.

Medical or surgical or procedure disposable face masks

Medically rated disposable face masks are made for healthcare providers. These are usually white, blue or yellow in colour. These have been tested by a third party to meet a certain standard such as the ASTM F2100 standards to protect healthcare providers when they are preforming their duties.  They are more expensive because they have to meet certain standards. Commonly referred to as Surgical or Medical or Procedure masks these are rated at 3 different levels. They are best for healthcare providers in their line of duty.

Washable or reusable clothe face masks

Washable or reusable clothe face masks are an environmentally friendly option. These are more cost effective in the long run because they last you longer and you get more use out of each mask. Some have been medically tested by a third party to verify efficacy.


Respirators offer a higher rating of filtration. They come in full or half face masks style. Some are made out of silicone with replaceable filters and offer the most amount of protection if you are in a highly infectious environment. There are many kinds and levels that are beyond the scope of this article.