The 5 best air pollution masks in Beijing

Protect your health with these pollution masks

Beijing in December from Shutterstock.com
The pollution in Beijing is something we've learnt to live with (compartmentalisation FTW). That means masks should now be a wardrobe staple, alongside our Feiyues and misspelled T-shirts.

With winter weather here to stay, it's time to ditch the convenience store cheapies that, deep down, you know don't actually work, for a better model. But with so many to choose from, it's difficult to separate the real deal from the fakes. Here are five of our favourite brands to stock up on.

But first, quick info dump: most masks follow American standards to show their anti-haze index. Basically, the higher the number, the better. An N90 mask, for example, filters out 90 percent of airborne particulates in the air. Choose a model with N95 or above and you're good to go for PM2.5.

1. Vogmask

_MG_9646-0

What is it? A fashion-conscious choice, US-based Vogmask uses a microfibre filtration fabric to filter the air and can be washed and worn for hundreds of hours before being replaced. And if you didn’t believe that wearing a pollution mask could be fun, Vogmask lets you take your pick from an array of prints with stars, patterns, characters and animals on the mask, available in different sizes aimed at adults, teenagers and children.

Pros There’s no need to change the filters, making Vogmask very convenient to grab and go – each carbon filter lasts around 200 hours before the whole mask needs to be replaced. The colourful patterns are whimsical and add a little levity to the wearing of a pollution mask.

Cons Aside from a high price tag, the main con we came across is that the ear straps can’t be pulled tighter meaning polluted air can sneak in round the outsides if, like us, your ears just don’t seem to fit properly. But you can still rest easy in the knowledge that you’ll definitely look cool.

Price 225RMB from JD.com or vogmask.cn.

2. idMASK

_MG_9645-0

What is it? A relative newcomer to the pollution mask world, these are stylish silicon-sealed plastic masks in a range of colours; transparent with blue straps, black, and hot pink. A new line for children is on its way too, and the China-based team behind idMASK insist their seals make it the best on the market. The unusual shape means it is particularly good for sporty types (it’s been endorsed by triathlete Katrine Amtkjaer).

Pros This mask really is airtight; put your hands over the filters and you can’t breathe at all – great as it means air gets passed through the filters without any polluted air sneaking in around from the outside. The filters start white and turn grey when they have collected enough dirt, so it’s easy to know when to change them.

Cons These masks are a little pricey, and you need to keep buying filters (59RMB for 24 filters). We also found it a little difficult to wear glasses at the same time as this mask, as it rises pretty high up the nose.

Price 299RMB each, available at idmask.com.cn or WeChat: idMASK.

3. M Nexcare

_MG_9619-0

What is it? 3M offers a range of pollution mask models made from non-woven cloth, and these Nexcare masks are among the cheaper and most easily found pollution masks. They aren’t the most fashionable but they are widely available and an absolute steal, leaving you with three new masks and change from a 20RMB note. They do make you look slightly like a doctor carrying out surgery though.

Pros You won’t get a better bargain than this. They can also be easily picked up at almost any convenience store if the smog suddenly descends and catches you unprepared.

Cons They certainly aren’t the sturdiest of masks (though 3M do offer a more comprehensive range through websites like JD.com), and probably are one-time wonders.

Price Around 20RMB for three at convenience stores around town.

4. ReSpimask

_MG_9648-0

What is it? This mask, from Central European ‘nanofibre company’ Respilon, promises to offer dual uses as both a pollution mask and a layer to keep you warm in the winter. The mask comes with four changeable filters that are simply stuck on the inside of the mask (so simple it took us a while to work out) and can be worn without when it’s chilly but the air is fresh.

Pros This mask is pretty comfy, you can adjust the ear straps, easily change the filters and it won’t break the bank. As we head into wintry days we’re also pretty sure we’ll be grateful of that extra facewarming.

Cons There’s only one size on offer, and we just can’t get it to sit properly around our chin and nose, however much we adjust it. Perhaps it’s us.

Price 35RMB for one with three filters, available at JD.com.

5. MASKin

_MG_9651-0

What is it? This is a no-nonsense disposable pollution mask with sensible grey fabric, a side exhalation valve and KN95 credentials. This means it’s been certified to provide effective filtration of particulate matter down to .03 microns. Each mask can be worn for between 18 and 40 hours; a rather wide berth so we’d say better to err on the side of caution.

Pros The strap fits round your whole head, not just your ears, which takes out any complication about how big your head is, and the price is right. An additional plus side is that the mask fits extremely snugly round the face.

Cons …A little too snugly. After about ten minutes we are longing to pull off the mask and let blood start circuiting in our cheeks again.

Price 97RMB for ten, available from Amazon.cn.
Submit your details and vote for our cover
Your name*
Your email*

Time Out Family newsletter

Read more

Comments