Wearing face masks, along with frequent hand washing and social distancing, is your best bet against contracting COVID-19. We give you the lowdown on the best face masks available in Singapore, their costs and where you can buy them.
Wearing a face mask not only protects you from others, but also protects others from you.
It acts as a barrier against respiratory droplets, be it your own cough (inside of your mask) or someone else’s (that hits the outside of your mask).
Besides, respiratory droplets aren’t expelled solely by coughing and sneezing — they can also be spread by talking, singing or laughing. That’s why the Singapore government limited group sizes to five people and made it mandatory to wear a mask when in public.
Can masks prevent the transmission of COVID-19?
When worn properly, face masks are indeed effective in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to this study, most — if not all — droplets are blocked from getting out into the air or landing on someone else when any type of mask is properly worn over the nose and mouth.
Face masks are particularly useful in crowded areas (public transport, shopping malls, etc) when strict adherence to safe distancing may be challenging.
COVID-19: Types of face masks you can use
There are currently three main types of face masks being used by the Singapore public — home-made cloth masks, reusable government-issued masks and disposable surgical masks — all of which are approved by the Health Science Authority (HSA).
Home-made cloth masks (must have at least two layers of fabric to be effective)
Home-made cloth masks come in a myriad of prints and patterns, and give a fun twist to the usual blue surgical masks. One downside: They may only act as a simple barrier at best, but it’s still better than not using any mask at all.
To make your home-made cloth mask more effective, the HSA suggests that it should be made of at least two layers of fabric with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in between, even though the filter might lead to more difficulty in breathing.
Reusable government-issued masks
Remember those free face masks issued by the People’s Association and Temasek Foundation? They are your safest bets when it comes to reusable masks with good filtration efficiency.
For example, the MaskSafe DET30™ masks distributed by Temasek Foundation are both antimicrobial and washable up to 30 times. The antibacterial performance is ≥ 99% before washing and decreases to ≥ 90% after 30 washes. These masks are effective against 94% of the Influenza A virus, which is an enveloped virus like the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
While not as sustainable as both options above, disposable surgical masks are good to have on hand if you’re too lazy to wash your reusable masks and prefer having a pre-installed HEPA filter for convenience. Furthermore, if you’re in public places for an extended period of time, a surgical mask would be better as you can simply dispose of the germs and bacteria at the end of the day.
Is an N95 face mask necessary?
You’ll notice that N95 masks are conspicuously absent from the list of face masks above. That’s because N95 masks are not recommended for public use, despite it offering the best protection against COVID-19 (they filter out 95% of large and small airborne particles, hence its name).
N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, as they are more exposed to the virus when treating patients.
N95 masks are not necessary for the general public, since reusable cloth masks and disposable surgical masks work just as well.
What to look out for when choosing your face masks: Materials with good filtration efficiency
Face masks that have good filtration capability are highly recommended to prevent covid-19 transmission. But wait, what exactly is filtration efficiency?
The bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) of a mask refers to the degree of barrier protection provided by the material or fabric of the face mask. The higher the BFE, the more effective the mask is in preventing bacteria-containing droplets from reaching the wearer.
The HSA mandates that the mask you are wearing should have a BFE of at least 95%. You can usually find this information on the box of your masks.
When selecting a face mask, look for the following specifications:
- Masks with at least two to three layers of fabric. As a general guide, the material should not be see-through when held against light.
- Layers should preferably be made with different fabrics, including:
- Water-repellent outer layer
- Middle filter layer to remove particulates — this can be disposable filter inserts
- Absorbent inner layer to absorb droplets from wearer’s mouth
- Appropriate fit around the face and chin, with complete coverage of the nose and mouth, to prevent leakage of exhaled droplets
Face masks you should not be wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic
Not all masks are created equal. Some face masks that do not have proper filtration efficiency include:
- Single-layered masks
- Masks with exhalation valves
- Neck gaiters/bandanas
- Face shields as direct replacements of face masks
All of the above mentioned allow the escape of exhaled droplets from the wearer and exposes others to the risk of infection.
HSA-approved surgical masks
The HSA has released a list of HSA-licensed local manufacturers and brand names of face masks that meet minimum BFE requirements based on European (EN 14683) and American (ASTM F2100) certification standards.
Currently, there are 32 types of masks produced by local manufacturing facilities that are approved by the HSA.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of brands that you can watch out for:
List of face masks and brands approved by HSA
|HSA-Licensed Local Manufacturer||Brand Name|
|Aprotect Pte Ltd||Aprotect 3-Ply Medical Grade Medical Face Mask|
|Asun International Pte Ltd||Asun Disposable Medical Mask|
|AVS Technologies Pte Ltd||WellM 3-Ply Elastic Earloop Medical Mask|
Kyla 3-ply Disposable Medical Mask
|Calmedix Manufacturing Pte Ltd||Fortify F1 3-Ply Disposable Face Mask|
Fortify F2 3-Ply Disposable Medical Mask
|Cosmes Supplies Pte Ltd||COSMES 3-Ply Earloop Face Mask|
|DIP Investments Pte Ltd||MoharMed 3-Ply Premium Disposable Medical Face Mask|
|Dou Yee Enterprises(S) Pte Ltd||3-Ply Non woven Face Masks|
|Egis Nanotech Pte Ltd||Dumanis Disposable Fluid Resistant Medical Mask Level 1|
Dumanis Disposable Fluid Resistant Medical Mask Level 2
|Essential Medical Supplies Pte Ltd||Maxcare Disposable Medical Mask|
|Fabri-Tech Components (S) Pte Ltd||MaskSafe Disposable Surgical Face Mask|
|KHM Engineering Pte Ltd||OP’ R KOLMI Medical Mask|
|LPY Manufacturing (S) PTE LTD||DA 3-Ply Disposable Surgical Mask|
|Medi Dent International Pte Ltd||Surgisyl 3-Ply Surgical Mask|
|MedtechBOSS Pte Ltd||SMedLife Medical Face Mask|
|Racer Technology Pte Ltd||KOH 3-Ply Surgical Disposable Face Mask|
Perfect Nature 3-Ply Surgical Disposable Face Mask
Healwav 3-Ply Surgical Disposable Face Mask
Granzilla 3-Ply Surgical Disposable Face Mask
|Razer Health Pte. Ltd.||#RAZERFORLIFE Premium Certified 3-Ply Surgical Mask|
|Soteria Healthcare Pte Ltd||Protego-3 Premium 3-Ply Surgical Masks|
|ST Engineering Innosparks Pte Ltd||AIR+ Medical Grade Surgical Mask|
|The Wellness Fellows Pte Ltd||The Wellness Fellows Adult Earloop Surgical Mask ASTM F2100 LEVEL 3|
The Wellness Fellows Kids Earloop Surgical Mask ASTM F2100 LEVEL 3
The Wellness Fellows Adult Earloop Surgical Mask EN 14683 TYPE IIR
The Wellness Fellows Kids Earloop Surgical Mask EN 14683 TYPE IIR
|Ti2 Chemicals Pte Ltd||C19Shield Surgical Mask|
|Vital Shield Pte Ltd||Vital Face Mask VS50MB|
|Wes Medical Care Manufacturing Pte Ltd||Wes Medical 3-Ply Surgical Face Mask|
Wes Medical Premium Protective Face Mask
This list is updated as of 28 May 2021.
Telling a fake mask apart from a real one
With COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, masks likely are here to stay in the near future. With the surge in the demand for masks comes the rise of counterfeit masks. If you’ve bought your masks via unverified sources, you may want to test if you’ve received a real or fake product. Here are a few ways to test them:
1. Fire test
Deconstruct your mask and pull out the middle layer (made of melt-blown material). If your mask is authentic, the middle layer should melt away and disintegrate instead of light up in flames when you set it on fire.
2. Water test
An authentic mask should be able to carry a significant amount of water and not leak.
3. Breath test
Wearing a mask, try blowing out flame from a lighter. Should your mask allow you to blow out the flame, it is not authentic.
Proper usage of face masks
Wearing a mask and not trying to steam up your entire face in Singapore’s heat is a challenge, but it is crucial that you wear it properly to curb the spread of COVID-19.
When putting on your mask, ensure that it covers both your nose and chin and fits snugly on your face. Be sure to press the metal nose strip around your nose bridge for a more secure fit.
Can I reuse disposable masks?
Preferably not. Masks are available widely and cheaply in Singapore, and you can even get a box of them for free when you go for vaccination (depending on which centre you go to, and subject to availability).
After all, disposable masks are disposable for a reason — they’re intended to be used once and you’re supposed to throw them away after a day’s use.
Top 10 recommended face masks in Singapore and their costs
The following masks help to prevent COVID-19 transmission with their good filtration efficiency.
Razer is known for their gaming keyboards and accessories, but during this pandemic, they have pivoted to produce surgical masks. These soft, breathable masks come individually packed in a box of 30 and are even recommended in the HSA-approved list.
#Supportlocal when you purchase these masks. For a limited time only, get two for the price of one!
Exclusively sold at Watson, this blue flower-patterned mask will make a cute statement and keep you safe at the same time.
You can always trust local personal care store Guardian to sell good quality masks. Their disposable surgical masks have a BPE of 99% to ensure that you are protected from the virus at all times.
Healthlab surgical masks, which are available on Lazada, exceed the BFE requirement at 99% and have passed the fire and water test. With all sorts of certification uploaded on their listing, we can be sure that they’re pretty trustworthy.
Who said face masks have to be plain and boring? These Korean-style surgical face masks are perfect for those looking to stand out from the crowd. The masks, available on Lazada, come in three different designs so there is sure to be one that suits your style. The masks come in packs of 10, 20 and 30 so you can mix and match across the different patterns. They are also USA FDA- and CE-approved.
Another local favourite and one of HSA-approved mask brands. These masks come individually packed — perfect if you want to throw in some extras in your bag, just in case.
If you’re a fan of the free reusable masks issued by Temasek Holdings and the Singapore Government, you should totally get your hands on these affordable masks available online on Shopee.
Unlike the free masks that come only in white, these are available in a variety of colours such as red, maroon, blue and green. For those who want their masks at a cheaper rate, you can also round up your friends and relatives and place a bulk order for wholesale prices.
Don’t worry, there are masks for the little ones too! These masks are a fan favourite, judging by their raving reviews on Lazada. These masks are tagged for kids, but if you have a small face, they may fit perfectly as well.
Another product from Guardian, these masks provide top protection against viruses with their ≥98% BFE, three-layer protection as well as hypoallergenic qualities.
Does wearing a mask mean you can have close contact with people during the COVID-19 pandemic?
No, not at all. Masks may help filter out bacteria, but they’re not going to fully protect you from contracting COVID-19. You will still need to stick to the 1m safe distancing measures, follow the rules, sanitise frequently and wash your hands!
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By Kendra Tan
Avid promo code hunter and haggler. Kendra doesn’t like paying full price for anything. She’s the best person to bring along if you’re travelling on a budget. Have an interesting story to tell? E-mail her at email@example.com