Should you swap your disposable mask for a reusable mask?

Swap your disposable mask for a reusable mask

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Swapping your disposable mask for a sustainable, reusable mask is great for your health, great for the planet and great for your wallet.

First of all, let’s be crystal clear on what masks are used for. There are two main distinctions; 

  • Face coverings worn to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 (i.e. for the protection of others) and 
  • Pollution masks that reduce the particulate matter and harmful gases inhaled by the wearer (i.e. to protect the wearer). Pollution masks can typically also be used as a Covid-19 face covering, but not the other way round.
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Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution

Are reusable face masks better than disposable ones?

There are a number of key benefits to using a reusable mask:

  • Reduced waste and more environmentally friendly – if, like us, you’re conscious about the amount of waste you produce, using a renewable mask is a no brainer. It is estimated that we use 129 billion face masks globally every month – that’s 3 million a minute. In addition to the huge amount of waste, disposable masks contain plastics such as polypropylene which release toxic substances when they degrade. This pollutes water and can harm wildlife who eat them or become tangled in them. Reusable masks are a far more sustainable option that’s better for the environment.
  • More comfortable – reusable masks are made from a wide range of materials so find one that’s made from cotton or bamboo that’s soft against the skin. Alternatively, masks that use skin compliant TPE or silicon offer a great opportunity for comfort alongside an airtight seal. Head straps rather than ear-loops also make a big difference, especially when worn for extended periods of time.
  • Improved style – unless you enjoy looking like you’ve just walked out the operating theatre, reusable masks offer a great opportunity to be unique and choose a mask that looks great. Some masks allow you to remove the front cover to swap the colour to really mix things up. You could even get creative and make your own! 
  • Finally, disposable masks can be cheaper in the long-run. The cost of regularly replacing disposable masks can really add up, so depending on which reusable mask you buy, you can be saving a small fortune whilst getting a far better product. 
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First of all, let’s be crystal clear on what masks are used for. There are two main distinctions; 

  • Face coverings that are worn to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 (i.e. for the protection of others). 
  • Pollution masks that reduce the particulate matter and harmful gases inhaled by the wearer (i.e. to protect the wearer). Pollution masks can also typically be used as a Covid-19 face covering, but not the other way round. 
Shop Pollution Masks
Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution
Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution

Are reusable face masks better than disposable ones?

There are a number of key benefits to using a reusable mask:

  • Reduced waste and more environmentally friendly – if, like us, you’re conscious about the amount of waste you produce, using a renewable mask is a no brainer. It is estimated that we use 129 billion face masks globally every month – that’s 3 million a minute. In addition to the huge amount of waste, disposable masks contain plastics such as polypropylene which release toxic substances when they degrade. This pollutes water and can harm wildlife who eat them or become tangled in them. Reusable masks are a far more sustainable option that’s better for the environment.
  • More comfortable – reusable masks are made from a wide range of materials, so find one that’s made from cotton or bamboo that’s soft against the skin. Alternatively, masks that use skin compliant TPE or silicon offer a great opportunity for comfort alongside an airtight seal. Head straps rather than ear-loops also make a big difference, especially when worn for extended periods of time.
  • Improved style – unless you enjoy looking like you’ve just walked out the hospital operating theatre, reusable masks can offer a great opportunity to be unique and choose a mask that looks great. The Airhead Mask allows you to remove the front AirSkin cover, to swap the colour and mix things up to suit your outfit or mood.
  • Finally, reusable masks can be cheaper in the long-run. The cost of regularly replacing disposable masks can really add up - with a durable, high quality reusable mask, you can save a small fortune, whilst getting a far better product. 
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Made in the UK

Designed to combat poor air quality in cities,
before the pandemic

Performance meets comfort

Breathe easily with filters capable of
blocking >99% of particulate matter

Reusable and sustainable

A mask that’s made to last,
with replaceable filters

How much does a pollution mask cost?

There are a wide range of pollution masks available on the market that offer different levels of protection and are suited to different activities. These fall into three broad categories:

High-end performance masks sit in the range of £80 to £100. These are typically performance-based masks that focus on filtration effectiveness and are suited to exercise-based activities such as cycling, running and walking. The onus is on protecting the wearer from pollution as they aim to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Premium features such as activated carbon filters, two-strap head bands and magnetic clips set these products head and shoulders above the rest.

The second category are the more fashion focused pollution masks that prioritise style and aesthetics over fit and function. Whilst still using a particulate filter, these masks can often be confused with face-coverings and may not provide an airtight seal, which can significantly reduce the filtration performance of the mask. These masks typically retail for £30 to £60.

Finally, there are the very basic ‘pollution masks’ – these are often replicas of original products and very rarely have any testing or certification to back up the claims being made. You’ll commonly find them on marketplaces such as Amazon or e-bay, retailing for £10 to £25. Safe to say, if you’re aim is to reduce the amount of pollution you inhale, we’d recommend staying well away from these products.

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How much do face mask filters cost?

It’s worth doing your research when it comes to the replacement filters as masks that are cheaper to buy initially, can end up costing you more.

The most expensive replacement filters can retail for as much as £30 which dramatically increases the on-going cost of using the mask. Other brands sell individual filters for around £1 to £2 which, whilst making the running costs much cheaper, sometimes means you don’t get the added extras like and activated carbon layer. On average, we see most companies charging in the region of £4 to £8 per filter.

One point to note when comparing the cost of a filter is the recommended lifespan of each filter. Whilst more expensive, some filters will last far longer than others which reduces the cost per hour of wearing the mask, so it might be worth getting the calculator out to work out the best deal.

The Airhead filters cost just £6 each. Which means for £6 per month you can breathe fresh, clean air – a bargain if you ask us!

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Is it safe to reuse a face mask?

If you suspect that you have come into contact with any contagious microbes whilst wearing a disposable mask then it is highly recommended that you replace the mask immediately. This is where reusable masks that are easy to clean really come into their own – thoroughly cleaning your mask with a disinfectant spray or cleaner will allow you wear the mask again straight away. Just make sure you replace the filter. The Airhead mask uses a modular design, which means it can be taken apart, to make your life easier when it comes to the cleaning.

As you wear a mask, clogging occurs in the filter – this is when a build-up of the filtered particles starts to block the passage of air through the filter. Over time, this makes it harder to breathe through the mask. Advice to replace the filter should therefore be followed closely to ensure you’re getting the best performance from your filter and not restricting the amount of air getting to your lungs.

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How much does a pollution mask cost?

There are a wide range of pollution masks available on the market that offer different levels of protection and are suited to different activities. These fall into three broad categories:

High-end performance masks sit in the range of £80 to £120. These are typically performance-based masks that focus on filtration effectiveness and are suited to being worn during exercise, such as cycling, running and walking. The focus is on protecting the wearer from harmful pollution as they aim to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Premium features such as activated carbon filters, two-strap head bands and magnetic clips set these products head and shoulders above the rest.

The second category are the more fashion-focused pollution masks that prioritise style and aesthetics over fit and function. Whilst still using a particulate filter, these masks can often be confused with face coverings. In some instances, they may not provide an airtight seal, which can significantly reduce the filtration performance of the mask. These masks typically retail for £30 to £60.

Finally, there are the most basic pollution masks, which are often cheap replicas of original products. They may lack rigorous testing and, often, have little to no design focus on the provision of an airtight fit. You might come across these on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay, retailing for £10 to £25. Whilst these products might do enough to act as a face covering (and help to protect others), if your aim is to protect yourself, we’d recommend steering clear of these products.

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Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution
Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution

How much do face mask filters cost?

It’s worth doing your research when it comes to the replacement filters. Masks that are cheaper to buy initially, can end up costing you more.

The most expensive replacement filters can retail for as much as £30, which can dramatically increase the ongoing cost of using the mask. Other brands sell individual filters for around £1 or £2 which, whilst making the running costs much cheaper, sometimes means you don’t get the added extras like an activated carbon layer. So, if quality is high on your agenda, you may wish to pay more. On average, most companies charge in the region of £4 to £8 per filter.

When comparing the cost of different filters, don't forget the recommended lifespan of each filter. To compare like-for-like, you'll want to work out a cost-per-hour of each filter: that's the total cost divided by the recommended lifespan in hours. For the bargain hunters, it could be worth getting the calculator out to work out the best deal. 

Airhead Filters are sold in packs of three (£12) and ten (£38). They provide up to 60 hours of filtered freedom, which means you can breathe fresh, clean air for as little as 6 pence an hour – a bargain if you ask us!

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Is it safe to reuse a face mask?

If you suspect that you have come into contact with any infectious particles or viruses, whilst wearing a disposable mask then it is highly recommended that you replace the mask after use. This is where reusable masks that are easy to clean really come into their own – thoroughly cleaning your mask with a disinfectant spray or cleaner will allow you wear the mask again next time. Don't forget to replace the filter too after cleaning, as this may also have been exposed. The Airhead mask uses a modular design, which means it can be taken apart, to make your life easier when it comes to the cleaning.

As you wear a mask over time, clogging can occur in the filter – this is when a build-up of the filtered particles starts to block the passage of air through the filter. This gradually makes it harder to breathe through the mask. Advice on replacing the filter should therefore be followed closely to ensure you’re getting the best performance from your filter and not restricting the amount of air getting to your lungs.

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Pollution mask in the city to protect against pollution

Get your hands on a comfortable face mask

The Airhead Mask was designed in collaboration with Brunel University, and is manufactured in the UK to provide the most comfortable face mask experience, whilst offering the best possible protection from harmful particulates. It has been designed with exercise at the front of mind, to help people feel better when they’re on the move in and around the city, making every journey that bit happier and healthier. Sound good? Get yours today.