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The Hidden Truth Between N95 and KN95 Masks

Are you wondering if you and your employees are going to have to wear a mask to go back to work? Not sure what type of mask to wear?

If so, this is a short guide with everything you ever wanted to know about masks, how to protect yourself from germs, and satisfy big brother.

I can’t believe we are living at a time when it’s being recommended that we wear masks in public and where we gather.

I always thought wearing a mask was something that people do in Asia…not in the US and Europe.

Frankly, it sucks.

But we better get used to it because it’s the way things are going to be moving forward.

As we move forward, people will wear masks in spring, fall, and winter. Some people will wear masks year-round. God, I hope I’m wrong, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

If you’re going to wear a mask, how do you pick one that protects, so you are “safe” at work or in public (without spending a small fortune)?

I prefer the word compliant over safe because it doesn’t matter how good the mask is that you put on your face, people can and do get viruses even if they wear a hazmat suit.

Viruses (germs) predominantly travel on our hands.

By wearing a mask, any mask, fewer germs are passed from our mouth and nose to our hands, and fewer germs pass from our hands to our mouth and nose.

The mask also prevents you from coughing, sneezing, and getting water droplets from your mouth or nose onto others. I know this sounds gross.

So when two or more people are together, and everyone is wearing a mask, the odds of transmitting germs goes down dramatically, especially if you wash your hands often and try not to touch your face. We’ve all heard it by now.

But here’s something you likely haven’t heard. Unless you are a medical professional, it’s improbable that you ever need to use an N95 mask.

In most cases, a KN95 will give you the level of protection you are seeking for you and your employees.

The “95” in an N95 or KN95 mask, describes the filter performance. The filter performance of both masks is 95%, and the inhalation and exhalation pressures (meaning what it takes to breathe while you’re wearing the mask) are nearly identical.

So what are the significant differences between the N95 and the KN95 masks?

There are three primary differences, standard, straps, and fit.

The N95 is a US standard. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a federally funded agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH set the bar for the N95 mask.

Not to be outdone, China created its own standard referred to as KN95, which incorporates nearly all of the standards of NIOSH. The issue is not with the standard as much as it is enforcing the rules.

Let’s face it; China is not known for its enforcement of standards, especially when it comes to factories producing sub-standard knockoff products. The Chinese are great at making knockoff products.

I’ve seen knock off Louis Vuitton bags that are done so well that it would be tough for anyone to tell the difference. Which begs the question, if you are going to work that hard to make a knockoff, why not make the real thing? A perplexing issue that has no good answer.

This is why your source for KN95 masks must be a reputable company that understands the complexities of doing business in China so they can assure that you are getting high-quality FDA approved products to clear US customs.

I’ve done business in China for the past 20 years and have learned to navigate the market successfully. Mostly because of deep-rooted relationships established over many years. China is not all sweatshops and pollution. There are factories in China that would amaze most American entrepreneurs. I’ve seen factories that encompass miles under roof and are so clean you could eat off the floor.

The next difference between the masks is straps, or better said, the means for mounting the mask to your face. The N95 standard requires that the mask have two straps that go around your entire head, whereas the KN95 standard allows for straps that attach to ear loops. So, if you have ears, the KN95 will hold the mask to your face and is a suitable substitute. 

The final difference is the fit. Many of the N95 masks are made and patented by 3M. 3M is a multibillion-dollar corporation making the majority of its masks in China. What makes the 3M mask unique is the way it fits on your face. Technically the 3M masks are molded in such a way that they offer the tightest fit around your nose and mouth, which is preferable in a medical environment but overkill as a day to day mask.

Whereas the KN95 fits a little further back on your face, meaning more face coverage to make up for the form fit of the N95. For people who are not in the medical field, or who aren’t required to wear an N95 mask, the KN95 will offer protection and compliance to the current requirements of the CDC.

However, there is a bigger problem with 3M masks; namely, they are tough to come by. I would argue that 3M is part of the supply chain problem in the first place, or are they?

Most hospitals in the US are finding it impossible to get 3M N95 masks. This is happening is because the world is a global market.  When Europe and the rest of the world are paying up to $7 for 3M masks, that drives the global price. So naturally, that is where N95 masks are being sold. Supply and demand doesn’t go away because the government said, “if you sell masks at an inflated price, you can be arrested for price gouging.”

This is how supply and demand works. When the rest of the world is purchasing water for $10 per bottle, then it won’t take long before all of the water in the US is sold to those willing to pay $10 per bottle. That is supply and demand. Getting any quantity of 3M masks will be an impossibility for months to come.

So if you are not in the medical profession or a profession that requires you to wear an N95 mask, the KN95 is a suitable alternative at nearly half the price of the N95, but you need to use caution.

There are a lot of cheap knockoffs on Amazon that offer little or no protection from viruses and look very similar to other KN95 masks. Buy from a reputable source.

We source FDA approved KN95 masks and sell them at prices at or below many other online sellers.

As we head back to work, masks will become a part of our future, in most cases, a KN95 will be all you need for you and your employees.

One word of caution. All N95 and KN95 masks are single-use masks. Meaning, you wear them once, and you should throw them out. At the cost, this may be impractical, but if you are in a work environment where you wear a mask all day, I highly recommend you wear a new mask every day. If not, the mask can become saturated with water droplets from your breath, which will limit the mask’s ability to expel carbon dioxide. Of course, restricting oxygen to your body is never a good thing, so change your mask at least every day.

Are you in need of KN95 masks? Click Here to Order Now.

We have the availability of 4,000,000 KN95 masks in the US, and you can purchase in as few as 500 masks at a time. If you have 20 employees and they wear one mask per day, you will go through 100-140 masks per week.

For pricing and availability email


David Mulvaney

Lifetime Lights LLC