what’s the best face mask?

Trying to find the best mask to prevent COVID infection (and colds, flus and other respiratory viruses) — especially when most folks have abandoned theirs? I’ve got you.

Prevention is a foundation to all systems of health. So masking up is good medicine, and even more important now that fewer people are doing it.

People ask me about masks a lot, especially when they’re about to travel. So I made this video demonstrating the evolution of masks during the pandemic, including those I recommend based on my own experience and that of my friends. (Details below.) Note that these are all helpful for wildfire smoke, as well.


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get the most from your masking

Remember that layering your protections matters. Masks make a big difference, but they will be most effective if you also:

  • keep your immune system robust,
  • have prior immunity to the bugs in question (e.g. with vaccination),
  • reduce the time you are exposed to anyone who is sick, and
  • maximize ventilation with open windows, air filters or being outdoors.

Even the best mask is not perfect protection. Vanishingly fewer people are masking these days and, in the absence of quarantine rules, people are absolutely traveling while acutely ill.

A dear friend of mine, a fully vaccinated frontline healthcare provider who’d avoided COVID through the pandemic, got sick even while wearing the disposable P100 mask I mention below. Despite layering her protections, many hours in a plane surrounded by unmasked, obviously sick kids overwhelmed her defenses — and obviously didn’t enhance to her much needed vacation.

the good, better, best and DIY options

Here are the masks I discuss and recommend. (*Note that some of these are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you purchase.)

the good: N95 + KN95

the better: P100 respirator (disposable)

the best: elastomeric masks

the DIY:

more resources

The science behind the N95 material is more complex and cool than you’d expect. Here’s a great short video explaining the physics happening on your face:  The Astounding Physics of N95 Masks.

If you haven’t already done so, grab my Immune Resilience Action Guide. It offers a bunch of ideas to help you stay healthy — or be more resilient if you do get sick.

For a more personalized approach, I offer virtual consultations for folks in Alaska and Oregon. Book your appointment here.


I hope you find all this useful — and that it helps you stay well. If you appreciate this content and want to help support its creation, you can buy me a chai.


—Dr. Orna