Best option are FFP2 masks
Most effective are FFP2 masks (similar to the US N95 and their Chinese equivalent KN95), which filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. We should say right here that even the best quality mask won’t do its job well if it doesn’t fit your face. A well-chosen mask leaves no gaps at the edges through which air will enter.
Surgical masks are good option too
The second best option is surgical masks, but you should know that not all surgical masks are the same. Look for a mask that has at least three layers of protection and that fits your face well. To improve the seal, it is good if the mask has a flexible nose clip. If the elastic loops are not tightened well, make a knot or twist the loop to ensure a good fit.
Cloth masks, any mask is better than none
When health experts say any mask is better than none, they mean cloth masks. They provide rough protection against sneezing or coughing, but won’t be very effective at protecting you from inhaling aerosols. The virus responsible for Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is mainly transmitted by small, light aerosol particles that are released by infected people when they cough, sneeze and exhale, which can remain in the air for hours.
FFP (stands for “filtering face part”) masks filter at least 94% of aerosols thanks to the several layers of different fabrics they are made of.
But, as we said, despite the mask’s excellent specification, it won’t protect you well if it doesn’t fit your face. The air, i.e. aerosols, will enter through the gaps at the edges of the mask.
Make sure the mask is comfortable, too, so you can wear it for a long time without problems.
Top-quality FFP2 masks are also resistant to moisture from exhalation or sweat, which is important as a wet mask is a less effective mask.
Before purchasing FFP2 masks, be aware that there are many counterfeit masks on the market.