What Types of Masks Are There?

What Types of Masks Are There? - Medura

What Types of Masks Are there?

In a previous blog post, we talked about the benefits of wearing protective masks in our current bioclimate as suggested by the World Health Organization, the Government of Canada, and the BC Centre for Disease Control. But what types of protective masks are out there? And which is the best choice for you? 

Generally speaking, the two main categories of masks are cloth masks and medical-grade masks. Cloth masks include bandanas, homemade cloth masks, store-bought cloth masks, masks with filters, neck gaiters and balaclavas. Whereas medical-grade masks include disposable surgical masks, cone-style masks, and N95 respirators. Here’s a little more information on each of these masks:



It shouldn’t come as a shock that bandanas are not meant to protect you from respiratory diseases. While they offer some protection against dust and other particles and keeps you from directly coughing or sneezing on someone else. Research from the Florida Atlantic University suggests that an individual wearing a bandana can still “spray” (cough or sneeze) 4ft outwards. 
  • Pros: keep dust and other particles out of the respiratory system 
  • Cons: minimal protection from incoming droplets and can still spray up to 4ft outwards

Homemade Cloth Mask

Medura Homemade Cloth Mask
There are many different types of homemade masks-- the main difference being the number of layers and materials the mask is made of. The best protection comes from a 2+ layer mask made from densely woven cotton fabric. 
  • Pros: Decreases outward droplet spray
  • Cons: low incoming particle filtration

Store-Bought Cloth Masks

Medura Blog Store Bought Masks
It can be tempting to go for the trendy, stylish masks. But experts suggest that when buying a cloth mask, it is best to choose a protective mask that is made of 3 layers of tight-weave 100% cotton cloth. Remember: safety first, style second.
  • Pros: reusable. A good quality cloth mask can significantly decrease outward droplet spray.
  • Cons: low incoming particle filtration

Masks With filter

Masks with filter pockets can be both bought in stores or made at home. Experts suggest that the use of a polypropylene filter can increase inward filtration from 35% to 70%. [Chu, NPR] 
  • Pros: Increased inward filtration compared to normal cloth masks.
  • Cons: many masks with filters have exhalation vents to allow air to escape, which does not prevent outward spray.

Neck Gaiters and Balaclavas

Medura Blog Neck Gaiters and Balaclavas
Out of all the cloth masks, neck gaiters and balaclavas should be one of your last choices to use as a protective mask because a lot of these ‘masks’ are made of synthetic fabrics, which are less effective than natural fibres like cotton.
  • Pros: minimal protection against incoming droplets.
  • Cons: Not as effective as natural fibres cloth masks.

Disposable Surgical Masks

Medura Blog Disposable Surgical Masks
Onto the next category: medical-grade masks. Disposable surgical protective masks generally filter out around 60% of inhaled particles. Medura’s high BFE and PFE masks are of the highest standard on the market and promise protection with our standard and children protective masks. You can read more about it in our blog about the difference between good and bad masks. 
  • Pros: stops outward sprays and droplets, and provides a high level of inward filtration and protection. 
  • Cons: Not designed for multiple uses, should be disposed of after wearing.

Cone Style Masks

These round protective masks that cover your mouth and nose are similar to disposable surgical masks but offer less breathability. 
  • Pros: provides a high level of inward filtration and protection. 
  • Cons: less breathable than flat disposable surgical masks. Less effective at containing droplets and spray than cloth masks constructed of quilting cotton. [Arizona State University researcher]

N95 Respirators

Medura Blog N95 Respirators

N95 respirators offer the most protection against respiratory diseases, filtering out 95% of particles inwards. For this reason, they are the chosen mask for healthcare providers. However, due to a shortage of these masks, N95 respirators should be reserved only for healthcare providers.

  • Pros: offers the most protection against spray and respiratory diseases
  • Cons: short supply and should be reserved for healthcare providers.


To offer a short conclusion, while cloth masks can be more customizable and comfortable, medical-grade masks provide the maximum safety and protection against respiratory diseases. We recommend going with disposable surgical masks for daily protection against respiratory diseases, as they provide the highest breathability and protection. To take your personal protection to the next level, you may also consider disposable gloves as a measure of protection. Medura also offers latex-free disposable gloves, please send us any inquiries about acquiring top-of-the-line personal protective equipment for your business. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published