As restrictions begin to loosen in the coming weeks, getting “back out there” is going to look a little different. Companies including Uber and JetBlue are requiring masks for all passengers, while places like Washington, D.C., and L.A. have mandated wearing them in grocery stores. That’s not to mention city- and statewide ordinances that mandate that anyone who is outside—for any reason—must wear a mask. Plus, it’s the CDC’s official recommendation. While homemade bandanna and T-shirt masks were great in a pinch (and technically pass regulations), we’re betting you and health experts would both prefer something robust as the world reopens. And while some masks made by fashion and shoe companies are very stylish, it’s hard to tell what’s actually effective from what’s just aesthetic.
Enter MIT-founded fashion brand Ministry of Supply, which has built a mask with informed choices in material, design, and filtration. It was initially developed for frontline workers, but in light of recent CDC recommendations, MoS has also made it available for consumer purchase. The Maskº ($50) is 3D printed to make for extremely efficient production times (each takes less than nine minutes to weave). Made of a viscose and polyester blend, it’s machine washable, and the hygroscopic material pulls moisture to the core of the fiber, making it soft, breathable, and dry after even hours of wear. Because it’s 3D printed, MoS was able to quickly iterate new prototypes in hours and test the shape and texture of different fabrics, meaning the resulting mask is a great fit and very comfortable—which is important if you don’t want people constantly touching their face to adjust. (Note: This is a non-medical mask—not an N95 or surgical mask—and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.)
[Photo: courtesy Ministry of Supply]While the Maskº can be worn without a filter for consumer use, it comes with a set of tested filters that are Nelson Labs certified, which were developed in counsel with MoS’s healthcare advisers at the MIT spinout MakerHealth. To get nerdy about it, each melt-blown polypropylene filter boasts a higher than 95% Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) rate and a 95% Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE) measurement at 0.1 microns. Translation: It stops a high percentage of droplets and particles from getting in or out. And to address the problem of ill-fitting masks, Ministry of Supply separated the production of the mask frame (which determines the fit and comfort of the mask) from the filter. This two-part structure allows the brand to use special production techniques (i.e., 3D-print knitting and die-cutting) to create the mask frame, and work on the filter technology separately, resulting in a better-fitting and more effective mask.
The Maskº comes in seven different colors (if that matters to you) and the starter Maskº Kit comes with 10 filters—which are recommended for only eight hours of use a piece. You can buy refill 10-packs of additional filters ($20) after you use your first batch. There’s also a give-back element: Ministry of Supply will donate a mask to frontline healthcare workers for each kit purchased. If you want to donate more, there’s an option to make a purchase for donations exclusively on the MoS website.
Ordering for a partner or your family? Currently, if you purchase two Maskº Kits, you can receive a third for free. All you have to do is add three Maskº Kits to your cart to receive the promotion.
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