COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. As new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus emerge and spread, the need for measures such as frequent hand-washing, social distancing and wearing masks in public continue to be paramount in order to help to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

As the pandemic rages on, the N95 and KN95 medical masks that experts have said offer the best protection from the virus are finally being stocked and sold to the general public both in stores and online. The medical grade face coverings were previously restricted and reserved for health-care workers and first responders to help fight the virus during the early stages of the pandemic as demand for the masks outpaced worldwide supply.

What’s the difference between N95 and KN95 face masks?

While both masks are considered very effective in protecting wearers from the transfer of aerosol particulates, filtering out up to 95%, KN95 masks are simply considered the Chinese equivalent of N95 masks. The difference between the two has to do with which regulating bodies oversee and test the effectiveness of these masks.

N95 masks have been tested and approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Because KN95 masks aren’t overseen and vetted by NIOSH, they aren’t considered as effective as the U.S.-certified N95 masks.

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KN95 masks feature a tent-like shape that creates a little pocket of air between your nose and the fabric, which makes them appealing to many people. The N95 masks sometimes look similar to the KN95 masks, or come in a more dome-like shape. Some N95 models also feature a valve to allow for more consistent breathability.

Another difference comes in the price. Because KN95 masks are not certified by NIOSH, they usually come at a cheaper price than their N95 counterparts.