As someone with chemical sensitivity, being around any harsh chemical smells can translate to adverse reactions. Reactions vary from migraines, rashes, hives, flushing, asthma, burning mouth syndrome, or feeling faint. This is especially difficult in social situations, or while using public transport. Having to step away from a conversation because I physically can’t handle the amount of perfume or cologne a person is wearing, or, switch hotels numerous times until finding one that doesn’t use deodorizers to ‘mask’ smells and other toxic cleaning solvents is not something I look forward to in my day-to-day interactions or travel plans.
With that being said, wearing a mask has been a life (err histamine reaction) saver. I can wear them preemptively, prior to entering any public transport, Lyft’s/Ubers, airplanes, hotel rooms, etc. Or, if I know there is poor air quality or excessive pollen in the air. I can also throw a mask on if things change, like if a toxic scent makes an appearance in the vicinity (i.e. if perfume or a cleaning product is spritzed).
Unfortunately, it took a while to find the right mask for my head. The ones I ordered in the past were either too small, too big, too ‘smelly’ (the IRONY!) and/or would hurt my little ears (they are seriously small). Ultimately, those were all returned. This resulted in me taking disposable masks from my doctor (shh), which weren’t as effective, nor great for the environment, but at least fit my face/head. That was until Ariel posted a story series on masks in his Instagram, and later wrote a wonderful article review.
Ideally, I wanted an organic cotton mask, that was re-usable, and effective. I believed a large organic cotton VOGMASK, along with the head strap, which allows the mask to go around your head, versus behind the ears was my fit. However, my glasses would get fogged up each time I wore it, meaning there was a leak due to it not properly sealing onto my face. Not very effective. That was until I tried VOGMASK’s new Medium+ fit. No head strap needed for fit, just for added comfort. I finally found a fit that properly sealed to my face, and didn’t fog up my glasses, or hurt my ears. I’ve had two weeks to wear both the organic and non-organic option, and here is what I’ve come up with:
VOGMASK protects you from airborne particles, such as PM 0.3, PM 2.5, PM 10, dust, allergens, post combustion particles, germs, shavings, biologics, odors, scents, mold, mold spores, particles in wildfire smoke, volcanic particulate pollution, and other airborne contaminants, including germs and microscopic particles. They protect from >99.9% of airborne viral, bacterial and mold particles. See testing here. Along with a high efficiency particulate filer, they have an active carbon and exhale valve option.
I love that they offer an N99 organic cotton option, and that none of their masks (including the non-organic options) have a ’smell.’ They are light, and easier to wear in warm/humid weather (if only they had a fan attached though!). Their organic option has a base life of six months to one year, and the maintenance required for either mask is a simple hand wash. Their non-organic premier masks have the most diverse range of colors and prints. I figure, if people are going to look, give them something cute to look at it. They offer child to adult sizes (and the Medium+ size as an in-between option!), and have a money back guarantee policy.
Although it filters out most scents, I still get a faint smell when I wear them. Upon looking into this further, their website states their masks won’t stop gases, vapors, oils, or aerosols from coming through. Although I have had no reactions using this mask around triggering scents, doesn’t guarantee it will be the same for the next person.
In addition, their website states that their masks do not eliminate the risk of illness, disease or infection, nor do they guarantee protection from illness or any harmful substance. Take that as you will. And keep in mind leakage may occur if there is facial hair is underneath the face seal.
The organic option doesn’t have much color variation. While, the non-organic option is promised a minimum of three months of wear.
Cost may also be a con. They range from $22-44, and the head strap is an additional $4. Again, the organic option (more expensive) can last up to a year, making it a reasonable investment. And they do offer a money back guarantee in case it isn’t your thing, or fit.
It was recently brought my intention via one of Ariel’s posts that a past Vogmask user experienced anaphylaxis each time she wore their masks. As it turns out, she is allergic to coconut, which is ingredient/material used. Per VOGMASK, “the carbon filter media is coconut shell derived carbon ash, which most people allergic to coconut are not allergic to burnt coconut shells. We also offer Organc VM with highly efficient N95 particle filter and no carbon filter layer or valves.” Please ensure you don’t have adverse reactions to any materials used in their masks prior to trying them on.
Outer layer Faceblank of non woven microfiber
Print design on outer layer Faceblank by thermal transfer
Filter media of Nanofiber PP Filtering Textile middle layer
Filter layer of Active Carbon coconut shell derived charcoal bonded to textile
Exhalation Valve of ABS Resin with silicone stopper
Nosebridge of coated aluminum wire
Trim and ear loops of latex-free spandex
Inner layer Faceblank (comfort inner layer closest to lips) of woven microfiber
Head harness accessory (optional) of Cotton (94%) and Polyurethane (6%) with snaps and tensioner bead, attaches to ear loops