What Is The Difference Between a KN95 and N95 Masks?

KN95 or N95?  What's the difference and which one is for me?

Many people have been confused by the mask terminology thrown around during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re going to break down the difference between N95 and KN95 masks so that you can make the right decision for you and your family’s personal protection.

Masks for more than just COVID Protection

The general public was urged to wear masks when out in public settings during the early days of the pandemic. Due to a shortage of medical-grade respirators and masks, people were encouraged to make or purchase cloth masks. These masks gave the public protection from virus transmission while preserving the more effective masks for medical professionals and essential workers.

During the summer of 2021, the first virus variants emerged. These variants, and the ones that followed in the fall and winter, were more highly transmissible than the common strains that previously dominated. Since these more transmissible strains led to higher infection rates the CDC recommended switching to N95 and KN95 masks, saying that cloth masks no longer offered adequate protection.

To help clear up confusion, we’ll examine the effectiveness of KN95 and N95 masks (sometimes referred to as respirators), and answer some of the most common questions about these two mask types.

KN95 vs N95 Masks

When the CDC first recommended the switch from cloth masks to KN95 and N95 masks, the biggest question was:

“What’s the difference?”

Let’s take a look:

N95 and KN95 Differences

The major difference between N95 and KN95 masks is that N95 masks are certified to meet U.S. standards while KN95 masks are certified to meet international standards. In use, N95 masks loop around the head, while KN95 masks loop around the ears.

illustration showing KN95 mask and N95 mask

KN95 Masks

N95 Masks

  • Not NIOSH-approved
  • KN95 masks sold in the U.S. must meet a fit test and provide documentation that the materials used are authentic
  • Uses ear loops to secure the mask to the face
  • Certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for bacteria and virus filtration
  • Approved for healthcare use in the United States
  • Uses headband straps to secure the mask to the face

Similarities Between KN95 and N95

At the end of the day, KN95 and N95 face masks effectively do the same job of blocking airborne particles.

  • KN95 and N95 masks both filter out 95% of particulate matter (small particles and liquids)
  • Both types of masks provide greater protection than surgical and cloth masks due to the multi-layer construction and a more secure fit around the face and neck

No matter whether you choose a KN95 or N95 mask, you’ll benefit from effective protection against infection and transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Bottom Line

In day-to-day use, healthcare professionals and those who have to meet certain OSHA requirements use N95 masks. KN95 masks are a great choice for everyday day use for non-medical purposes—especially since they filter out 95% of particulates just like the N95 standard.

Additional Questions About KN95 Masks

Are Imported KN95 Safe?

Perhaps the biggest misconception about KN95 masks is that they do not provide the same level of safety and effectiveness as N95 masks.


Since KN95 masks are manufactured according to international standards (and not U.S. standards), they are often viewed as inferior products. However, KN95 masks manufactured to the strict GB2626-2019 standard provide an equivalent level of protection against the COVID-19 virus.

How Can I Tell If A KN95 Mask Is Authentic?

A challenge that many consumers encounter is determining the authenticity of KN95 masks for sale online. Unfortunately, many retailers are still selling counterfeit KN95 and N95 masks online. These knock-offs do not meet CDC requirements and do not provide effective protection.

To safeguard your purchase (and ensure your safety), there are a few ways to determine if the available KN95 masks are authentic.

Authentic KN95 Masks are:

  • Stamped with the code GB2626-2019 which confirms that it was manufactured according to China’s respirator standards
  • Enclosed in tamper-resistant packaging
  • Packaged with an expiration date

Counterfeit KN95 Masks are:

  • Stamped with “NIOSH Approved” branding (NIOSH does not certify KN95 masks)
  • Not enclosed in tamper proof packaging
  • Packaged in boxes with misspellings and no expiration date

Purchase Your KN95 Masks From A Reliable Retailer

Research has shown that well-manufactured KN95 masks are just as effective as N95 masks. They’re a reliable and affordable alternative for everyday use in the office, grocery store, or other crowded indoor space.

If you’re in need of KN95 masks for personal or professional use, you’ll want to purchase them from a reputable and trustworthy retailer like Vital Supply Store.

Our authentic KN95 masks meet both the GB2626-2019 standard for mask production and the CDC recommendations for five layers of non-woven melt blown fabric.

Vital Supply Store Has The Best Fitting KN95 Masks - We Guarantee It!

Utilizing a face mask that provides a good fit for your face is one of the most critical requirements in reducing transmission of airborne viruses. How can we be so certain that our masks offer the best fit? The answer is an easy one! Vital Supply Store provides more sizing options than anywhere else. We are the only seller of KN95 masks that allows the customer to select a specific size that best fits their face. We have developed a unique set of face masks that come in sizes ranging from Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large, & Extra Large. Nowhere else will you find this wide range of fit options.  We also now offer masks that come with adjustable ear loops, which provided the ability to customize the fit and comfort of the mask.

We recognize that heads and faces come in more than one size. A “one size fits all” face mask simply is not a good strategy for keeping people safe.

Available in a variety of sizes, our KN95 masks offer a more comfortable and secure fit for all.

Shop our full line of mask products today!

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