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Airhead Mask Review – The Best Silicone Mask?

Airhead Silicone Mask

After succeeding in Kickstarter, Airhead has finally released their mask, the aptly named Airhead Mask. This silicone mask is something that I have been excited to try since I first came across it many months ago. Now, after using the mask for a few weeks, I finally get to share my experiences. 

The Airhead Mask comes at a time when the silicone mask market has shrunk quite significantly. Out of the silicone masks that I have reviewed thus far on BreatheSafeAir only two mask companies are still in business – Gill Mask and Envo Mask. O2 Canada and Mod PPE have both exited the market leaving a lot of people wondering where to turn.

While the Airhead Mask is undeniably different to both of these masks, there are also some similar strengths due to the nature of the materials and design used. In this review today, I want to see if Airhead is a new silicone face mask that I can recommend for anyone looking for a high-filtration yet comfortable mask.

I will begin this review by discussing a few of the strengths and weaknesses of silicone-based masks before moving on to the filtration, fit and comfort of the mask. I will also cover the price and lifespan of the mask and discuss where it fits into the current mask market. From there, I will share my closing thoughts.

If you have tried the Airhead Mask yourself and have some thoughts to share, please go ahead and do so in the comments on this post. If you haven’t tried the mask, but have some questions, please feel free to also go ahead and comment on this post. I do my best to reply to all comments and I appreciate hearing the opinions of others. 

Before getting into this review I need to make two disclaimers:

  1. In the fit section of this article, I have written based on my own experiences. Everyone’s face is different, and I can not state whether or not this mask will fit you. I will, however, make some observations based on my experiences.
  2. All filtration results apply only to the filter media and not the mask itself. In order to receive the best protection, the mask and filter must both be fitted correctly. 

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my affiliate disclaimer. I was sent a product for review, but the article is not sponsored. All opinions expressed in this post are my honest thoughts. I only recommend products that I genuinely believe in.

Information on this blog is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information herein with other sources. Furthermore, this information is not intended to replace medical advice from professionals. This website assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information, and information is subject to change without notice. Devices mentioned on this website are not medical devices and do not guarantee protection.


Why Silicone?

Airhead Mask Exploded View

The first question that I want to address is the question of why someone should use a silicone mask over a more traditional cloth alternative. I get asked this question a lot so I want to address some of the strengths and weaknesses of such a design.

From my experience, silicone masks nearly always provide a better seal that is less prone to moving and leaking over time. Cloth masks almost always rely on a wire nose-piece and memory foam in order to create a seal. However, it’s very hard to fully seal such a mask due to the inflexibility of such materials.

Silicone, on the other hand, is generally capable of moulding much better to the wearer’s face. This leads to a reduction in gaps and provides a significantly better seal. On top of this, the majority of silicone masks rely on a headband for maintaining a strong fit and this creates not only a stronger seal but one that is more likely to stay in place even after having the mask donned for a long duration.

Of course, silicone masks do tend to have some disadvantages also. Typically these masks have lower breathability due to a lower surface area of the filter media. This is especially true on masks such as Gill Mask where the filter media is incredibly small. In order to counter this issue, Gill Mask has created a 3D filter that provides much more surface area. Airhead has taken a similarly interesting approach with a hinge mechanism.

Finally, perhaps the most obvious difference between silicone masks and cloth masks is the appearance. Cloth masks blend in a lot better and many people are more comfortable wearing them simply because they don’t stand out. Silicone masks are often larger and stand out much more, which can draw attention.

Overall, silicone masks tend to provide substantially more protection than cloth masks due to the better fit that they provided as well as the more secure fit of the filter within the mask itself. However, they are more cumbersome and can be harder to wear in day to day life.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.


Filtration

Airhead Mask Filter

Mask filter (left) and exhalation valves (two round circles on the bottom of the mask).

Filtration is the most important aspect when it comes to judging how much protection a given mask will provide the wearer. For that reason, it’s important to view any filtration certifications or testing that a mask manufacturer has.

As noted in the introduction, it is important to keep in mind that the filtration carried out by most labs applies only to the filter media rather than the mask itself. In order to receive the best protection from fine particles, the filter must be placed correctly in the mask and the mask must be fitted correctly.

The Airhead Mask uses a replaceable filter, but it implements it in such a way that when the filter is fitted correctly there are no gaps. There are a lot of masks that leave gaps near the edges of replaceable filters but the Airhead Mask is not one of them from my experience. When wearing the mask I am confident that the filter is filtering all inhaled air.

Airhead Valve Filter

Melt-blown valve filter including carbon.

The Airhead Mask has two valves located at the bottom of the mask. These valves provide an easy escape for air, reducing breathing resistance, temperature and humidity within the mask. However, valves also mean that air exhaled by the wearer is not filtered. If you’re interested in learning more about valves, please refer to this article.

While there are valves on the bottom of the mask, these can both be covered with an included melt-blown filter. This filter is very easy to apply and will ensure that exhaled air is filtered alongside inhaled air. Since these mini-filters are melt-blown, they should be replaced regularly.

Fibers in meltblown and nanofiber filters

Nanofibre vs Meltblown filter. Image from Revolution Fibres.

The primary filters are made from nanofibre. Nanofibre filters are very advantageous to use in masks as they tend to provide higher filtration efficacies while also being more breathable and longer-lasting. Generally, there is no downside to nanofibre filters in comparison to melt-blown with the exception of price.

The filters used in the Airhead Mask are created by Hifyber and have been tested internally using the industry-standard TSI 8130. Two samples were tested, each at a flow rate of 95l/min (the same flow rate as used in NIOSH testing).

Both filters provided > 98% filtration with sample the worst-performing sample having a penetration percentage of 1.83%. Inverted, this shows a filtration rate of 98.17%. While a larger sample size would provide more accurate information, these results show that the filters should be capable of filtering > 98% particles at the MPPS.

A final aspect worth noting is that both the primary filter and the secondary valve filter have an included active carbon layer. This layer is capable of adsorbing a range of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and will also lessen the strength of many odours.

While the filtration offered by Airhead Mask isn’t as high as half-face respirators such as the Stealth N100 Respirator, the filtration results of > 98% are very decent.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.


Fit 

Airhead Mask Silicone Seal

While filtration is important for the theoretical abilities of a mask, the fit is equally important when it comes to real-world usage. A mask can have a fantastic filtration efficacy, but this won’t make a difference unless the mask is able to fit correctly without leaks. 

Luckily, the Airhead Mask excels when it comes to fit. At the time of writing this article, this is the best fitting silicone mask that I have tried. While I was able to achieve good seals with other masks such as the O2 Canada Curve, Gill Mask and Mod PPE, none of the fits felt as secure as that which Airhead provided.

The fit of the mask can be attributed to two key factors; the contoured silicone seal and the use of two headbands to keep the mask in place. I will discuss the comfort of both of these elements in the next section but when it comes to fit, they perform well.

When initially fitting the mask I noticed that if the top and bottom strap are similarly tightened, there will be some leaks around the nose. I believe this is due to the fact that the silicone seal is thicker towards the bottom of the mask.

In order to offset this leakage, I ended up tightening the top strap slightly more than the bottom strap. This pulled the top of the mask closer towards my face and created a much better seal around my nose. After making this adjustment there was no discernible leakage in the mask.

The positioning of the mask also initially threw me off a bit as it took a few tries of the mask for me to find the best fit. Where most masks should have the top of the mask placed level with the bottom of the wearer’s eyes, the Airhead Mask provided the best fit when sitting higher, with the top of the mask level with my pupils.

There is only a single size for the Airhead Mask. I asked two friends to try the mask and both were able to also achieve a good fit with minimal leakage. There may be some fitting issues for younger people (such as teenagers) or those with very small faces. However, generally the single size seems to fit all adults.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.


Comfort

Airhead Mask Valves

It’s hard to fully explain how it feels to wear a silicone mask if you haven’t tried one yourself. I often compare them to full-face diving masks as this is the most similar comparison that I can draw. The masks are very similar in the materials that they use, and the feeling within is also quite similar.

Many people who don silicone masks for the first time will find that they take a while to get used to. Breathing through these masks is more difficult than most cloth masks and there is a microclimate within the mask. Especially when exercising, you will find that the chamber within the mask becomes hot and humid.

This is not unique to Airhead Mask or even silicone masks in general as all masks have a microclimate within. However, silicone masks do tend to be more noticeable. Compared to Gill Mask and MOD PPE’s mask, I found that the microclimate and breathability in the Airhead Mask were better. The temperature within the mask was closer to ambient temperatures and breathability was very good.

The seal itself was the most comfortable that I have tried so far on a plastic mask. The material is soft and didn’t cause any irritation on my skin (which I have experienced with other silicone masks). Even after wearing the mask for a few hours, I found that the Airhead Mask sat comfortably on my face. It also only left a minor mask imprint on my face when I doffed the mask.

The mask relies on dual headbands in order to provide a secure fit. One of these headbands sits nearer the top of your head, above the ears. The second band sits on the top of your neck and keeps the bottom of the mask sealed. 

Airhead Head Bands

Both headbands are tick and flat with plenty of adjustment available. This means that they distribute the weight of the mask well and don’t cause the same aching that most earloop-based masks do. The straps have a large range of length adjustments available and can therefore fit every head.

I did notice that the mask puts a lot of pressure on my cheekbones, just off to the side of my nose ridge. After adjusting the mask and trying some different positions, I found that this issue persisted. I was wondering why this occurred but after feeling the silicone seal it actually seems as though the silicone near the nose ridge is harder than the silicone on the rest of the seal. This means that it pushes more into the upper cheeks and can cause some discomfort.

Donning the Airhead Mask is both a more comfortable and simple process than many dual head strap masks due to the inclusion of a magnetic connector on the lower strap. Therefore, instead of needing to pull both straps over your head, you only need to pull the upper strap over your head – the bottom strap simply clips together.

Airhead Mask Headband Lock

Since we are living in a time when many people will be donning and doffing their masks often, this seemingly small addition is very useful. Many people don’t like to wear headband masks as they can interfere with hair and are generally more cumbersome to use. While the Airhead Mask still has these issues, they are less prevalent.

On that note, Airhead has also introduced a very cool feature on their mask. This feature is the ‘door’ of the mask. There are actually two parts to the Airhead Mask, the silicone seal and the front (where the filter is located). What makes the design so unique is that the front piece of the mask can actually be opened using a hinge-like mechanism.

This is great for real-world usage when you might need a breeze on your face when exercising, or when you want to take a sip of water from a water bottle. Where removing the mask for these tasks would be very cumbersome, the door method provides easy access without needing to remove and replace the mask.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.


Lifespan & Price

Airhead Mask Pricing

The price of the Airhead Mask is £89.00. At the time of writing, this is around $120 USD. This is a high price for a mask and, in my opinion, the largest downside to this mask. While it’s still not as pricey as some other masks (such as the R-Pur Nano light), there is no denying that this mask is expensive.

The biggest issue is that until you purchase and try the mask for yourself, it’s impossible to tell whether it will fit you or suit your needs. Currently, Airhead does offer a 30-day return policy. I have not tried this and can’t confirm how it works, but it is advertised on the website.

Anyway, there is a lot of innovation that has gone into the Airhead Mask. From my experience, the fit is the best that I have tried. The use of nanofibre filters is also a big bonus when it comes to the breathability of the mask. On top of this, there are many innovations – the ‘door’ of the mask, the magnetic locking mechanism on the headband, and the 3D-knitted AirSkin to name a few.

Replacement filters for the Airhead Mask will cost you £12 for a 3 pack, and £38 for a 10 pack. This means that each filter costs around £4. The lifespan of each filter is rated between 30-50 hours depending on a few usage factors.

For example, users who are wearing the mask regularly on public transport or in crowded spaces are likely to want to replace filters more regularly. Further, people who breathe more heavily (such as those who use the mask for exercise) will also need to replace the filters more regularly. Finally, heavy pollution can also lead to the filters needing to be replaced more often.

These filters are also not cheap. However, with my previous experiences with nanofibre filters, I understand that this increase in price is often inherent of the materials in use. Compared to melt-blown filters, these filters will provide a far better experience but that comes at a cost.

In the end, it will be up to you to judge whether or not this price is justified or not. In my case, I believe that the price should be lowered somewhat but I would still purchase the mask as I have yet to find a mask that fits better than this.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.


Final Notes

Airhead Mask Blue

Before concluding this article, I want to mention a few final thoughts that I have on the mask. These didn’t really fit anywhere else in the article but I still wanted to mention them.

Firstly, while the mask is fully functional I did notice some minor imperfections. For example, the AirSkin on my mask came with a slight tear near the top. Further, the bottom of the mask has a loose outer layer on the silicone that is peeling. Both of these are minor and in no way impact the performance of the mask, but for this price, I would expect stellar condition.

Airhead Mask Bottom view

One of the minor imperfections. While by no means a deal breaker or even noticeable in most cases, it’s an issue that shouldn’t occur on a mask of this price.

I do have a feeling that this is something that will be ironed out over time as the production cycle is improved and optimised. However, in the early editions of the Airhead Mask, there are some small imperfections.

Secondly, the mask has a strong plastic smell. This did begin to wear off after I wore the mask for a couple of weeks but it is something that is instantly noticeable upon donning the mask for the first time. I have not noticed a smell this strong on other silicone masks that I have used.

Finally, I wanted to mention a point that is true of all silicone masks. Your voice will be muffled. While it’s still possible to speak when wearing the mask, there is significantly more voice distortion than you will encounter on most cloth masks. Of course, the Airhead Mask does have a door that you can open, but there are many times when you will not want to open the mask.

Overall, I found the Airhead Mask to be a very solid mask. It is the best fitting silicone mask that I have tried (comparable to Envo Mask) and it does this while still remaining comfortable to wear. I also appreciate the usage of a nanofibre filter with the inclusion of a carbon layer as together these provide high filtration of a range of particles.

The masks are expensive, however, and there are a few minor flaws that I would like to see fixed. I do believe that these will be fixed over time as Airhead grows more familiar with the manufacturing process. In its current state, I am still more than happy to wear my mask because the functionality is untouched and these flaws are minor.

If you are looking for a mask that provides great protection make sure to consider the Airhead Mask. I would also recommend this mask for people looking to replace their O2 Canada masks. While the masks are different in many ways (size especially), the Airhead Mask is a strong option that also shares many strengths with the Curve Respirator.

Learn more & purchase Airhead Mask. Get 10% off with the code ‘BREATHESAFEAIR’.

8 thoughts on “Airhead Mask Review – The Best Silicone Mask?”

  1. I appreciate your very thorough description of the Airhad mask. I went to order a Gill mask on Dec 7 but when the box ‘time it will be shipped” was blank so I cancelled the order. Is the Gill mask still unavailable?? I can see the plusses and minusses of the airhead. I am 74 and want to keep Covid away., as we have had one death in the family already, thus my detailed questions. With the high filtration percent of the Airhead 07+%I ASSUME that it will stop Vovid virus particles. I live in the northwest USA and we have forest fires, so I ASSUME this will also filter any smoke particles. Are these two correct assumption? I live in the USA. Is there a USA supplier or do I need to get it from England? Do they charge for shipping? Like the Gill mask which can use “any” other filter, can the Airhead be used with other filtres e.g. part of a fabric N95 mask? Thank you for your help with this inquiry.

  2. I also have Airhead mask. I agree with your review that it does put pressure on the cheekbones. It takes a long time to adjust it just right. I also have O2 Curve. The Airhead is definitely a step up. They just need to make the silicone softer and have it stick out a bit less. If they do this, they will have the perfect mask.

  3. I wanted to ask, what purpose do the valves underneath the mouth opening serve? Based on the design they look pointless. From what I can see, there’s not an alternate path for your exhalation to go. There’s only the main entrance which has its own filter already.

    1. Hi Juan, thanks for your question.

      The valves allow exhaled air to bypass the filter. In the last image, you will see that the valves are located in an opening at the bottom of the mask. Inhaled air is pulled through the front of the mask (through the filter) and exhaled air is pushed down, out of the mask (where there is no filter).

      1. Ah, I see that now! Thanks for pointing that out. I understand why they include valve blockers now. I’m currently on the fence between this and the Breathe99 B2 mask, I’m unsure if you intend on reviewing that one.

  4. Hey! Thanks for your reviews. My partner got some of these based on your research. I’ve just started wearing mine, and why I overall think it’s a tight seal, its Achilles heal seems to be my smile. Since it doesn’t have wide coverage like a disposable, it allows for two gaps on the side when the corners of my mouth push out. I can actually feel my breath coming out. I don’t think making it tighter helps either. Have you encountered this? Any tips?

  5. On me, this mask gives a great seal only as long as my mouth is completely motionless. It does not have any flexibility or give for the motion of speaking or smiling. When smiling, the corners of my mouth extend past the narrow sides. When speaking, and my chin pops out the bottom. Given how it is on my face, I am amazed it fits anyone properly. I figure I can wear it only in places where I have no need to talk or smile. Where would that be??

  6. I did a full 3M fit test with this mask and it passed. This means, that when worn on my face the leakage was below 5% ie N95 standard. The test covers: normal breathing, heavy breathing, talking out loud, turning head full extreme left and full extreme right, looking up high and down low and bowing.

    I did, however, find that it took a long time to adjust it so that it was both comfortable and still sealing properly. A little tighter and it is too uncomfortable and a little looser and it does not seal.

    Like on this video (except I did it on my own, with my own 3M test kit):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PthSES4O9d8

    On thing I find disconcerting, however, is that it if I pull my chin inward, a leak occurs. This does not happen with other silicone masks that I’ve tried. But I don’t do this in normal day to day life and it is not part of the 3M fit test either. So, I don’t think it really matters.

    The main problem with this mask from my perspective is the poor appearance (sticks out too much) and does not work at all with glasses (they have to sit so far up that they are virtually useless.)

    Perhaps if there were more size offerings it would work with my glasses. The mask is actually a bit small for me.

    I believe the team is working on another version of the mask that will be 30% smaller and have different sizes. If this is ever realized I would be very interested.

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