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Reviewed: 5 quality Japanese face masks

Switch up your mask game

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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The COVID-19 panic has relatively subsided in Hong Kong but with new cases popping up in recent days, now is not the time to let our guards down. Apart from social-distancing and washing our hands, one of Hongkongers best practises is wearing face masks while out in public.

As local drugstores struggle to keep up with the high demand for masks, most people head to e-commerce platforms or turn to their friends abroad to help procure masks – especially ones in Japan since they are known for its high quality. However, with so many Japanese mask brands out there, it's difficult to know which ones to buy. So, we've put five Japanese masks to the test and compared them in terms of air permeability, surface degree, ear band, material comfort, and functionality. Here's what we think...

RECOMMENDED: Ladies, here are our tips to get your makeup on point with a mask on. For more information on the virus, check out the latest Coronavirus advice and event cancellations in Hong Kong.

Just in case you're wondering what it means:

BFE - Bacterial Filtration Efficiency 
PFE - Particulate Filtration Efficiency 
PM - Particulate Matter 
VFE - Viral Filtration Efficiency   

5 Japanese face masks to try

Unicharm 'super fast, comfortable' mask (袅快適)
Joyce

Unicharm 'super fast, comfortable' mask (袅快適)

With a name that means 'super-fast, comfortable' in Cantonese, it's no wonder this brand wins bragging rights when it comes to comfortability. The manufacturing company, Unicharm, claims its masks can effectively block out 99% of virus bacteria droplets, pollen, and PM 2.5 suspended particles. The masks are made with a silk-like material along with a pain-free ear band design. Its rectangular-shape ensures pollen and droplets have a hard time getting through any gap. 

After-use feel: The mask is thicker, and the silky material will not fluff for a whole day. It definitely feels super comfortable.

Air permeability: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Surface degree: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†
Ear band comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†
Material comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Functionality: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† (BFE ≧ 99% / VFE ≧ 99% / PM2.5)

Kowa 'Three-dimensional' mask (三欑元)
Joyce

Kowa 'Three-dimensional' mask (三欑元)

If you can't live without your glasses, Kowa's 'three-dimensional fit and high-performance' masks are exactly what you need. The mask uses painless ear bands and high-quality non-woven fabrics for optimum comfort, the nose wings are strengthened to prevent your eyewear from fogging up. While most masks have only three layers, Kowa's masks have a five-layer protection design that claims to block 99% of virus/bacteria droplets effectively, particles, pollen, and PM2.5 suspended particles. The antibacterial layer and a double protective layer between the inner and outer layers effectively stops bacteria from going through the surface of the mask.

After-use feel: It feels thickest. Yet because it has antibacterial protection layer, there's no odour even if you wear it for a whole day.

Air permeability: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† 
Surface degree: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Ear band comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† 
Material comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Functionality: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (BFE ≧ 99% / VFE ≧ 99% / PFE ≧ 99% / PM2.5)

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Unicharm 'super 3D' (θΆ…η«‹ι«”)
AC

Unicharm 'super 3D' (θΆ…η«‹ι«”)

Different from the shape of general masks, this mask's unique, three-dimensional, arc-shaped design allows the mask to fit snugly on the face without creating any gaps. The manufacturer Unicharm claims to block 99% of virus/bacteria droplets effectively, pollen and PM2.5 suspended particles while using painless ear bands and easy breathing. These 'Super 3D masks' have detailed sizing offers, including adult normal-sized, for ladies, little girls and little boys.

After-use feel: The comfortable design of the ear bands is great for people who need to wear masks for a long time. The three-dimensional design makes it so that the mask doesn't move when talking, nor does it stick to your lips. 

Air permeability: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†
Surface degree: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Ear band comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Material comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Functionality: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† (BFE ≧ 99% / VFE ≧ 99% / PM2.5)

Easy breathing fabric mask (息らくらく不織布)
Joyce

Easy breathing fabric mask (息らくらく不織布)

Worried about the germs you might catch from the hands packing and producing your masks? Not only are these 'easy breathing fabric mask' designed to help you breathe easy, but the masks are also produced entirely by machines, without manual processing. Another highlight is that the elastic ear band is hollowed out in the middle so it won't feel uncomfortable even when worn for a long time.

After-use feel: This mask is relatively thin and doesn't fit well, it feels a little unsafe. However, the thinness of the mask means the air permeability is really good.

Air permeability: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†
Surface degree: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† 
Ear band comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† 
Material comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Performance: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜† (BFE ≧ 98% / PFE ≧ 99% / PM2.5)

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Elleair Urucochi (Elleair うるごこけ)
Joyce

Elleair Urucochi (Elleair うるごこけ)

The selling point of Elleair's masks is that it uses a special non-woven material to prevent pesky fluffing inside the mask, which makes breathing while wearing the mask uncomfortable. Another plus for this mask is its moisturising design, which protects your skin from getting too dry after being cooped up in a mask for a long period of time. The protective performance of the mask is also relatively high, and it can effectively block 99% of virus bacteria droplets, particles, pollen and PM2.5 suspended particles.

After-use feel: The air permeability is great. The steel wire of the nose position is solid, the nose bridge isn't too high and can be adjusted to suit you. However, the two sides of the face don't fit very well.

Air permeability: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Surface degree: β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜† 
Ear band comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† 
Material comfort: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†  
Performance: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…  (VFE ≧ 99% / BFE ≧ 99% / PFE ≧ 99% / PM2.5)

Some of these masks are available online via eBay and we still saw a few of these in Causeway Bay area so you can try to hit some drugstores there. Or watch out for Sasa, HKTVMall, or Don Don Donki announcements on their Facebook pages for Japanese mask availability. 

Get healthy and fit

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