The Best Kids' KN95 and KF94 Masks to Follow the Latest CDC Guidance

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has us tossing those cloth masks for good.

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Kid Face Masks 2021
Photo: Bona Fide Masks

The importance of finding reliable KF94 and KN95 masks for kids is more evident than ever right now. With COVID-19 case rates still at an all-time high thanks to the Omicron variant, parents and caregivers are scrambling to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our children from getting sick and spreading the virus. On January 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at last clarified its guidance about masks and respirators to reflect the fact that cloth masks provide the least protection from COVID.

"Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection," reads the updated page on "Types of Masks and Respirators."

Though we're still waiting to get vaccines for children under 5, for officials to get their act together on school quarantine rules, and for access to testing to become easier and faster, getting an official statement on masks feels like a bit of a relief for parents. Of course, we're still left with the question of where to find the best masks for kids.

How to Tell If a Mask Is Fake

Finding these masks is not as easy as searching "KN95 masks for kids"—as if anything in this pandemic has been that simple. Manufacturers eager to supply us with KN95s have been flooding the market (including Amazon) with masks. This also meant that many of those masks are counterfeit, as tests by the CDC and other agencies showed, and they may not be providing the amount of protection that you may think they do.

Last year, when N95s were in short supply, the FDA issued emergency-use authorization (EUA) for some KN95s, which are produced in China, because they have similarly high filtration rates of at least 95 percent. That meant federal officials were testing adult sizes of KN95 masks and giving us a handy list to cross-reference. But they didn't test for children's sizes (since, we hope, no children were out working in health-care settings), and the FDA has since revoked that EUA list as N95s are now more widely available. (No N95 masks are made for children because their stated purpose is still for occupational use.)

Parents searching for high-filtration masks for kids don't have to choose blindly: First of all, you can cross-reference the list of KN95 masks that the FDA formerly gave EUA to with the database of masks that the CDC has tested. When we did the research to arrive at the list below, we took that EUA info and assumed that the same manufacturers use equally high standards for their kids' masks. That's how we landed on brands like Vida, evolvetogether, and Powecom.

We also looked to experts for advice. One great resource is mechanical engineer Aaron Collins, who has been using his background in aerosol science to test masks in his bathroom and share his findings on Twitter @masknerd and on YouTube. He is a big proponent of Korean-made KF94 masks, since there is more regulation of these masks for kids and adults in Korea compared to China. These masks must have a particulate matter filtration rate of at least 94 percent, but many test at rates above 99 percent.

When you purchase KF94 masks online, look for certification from the Korean FDA to prove it's not counterfeit. KN95 masks should list their manufacturer, be stamped with "KN95," and state that they meet China's GB 2626-2019 standard. When a brand says a mask is "FDA-registered," that doesn't mean the FDA has approved it, only that the company has filed paperwork with the FDA.

Lloyd Armbrust, the CEO of Texas-based mask manufacturer Armbrust USA, also took it upon himself to test every mask he could buy on Amazon (plus several that viewers have sent him) and shows the whole process and results on his entertaining YouTube channel. Even though many of these are now his direct competitors, Armbrust gives many KN95s and KF94s his seal of approval as well.

Finally, we looked for masks with lots of good reviews and read through some of them to see if anyone has spotted counterfeits. (Tip: Google the manufacturer name plus "CDC" to see if it's been tested or "counterfeit" to see if it's been called out as a fake.) Be aware, however, that the CDC does label masks counterfeit if the packaging makes any claims to be NIOSH-certified and are not; those masks may still be legitimate KN95s.

Below are some of the best KN95 masks for kids, as well as KF94 masks and other disposable masks that have high filtration rates and are a good fit on children.

Dr. Puri KF94 Microdust Protection Mask

Kid Face Masks 2021

The CDC has tested KF94 masks from Dr. Puri and found them to have a filtration rate above 99 percent. My son has been wearing these every school day since September and finds them very comfortable. We use an around-the-head mask extender to make it easier on his ears all day.

To buy: Dr. Puri KF94 Microdust Protection Mask (20 pack)

Armbrust USA-Made Kids' KN95 Mask

KN95 and KFN94 Face Masks for Kids

While Lloyd Armbrust was testing all those other KN95s, his company was also manufacturing these in Texas. The small, cone-shaped mask has an outer and inner layer of polypropylene sandwiching three layers of meltblown material, all of which adds up to a particle filtration level of 96-98 percent, according to the company.

To buy: Armbrust USA-Made Kids KN95 Mask (20-pack)

Good Manner KF94 Kids' Face Mask

KN95 and KFN94 Face Masks for Kids

When the CBC tested a selection of masks at the University of Toronto in 2021, this KF94 mask passed with flying colors, providing filtration levels above 99 percent. Amazon reviewers report that these masks fit their kids "just right and were comfortable," and that they don't have the nasty chemical smell of some other masks.

To buy: Good Manner KF94 Kids' Face Mask (20-pack)

Vida Kids' KN95 Mask

Kid Face Masks 2021

The adult versions of Vida's KN95 mask previously had emergency use authorization from the FDA. The kids' version is slightly different and made in the USA, but they say it still offers 95 to 99 percent filtration. It's made with five layers of breathable non-woven fabric. There's a nose clip, but the ear loops are not adjustable—something easily fixed just by tying knots in them, or buying a toggle separately. Vida is also selling KF94 masks for the same price.

To buy: Vida Kids' KN95 Mask

Well Before Kids KN95 Masks

Kid Face Masks 2021
Well Before

Well Before is a seller of NIOSH-approved N95 masks, so we have reason to believe they're legit when it comes to KN95s. The XS size has four layers of non-woven fabric, while all other sizes have five layers. The ear loops are adjustable, and each mask comes individually wrapped.

To buy: Well Before Kids XS KN95 Masks

Well Before Kids' 3D-Style KN95 (KF94) Masks

KN95 masks for kids update
Well Before

Well Before now also stocks what it calls 3D-Style KN95 masks for kids that are made in China but look like KN94 masks. Whatever you want to call them, they have done well in third-party testing and customers report that they fit nicely too, especially with those adjustable ear loops.

To buy: Well Before Kids 3D-Style KN95 Masks

Evolvetogether Kids' KN95 Masks

KN95 masks for kids update

This celebrity-loved brand's KN95 masks for kids and adults sell out frequently, so check back frequently if you're in the market for stylish masks magenta, tan, navy, or black. All of the kids' KN95s have four layers of breathable material and the flat profile shape that many find comfortable. If these are sold out again, be sure to sign up for updates about the next time they stock up. In the meantime, you can also try out the brand's three-ply disposable face masks for kids.

To buy: Evolvetogether Kids' KN95 Masks

Happy Life Kids KF94 Masks

Kid Face Masks 2021

Happy Life is one of the brands recommended by Collins, who found that they have a filtration of above 98 percent. Many find the three-dimensional design of these masks makes speaking through a mask easier.

To buy: Happy Life Kids KF94 Masks (20-pack)

Happy Life TK Fashion KF94 Youth Mask

KN95 and KFN94 Face Masks for Kids

Though Amazon has completely confused us about the branding of these masks, this actually appears to be the Happy Life Good Day KF94 mask, which Aaron Collins found to have a 98 percent filtration level. Amazon reviewers report that they've received the masks pictured on the listing, though some complain that it is too big for younger children.

To buy: Happy Life TK Fashion KF94 Youth Mask (20-pack)

Powecom Children's Sized KN95-SM Respirator Mask

Kid Face Masks 2021
Bona Fide Masks

Powecom was another mask maker that used to have emergency use authorization for its KN95 masks. It sells in the U.S. exclusively through Bona Fide Masks and should come with an "anti-fake" sticker to verify its authenticity. These masks are made from 46 percent non-woven polypropelene, 28 percent melt-blown fabric, and 26 percent ES hot air cotton.

To buy: Powecom Children's Sized KN95-SM Respirator Mask (10-pack)

Welkeeps KF94 Masks

KN95 masks for kids update

What we know: Welkeeps is a certified KF94 manufacturer in Korea, and extra-small masks come in an adorable bear print. What we don't know: How legit the third-party selling them on Amazon is. We suggest buying a 10-pack and studying the packaging before buying in bulk.

To buy: Welkeeps KF94 Masks XS Cute Bear (10-Pack)

WWDoll Kids KN95 Face Mask

Kid Face Masks 2021

These five-layer cotton KN95 masks for kids have done fairly well in third-party testing. You should also know that though parent company Chengde Technology Co. was on the FDA's EUA list, it was removed twice for making false claims about its masks.

To buy: WWDoll Kids KN95 Face Mask

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