Here's an Instagram-ready $99 face mask to protect you from the haze and the fashion police

PHOTO: Facebook / Airinum

Fact: you can’t stop the haze. Fact number two: wearing an N95 mask outside might filter out the bad stuff, but it just ain’t a good look. 

In a product announcement email received by AsiaOne today (conveniently sent after a bad haze-filled weekend), a Swedish brand by the name of Airinum promises to let us all beat the haze in style. 

Introducing the Urban Air Mask 2.0, a fashionable face mask that comes in a variety of chic looks that lets one look more like a cyberpunk ninja instead of an out-of-place medical practitioner. 

PHOTO: Airinum

But let’s get the mechanics of haze-protection right first — face masks made of paper or cloth aren’t effective at all against breathing harmful airborne particles. What folks should be using instead is the N95 respirators, which are disposable masks specifically designed to protect users from sucking in airborne contaminants. Studies have shown that they do provide good protection against the haze. 

Plus, they’re pretty cheap at $1.90 each. Which should explain why N95 masks were sold out at some retail stores on Saturday (Sept 14) when the haze crossed the unhealthy level in the afternoon. The Ministry of Health has assured that the masks will be restocked to meet demand. 

On the other hand, what Airinum is offering with their Urban Air Mask 2.0 is a way to properly protect yourself from airborne contaminants while looking snazzy at it. Sure, these things cost more than 10 times a standard N95 mask, but they’re something worth considering since we can be sure that the annual air pollution over Singapore and parts of Malaysia from Indonesia’s forest fires aren’t going away anytime soon. 

What's with the lofty price tag though? Airinum breaks it down: 

  • It’s designed in Sweden, and its multi-layer filter tech is tested at the Camfil R&D centre in Sweden, one of the world’s most advanced filter laboratories. 
  • The mask’s filter has five layers of protection, including an active carbon layer that sieves through gases and reduces door as well as two electro-charged layers filtering out larger PM10 particles and smaller PM2.5 particles (which predominantly make up the haze). The filter itself lasts for about 100 hours and is replaceable. 
  • The efficacy of any N95 mask is only as good as its fit-factor, and any gaps between the mask and face will let airborne contaminants in. The Urban Air Mask is designed to ensure a perfect personalised fit thanks to adjustable earloops and head-straps.
  • A 3D-memory nose foam provides secure sealing and comfortable wearing while minimising air leakage. 
  • Two exhalation valves act as a ventilation system, providing comfortable breathing without causing the mask to become warm and moist. 
  • The mask skin is treated with an anti-bacterial coating called Polygiene, which stops the growth of odour-causing bacteria. It’s washable and reusable anyway. 
  • Comes in Onyx Black, Quartz Grey, Pearl Pink for the classic versions. Fork out up to $149 and you get limited-edition designs and water-repellence. 

Deciding on which Urban Air Mask 2.0 colour to buy is very much a first-world problem. There’s nothing wrong with going for the standard 3M N95 respirators, and there are masks with micro ventilators that cost way less than Airinum’s. But it’s good to have a bougie option to consider when you place fashionability on the same pedestal as respiratory health. You can purchase the fancy masks locally via Ante.

More about
Digital haze