During the course of the pandemic, I’ve collected my fair share of masks in a variety of colors. Some have been good, and some have been bad, but none were quite like the Refresh Mask N95 Personal Purification System. A self-proclaimed ‘Intelligent Personal Air Purifier’ that leads me to ask the question — Why?
Created by PhotoFast, the Refresh Mask is an N95 grade filter protection mask that is made to be effective against germs, haze, and viruses. Seeing as we should all be wearing masks right now, the RefreshMask seemed like it could legitimately be a breath of fresh air when it comes to not only wearing a mask when you go outside of your own home but for the length of time that you could comfortably wear it.
This is mostly due to its air circulation system, which is essentially a built-in air purifier. Now I don’t know about you guys, but air purifiers can be hit or miss, and having one sit on your face seems like more of a miss. If you’ve ever seen Dark Knight Rises, imagine Bane’s mask — in white — and that’s exactly what this mask looks and feels like when wearing. I hated wearing this mask with the air purifier on it. The medical-grade silicone that surrounds your face is comfortable for the first few minutes.
Still, if you plan on doing anything other than walking in and out of your local grocery store, your face will get hot quickly … and that is where the Refresh Mask attempts to start fixing the problems it created in the first place.
Since the Refresh Mask has its own air circulation system, it works as a “fan,” releasing moisture and heat relative to humidity and temperature to cool your face. Again, this seems like a good idea, but in actual use, I was not a fan by any means. The mask does work without the air purifier; however, it’s just a regular mask that you could get anywhere else without it. So if you’re going to pay $100 for a mask and NOT use the air purifier feature, this already wouldn’t be worth it. I should mention that with the air purifier ON, there is a slight noise being made.
This mask WILL protect you from COVID (with or without the air purifier), but it’s at the expense of difficulty breathing normally with the purifier on. There’s not much space inside the air purifier, so breathing directly into it felt more difficult than it should be. However, the air you breathe is absorbed into the mask and not expelled out of it, which is a saving grace if you are worried about not infecting other people if you’ve possibly been exposed to COVID.
When breathing into the mask, you feel like the air is being filtered, but still, the tightness around your face and proximity of your mouth to the vent are way too close for my liking. The best comparison I could think of when actually speaking to someone with the mask on is the effect you get talking into a fan — muffled and very indistinguishable. That’s on top of my overall discomfort wearing it.
What’s even more dreadful is that the air purifier portion of the mask is rechargeable via micro-USB, and when in use, PhotoFast states that the air purifier can run for 3-8 hours. I’ll be honest; there wasn’t a single time that I wore this mask for three consecutive hours. But if you were buying this to wear to work, you might be glad to know that when the air purifier’s battery loses power, the internal filter will still work due to it not needing any external power to do its job.
The mask does protect from the elements. Dust, allergens, and viruses are no match for any N95 mask, but the Refresh Mask is a do-it-all (even when you don’t want it to) solution that wants to keep you cool and keep you safe, even if it looks like you are wearing a nebulizer with the way it protrudes from your face. I can’t see myself using this instead of a different mask, but I suppose that there’s something for everybody. Unfortunately, I found it to be the most uncomfortable mask I’ve ever worn.
The RefreshMask N95 Personal Purification System sells for $109, and it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: It does protect against the elements like any other masks and reduces the hate for wearing masks that tend to stick to your face
What Needs Improvement: Silicone will cause your face to sweat after extended wear periods; Needs to be charged to benefit from Air purification system; The most uncomfortable mask I’ve ever worn