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Where to find N95 masks amid the COVID-19 Omicron variant surge

Confident women wearing N95 face mask
N95 masks plus being vaccinated are your best protection against the Omicron variant. Getty Images

For the last two years, people across the world have been donning cloth masks to protect themselves from COVID-19. But given how easily the new Omicron variant spreads, many people are upgrading their multi-layer cloth masks with more protective N95 masks. They're designed to filter at least 95% of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.

In fact, some schools and employers are now requiring the use of N95s. The University of Southern California, for example, is requiring faculty, students, staff and visitors wear surgical or N95 masks on campus during the spring 2022 semester.

What you need to know about free N95 masks

The Biden Administration has announced a plan to make 400 million N95 masks available to Americans for free through local pharmacies (such as Walgreens, CVS and some supermarkets) and local health centers. These masks, sourced from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, will be released to the public this week.

Supplies will likely be limited to guarantee availability, and children's masks will not be available (at least at first). So if you need a reliable supply of N95 masks, you'll have to open up your wallet and choose one of the N95 options we've curated below.

What to know about N95 masks before you buy

It's important to pick up an N95 mask that's approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Find the full list of approved N95 brands here (and all the picks below are NIOSH-approved, naturally). Beware: There are counterfeit N95 masks online, so be sure to check the brand name on the NIOSH site, and to shop at trusted retailers to avoid ending up with a fake face mask.

N95 masks can be tough to track down, but we've found some still available at Honeywell, Amazon and more below. Add them to your cart now before they're sold out, too.

Honeywell DC300 N95 particulate disposable respirators (20 pack)

Honeywell DC300 N95 Particulate Disposable Respirators

This new Honeywell design is made to fit more face shapes and minimize pressure points. It comes in a pack of 20.

Honeywell DC300 N95 particulate disposable respirators (20 pack), $30

Kimberly-Clark professional N95 pouch respirator (50 pack)

Kimberly-Clark PROFESSIONAL N95 Pouch Respirator

If you're willing to purchase 50 masks, these from Kimberly-Clark have a large breathing chamber for comfort and soft but strong headbands -- and one of the best per-mask prices around. After a short period of unavailability, these N95 masks are back in stock at Amazon for quick shipping, so grab them before they sell out (again).

Kimberly-Clark professional N95 pouch respirator (50 pack), $58

3M N95 8210 respirator (20 pack)

3M Personal Protective Equipment Particulate Respirator 8210

These 3M masks prevent eyewear fogging and have a foam cushion for maximum comfort on your nose.

3M N95 8210 respirator (20 pack), $26 (reduced from $30)

3M Aura N95 respirator (10 pack)

3M Aura Particulate Respirator 9205+ N95

These disposable N95 masks by 3M feature an adjustable nose clip, chin tab and a low-profile design that directs air away from the nose panel to reduce eyewear fogging. 

3M Aura N95 respirator (10 pack), $21

N95 disposable multi-purpose respiratory mask (25 pack)

N95 disposable mask
Home Depot

Home Depot has several N95 face mask options, including this 25-pack. These N95s have an adjustable nose clip and head strap.

N95 disposable multi-purpose respiratory mask (25 pack), $42

Honeywell Safety DF300 N95 Flatfold disposable respirator (50 pack)

Honeywell Safety Flatfold Disposable Respirator

This N95 face mask has a soft foam nose cushion for maximum comfort. Its humidity- and moisture-resistant filter media repels moisture. At less than $1 per mask, these Honeywell N95s are one of the best N95 mask deals out there. 

Honeywell Safety DF300 N95 Flatfold Disposable Respirator (50 pack), $44 (reduced from $51)

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