Let’s just get this out of the way: I have a small head. I have a small stature in general, but my head is particularly small, causing me to do crazy things like mousse up my roots to fake a bigger noggin or peacock my neck forward in photos to make it seem like my face is the same size as everybody else’s.
For my whole life, this has been my cross to bear and has mostly been an annoyance when it came to baseball hats and sunglasses, but I entered a new kind of small-headed-hell at the start of the pandemic, when I needed to find a cloth mask that could fit. After much trial and error, I settled on the Rafi Nova performance mask, which has an adjustable cinch at the bottom to nestle it closer to your face. I was in a good place—if not with my own self image in regard to my head size, then at least in my ability to keep virus particles out.
But cut to 2022, and suddenly, we’re not supposed to wear cloth masks anymore. We’re supposed to wear N95s, which is all well and good if you have a normal-sized head, but if you’re like me, end up gaping around your cheeks and chin, flapping in the breeze like a giant, plastic Michael Myers mask.
What’s a cranially-diminutive gal to do? Steal from her children, of course! That’s right, I’m currently sporting the same KN95 as my 5 and 7-year-old, and I love it. The five-ply Sevenforce kids’ mask is not NIOSH-approved (the gold standard for N95s), but that’s because no children’s masks are NIOSH-approved as of this time, as they only evaluate adult equipment. (N95s also wrap around the head, and KN95s, like this one, have ear loops.) The clincher for me: according to an evaluation by the NPPTL (per guidance by the CDC), the Sevenforce’s manufacturer, Wenzhou, produces products that are effective at filtering about 71 to 95 percent of particles, with some filtering even more. So again, not as good as an N95, but still awfully effective.