Review: Uniqlo AIRism Mask — Is It Worth The Hype?

8days.sg got our hands (and faces) on these highly-anticipated masks ahead of its Aug 24 launch, and this is what we think.

Is getting the much-hyped Uniqlo AIRism masks a few days ahead of its launch in Singapore a big deal? If you’re a diehard Uniqlo fan and also an avid mask collector who needs all the new masks, yes, it’s earth-shattering. If not, it’s just another mask in a sea of masks. The AIRism mask launched in Japan three months ago, and it looks like it’s slowly making its way to the rest of the world now.

The masks launch in Singapore next Monday (Aug 24), and will likely prompt long queues at Uniqlo stores here, like when they launched in Japan.

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The Uniqlo AIRism mask comes in a pack of three for $14.90, and has three sizes (S, M, L) and two colours (black and white).

My first impression when I broke open the pack of three masks? Ooh, very light. The inside of the mask feels very cool and soft, and when I tried it on, the fit was great. It stayed up even without a metal nosepiece, and sat nicely on top of my cheeks without being too snug. It also provides good coverage, going almost all the way to the ears and under the chin. Basically, it looks good. Nice fit without extra flappy bits like with some other masks, doesn’t cut into the face, and has that minimalist Uniqlo vibe.

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The writer is wearing size M in black, and feels the fit and coverage is good.

Of course, the acid test is when you wear it outdoors, or for a prolonged period of time. The mask has gotten some lukewarm reviews in Japan for being not as amazingly light, cooling and breathable as Uniqlo's usual AIRism clothes and lifestyle items, and that it’s too thick for the notoriously hot Japanese summer. Maybe people expected the AIRism mask to work miracles, as in, you would wear it, and it would protect you from Covid-19 while feeling like you were barely wearing a mask.

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The word "AIRism" is printed on the inside of the three-layer mask, which boasts a silky-soft inner layer, a filter in the middle and another soft AIRism mesh fabric layer on the outside. 

The reality is that for the mask to achieve its 99% bacterial filtration efficiency, a three-layer structure was necessary. And once you have that, you cannot expect the AIRism material to be as cooling and breathable as a single-layer AIRism top, for example. The mask has AIRism fabric on the inside, which feels soft and comfortable, a filter in the middle, which you can feel and hear (it crackles), and a layer on the top which feels more waterproof and slightly less silky than the inside layer. Overall, it’s still a very light and thin mask, despite the three layers.

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A close-up of the mask's AIRism mesh fabric. Uniqlo does not claim that the masks are cooling, only that they are soft and breathable. They are good for up to 20 washes. 

After having worn masks for months now, I realise there is no reusable mask, no matter how expensive or branded or moisture-wicking or breathable, that can make you feel comfortable when you’re walking outside in the heat and humidity. The most you can hope for is that you can still breath relatively easily, the mask doesn’t stick to your face, and the shape holds up and doesn’t slip off your nose.

And the AIRism mask does that. It’s one of the lighter, more breathable and more comfortable masks we’ve tried (and we’ve tried a lot, from sports masks to anti-ageing masks to masks made from shoe materials), and there is a breathing space in between your mouth and nose and the mask, which I feel is super important. It’s well made enough that the shape holds up to give you that breathing room even though there is no wire in the nose area.

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The AIRism masks are high quality and affordable — but don't expect any cooling miracles. Good luck getting your hands on a pack!

So if you’re getting the AIRism mask expecting miracles, like there’d be a cool spring breeze complete with sakura scent around your face the entire time you wear it, I’d say lower your expectations. Like any mask, it gets hot and uncomfortable in there after a while. I’d say do not wear it to do sports — it wasn’t built for that. But as an everyday mask, it’s comfortable, breathable, looks good, and is very affordable, at $14.90 for a pack of three.

It’s available in three sizes (S for children, M for small adult faces, and L for regular adult faces) and is sold in a pack of three in the same colour (either all black or all white). There is a daily purchase limit per person of one pack of AIRism Mask for every size and colour. Now, the only problem is getting your hands on a pack of these babies. Good luck, everyone.

The AIRism mask will launch Aug 24 at all stores in Singapore and online.

Photos: Celine Tan / 8days.sg 

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