A CPAP mask is used in conjunction with a CPAP machine to deliver Continuous Positive Airway Pressure for those suffering from sleep apnea.
A high-quality CPAP mask is an indispensable part of the overall CPAP apparatus. Ignoring this important fact can result in ineffective treatment.
We examined dozens of today’s most popular masks and determined that the following are the best CPAP masks of 2021.
1. ResMed AirFit F10
The AirFit F10 features a sleek design that stays out of your way while you sleep. The company has put a lot of time and effort into the comfort of their AirFit masks, and the results are apparent the moment you put the mask on.
What we like: The AirFit F10 does not irritate the skin. It is surprisingly easy to clean. You do not have to tighten it to an absurd degree. And there is no contact between the dome and the nose during the night.
Flaws: One of the more expensive CPAP masks you will find.
2. Philips Respironics Amara View Full Face CPAP Mask
The Amara View is a low-profile, full face mask that does not wear like a full face mask. It is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, full face mask on the market and sets the bar for others to clear in that regard.
What we like: The Amara View is very light and compact. Unlike some other masks, it stays out of your way while you sleep. Also, it is a very quiet mask, and it is compatible with a wide array of CPAP machines.
Flaws: It is not possible to change the cushioning. And it is relatively expensive.
3. Vitera Full Face CPAP Mask
The Vitera Full Face Mask features a more traditional profile than the sleek Amara View. Nonetheless, it embodies the best virtues of the full face mask in that it is very comfortable, seals up tight, and leaves plenty of room inside.
What we like: Easily adjusts to any head size or shape. The innovative headgear design stays out of your way. The mask is surprisingly light. The silicone seal adapts to the contours of your face without much fuss. And there is little to no pressure on the bridge of the nose.
Flaws: Costs more than some other CPAP masks.
4. Philips Nuance Pro
The Nuance Pro is a discreet CPAP delivery platform that tucks in comfortably under the nose and stays out of your way while you sleep. With state of the art gel cushioning, you may forget you have it on.
What we like: The silicone tubing and gel cushions are very easy on the nose. With only four parts, there are a lot of things to lose. It is relatively small and discreet. And it is one of the more affordable CPAP masks on the market.
Flaws: It does a generally excellent job for side sleepers. But if you press your nose into the pillow it can get very uncomfortable.
5. ResMed Quattro
Many folks with sleep apnea breathe through their mouths while they sleep. For them, a nasal mask simply will not do. The ResMed Quattro delivers full face mask performance in a sleek, low-profile package that does not take over the bed.
What we like: The Quattro stays where you put it. It is remarkably light for a full face mask. Adjusting is a relatively straightforward process. And it is not likely to come loose during the night, no matter how much you move around.
Flaws: It can be difficult to obtain a tight seal around the edge. It seems as though this newest iteration has less robust cushioning than earlier models.
6. Lolicute Full Face Adjustable Mask
The design of the Lolicute keeps the restraining straps away from your skin for a more comfortable overnight experience. It pulls off a relatively neat trick in that it looks larger than most full face masks, yet it feels smaller.
What we like: The mask is lighter than it looks. More comfortable too. It is easy to adjust and stays in place during the night. It is also compatible with a wide variety of CPAP machines.
Flaws: Cushioning is not as thick as on some other masks. Getting a good seal around the nose can be challenging.
7. Philips Respironics DreamWear
Companies have been trying for years to make nasal pillow masks more effective and comfortable. For a lot of people, the Philips DreamWear Mask delivers in both respects. If you do not need a full face mask, consider the DreamWear.
What we like: The DreamWear mask is very comfortable. It is unlikely to create a sense of claustrophobia. It is light and less imposing-looking than a full face mask. The silicone is also very easy on the skin.
Flaws: The hose connection on the top of the head is not going to please everyone. If you roll on your side during the night, the mask might come loose.
8. Simplus Seal Medium
The soft silicone of the Simplus Seal full face mask is very gentle on your skin while also providing an outstanding seal. The headgear is more involved than some other masks, but there is no denying it keeps the mask in place all night long.
What we like: The Simplus Seal accommodates a wide range of nocturnal movement. There is little, if any, contact between the nose and the mask, so there is less chance of irritation. It tends to stay where you put it.
Flaws: Not the quietest mask you will find. Also, long term durability is an issue.
9. ResMed AirTouch F20
ResMed makes some of the most comfortable CPAP masks on the market today. Their AirTouch F20 snuggles up against your skin and produces a tight, painless seal. All ResMed products are compatible with most CPAP machines.
What we like: The memory foam cushion is every bit as comfortable as the marketing makes it out to be. The magnetic clips allow for fast, accurate adjustment. And it is one of the most leak-resistant masks on the market.
Flaws: The head brace is going to be too much for some people. And like all ResMed masks, it is relatively expensive.
10. Careshine Adjustable Full Face Mask
The Careshine Adjustable Full Face Mask is a full size mask that is comfortable, easy to adjust, and affordable. There are plenty of vents to handle aggressive exhales, and the Velcro straps make for fast and easy adjustment.
What we like: The mask is easy to adjust and not prone to leaks. It is relatively quiet and does not whistle during exhales. Once in place, it tends to stay in place. It is also compatible with an assortment of CPAP machines.
Flaws: It is a fairly rigid mask. It is also large and may conjure feelings of claustrophobia in some.
Who Needs CPAP Mask?
Anyone suffering from what is known as ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ needs a high-quality CPAP mask to facilitate their treatment. The CPAP mask is one component of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – or CPAP – therapy. With CPAP therapy, pressurized air is delivered from a CPAP machine to the patient to keep their airway open while they sleep. Having the right mask is crucial to effective CPAP therapy. A poor-quality, poorly-fitting, or leaky CPAP mask can undermine CPAP treatment and endanger the health of the sleep apnea sufferer.
How We Ranked
There are numerous types of specialty CPAP masks. But for the purposes of this review, we stuck to the three major types: nasal pillow, nasal, and full face. Regardless of type, the mask needed to be well-built, durable, and easy to use. They needed to be easy to adjust and offer a secure, pain-free seal around the nostrils, nose, or the nose and mouth.
A good CPAP mask is also easy to clean. That is vitally important because they can become breeding grounds for bacteria due to the moisture generated by breathing. This moisture sometimes becomes trapped in the mask, and microscopic bacteria can settle in it and breed. Any mask that presented cleaning problems did not rank on our list.
The size and design of the CPAP mask is also important. Few are the people who stay perfectly still all night. Most of us toss and turn to some degree. So the CPAP mask cannot be so big and bulky that it interferes with normal sleep movements, or that it gets dislodged by such movements. So any mask that ranked for our list had to be sleep-friendly.
Finally, each CPAP mask that ranked for our list demonstrated its ability to facilitate airflow. CPAP therapy, after all, is all about delivering pressurized air that opens the airway of the recipient. If a particular mask tended to come loose with little prompting, or develop leaks that undermined air pressure, it did not earn a place in our rankings.
There is no separating the benefits of a good CPAP mask from the benefits of CPAP therapy. The mask is a vital component of the overall CPAP apparatus. Therefore, most of the benefits listed below will be directly related to the benefits of CPAP therapy itself.
A CPAP mask is part of an effective strategy to combat sleep apneaThis is the most obvious reason to purchase a CPAP mask. The CPAP machine itself only pumps the pressurized air you need. That pressurized air still has to get from the hose into your airway to keep it open. The CPAP mask is how that is done. A high-quality CPAP mask will ensure your CPAP therapy is as effective as possible.
CPAP masks help reduce the risk of heart disease. Sleep apnea is characterized by frequent bouts of hypoxia (1), where oxygen is cut off to the brain and heart. Chronic bouts of hypoxia can do damage to the heart muscle. That leaves you susceptible to heart disease and premature death. The right CPAP mask can help prevent you from developing heart disease.
A CPAP mask can help improve brain function. Those bouts of hypoxia, along with the sleep disruptions sleep apnea causes, can have a negative effect on brain function. In some cases, sleep apnea can cause damage to the brain tissue itself. The result is reduced cognitive function. A good CPAP mask can enhance the effectiveness of CPAP treatment and improve overall mental function.
A CPAP mask can help reduce or prevent snoring. Not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea. But snoring is nonetheless a common symptom of sleep apnea. The snoring can sometimes be extremely loud and irregular, and is a result of tissue in the throat blocking the airway. The right CPAP mask can ensure your airway remains open. And that can significantly reduce, and in some cases eliminate, snoring.
A CPAP mask can help reduce your risk of stroke. People suffering from untreated sleep apnea are more likely than others to die of stroke (2). CPAP therapy can mitigate the effects of sleep apnea and reduce a person’s risk of stroke in the process. And the right CPAP mask can enhance the effectiveness of CPAP therapy.
A CPAP mask can help reduce your risk of dementia. With each passing year, more evidence emerges linking sleep apnea with an increased risk of dementia (3). As more is revealed, one thing becomes clear: making sure you get the most from your CPAP therapy is more important than ever. The right CPAP mask can help you do that.
CPAP masks can prevent expensive trips to the doctor. One of the least obvious, but most important, benefits of effective CPAP treatment is fewer trips to the doctor or hospital. It is difficult to determine exactly how much a person will save by being in better overall health. But there is no denying that effective CPAP treatment can lead to better health. And that better health will reduce both short and long-term medical expenses.
A CPAP mask can help restore emotional balance. Sleep apnea produces a cascade of health problems, including mental health problems (4). Research indicates a link between sleep deprivation and anxiety disorders, bi-polar (5) disorder, and depression. By finding the right CPAP mask, you can help ensure you get the sleep you need to maintain emotional and psychological balance.
CPAP masks can help reduce high blood pressure. In the early 2000s, researchers discovered that patients with high blood pressure often suffered from sleep apnea (6). Those same studies also revealed that CPAP treatment could reduce blood pressure in people with sleep apnea. If you suffer from both conditions, the right CPAP mask can help optimize the positive effects of CPAP treatment on your high blood pressure.
A CPAP mask will help you get ahead. The right CPAP mask will help you get the deep, restful sleep you need. Whether you own your own business or work for someone else, that will pay handsome dividends. Getting enough sleep improves mental function, problem-solving abilities, and overall concentration (7). These are all qualities that can help a person get ahead in life.
CPAP masks can improve your sex life. A large number of men with sleep apnea also suffer from erectile dysfunction (8). The exact physiological link is not entirely understood. But the evidence is clear and convincing. By finding the right mask to optimize their CPAP therapy, many of these men can enjoy a return to a normal sex life (9). It is not something that happens overnight, but it does happen.
A CPAP mask helps improve sleep quality. Sleep apnea is disruptive to normal sleep patterns. As a result, many people with sleep apnea never feel as though they get a good night’s sleep. The right CPAP mask can help ensure the success of CPAP therapy and a return to normal, restful sleep for untold numbers of people.
A CPAP mask will help you be a better athlete. Many people with sleep apnea are athletically gifted (10). Yet, because they are unable to get enough sleep, their reaction times and endurance suffer, and they are sometimes unable to make the split-second decisions their sport demands. Finding the right CPAP mask will enable athletes to get the sleep they need to realize their potential.
CPAP masks help reduce the risk of diabetes. Treating sleep apnea with a CPAP machine can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce your chances of developing type II diabetes (11). Sleep apnea produces intermittent bouts of hypoxia. It is now known that repeated exposure to hypoxia affects the body’s ability to metabolize glucose. The result is out of control blood sugars and, in many cases, adult-onset diabetes.
CPAP masks help make better drivers. A CPAP mask by itself is not going to take the wheel of the car from you and prevent an accident. But it will not have to. The National Safety Councils estimates that thousands of Americans each year die in accidents caused by drowsy drivers (12). By enabling people to get a good night’s sleep, the CPAP mask can help prevent them from dozing off behind the wheel.
A CPAP mask can help your bedmate get some sleep. When it comes to sleep apnea, the forgotten victim is often the partner of the person with the condition. They often have a tough time getting to and staying asleep, due to the other person’s snoring. By finding the right CPAP mask sleep apnea sufferers can help bring an end to the ordeal their partners endure on a nightly basis.
CPAP masks are cost-effective. When you consider all the potential short and long term benefits of CPAP therapy, a good CPAP mask is revealed for what it is: money well spent. For what amounts to just pennies per night, you can fend off a range of dangerous health conditions, and perhaps significantly extend your life. There are not many similarly-priced medical devices that can make such a claim.
Q: What is a CPAP mask?
A: A CPAP mask is affixed to the end of the air hose emanating from the CPAP machine. Depending on the type of mask, it may cover your mouth and nose, your nose, or just your nostrils. The CPAP mask is the last link in the therapeutic chain and enables the CPAP machine to go about its work with optimal efficiency. Having the right mask is vital to the overall success of CPAP therapy (13).
Q: Do I need a prescription to buy a CPAP mask?
A: Some online retailers will want to see your CPAP machine prescription before selling you a mask. Most, however, will not. But the story is quite different when it comes to the CPAP machine itself. Every reputable retailer – online or otherwise – will require a prescription for the CPAP machine. But as for the mask, you should have little trouble obtaining one without a prescription.
Q: Are all CPAP masks compatible with all CPAP machines?
A: Not all CPAP masks are designed to be compatible with all CPAP machines. That said, if the mask you purchase is not compatible with your particular machine, it does not mean you will be unable to use it. There are many adapters available that enable you to get past any compatibility issues. They are cheap, easy to obtain, easy to implement, and can save you the money and hassle of getting a new machine or mask.
Q: What is a nasal pillow mask?
A: A nasal pillow mask is not really a mask at all. It is a small apparatus that creates a tight fit over the nasal openings. It does not cover the entire nose like a standard nasal mask. Nor does it cover the mouth and nose like a full face mask. It is the smallest and lightest and least intrusive of the three main types of CPAP mask. If you suffer from claustrophobic feelings wearing a full or nasal mask, the nasal pillow mask may be an effective alternative.
Q: Can I wear glasses with my CPAP mask?
A: That will depend entirely on the style of CPAP mask you purchase. A mask such as the Amara View will not interfere with your ability to wear glasses. The same can be said for several different ResMed masks. Still, you will not be able to wear glasses with a mask such as the AirFit F10. That is because it covers the bridge of the nose where glasses would ordinarily come to rest.
Q: Is there any way to alleviate claustrophobia while wearing a CPAP mask?
A: A common complaint among those who require CPAP therapy is that their masks create a sense of claustrophobia (14). It is understandable, especially in the case of full face masks. If you are beset by claustrophobic feelings, try wearing the mask around the house during the day. Just to get physically used to having it on. Wear it while napping as well. Even if you are nowhere near the CPAP machine. And if all else fails, try a different style mask.
Q: How often do I need to replace my CPAP mask?
A: The warranty is a good indicator of how long your mask is designed to last. So if you have a 1-year warranty, you should probably consider replacing the mask after a year. If you have a 3-year warranty, you may have to play it by ear after the first year or two. Just remember, if it has become uncomfortable, you may not need to replace the entire mask. Simply replacing the cushions might solve the problem
Q: What are some signs a CPAP mask is wearing out?
A: At some point, no matter how well you maintain your CPAP mask, it will wear out and need replacement. There are a few leading indicators to watch for that will indicate the time is near to get a new CPAP mask. These include sores where the mask contacts the skin. An inability to obtain a firm seal regardless of how much you try. Leaks, where the hose connects to the mask, are another indicator that the mask needs replacement.
Q: Which type of CPAP mask is most comfortable?
A: There is no single answer to this question. Some people will be comfortable with a full face mask. For others, the full mask will be too much. They will only be comfortable with a nasal mask. And since there are many different types of nasal masks, they may only find one or two that meet their standards of comfort. The best thing to do, if you can afford it, is to try several different designs and see which works for you.
Q: Can wearing a CPAP mask make me sick?
A: We touched on this briefly above, but it bears repeating: you must clean your CPAP mask regularly. This is non-negotiable. Most manufacturers recommend you clean the mask every day. That prevents bacteria from taking root in the moist environment (15) of the mask and potentially causing problems. Check the literature that came with the mask to learn about proper cleaning.
Q: How do you determine if a CPAP mask is too tight?
A: The mask should provide a firm, unshakeable seal once it is in place. But it should not hurt at any time. If the mask produces pain while you are still in the process of setting and sealing it, then it is too tight. It is recommended that you spend some time adjusting the mask to different degrees of tightness. The level of tightness that produces a solid seal with the least discomfort is the right level of tightness.
Q: Can I wear a CPAP mask if I have a beard?
A: Beards present a particular challenge for CPAP masks. If you plan on wearing a full face mask, you will likely need to shave your beard to obtain a proper seal against your face. You may, however, be able to wear a nasal CPAP mask, as long as the mustache portion of your beard is not so bushy that it gets in the way.
Q: What is the whistling sound I hear coming from my CPAP mask?
A: People sometimes complain of a whistling noise coming from either their mask or the CPAP machine. In most cases, the sound is likely emanating from the mask itself, and not the machine. If the mask is not properly sealed around the edges, air can leak out, creating a high-pitch whistling sound. This can usually be fixed by adjusting the placement of the mask and pulling it a bit tighter.
Q: How do I stop the air hose from getting in my way when I sleep?
A: It is not uncommon for people to complain that the air hose from their CPAP machine is getting in their way while they try to sleep. If you find this happening, you should consider trying different CPAP mask designs. Or you could try a special CPAP pillow that has large cutout areas intended to accommodate the hose and prevent it from getting in the way as you move.
Q: Why do I wake up with a dry mouth after using a CPAP mask?
A: People who breathe through their mouth at night typically wake up with a dry mouth (16). In addition, CPAP therapy itself can dry out the nose and mouth. If the problem is being caused by mouth breathing, consider a full face mask. If the problem is the CPAP machine, try using the heated humidity feature on your machine.
Q: What causes a CPAP mask to leak?
A: There are several reasons why a CPAP mask may begin to leak. In some cases, the cushions around the edge may become worn. In other cases, a person may move their head while sleeping in such a way that it loosens the mask. If the mask is too big for a person’s face, this can also lead to leaks around the edges. In most cases, though, leaks can be rectified by simply adjusting the mask to fit a little tighter.
Q: Can I recycle my old CPAP mask?
A: CPAP masks do not lend themselves to recycling. They are composed of a variety of plastics, some of which recycling centers do not accept. Also, charitable foundations will not accept donations of old CPAP masks due to health concerns. So, unfortunately, your options are limited regarding how to handle the disposal of an old CPAP mask. You could hold onto it until recycling technology improves. But that may be years.
Q: Will allergies interfere with my ability to wear a CPAP mask?
A: Allergies may not interfere with your overall ability to wear a CPAP mask. But they may influence the type of CPAP mask you wear. A nasal CPAP mask typically requires an unobstructed nasal passage to work effectively. And allergies may be blocking your nasal passage (17). If that is the case, you may want to consider using a full face mask that can deliver air through either your mouth or nose.
Q: Are CPAP mask cushions interchangeable?
A: In some instances, cushions for one CPAP mask can be used with another CPAP mask. In almost all such cases, however, this only applies to masks made by the same company. Different CPAP masks from different manufacturers will have their own proprietary components. And that includes cushions.
Q: What is the best way to clean a CPAP mask?
A: Because there are many different CPAP mask designs, there is no single right way to clean a CPAP mask. The best approach is to follow the care instructions that came with the mask. If you are unsure, or if you misplaced or discarded the care instructions, contact the manufacturer. They will be happy to tell you the right way to care for the mask. Whatever the case, do not avoid cleaning your mask regularly.
A CPAP mask is a vital component of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – or CPAP – therapy. Without a good mask, the ability of the CPAP machine to hold a person’s airway open while they sleep is compromised, as is that person’s overall health.
Not every CPAP mask is right for everyone undergoing CPAP therapy. Some will require a full face mask. Others will be better served by using a nasal-only mask, while still others will be candidates for nasal pillow masks that feed the pressurized air directly into the nostrils.
All of the CPAP masks on the above list have proven themselves to be well-engineered, well-built, and effective. Talk to your doctor to determine which one will be best for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended CPAP mask, click here.