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New, new normal? We wore the trending transparent face mask for a day and here’s what happened

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Jul 12, 2021 10:45 pm

With the message to “Let The World See Your Smile,” local startup company Jelli Tech has rolled out their Jelli M1 masks, a transparent face mask that promises big things.

With an anti-fog transparent surface and 2-way filtration system, their reusable masks are FDA-approved in the US with clinical tests achieving a 97% bacterial filtration efficiency, higher than the N95's 95% and KF94's 94%.

After its successful kickstart funding in just 10 days, they've also since sold over 7,000 units worldwide with the likes of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Alex Gonzaga, Billy Crawford, and Carlo Ople rocking the futuristic masks.

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Aside from being able to show your mouth, the Jelli M1's transparent design was initially made for students to communicate better in the classroom setting. It can also be useful for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to read lips. 

While all of the necessary qualifications are met and do sound impressive, the question of how it actually feels comes to mind. With the pandemic making wearing masks a must, comfort and style go hand in hand with how we choose to keep ourselves protected.

PhilSTAR L!fe took the Jelli M1 Mask for a spin on a day out in the new normal—and here's how the futuristic masks hold up.

Packaging

With the price tag of P1,200, the M1 Mask doesn't come cheap—especially when compared to other reusable face masks. The mask comes in a sturdy box with a variety of add-ons. It also comes in three colors: Arctic (white), Midnight (black), and Cherry (pink).

Each package contains:

 x1 mask
- x1 bag
- x1 head strap
- x10 filter sets
- x1 cleaning cloth

Set-up is also required once you receive the package as the mask and ear straps arrive separately. You also have to learn how to replace the three-way filter sets with each use. It's not a totally complicated process, but a process nonetheless. Once you get the hang of it, the M1 mask fits snugly on your face.

On a day out

Let's face it: the idea of people seeing your mouth outdoors has become weird. Before entering the grocery, I had to remind myself that this would be the first time that strangers will see my full face in over a year. It's a jarring concept that users ought to be conscious of.

Meanwhile, the masks also come with an authorization note that you can hand over if ever authorities aren't aware of the transparent material's qualifications just yet. Luckily, the mall we went to didn't stop me or ask questions about the mask.

Once out in public, a lot of double-takes certainly happened. With the Jelli M1 masks still recently rolling out in the Philippines, it's a product that's still being introduced to the mass market—thus be prepared for stares and lots of it. 

Another thing to consider is the country's face shield policy. Though they're not made from the same material, it can feel redundant and especially heavy to wear a shield over the transparent mask. I had to constantly remove the face shield, and just ended up leaving it on the cart while roaming the grocery. For those going to places that absolutely need to wear a face shield, this could spell trouble. 

The sides of the mask sides also have a suction feature to make sure it stays in place, and I'd reckon those with a prominent nose bridge would take notice if their noses got flattened.

Before long, the M1 mask started to feel like a normal face mask. If it wasn't for the lookbacks, you wouldn't have noticed it much—which is always a plus. After grocery shopping, I did go back to my usual KF94 mask.

Verdict

Overall, it's clear that the Jelli M1 transparent mask wants to ease us into a new, new normal. Though a totally post-pandemic future may be far away for now, innovations like this can serve as a fun alternative to the basic masks we're used to. 

With comfort in mind though, it's best to ease into transparent masks before going totally all in through doing hefty tasks like grocery shopping. It can be great for OOTD shots or when you're in a selfie-taking mood, especially since it's a novelty item or flex for now.

With its P1,200 price tag though, it's definitely a splurge that not everyone can afford. If you have the money and inkling for this item, go right ahead. But there's also nothing wrong with sticking to what you're used to and what your budget permits during these times.

It also really depends if you're ready to stop making faces in public.

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The Jelli M1 masks are available in Shopee, Lazada, and Amazon.