After the initial shortage of protective face masks in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, consumers now have many mask choices. Surgical masks, NIOSH-approved N95 masks, and a variety of cloth masks are readily available in a wide range of prices. We’ve also noted protective masks that promise extra protection, at times with a dash of style. In 2017, the Cambridge Smart Mask launched with two filtering layers and a cloth third layer of activated carbon to trap and kill bacteria. More recently AO Air’s Atmos active air filtration masks claimed extra protection with a positive active air flow that protects the wearer from airborne contaminants, though we questioned its potential for dispersing the virus from infected wearers to others.

Entrepreneurial startup Blanc recently unveiled the Blanc Mask, a full-face modular mask that goes far beyond conventional ear-loop filtering masks. The Blanc mask totally covers the wearer’s face with an interchangeable front panel consisting of two vertical symmetrical parts that fold together. The mask interior holds a HEPA-standard air filter with an active charcoal filtering module. The filter system is rated to stop 99% of particles including dust, mists, and aerosols. according to a Blanc news release. When the Blanc mask ships, estimated in the September-October timeframe, wearers can choose from a variety of front panel colors and patterns, including user-designed panels. The masks will ship with one or two different front panel sets and filter sets. The filters are a consumable item with a visual color scale that indicates the remaining useful lifespan.

Blanc’s founders state that, in addition to protection from airborne contaminants, the Blanc Mask also preserves personal privacy from facial recognition systems, and adds a dose of fun to the otherwise serious business of protecting against a deadly virus. The Blanc Mask is available for pre-order on the company website “Get in Touch” form. The Blanc mask retails for $89 with one front panel and one HEPA filter or $119 with two front panels and two filters.