Having become a staple in our everyday lives in 2020, personalised and brand-endorsed face masks have unsurprisingly taken off in recent months.
But along with protecting people against the spread of Covid-19, face coverings had a range of uses even before the pandemic – whether it was for cultural reasons, or for skiing, cycling or just being encrusted with rhinestones and deemed fashionable.
So, while you can now buy a mask adorned with a Gucci logo or designed by Mulberry, there are also several new masks being produced with more functional purposes, including for fitness.
Enter Naroo masks – a face mask brand from South Korea, whose technology has been on the market since the company was established in 2002.
Before the pandemic, they were largely marketed as cycling masks that were known to protect against dust and pollen.
You might have noticed a few gym-goers in the UAE wearing the masks lately, because local distributor Label Labs has recently obtained the distribution rights here.
Though the masks are largely marketed towards runners or those into fitness, they're also made for everyday use, as Naroo claims to provide strong respiratory protection, while also being more breathable than surgical face masks.
The brand's entry-level mask, the F-Series, is made using an advanced micro-filter fibre, which claims to block 99 per cent of particles – including viral, pollen, pollution and dust. A standard N95 mask is named as such because it is said to block 95 per cent of particles.
The F.U+ Copper masks, which were designed for running, are made with "interwoven copper nano yarn with enhanced biocidal properties". In laymans terms, copper is supposed to work as a deodoriser and to prevent static and kill pathogens.
The company says the masks have been tested and certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, Korea Conformity Laboratories, and Katri, South Korea's textile testing union and Korea Conformity Laboratories, as well as several others.
Having tried one of the F.U+ Copper masks while running outside, we'll say that it's not perfect – but it's a solid step up from the standard blue disposable surgical masks. The masks are far more breathable, but you'll have to get used to the fact that they feel thicker on your face.
Other masks in the Naroo range include the N-Series, which do not have as effective a filtering function as the F-Series, but are good for basic dust protection. Other masks cover activities such as hiking, skiing and cycling.
While the UAE website for the masks has not yet launched, you can order them for now via WhatsApp on +971 50 803 3649.
Local stockists are currently being onboarded. For now, you can find them in Shimis yoga studio in Alserkal Avenue. Soon, local distributors hope to have them in Footlocker, Barry's Bootcamp, F45 and Underdog Boxn.
They retail from Dh95 for the everyday mask to Dh130 for the more technical option. Delivery within Dubai is Dh20, and they can be delivered to other emirates for an extra fee.