The Best Nasal Filters for Allergies

Are you as annoyed with full-face masks as I am? They create stale air, a pimply face, and leave unpleasant lines. They’re bulky, disrupt healthy communication, and so dang expensive.

And for those suffering from allergies, most allergy medications come with a side effect of drowsiness. So you either have to endure walking around like a zombie or be uncomfortable wearing a face mask. No thank you!

Luckily, I’ve found the optimal solution: nasal filters. They’re so much simpler and discreet, and won’t inhibit your ability to breathe. Whether you suffer from allergies or a smoggy environment, these little babies are a godsend.

What Are the Best Nasal Filters?

There are many many different types of nasal filters out there right now and honestly, I was overwhelmed at the start. But I have taken on the challenge and narrowed it down to my top three choices – The O2, First Defense, and NasalGuard.

1. O2 3M Nose Filters

The O2 3M Nose Filters are internal electrostatic filters that also double as nasal dilators. So they promote nasal breathing while also filtering the air.

  • Learn more

Check out our article on Nose vs Mouth Breathing to learn more about the importance of breathing through your nose!

How Do They Work?

O2’s 3M Filter uses electrostatically charged fibers to attract and capture particles sized 2.5 microns and up.

*Record screech* Wow. That’s a mouth full…. let me break it down.

O2 3M Nose Filter

The nose filter is made of many individual fibers that have a slight electrostatic charge.

This creates a magnetic effect – attracting particles to get stuck in the filter instead of continuing on to your nasal cavity.

The best part is, due to the electrostatic charge, the more particles that get attracted to the fibers, the more surface area they create. The more surface area created, the more particles that will be attracted to it.

So the more you wear this nose filter, the better it gets!

Until, of course, it becomes too saturated. You’ll be able to tell when this happens because there will be discoloration.

This means you can reuse them if they aren’t yet dirty enough, saving you money!

I worked in an industrial setting so some days the filters would be completely brown after 4 hours, meaning I needed two to get through my work day.

But most days I could wear one pair for a full 8 hours and sometimes even be able to use them the next day.

Levels of dirtiness in O2 filters
Examples of Filter Saturation Levels

This was more than worth it for me, as seeing how dirty the filters got each day I could only imagine what my lungs must have been dealing with… It was a sight that could not be unseen.

How Effective Are They?

The website claims that these filters are 90% effective for particles 10 microns in size and 65% effective for 2.5 microns with a sliding scale in between.

O2 Filter efficacy chart

Yeah, ok that’s great and all but what exactly do these numbers mean? How do I know what size different things in the air are??

Excellent questions! I’m glad you asked!

Below are some examples provided on their website for common allergens/air pollutants and how effective the O2 nose filter is at capturing them. They also have a more in-depth list if you wish to peruse it.

Examples of particle sizes

Conclusion

All in all, these nose filters are absolutely effective. I wear them every day at my work and I have certainly been less sneezy, less congested, and more confident in the air I am breathing.

Each packet comes with 10 filters which should be more than enough for a whole week. They also give the option of buying their trial pack so you can determine which size suits your nose best. I highly recommend doing this.

The only cons that I can think of are that they slightly affect your nose breathing – I mean, you are inserting something up there – and you might have to take them out while you eat. The chewing motion dislodged them and made my nose a little runny.

Woman wearing the O2 nose filter
woman demonstrating O2 filter by looking up
woman with O2 filters from side

Another con is that some people might think you went and got yourself a septum piercing, so they’ll ask you about it.

But I mean, depending on who you are that might be a pro. They certainly become a talking point; so if they work for you, like they did for me, you’ll want to spread the word! Get some nail polish and color the connector if you’re feeling spicy!

O2 3M Nose Filters

O2 Nose Filter

Pros

  • Removable and reusable
  • Discrete look

Cons

  • Might irritate your nose at first
  • Slightly restricts airflow

2. First Defense Nasal Screens

First Defense Nasal Screens are hypoallergenic and stick to the outside of your nostril creating a fully sealed barrier. You may know them from Shark Tank and they are popular across the globe.

How Do They Work?

First Defense Nasal Screens utilize a “non-woven” fabric filter which they claim is “self-cleaning.” But what does that really mean?

First Defense screens clean

Due to its structure, the strands tighten together as you inhale which traps the particles, and then loosens as you exhale expelling the particles out.

So over time it won’t clog to the point of restricting airflow but will always be breathable.

This would seem to indicate that they should last for a while but they seem to last just as long as the O2s, at least in my workspace they did. I would also assume that they have electrostatic properties but nowhere on their website confirms this.

Much like the O2s, there is a noticeable difference between a clean filter and a dirty-beyond-belief filter.

Unlike the O2s, these are not as reusable-friendly. You really only get one good stick per use with the adhesive.

This is fine if you have no intention of removing them for the day, but you might end up using multiple pairs or throwing them away not fully dirty.

First Defense saturation example

How Effective Are They?

First Defense’s website claims that they filter 99% of allergens with a 77% compliance rate. For comparison, they offer that regular dust masks have less than 30% compliance.

All pretty words, but they don’t indicate what studies have been done or any of the science behind their product. So for now, we don’t have pretty graphs like O2. I will be reaching out to see if I can find that info for you guys. So stay tuned!

Meanwhile, they have hundreds of customer testimonies claiming to find relief with their product and stating that it does, in fact, work. They did also work for me personally as I experienced less congestion and sneezing while wearing them myself.

Conclusion

From what I can gather, these nasal screens are just as good as the O2 filters but they are adhesive on the outside rather than inserted. So it’s up to you if you would rather have a stick on like a bandaid covering your nose.

Woman wearing first defense nasal screens from front
woman demonstrating nasal screens from up
woman with nasal screens on from side

I also found that while the O2 filter did slightly affect my nasal breathing – since it does go on the inside – the nasal screens had no effect on my breathing whatsoever.

Some cons that I did experience were on colder days if my nose was a little runny, I couldn’t just remove them, blow my nose, and stick them back on. I would have to get a new pair every time I chose to take them off.

I also ordered the Large at first which they said was “one size fits all” and it is….but it was definitely more noticeable. I ordered the Mediums the second time around and they were a little more discreet.

If you don’t mind the fact that you might have to use multiple a day, these nasal screens were the most comfortable nose filters that I could find.

First Defense Nasal Screens

First Defense Nasal Screens

Pros

  • Comfortable and nothing goes in your nose
  • Doesn’t restrict breathing

Cons

  • Not reusable
  • No trial package with multiple sizes

3. NasalGuard Airborne Particle Blocker

NasalGuard is an exciting product that uses electrostatic nanotechnology to capture pollen, dust, mold, mildew, etc, and prevent it from being inhaled. Think of it as an invisible shield.

How Does It Work?

For application, you take a small pin-sized amount and rub it between your fingers. Then, you apply it around your nose and above your top lip.

how to use NasalGuard gel

Since it is applied topically they recommend reapplying every 4-6 hours, but you can really apply it as often as you want. If you touch your face a lot, or if you need to blow your nose, then you will want to reapply immediately afterward, and so on.

I was expecting it to be sticky, kind of like Vaseline, but once you apply it, it soaks into your skin creating a matte-type finish. It’s water-based and made of cosmetic-grade materials so it should be safe for all skin types.

Now, as for the science – that’s where things get really interesting.

The gel is made from a cationic polymer which, in simple terms, means that it is positively charged. This gives it electrostatic properties which attract the negative particles in the air – much like the O2 nose filters.

Most micron-sized particles develop a negative charge as they float through the air so when they encounter the positively charged gel, they will be attracted to that instead of continuing up into your nose.

Technically speaking, this makes a lot of sense. It just seems weird because you can’t see it, it’s not a physical barrier, and you just have to trust that it’s working.

Does Nasal Guard Work?

NasalGuard has done independent studies as well as participated in bench testing which shows that this gel is effective at preventing allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and runny noses.

In a test conducted by The Asthma Center, NasalGuard was shown to be three times more effective in capturing mold spores than a control silicone gel. So it does attract and capture particles very effectively.

There are also many reviews from people who have personally found great relief in this product on their website as well as on Amazon. But, as the inventor Ashok Wahi states, the proof is in the pudding – try it yourself!

Conclusion

Now, I couldn’t truly test this product because I do not suffer from seasonal allergies or any allergies really. The best I could come up with was to pair applying this gel with using the O2 nose filter. This did not yield great results.

The filter got just as dirty as all of the other days that I had worn them by themselves. This might be because since they are both electrostatic in nature, both would attract particles and the O2 filter would still get perceivably dirty.

Not my finest moment to be sure, but take from it what you will.

I think this is an excellent choice for people who don’t want to fiddle with tiny devices to be shoved in or stuck on their noses. You just need a little tube and the application is super simple and can be done anywhere at any time.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I would absolutely give this a try and see if it works for you!

Nasal Guard

Nasal Guard Gel

Pros

  • Nothing to stick on or insert in your nose
  • No discomfort or sticky residue
  • The most economical/ affordable option

Cons

  • You can’t really tell if it’s working since there is no physical proof
  • Not a physical filter so might be unreliable

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