Many people sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours each night and wake up feeling refreshed. Others get the same amount of sleep and wake up feeling as tired as when they went to bed.
If you’re in the latter group, you may suffer from sleep apnea – a serious sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing during the sleep cycle. If so, you’ll need a CPAP machine and mask – such as the ResMed Swift FX Mask – to regulate your sleep and prevent significant health problems.
Men with beards may face some issues with CPAP masks that other men don’t – such as the fit and the seal that prevents air from escaping – so our following reviews include masks that men with facial hair can wear comfortably while getting their full, intended effects. The best CPAP masks for beards.
Sleep apnea is nothing to ignore, friends. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, strokes, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and all sorts of other nasty – and potentially fatal – health issues. Make sure you choose your treatment and CPAP mask wisely.
- Before you buy: 4 Things to consider when purchasing a CPAP mask
- 4 Best CPAP masks for beards 2019
- Getting the proper fit for your CPAP mask
- The types of CPAP masks (And their pros & cons)
- Our reasoning behind choosing these products
Before You Buy: 4 Things to Consider When Purchasing a CPAP Mask
CPAP masks and machines have come a long way over the past several years, and your buying options are better and more varied than ever. That’s good news, obviously, because finding one that works best for you (and fits) is important, because it involves your overall health.
While men with facial hair may need to be a bit choosier when picking a CPAP, the bottom line is that beards or mustaches shouldn’t keep you from using any mask. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying a CPAP, regardless of whether you have facial hair.
1. The Type of Mask
The selection process is sometimes a bit overwhelming when choosing a CPAP, because there are several things to take into consideration, including whether you’re a mouth breather, you’re claustrophobic, whether you have allergies, etc.
That said, there are three basic CPAP mask styles:
- Nasal Pillow
Among the advantages of nasal pillows is that they’re lightweight, compact, and have minimal contact with your face. They rest at the entrance of your nostrils to create a seal that channels air into your nose.
- Full-Face CPAP Mask
Many of the earliest versions of CPAP masks were full-faced, meaning they covered a larger area of the face, i.e. from the bridge of your nose to just beyond the bottom of your mouth. They’re a good option for people who breathe through their mouth or have a hard time adapting to nose breathing exclusively.
- Nasal CPAP Mask
Unlike a nasal pillow, nasal CPAP masks cover a larger area (from the bridge of the nose to the upper lip area). It delivers a more indirect but natural airflow than the nasal pillow mask and is often recommended for people who need a higher pressure airflow.
Note: We’ll dig deeper into different types of CPAP masks later on in the article.
2. The Fit
It’s tempting to buy a CPAP with a looser fit if you have you a full beard, but a mask that’s too loose will result in air leaks. Air leaks mean you won’t reap all of the benefits of your sleep therapy. You want a good seal between the mask and your skin and if that means starting with a smaller size and working your way up, so be it.
If your CPAP mask isn’t comfortable, the chances are good that you’ll end up not wearing it. Not wearing it means you won’t get any relief from sleep apnea and increases your risk of experiencing health problems associated with apnea.
Be very aware of how your mask feels overall once you’ve tried it on; is it something you can see yourself wearing for eight hours each night without feeling that it’s pinching your face, or is it in the way when you switch positions?
Perhaps the most important question to ask is, “Can I see myself wearing this mask eight hours per night?”
4. Heated Tubing
Heated tubing enables the air within the CPAP tube to remain at a constant temperature, so that condensation doesn’t build.
5. The straps
The straps that come with CPAP masks are an important part of the mask’s overall fit. Most of them are easily adjustable, and some need no adjustment other than positioning them on your head in a way to help give the mask a good seal.
Let’s take a look now at some of the top CPAP masks available for you:
The 4 Best CPAP Masks for Beards 2019
Most reviews of the best CPAP mask for beards include the ResMed Swift FX, which is a nasal pillow mask that gets high marks in many categories.
ResMed is a big player in the CPAP game and works hard to create masks that are both functional and comfortable. The Swift FX is no exception, and there’s plenty to like about it, including:
- It comes with comfortable nasal pillows that are soft and cause little irritation. The pillows are available in a range of sizes to allow you to get the best fit possible.
- The Swift FX’s cushions are second-to-none and provide an excellent seal. You’re less likely to lose your seal on the Swift FX than you are on many other types of CPAP masks.
- It comes with stable headgear that’s easily adjustable to provide the best fit possible. Like the nasal pillows, the headgear comes in different sizes to fit most heads and face shapes.
- It’s easy to assemble and disassemble, because it comes with only four parts.
- The Swift FX’s durability is also top-of-the-line. The straps are made to last for a long time and, as mentioned, need little adjustment once the mask is on your face.
- While some say the Swift FX gets a bit noisy at times, it’s quiet enough that it shouldn’t disturb you or your bed partner.
- It’s also easy to use, and you don’t need a lot of direction or instruction when you pull it out of the box.
Type: Nasal Pillow
- Pillows are soft and cause little, if no, irritation
- Easily adjustable headgear
- Provides a tight seal to prevent air from escaping
- Feels a bit restrictive at times, because there’s no swivel where the tubing connects to the mask
It’s hard to beat the ResMed Swift FX for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its comfort and the fact that it has a strong seal that keeps air from leaking. You’ll get a good night’s rest without feeling that it’s “in the way.”
Full-face CPAP masks are often a good option for men with beards, and we think the Respironics ComfortGel Blue Face Mask is the best of the lot.
The ComfortGel Blue Face Mask is a step up from the Respironics excellent ComfortGel mask, thanks to a few new features that improve its overall performance, including:
- Premium headgear that adds to user comfort and stability
- A forehead pad that enhances comfort and fit
- A stability selector function that moves freely and is easy to adjust
- An O2 port for precise pressure measurement
- Angled exhaustion micro ports that make its operation quieter while re-directing air away from your bed partner
In short, the folks at Respironics took an already good product and made it even better. The cushion is also much lighter, while the headgear makes adjustments – and attaining a premium fit – easier.
If you’re not a nose breather or can’t get the hang of nose breathing, a full CPAP mask is your best option. Furthermore, you can sleep comfortably in whatever position you prefer – on your back, on your sides, etc.
The ComfortGel Blue Face Mask comes in four sizes: petite, small, medium, and large.
Type: Full Mask CPAP
- Blue gel forms an effective seal
- StabilitySelector enables you to get the best fit for every use
- A good option if you have trouble breathing through your nose
- Not for you if you’re claustrophobic
The Respironics ComforGel Mask earns high marks in a lot of categories, thanks to a variety of features that make it comfortable and easy to use. You’ll like how you feel after a good night’s sleep, thanks to this CPAP.
Another product to check out if full masks work best for you is the Fisher & Paykel Simplus mask. Everything about the mask shows – and feels – that it’s designed for comfort while also delivering the effective sleep treatment that your health demands.
The Simplus Full Face Mask has three trademarked components that provide comfort and an exceptional seal with every use: RollFit, ErgoForm, and Easy Frame.
The RollFit function enables you to achieve an optimal, one-piece seal as it rolls back and forth on the bridge of your nose. It minimizes pressure on the nose while ensuring a tight seal that prevents air from escaping. The RollFit seal also incorporates an advanced air diffuser that’s designed to keep noise and air draft to a minimum.
Also, you’ll like the fact that the RollFit seal leaves fewer impressions on the nose and face than with other masks.
The ErgoForm headgear includes panels that provide structure and support to create maximum stability. The headgear “self-locates” on the back of the head, which allows for maximum head movement without the mask becoming dislodged.
We also like that the ErgoForm headgear consists of breathable material that minimizes sweat and moisture buildup while in use.
The Easy Frame is, as its name suggests, is easy to use and is small, stable, durable, and doesn’t obstruct your vision – which is helpful if you like to read or watch TV while in bed. The frame comes in one-size-fits-all and includes an easy-clip frame attachment for effortless assembly after cleaning.
The Easy Frame accommodates small, medium, and large pillows, which are easily interchangeable.
Type: Full Mask CPAP
- Comfortable full-face mask
- RollFit provides a tight seal every time
- One-size-fits-all frame
- Some reviewers say it shows signs of wear and tear after a year
The Fisher and Paykel Simplus is one of the best full face CPAP masks for beards. It fits snugly on your face, but not too snugly, and is easy to adjust while creating an optimal seal to keep air from leaking out.
There are plenty of good nasal CPAP masks available, but few can match the quality of the SleepWeaver 3D mask.
“Flexibility” is a word you’ll often see in reviews of the SleepWeaver 3D CPAP Mask, because of flexible materials that make it suitable for patients of all variety of face shapes and sizes. Made of soft, lightweight cotton material that eliminates skin irritation, the headgear’s straps rest above and below the ears to provide comfort and stability (without leaving indentations in your skin).
The headgear’s design also allows you to wear glasses or watch TV while you wear the mask.
What else do we like about the SleepWeaver 3D CPAP Mask?
- A permanent 360-degree swivel that allows you to position the tubing in a variety of ways for a variety of sleeping positions
- A quiet ventilation system that won’t disrupt you or your bed partner’s sleep
- It comes with a guide that helps you fit the mask easily and without the hassle of trial-and-error
- The mask’s seal is effective and comfortable
- It’s compatible with most CPAP machines
- The feeling of cotton against the skin is much more comfortable than the feel of rubber, silicone, or other materials.
Type: Nasal Face Mask
- Made of comfortable cotton material
- Swivel allows you to sleep comfortably in many different positions
- Comes with a handy fit guide
- Some users report slight leaks around the nose
The SleepWeaver 3D CPAP Mask has a lot going for it – not the least of which is its comfortable, lightweight design. You’ll love its non-irritating cotton materials.
Getting the Proper Fit For Your CPAP Mask
How well your CPAP mask fits is perhaps the most important factor you should take into consideration. After all, one of the biggest complaints among CPAP patients is that the mask doesn’t fit correctly, which leads many apnea sufferers to not use it at all.
Not only should the mask fit correctly, but it also needs to be comfortable. Think of it this way: if you’re going to use something for eight hours each night, it has to feel right – without exceptions. The following steps will help you get the proper fit:
1. It should fit comfortably in all positions
Check your CPAP to make sure it fits comfortably, both when you’re sleeping and sitting upright. You should check for air leaks in both positions. Also, check the fit at various air pressures and while in different positions lying on the bed: on both sides, on your back, on your stomach, etc. If adjusting the headgear doesn’t resolve air leaks, then the mask isn’t a good fit.
An important point to remember is that your facial muscles change when you lie down, and they relax even further once you’re asleep.
2. Practice putting it on and taking it off
Make sure that you’re comfortable with putting on your CPAP and taking it off and that you’re adept at adjusting the straps if needed. Getting a proper fit is your primary concern, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice convenience.
3. Get the proper fit before you go to bed
It’s easier to get the proper fit during daylight hours, before you become tired. In most cases, finding the perfect fit is simply a matter of a few adjustments. Finding the right fit typically becomes second nature the more you become accustomed to your mask.
4. Your fit depends on a variety of issues
Sleep technologists will fit your CPAP according to a variety of factors, including whether you’re a mouth breather or nose breather or if you have a history of nasal obstruction, an elongated soft palate, or jaw that’s recessed further than it should be. All are factors that go into determining if you need a full face mask or a nasal CPAP device.
5. What’s your face shape?
The shape of your face is another important consideration for getting a proper fit and may be a source of leaks.
6. Snug but not too tight
You want your straps to fit snugly but not so tightly that they cause leaks. You need to tighten the strap just enough to ensure a good seal. When a mask is too tight, the cushion that creates the seal will fold over on itself, allowing air to escape.
7. Start small, go big if needed
Again, start with a smaller mask when finding the right fit for you. Only work up to a larger size if you can’t get a good seal with something smaller.
The Types of CPAP Masks (And Their Pros & Cons)
Earlier, we briefly discussed the three types of masks: nasal pillow, full face mask, and nasal mask. Let’s take a closer look at each type, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, and which one is best for you (as a committed beardsman).
1. Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask
Nasal pillow CPAP masks have grown in popularity, thanks to their compact design and lighter weight than other types of masks. The two nasal pillows rest at the entrance of the nostrils, while pressurized air is channeled directly into your nose through soft nasal tubes.
Because nasal pillows rest on your upper lip, you don’t have to worry so much about facial hair altering the fit. They work best at low to mid pressure prescriptions, because the direct airflow may become uncomfortable at higher settings.
Nasal pillows are the smallest of the CPAP masks.
Why use nasal pillows?
- Because they’re lightweight and of a smaller design, nasal pillows are ideal for folks who are claustrophobic (such as with a full face mask CPAP) or who are uncomfortable with material touching their face.
- Men with beards should have few problems – if any – when using them, because nasal pillows rest on the upper lip and don’t extend to the beard. The nasal pillow seal remains tight, whether you have facial hair or not.
- They’re great for people who like to wear their CPAP while reading or watching TV before they fall asleep, because they offer a greater field of vision. You can even wear glasses while wearing your nasal pillow CPAP.
- There’s less leakage, because the airflow goes directly into your nasal passages.
- They’re good for people who are active sleepers and toss and turn a lot.
The drawbacks of nasal pillows
- Perhaps not the best option for people who need a high-pressure airflow setting, because the higher pressure may cause discomfort as the air blows into your nostrils.
- May cause nasal dryness.
- Mouth breathers must adapt to nasal pillows, because they’re not accustomed to breathing through their noses only.
2. Full Face CPAP
Full face CPAPs represent the traditional type of sleep therapy and are still used today. Unlike nasal pillows and nasal masks, a full face CPAP covers both the nose and mouth and a larger surface area of the face overall.
Because of their bulky size, full-faced CPAP masks are uncomfortable for some people, but they’re a great solution for people who need a high-pressure CPAP prescription or who are most comfortable breathing through their mouths.
You can use a CPAP mask if you have a full beard, but the fit is everything, because the uneven surface caused by your beard may cause air leaks.
Why use a full face CPAP?
- A full face CPAP is helpful if you’re a mouth breather and can’t get used to the nose breathing required of a nasal pillow
- If you require the highest CPAP air pressure settings
- If you primarily sleep on your back
- If you have trouble breathing through your nose because of allergies or other medical conditions
The drawbacks of CPAP masks
- The potential for air leaks is greater with full face CPAP masks, because they cover a larger surface area of your face
- They’re not a good option if you’re claustrophobic
- They’re not as secure if you toss and turn in your sleep
- Air leakage near the top of the mask may cause eye dryness
- A CPAP face mask makes it harder to read or watch TV while sitting or lying in bed.
3. Nasal CPAP Mask
A nasal CPAP mask covers a larger surface of your face than a nasal pillow, as it extends from the bridge of your nose to your upper lip area. It provides a good compromise between a full-face mask and nasal pillow, especially for patients who need higher pressure settings.
Why use a nasal CPAP mask?
- Nasal CPAP masks come in a wide variety of sizes and fits
- It’s a good option if you move around a lot during the night
- If you require a higher pressure setting but don’t like the feel of a full-faced CPAP mask
- It provides a more natural airflow
The drawbacks of a nasal CPAP mask
- They’re not ideal for mouth breathers, unless they include a chin strap that keeps your mouth closed
- May cause irritation where the top of the mask rests on the bridge of the nose
- They’re not as effective for people who frequently experience colds or allergies that cause nasal congestion.
Our Reasoning Behind Choosing These Products
There’s nothing gimmicky or “trendy” about CPAP masks or machines. They’re serious business for users who suffer from chronic sleep apnea that may lead to a host of serious health problems. While others may marvel at your snoring (or run for cover), they’d be wise to urge you to get tested for apnea ASAP.
All that said, choosing the best CPAP masks is a challenge, because there are many different styles, and how a mask feels varies between users. Our goal was to include at least one mask of each type – nasal pillow, full face mask, and nasal mask – while considering a variety of other factors, such as comfort, durability, the firmness of its seal, etc.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of good CPAP masks available. Meanwhile, the technology keeps improving. Finding the right mask for you is something to take seriously; after all, your health is at stake.
That wraps up our review of the best CPAP masks. Do you wear a CPAP mask? Do you use any of the masks listed here? Let us know, because we always welcome your feedback and suggestions.
We hope to hear from you!