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 AirFit F20 Full Face CPAP 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.
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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
ResMed is a big player in the CPAP world and with good reason: their products are used by many people and help customers enjoy the kind of sound sleep they desire and deserve.
The AirFit F20 Full Face Mask is part of ResMed’s ever-evolving AirFit series and features a unique frame that adapts to a wide range of facial structures, including faces covered with facial hair. It covers the nose and mouth without forehead support (thanks to its Open Visibility Mask Design), and the frame spreads low beneath the eyes before rising high above the ears.
There’s much more to like about this mask, including:
- It has a silicone seal that prevents air from leaking. Called the InfinitySeal Full Face Cushion, it creates a fit that’s suitable for different face types and structures.
- There are multiple headgear sizes available, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem finding the best fit for you.
- It features a padded headgear with magnetic clips that extends above the ears and over the crown of the head, and then downward toward the base of the head. Padding is built into the design to offer additional comfort. The magnetic headgear clips connect the bottom headgear straps to the base of the cushion.
- A quick-release elbow piece – which connects to the opening of in the middle of the InfinitySeal Cushion – diffuses the sound of the air released from the mask. It makes your CPAP quieter for you and your bed partner; 89% quieter than previous versions, say the folks at ResMed.
- Another nice feature is that the F20 line of masks use the same headgear and frame design, which means the cushions are interchangeable. The AirFit20 silicone cushion helps created added flexibility.
- Open visibility mask design
- Padded headgear built into the design
- Quieter than previous versions
- Some items must be bought separately
The ResMed AirFit series is among the best of any CPAP brand. The F20 provides a comfortable fit and excellent seal, plus it’s even quieter than before.
Adjusting to sleep therapy is often a challenge for sleep apnea patients – even for patients who’ve already been through some type of therapy.
Philips Respironics makes the adjustment easier with its DreamWear series, including its Fit Pack design that helps patients enjoy a comfortable, unencumbered sleep.
While many sleep therapy patients struggle with what they perceive – or what’s real – as restricted movements because of their sleep mask, Respironics makes it easier for them to switch positions as they sleep without getting tangled up in the CPAP’s tubes.
The DreamWear pillow design remains in a fixed position under the patient’s nose, as with a traditional mask, but the seal is more similar to a nasal pillows system.
The result is minimal contact under the nose cushion, which helps prevent the discomfort and irritation that some patients experience with conventional CPAP masks. Furthermore, the hose tubing doesn’t extend from the front of the face, but air flows from the nostrils through channels flanking the patient’s cheekbones and then turns upward toward a hose junction at the top of the head.
Many users say that DreamWear improves both the comfort and fit from different types of masks they’ve tried in the past. Again, patients say it’s easier to switch positions and to move to their stomach, side, and back with less worry about getting tangled.
DreamWear’s soft, silicone frame and fabric help to provide an even better fit and additional comfort. It creates soft contact on the patient’s cheeks, not a too-tight feel that you get with some masks even when you adjust them for a looser fit.
- Offers excellent freedom of movement
- Tight seal keeps air from escaping
- Comfortable fit
- Some say the headgear runs a little small
The DreamWear CPAP system offers plenty of freedom – including the freedom of movement that comes from not having tubing that extends from your face. It also offers a comfortable fit and a good seal that keeps air from escaping.
ResMed has another product worth checking out if you’re a bearded man looking for a good CPAP fit: its AirFit P10 Nasal Pillow Mask (with headgear).
Like the ResMed Air Fit F20, the AirFit P10 – which is good for men and women – takes the noise out of sleep therapy thanks to a design that’s remarkably quiet. It also represents ResMed’s ongoing advances in comfort and fit to a line of nasal pillows that already very comfortable.
The nasal pillows offer a gentle fit that won’t become uncomfortable the longer you sleep, but it’s also a secure fit that keeps air from escaping while affecting the overall quality of your sleep. QuietAir mesh venting eliminates the exhalation holes found on many masks to help noiselessly disperse air.
Another feature we like is its QuickFit headgear that auto-adjusts to your head and face shape to provide stability with minimal facial contact. It’s a very lightweight and minimalist design overall, but one that’s very effective for any sleep apnea patient.
The nasal pillows also come in four sizes – extra small, small, medium, and large – to make it finding the right fit much easier.
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Very quiet
- Easy to find the right fit
- Headgear may run a little small
It’s hard to go wrong with ResMed’s sleep therapy products and the AirFit 10 is no exception. You’ll enjoy a comfortable fit, less noise, and a better night’s sleep.
Resmed offers yet another quality product with its ResMed Swift FX Nasal Pillow which, among other things, offers the same kind of quiet sleep experience as its other products.
It’s also small, lightweight, and travel-friendly, but it’s not fair to call the Swift FX a minimal design because its frame is practically invisible while the nasal cushion connects seamlessly with the rest of the mask.
ResMed improved its Swift FX pillows; the design includes dual-wall flaps that provide improved support and comfort. The cushion’s base features an integrated flexible chamber that provides better stability for side sleepers. ResMed also includes a set of Soft Wraps that you can wear around the headgear’s side straps for added comfort. The wraps also help prevent the headgear from slipping.
The headgear’s design includes silicone material often found in cushions and pillows, and it rests so lightly on your face that you may not realize that you’re wearing it.
ResMed also improved the Swift FX in a way that it’s even quieter than in the past which dampens audible motor whine as well as the sound of the airflow.
Finally, the design is user-friendly and has only two areas which need adjusting: a low-profile backstrap and a buckle on the top. It also features Resmed’s unique quick-release tabs that secure the headgear straps and allow for easy removal from the frame. It’s a “minimal” design only in the sense that you can read or watch TV at bedtime with a mask on – even when you’re wearing glasses.
- Even quieter than before
- Rest lightly on your face
- All nasal pillow sizes are interchangeable with the mask frame
- Nasal pillows may be a bit stiff at first
The ResMed Swift FX design is better than ever and that’s good news for anyone involved with sleep therapy. It’s light enough to feel like you have nothing on your head and face at all.
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!