This company says it makes the first FDA-approved transparent face mask and has sold more than 12.5 million since April — see why it's become so popular

  • ClearMask — the first US Food and Drug Administration-approved transparent surgical face mask, according to the company — has sold over 12.5 million see-through masks since April.
  • Transparent masks help a wide variety of people, from those who are deaf and hard of hearing, to young children, to the neurodiverse population.
  • ClearMask currently offers two types of face coverings: the FDA-approved medical mask and a non-medical iteration.
  • "The ClearMask enables those who rely on visual communication to continue thriving in the workplace and empowers them to adapt into a radically different new world as we fight a global pandemic," ClearMask's president and co-founder Allysa Dittmar told Business Insider in an email interview.
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ClearMask — the first US Food and Drug Administration-approved transparent surgical face mask, according to the company — has sold over 12.5 million see-through masks since April.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a notable demand for medical masks. But unsurprisingly, the push for another type of face-covering also went up: transparent masks, which help a variety of people from those who are deaf and hard of hearing, to children undergoing "early language and socio-emotional development," to the neurodiverse population, according to ClearMask.

"The ClearMask calms anxious patients through a visible, reassuring smile at the hospital, connects educators and childcare professionals with their students and children, and provides critical accessibility to the 48 million Americans who have hearing loss, including older people, those with dementia, veterans, and many more," ClearMask's president and co-founder Allysa Dittmar told Business Insider in an email interview. 

Read more: A deaf woman's 'dehumanizing' surgical experience led her to start a clear face mask company that just shipped 12 million units in 7 months. Now her team is scaling to keep up with demand.

The Baltimore-based company currently offers two types of face coverings: the FDA-approved medical mask and a non-medical iteration. The non-medical masks currently start at $67 for a pack of 24, and this price then rises up to $87 for the pack of 24 medical masks. 

The medical mask version — classified by the FDA as a single-use Class II medical device — comes with an anti-fog coating to keep the mask fully transparent. Customers can also pick between two strap options: EZ-adjusters and tie-ons.

The importance of a transparent face mask

The ASTM Level Three masks can be used in a variety of settings, including hospitals and schools. According to Dittmar, half of the company's orders go to healthcare and hospital segments, 30% to the government, and the rest to a variety of customers "including education and corporate." 

These days, face masks are at the forefront of daily conversations. However, ClearMask has a history that spans a couple of years before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ClearMask team — composed of Johns Hopkins graduate students and alumni — started creating the mask in September 2017 after Dittmar had "an adverse experience during her surgery," according to the company.

"For someone who depends on facial expressions, visual cues, and lip-reading daily, traditional surgical masks blocked Dittmar's providers' faces, impeding effective communication and safety," according to ClearMask.

Read more: How this designer created the 'it' medical-grade face mask coveted by celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Cara Delevingne, and Ariana Grande

As a solution to this issue, the transparent face masks were designed to "help improve visual communication and make healthcare more human," according to Dittmar.

"We all rely on critical visual cues to fully communicate, including facial expressions and lip-reading," Dittmar wrote.

Rising demands and future predictions

ClearMask started preparing its FDA approval application in 2019 but did not receive clearance until April this year as the coronavirus pandemic rippled across the country.

Before receiving the FDA clearance, the company had no revenue because it hadn't started selling its product yet, according to Dittmar.

Dittmar says that the website went from 6,000 unique visitors a year in 2018 and 2019 to more than 2 million from April to September alone in 2020.

To match this rising demand, ClearMask expedited the creation of its masks and expanded its originally predicted target group from "specialized populations in healthcare" to consumers outside of this field. Originally, the team didn't plan on releasing two different mask types, but the decision to unveil a more affordable non-medical version came in April due to rising mask demands, according to Dittmar.

Read more: Google's first CEO Eric Schmidt says businesses can safely reopen if they meet 3 conditions

Because ClearMask has offices in both the US and overseas, the company has also been able to "bypass the PPE restrictions and raw material shortages [to] help other governments" such as Canada and the UK, therefore aiding in international PPE shortage issues, according to Dittmar.

The company is now continuing to expand outside of the US by working with different international governments and officials, according to Dittmar.

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