We have seen so many obviously dangerous decisions and communications recently, on the topic of buying face masks from China, that we thought it might be helpful to show a few ‘examples of what to avoid’.


The dangers of buying protective masks from China

Due to the coronavirus pandemic engulfing the world we’re seeing a huge number of ‘mask vendors’ touting their wares on LinkedIn, WeChat, and other social media channels. There are also endless victims buyers out there screaming for stock as they try to import them into their countries from China, most of whom seem to be suffering from a shortage of face masks due in part to, until recently, China diverting most of the global mask supply internally to support their own handling of the virus outbreak.

(Please note, unfortunately, we cannot advise you about the safety of face masks that you purchase as a regular consumer. We deal with businesses only. So we will not be able to respond to messages and calls about this.)

Here are a few screenshots from Linkedin alone illustrating the risks involved in jumping into the Wild West face mask market unprepared, with our comments below:


Example 1

face mask sales pitch linkedin

This one has the typical tone of experienced scammers. It wants to deal with people who self-select as ready to place a big order FAST (i.e. without due diligence).

A few red flags:

  • What is a “source”? Stock that was imported from China? Why not say how many pieces are on stock, SKU by SKU, to make it look more real?
  • Is the “source” a manufacturer? That’s what most readers would assume. But wouldn’t domestic manufacturers already be fully booked, supplying hospitals and other health care providers in priority?
  • If the source is “extremely reputable”, why do they need an intermediary to sell their products? And why not name it?
  • So, the source is in the US, and they supply KN95, a Chinese standard? A bit weird.


Example 2

possible face mask from china scam

Unfortunately, these days, (nearly) no manufacturer extends credit to their new customers. And I understand it. It’s one-off transactions. And there are many buyers waiting in line…

A couple of red flags:

  • 1.5 million masks in stock? Are you kidding? With the estimate of 1 mask per second per line, and lines making good products 20 hours a day, that’s 1 line churning out products for 21 working days. In the current market, most manufacturers have already pre-sold their production of the next 2 weeks (and often more)…
  • 3.38 USD per piece? That’s way above the market price.
  • Total lack of specificity: what type of masks, any certifications, etc.


Example 3

naive face mask request

This buyer makes several mistakes:

  • They show they are desperately in a hurry, which always attracts scam artists.
  • They mention no supplier approval process. It seems anybody can be OK.
  • They seem to mention “N95” as the general category of mask, and are not specific.


Example 4

buyer seeking face masks and ppe

Same issues as the example above. This will attract scam artists.


Example 5

buyer who bought fake face masks

Well… that’s an example of what happens when a buyer made mistakes and ordered from the wrong people! At least he can laugh about the situation, but if these found their way into the order of, say, a hospital, this wouldn’t be so funny.


The above examples serve as a warning to would-be mask importers.

A lot of Chinese ‘suppliers’ aren’t who they say they are – they may be resellers who have never seen their own supplier’s factory. With even legitimate mask manufacturers in China dubbing their production lines ‘money printers,’ can you be sure that you’re not being taken for a ride?

Financial risk is only a part of it. There’s also a proven risk of ‘fake’ face masks from China being supplied, and not just a few, hundreds of thousands. Do you want to take the risk of your friends, family, or others’ lives into your hands?

If you really must buy face masks in this treacherous market, you really need to be:

When it comes to PPE (personal protective equipment) like face masks, ‘buying blind’ just has too much risk not to perform the above security measures.


We are not lawyers. What we wrote above is based only on our understanding of the regulatory requirements. We do not present this information as a basis for you to make decisions, and we do not accept any liability if you do so. Please consult a lawyer before taking action.

For even more good advice, try these blog posts:

If all else fails, tips from Mark Graban on making and wearing a home-made mask:

(Please note, unfortunately, we cannot advise you about the safety of face masks that you purchase as a regular consumer. We deal with businesses only. So we will not be able to respond to messages and calls about this.)

Need help with inspections on face masks or perhaps auditing your potential suppliers? We're here to help and are doing this actively around China right now for other clients.
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12 responses to “Buying face masks from China? 5 Examples To Avoid”

  1. Bert Labbe says:

    I just received 50 disposable face masks. Made in China. I did not want to purchase mask s made in China. No company name on box. Only “Face Mask” Disposable protective mask (Non-Medical Use) three-layer filter protective mask. Paper inside Q.C Passed written in Chinese and English.
    Are these masks safe? Production date April 27, 2020.

    • Adrian Leighton says:

      Hi Bert, based on your comment, these are non-medical masks so they are for use in non-healthcare environments. In theory, they would act as a ‘face-covering’ only. If you feel uncomfortable with using masks which are made in China, you should choose not to use them if you feel safer and more secure not doing so – a home-made face covering may better suit your needs, unless you’re required to be in a healthcare environment for work, etc.

  2. Deanna says:

    I ordered some face masks through wish and I noticed some of them are coming from China are they safe to use

  3. Jayanti Dutt says:

    I bought KN95 masks for 90 dollars from a place called Factory Direct Medical , I am little worried whether these masks are recycled . I am not sure it is safe to wear .

  4. Belinda Facemyer says:

    I ordered 2- 50 count disposable face mask from Wish a site that I have ordered lots of other items but my first time ordering face mask I trust Wish but can I trust these face mask coming from china ?I have bad anxiety and more I think about it I’m worried what do you think please

  5. Marilyn bassett says:

    I bought face madks from chemist warehouse. Are they safe to use

  6. Daniel Arsenault says:

    Hey guys, I’m an expat Canadian living a long time (30 years) in Taiwan and China. I source and sell certified PPE and I hear your woes. It’s not fair to legitimate companies here to say a mask ‘Made in China’ is unsafe to wear. Do your research and not just trust. Due diligence is good advice. Price is the last question you should ask.

  7. Barbara Fuller says:

    Are they safe if you wash them in antibacterial soap

    • Adrian Leighton says:

      Hi Barbara, If masks are marketed as washable, then yes, otherwise masks marked as ‘disposable’ should not be made wet and should be disposed of after they have been worn for the time suggested by the manufacturer.

  8. Janet Berger says:

    I bought a box of 50 face masks from Walgreens about a week ago. I’ve probably use about 6 or 7. The other day I was looking at the box and in very small print, “Made In China” I wasn’t very happy about that. Now a few days ago I hear on the news…”Don”t buy masks from China they’re not safe!!!”

    Now what do I do? I don’t have a sales slip.

  9. Bonnie Mayes says:

    I have been buying masks from Shop HQ for a while now. I’ve shopped with them for years. I received 50 masks today with 5 layers but saw they were made in China. Should I send them back? The Returns Department is 4813 Nashville Road, Bowling Green Ky. 42101_5621. I know Shop HQ is reputable since I have ordered many different items from them for several years. There’s a reputable Plastic Surgeon on the show that is the host for these masks. The Company for the masks is Medic Therapeutics .

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