Ministers have announced that it will be mandatory to wear facial masks and coverings in shops in England from today, July 24.
This is a new extension on the existing measure to wear a face covering on trains, tubes, trams, ferries, planes and buses.
Those without an adequate face covering could be refused entry to stores, travel on public transport and may face a fine. Only children under the age of two and those with certain medical issues are completely exempt from the new rule.
Many of us have already been wearing masks, but now it’s official – and there’s more choice than ever.
What’s the difference between medical masks and face coverings?
NHS staff and frontline workers need clinical medical grade face masks (or PPE) to stay safe, so avoid buying those.
Apart from adding to unnecessary waste, reusable cloth masks and coverings are a better – and more comfortable – purchase for day-to-day wear.
Many feature a removable filter which you can change to keep it working effectively in trapping allergens. Full face visors are ineffective because they don’t close securely around your mouth and nose. If you choose to wear one, you may still need to wear a facial mask to ensure you’re properly protected and meeting government guidelines.
Plus, buying reusable cloth masks for personal use means supplies of clinical PPE remain available for the people who need them the most.
What’s the point of wearing a face mask?
Wearing a secure covering over your mouth and nose helps catch the microscopic water droplets released in speech, or when you cough or sneeze, usually unseen by the naked eye. They hugely curb the chances of others catching coronavirus.
Remember: even if you don’t show symptoms, you could still be a spreader.
You’ll still need to wash hands thoroughly and use hand sanitiser, but wearing a mask is an additional measure we all can take to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
Medical lab tech Katie Corley coughed on two petri dishes, one while wearing a mask, and one without a mask. (From her public FB post.) pic.twitter.com/Ez65r2lE2r
— Sophie Rapp (@SophieSRapp)
Hail the most unlikely accessory of 2020
Who would have predicted everyone from the PM to the postman would be wearing masks come summer this year?
But, like those awkward Zoom calls, socially distanced meet-ups and lengthy one-way-only routes through restaurants, face masks are now just another sign of the strange, strange times we’re living in.
How to properly wear a facial covering or mask
There’s slightly more to it than simply bunging it on. Here are a few do’s and don’t’s from Gov.UK to wearing a mask as safely as possible.
Do make sure your mask or covering is enclosing your mouth and nose while still allowing you to breathe comfortably.
Do wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when you’re wearing one – tuck away loose ends and hair so you’re not tempted to brush it away.
Do keep your mask safely stored in a plastic bag until you have a chance to wash them.
Don’t touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, do make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched, such as the lower half of your face.
Do wash your mask regularly – most can go in with your normal load, using your regular detergent or washing machine gels.
Safe yet stylish
While Gov.UK has released a DIY guide to making a cloth face mask at home, entrepreneurs and retailers have launched stylish mask collections designed to keep you safe.
Facial masks are undeniably for safety first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them too.
We’ve found cool prints, bold designs and designer styles, all available to buy online, to keep you protected – while looking as good as possible.
See our favourites below
The Body Doctor AB Mask Reusable Antibacterial Mask
Not only does this mask help cut viral transmissions of airborne particles, but the breathable Sterileyes antibacterial fabric comes with a replaceable FFP2 (N95) filter to keep it working effectively. It also comes with a storage bag to keep it fresh and stop other items in your pockets or bag contaminating it. The adjustable ear loops come with toggles so they should fit securely around the back of your ears.
£10 | Boots
GISY Non-Medical Face Masks
Starting from £15 to £139 for 12 packs, there are more than 100 masks to browse at Wolf & Badger. If your focus is on style as well as safety, we like these triple-pack of double layered silk masks by Gisy.
£88 for a set of three | Wolf & Badger
Shop all face masks from £15 each at Wolf & Badger
Slip Face Mask
You may already know Slip for its luxurious silk pillowcases and masks but now the brand has unveiled a range of masks in the same sumptuously soft fabrication. The luxe face coverings have adjustable ear straps, a nose wire, a cotton interior lining and come in three stylish designs, including leopard, pink and black.
£39 | lookfantastic
Gap Face Mask
Gap has added super soft face coverings to its range of clothing and accessories. The masks are non-medical grade but have a triple layer construction. There are adjustable straps with a wire addition at the nose for a secure fit. They come in packs of three and eight with a range of designs to choose between. The American label has also donated 5,000 masks to The Princes Trust UK.
From £12.95 | Gap
Gandys Teal Namaste Mask
Gandys is a sustainable and travel-inspired clothing and accessories brand, founded by brothers Rob and Paul. The pair tragically lost their parents in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which inspired them to establish the brand and use a portion of the profits to build Campuses for deprived children around the world. The centres offer education, medication and nutrition support to people who need it most. They’ve branched out from their bread-and-butter collections of bags and apparel to offer masks, like many in light of the pandemic.
The masks are reusable and washable, created from a soft, high-quality melange fabric with a subtle mesh lining. There is an integrated nose wire that gives you a closer fit against your face.
£7.99 | Gandys
Nudea Face Mask
While Nudea traditionally specialise in lingerie, the brand is now offering a new range of face masks that will become your everyday essential. Putting comfort at the forefront, they are water resistant, washable and have a secure fit. There are two colours; forest green and pink that will act as a barrier. The face coverings come alongside a zip-up reusable travel pouch to keep it safe and on hand.
£15 | Nudea *Pre-order for August 1
Vintage Daisy Chain Fabric Washable Reusable Face Mask
With a pocket for filters and bendy wire over the bridge of the nose so you can adjust it to your features, this mask from Nervous Stitch has all boxes ticked. The breathable cotton fabric ensures you won’t overheat or steam up, and the pattern nods towards a vintage aesthetic – the fabric used is John Lewis’s Daisy Chain print.
£25 | NOTHS
Shop all face coverings and masks at Not On The High Street
Just Hype Adult Grey Knit Face Masks
There’s a great mix of masks on offer at Hype, from block colours to neon knits for men, women and kids. Prices start at just under a tenner for a black design with the distinctive ‘hype.’ script on the front. Despite the Hannibal-esque aesthetic, we like this grey knit and mesh design, which will cover your nose, mouth and chin without leaving you feeling smothered.
£11.99 | Hype
Adidas Face Cover Large 3-Pack
Made with flexible, recycled textiles, this plain black mask can be machine washed to keep it clean and fresh for daily wear. What’s more, €2 from every sale will go towards the Save the Children’s Global Coronavirus Response Fund.
£12.95 | Adidas
Gingerlily Silk Face Mask – charcoal
Face masks can sit against your skin for hours at a time, so why not make it a sumptuous fabric? Renowned for luxuriously silk bedding and sleep accessories Gingerlily has moved into face masks made from a triple layer of pure Mulberry silk.
Rather than sitting flat against your nose and mouth, the masks have been crafted to sit slightly away from your features while still providing a secure seal around the face. Filled with 100 per cent Habotai raw silk, hand wash only.
£25 | Gingerlily
Ted Baker face coverings
Fancy a designer finish to your face covering? Head over to Ted Baker, who has just launched a line of tailor-made, reversible face masks. They’re made from the excess cotton fabrics used in former collections, so you can expect the classic TB prints the brand is known for. Fitted with elasticated ear loops for comfortable wear.
There are three unisex designs to choose from, all £10 each. An oh-so chic way to protect yourself, as well as others.
Prezzybox Face Mask – Nature Prints
A pretty mask that acts as a barrier against coronavirus droplets, Prezzybox has a wide selection of facial shields online at the moment – including this one that you can personalise with a photo.
Arriving at your door in up to five working days, each one features a design that’s made to fit over your nose, mouth and chin with the help of elastic ear loops. While it’s not a replacement for PPE, opting to use these frees up masks for NHS workers and frontline staff that need them. The masks come with two filters for added protection, which you can clean and reuse. The company pledges to donate £1 to the NHS Charities campaign for each mask sold.
£15.99 | Prezzybox
Shop Prezzybox Camouflage Print Masks
Shop Prezzybox Animal Print Masks
Shop Prezzybox Rainbow Print Masks
Breathe Happy Face Mask Single Mask Kit
Say hello to the world’s first KN95 certified reusable silicone face mask, one that’s 99.9 per cent effective at filtering out bacteria. Simply swap out the old filter for a new one every seven days to keep it working effectively.
Family Kits and multiple quantity kits are available too if you’re shopping for more than one person.
£19.99 | Breathe-Happy
Pucker Face Masks
Positioning itself as a place to “buy a mask with morals”, Pucker helps support independent makers and charities by giving them 25 per cent of profits on sales made through the site. Every block colour mask is handmade in the UK from a triple layer of high-quality, soft, breathable cotton. They have a shaped nose and chin, adjustable nose bridge and ear toggles to provide a secure, top-of-the-range fit.
The masks also have a pocket which can hold a range of particulate filters (available to buy on the site) for that extra layer of protection. Prices are £17 per mask.
Boden Non-Medical Face Covering – Multi
Offering a surprise selection of three masks in every set, Boden’s non-medical face masks are stylish yet practical. There’s wire in the nose bridge to help it sit snug against your face and the ear loops are covered in matching fabric, offering a nice finish than just plain elastic. From each sale, £5 will go to help charity Helpforce.
£20 | Boden
HONYAO Reusable Face Masks
Resuable and machine washable, this budget pack of two-layer stretchy cotton black and white face masks offers great value for anyone who’s not fussed about winning style points. Each pack contains four of each colour.
£17.99 | Amazon
Shop reusable face masks at Amazon
Tottenham Hotspur Spurs Face Coverings
Arsenal fans look away now. The North London-based football club is offering face coverings with four different designs as well as multi-pack sets. They come in the Spurs signature navy hue and feature the brand’s famous cockerel logo. They are fitted with adjustable straps, a nose wire and a soft fabrication.
From £5 | Tottenham Hotspur
David Watson Face Masks
These made-to-order masks use iconic prints from the likes of William Morris to give 2020’s top personal hygiene product a unique aesthetic. The arty masks, made from breathable, quilted fabric, come with elastic ear loops and are available in child and adult sizes to get as perfect a fit as possible. Best of all, 10 per cent goes to the NHS Charities Together.
It’s important to note that orders at David Watson are only made per order, so delivery can take up to two weeks. Machine washable.
£20 | David Watson
Shop all masks at David Watson
Pearl Lowe – Reusable Print Silk Masks
Delivered two weeks after ordering, these stunning masks add a touch of style to any outfit, whether you’re meeting friends for a socially distanced picnic or just heading to the supermarket for the essentials. They’re made from off-cuts from Pearl Lowe’s studio; think vintage floral prints on soft silk, all around the £30 mark.
A portion of the sales of the matching silk Liberty print dresses will go to the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to support frontliners in these trying times.
After a hugely successful US launch, MaskClub is coming to the UK with thousands of officially licensed designs, from Adventure Time and Dexter’s Laboratory to Wonder Woman and Superman on soft, breathable fabric. There are also animal print and camouflage designs available too, so a style to suit every taste.
MaskClub is another company offering masks for good, vowing to donate 10 per cent of sales to NHS Charities Together. Masks are typically £13.99 for a one-off purchase, but you can buy them on a monthly subscription and save up to 30 per cent off too.
Migrate Art – Masks for Meals
Migrate Art has teamed up with a group of 10 artists to launch a collection of limited edition re-usable, reversible face masks, with profits going towards helping displaced and homeless people in the UK. You can buy single masks, and also sets of five (£79.99) to cover everyone in your household or simply keep as spares. Singles from £19.99.
Paisie adjustable non-surgical face mask in navy
Selling masks for delivery in mid-July, now’s the perfect time to lock down your order of Paisie’s non-surgical masks. They offer exceptionally good value for money – Paisie is selling the masks with free delivery at cost price – and are made using surplus cotton from the company’s studio.
They stress: “Whilst these masks are not a substitute for medical-grade ones, when used properly and with a filter they will help to contribute to less particle transmission.” There’s space in the double layer mask to fit in your own filter.
£6 | Paisie
When 24 year-old Claire Gifford came to England from Australia she was full of hope for her future. Unfortunately her arrival coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, stopping her original plans in their tracks. Instead, she set up Pharma-Saurus, which offers face masks and coverings in an array of fun, cheerful prints.
Each one is made with certified materials – think locally sourced cotton with a non woven anti-allergenic inner layer that’s comfortable to wear against the skin and filters out 95 per cent of airborne particles. Reinforced stitching and clever filtration helps to clean the air without trapping moisture.
Luisa Cerano mask sets
There are two printed sets of masks to snap up at Luisa Cerano. One is a pale pink and green two set, the other a darker botanical print. Each set comprises two masks, made with double layers of breathable cotton, wire over the nose bridge and colour coordinated ear loops.
£22 | Luisa Cerano
Palava face masks
Offering playful dresses for women and kids, Palava has turned its attention to mask making for adults and children. £5 from the profits of each mask will go to the makers, while a further £2 will be donated to the Trussel Trust to help support emergency food initiatives and those locked in poverty.
The company has also made a PDF of the mask pattern available to download for free on its website, so you can have a go yourself if you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine.
Lavender Hill Clothing cotton face masks
A British brand focused on sustainability, this company is offering soft cotton masks in packs of three using printed fabric. They’re made with three pleated layers for ultimate protection, and best of all, for every pack purchased, the company will donate the same to a charity supporting vulnerable people in Battersea. We like the navy stripe design the best.
£25 for 3 | Lavender Hill Clothing
Plumo Protective Masks
Shop masks for men, women and children at Plumo. The company hand makes the mask from four layers of organic linen for ultimate breathability, while the elastic ear loops ensure you get a secure fit. Like many other vendors, Plumo is helping the coronavirus fight by donating to the ‘Masks 4 Heroes’ crowdfunding campaign, which aims to providing PPE to NHS frontline staff.
1Rebel Face Mask
The spin and gym studio has released an all-black mask to help fitness fans to cut the spread of Covid-19. Made of light mesh fabric, it’s light and breathable and comes with a Velcro fastening for a secure fit. It comes with an air filter that should remain effective for up to a fortnight, after which you’ll need to fit a new one. 1Rebel says on its website that it will be selling replacement filters soon.
£10 | 1Rebel
Johan Ku face mask
Love it or hate it, face masks are a part of our future. Johan Ku nails the national mood with an Andy Warhol-inspired Marmite print mask, which is shaped to fit over the lower part of the face properly. The designer has a selection of other printed masks for sale, all made to keep you safe while helping you to stand out from the crowd.
£19.50 | Johan Ku
Isabel Manns Mandevilla Vine Cotton Mask
With all profits going to the NHS, the chic designs on offer at Isabel Manns not only help you stay safe and look good, but do good too. There’s a gap in the lining so you can place a filter inside if you like. There are six designs available on the site to choose from; we’re drawn to the cheerful Mandevilla design.
£12 | Isabel Manns
Together Band Masks
Sustainable accessories label Bottletop – best known for its luxury bags handcrafted with upcycled bottle tops – has launched a range of masks. The face coverings are composed of a double layer of organic cotton (that produces less CO2 and water than traditional cotton). The masks are machine washable, offered in black and neutral and come with the option of filters for added breathability. All the packaging is entirely recyclable. To go alongside this, the brand has donated 30,000 medical grade face shields to Médicins Sans Frontières to bring PPE to the front line.
From £12 | Togetherband