While health and government officials remain divided on the use of face masks in the fight against COVID-19, a number of countries across the world have now deemed them mandatory, and the UK government is advising people where them in enclosed spaces. But with the NHS suffering from significant personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, many are worried about whether buying masks will affect those desperately in need. In light of this, Bustle has put together a list of independent brands selling face masks in the UK in a responsible way.
Before you begin browsing, it is important to remember that these are not medical-grade masks and they certainly do not offer a be-all-and-end-all solution the spreading of COVID-19. Even when you are wearing a mask, you should practice social distancing and you should continue to wash your hands regularly. And remember, although it may be tempting to touch your face while wearing a mask to make adjustments or have a quick scratch, this is absolutely the opposite of what they're there for. In other words, do not touch your face while wearing them.
The UK government website now has a page dedicated to the proper practices when it comes to wearing a face mask, and the WHO has published a document with advise also. If you are interested in making your own mask from materials around your home, the gov.uk page also has instructions on how to do that.
The masks listed below are reusable but you must wash them between each usage. According to Dr Yves Van Laethem, an infectious disease expert who spoke to the Brussels Times, "face masks should be machine washed at 60 degrees Celsius with conventional detergent — you don’t need any particular disinfectants." If you do not have access to a washing machine, Van Laethem suggests putting the face mask in a pot with simmering water or ironing it at a temperature "above that at which the virus may survive."
And one final thing: anyone who has a medical-grade face mask who is not deemed a 'key worker' should consider donating their supply to their local hospital. Details about donating should be available on the hospital's website.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle UK's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
These face masks from Onstail, a small studio in South East London, are all made to order. An internal pocket has been added to allow wearer to insert a PM2.5 filter (found on Amazon or elsewhere online), which may offer additional protection. Onstail suggests washing these by hand.
Edeline Lee is selling these Polyproylene masks in packs of three for £40. The designer is directing 100% of the proceeds from the sales of these masks to their Non Profit Mask-Making Project. As their website states, "Each purchase will cover the materials and logistical costs of a further 80 volunteer-made masks to be donated to frontline workers who can wear these over their officially-issued respirators to make them last longer."
Goozeberryhill, a vintage cutlery store in Swansea, Wales, begun making face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. These cotton masks can only sustain 40 degrees Celsius in the washing machine, but they can be ironed (everywhere but the elastic). Best of all, £1 from every purchase will be donated to help fund fabric to make scrubs for front line workers
These masks are made to order and can be requested in large adult, adult, kid, or preschool (nursery) sizes. They also have a pocket if wearers wish to slip in an additional piece of filter material. They can be washed at 60 degrees Celsius and tumble dried and, for every one mask purchased, TaggyTots will donate one to its local hospital. Plus, 10 percent of the profits made are going towards an NHS charity.
These cotton masks are handmade in Elderslie, Scotland, and come with soft, t-shirt yarn ties that fit around the head – perfect for anyone who finds ear loops painful or annoying. For every purchase, BlueHawkDesigns makes a 50p donation to the NHS Charities Together.
These masks from the company of X allow you to make more of a statement. The London supplier they are supporting through the sale of these items is also delivering masks to local social care organisations and hospitals. The website suggests washing them at 30 degrees Celsius but, per Van Laethem's advice, you may be better off hand washing them in simmering water. It may be worth getting in touch with the company of X customer care team to as their advice on this.
The team atOlga Gillies, a handmade jewellery store based in Newcastle, have turned their attention to making masks during the COVID-10 crisis. These linen masks can withstand 60 degree Celsius, their Etsy store states, but they recommended hand washing. There is also a pocket if you want to slip in an additional filter.
These masks are triple-layered and 100% cotton. For £20, you will be sent a pack of three masks 3 masks: one in navy, one in denim blue, and one in hot pink. And, for every pack purchased, Lavendar Hill Clothing is donating a pack to the Katherine Low Settlement, a charity providing immediate and much-needed support to children, young people, the elderly, women and refugee communities in Battersea, London.