Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask? Face visors for COVID-19 explained and where to get one

Everything you need to know about face shields including the official rules and the level of protection against coronavirus

Katherine Robinson

Face masks are now a part of our everyday existence, and it doesn't look to be changing soon. Most of us are familiar with the usual styles – face masks with filters, contoured masks with nose wires for glasses wearers and stylish masks for fashion fans to name but a few. But what about face shields? They seem like a possible alternative for people who find wearing traditional cloth masks uncomfortable, but are they a good idea? Here’s what you need to know…

Do the new face masks rules include visors and face shields?

In England, currently there is no official government guidance about whether a visor or face shield can be worn as an alternative to a traditional cloth face mask. A face covering is defined by the government as "something which safely covers the nose and mouth". They add: "You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face."

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In Scotland, however, the use of face visors is permitted as an alternative to a cloth face covering. "You may also use, if you prefer, a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely,” explains the Scottish government website.

Why does my hairdresser wear a face shield?

In England, people who work in "close contact services" like hairdressers, spas, beauty salons, tattoo and photoshoot studios have been told to wear a face shield. According to the government website: "This should take the form of a clear visor that covers the face and provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face."

This is because in close contact service situations it's hard to maintain social distancing, as employees need to work in close proximity to their clients.

Will a face shield stop me from getting coronavirus?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline health care workers have been using face shields in addition to surgical face masks as an extra barrier of protection. However, the Centre for Disease Control and Protection does not recommend them for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face covering.

If you do use a shield, according to the CDC, it's important to ensure whatever plastic barrier you use “should wrap around the sides of the wearer's face and extend below the chin”.

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Since they cover your whole face from head to chin, it's true that a face shield makes it very hard for you to touch your face and accidentally transfer pathogens that way.

Where can I buy a face shield?

You can buy face shields online in a variety of sizes – including hood style ones for children that offer full 360 protection. Keep scrolling for the best options - and you'll find kids face visors at the end of the article.


Keeping it simple with a baseball cap with a shield that flips up and down

Pink hat with face cover, £27.49, Shopbop



floral bucket hat shein

Reviewers have given this '90s-style bucket hat a four-and-a-half star rating out of five

Floral print bucket hat with face shield, £7.49, Shein



polaroid quality face shield visor guard

Fogging and moisture-proof, this face shield is certified to be used in the medical and sanitary field

Polaroid STAYSAFE2 face shield, £28.57, Bloomingdale's




This face shield adds a touch of sparkle with rinestone jewels. 

Glasses face shield with rinestones, £7.50, Etsy




This best-selling face shield comes with a hat that you can unzip from the visor

Face shield hat, £28.59, Etsy




Add your name, logo, favourite colour or logo to this visor

Personalised face shield, £10.27, Etsy




This budget option has a pop of colour

Reusable protective face shield with pink headband, £2.49, Etsy




Safety face shield 10 pack, £14.90, Amazon



Face visors for children


Kids face visor, £38.49, Etsy




Kids face visor (designs available: mermaid, shark, mouse and princess) £8.49, Etsy



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