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Face masks ultimate guide: Rules, styles & where to buy the best masks

Here's all the important info on face coverings, including the newest rules

ultimate mask guide
Katherine Robinson
Katherine RobinsonSenior Lifestyle Editor
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By now it’s inevitable that face masks are part of your essential item checklist that you mentally scan before you leave the house.

Non-medical face coverings are mandatory in most indoor spaces now - including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and bars and cafes (unless seated) – as well as of course on public transport and the new government announcement added taxis and ubers to the list for England.

Only those with respiratory problems or health issues that may make wearing a face mask harmful and younger children are exempt from the new rules. So really, it's a good idea to never leave home without one  - and with that in mind, we’ve prepared the ultimate guide to face masks to keep you well informed.

Scroll down to shop the best styles for every wearer and CLICK THE LINKS IN CAPS to see the full ranges…

How do face masks work?

A cloth face covering or mask acts as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing them coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.

RELATED: Marks & Spencer's face masks for adults and kids are back in stock with new designs

Will a face-covering stop me getting COVID-19?

Current government advice states that masks are more effective at providing protection for other people you come into contact with rather than yourself.

However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone.

Choosing a face covering with a filter adds an extra barrier of protection for the wearer. It's important to remember, however, that wearing a mask does not replace the importance of frequent hand washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Check out these celebrities wearing face coverings - watch the video

Why do we need face masks?

Remember that COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have any symptoms or know they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear face coverings in public settings, especially where keeping a social distance of less than two metres apart isn't possible.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is emerging evidence of airborne transmission of the virus.

RELATED: Need a last-minute face mask? These options have next-day delivery

MORE: 19 best neck gaiters you can buy now as an alternative to face masks

Do I have to wear a face mask in a shop?

Face coverings are mandatory in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres, both for customers and shop workers. Those breaking the rules can be fined by the police – and the fines have doubled from £200 to £100 in England or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Do I have to wear a face mask in a restaurant or pub?

You must wear a face mask in any establishment providing hospitality - a café, pub bar or restaurant unless you are seated at a table to eat or drink.

Do I have to wear a face mask on public transport?

Face coverings must be work on public transport in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – unless they have an exemption or reasonable excuse. In England, Scotland and Wales taxis and Ubers are also included in the rules.

Air passengers boarding planes must also wear face masks – and those failing to comply can be refused travel or fined as a last resort.

What are the rules about face masks and children? Do children need to wear face masks in schools?

In England, masks are mandatory in secondary school communal areas if the school is in an area which is under a local lockdown. Outside of this, secondary schools have the discretion to ask pupils to wear face masks in communal areas where social distancing is not possible.

RELATED: Face mask storage cases - why you need one and where to buy

MORE: 16 stylish wedding face masks and coverings you'll say 'I do' to

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Secondary pupils must wear face coverings in the corridors between lessons and the advice in Scotland also states that children over five should wear them on school buses.

In Wales they are recommended for high schools where social distancing is unlikely to be maintained, but not currently compulsory. Schools and councils will decide if they are used.

Outside of schools, children aged over 11 should wear a face mask in the same circumstances as adults.

How often should I wash my face mask or change the filter?

Experts – including John Hopkins Medicine – say that the ideal is to wash your face covering and change the filter after every use. You must wait until your face mask is completely dry before you wear it again.

Where can I buy a face mask?

You can buy face masks online at a number of retailers including Pacamask, Vistaprint, Casetify, Just the Hype and Redbubble. Read on to find the perfect mask for you, whatever your needs.

Best designer and chic options: STYLISH FACE MASKS

You want to be safe but you want something that looks nice too? Don't worry we've got you covered.

pacamask grey

Designer carved grey anti-bacterial mask, £17.95, Pacamask


Fun face coverings for children: FACE MASKS FOR KIDS

Buying a face mask online for little ones can be tricky due to the sizing, but we've found the best styles.

m s kids masks

5 reusable and washable kids face masks, £9.50, Marks & Spencer


Options for kids to wear in the classroom: FACE MASKS FOR SCHOOL

You'll want something plain or available in colours that match the school uniform for children to wear at school. Pacamask's children's mask is available in school-friendly red, navy blue and grey.

pacamask red

Children's antibacterial mask, £17.95 or £9.99 each if you buy 6, Pacamask


All the cutest and coolest designs: FACE MASKS FOR TEENAGERS

Teens may be reluctant to wear face-coverings, but not when they look as cool as these ones!

friends mask

Friends mask, £9.72, Redbubble


 XXL and beard-friendly: FACE MASKS FOR MEN

If you're looking for something more masculine - or those XXL sizes and beard-friendly options, we've got you covered.


XXL face mask, various prints, £9.99, Etsy


Styles for specs and the must-know hacks: FACE MASKS FOR GLASSES WEARERS

Face mask-wearing with glasses can be challenging, but these are the best styles to invest in if you wear specs to avoid them slipping or steaming up.

liberty mask

Liberty print double strap adjustable toggle mask, £13, Etsy


All the best petite styles: FACE MASKS FOR SMALL FACES

Sometimes one size doesn't fit all - especially when it comes to face coverings

etsy small masks

Adults small face masks, £8.99, Etsy


Great face coverings to work out in: SPORTY FACE MASKS

Your favourite sports brands have produced some sleek and covetable face coverings, but hurry, as they're selling out fast!

adidas face covering

Adidas 3-pack face covers, £14.95, Adidas


Featherlight face coverings: LIGHTWEIGHT & BREATHABLE FACE MASKS

Why not opt for a breathable face covering that is just as effective but doesn't feel like it's suffocating you?

selfridges masks

8 Other Reasons reusable woven face coverings pack of three, £20, Selfridges


Make people smile in the supermarket: FUNNY FACE MASKS

Because why not have a bit of fun at the same time as you protect yourself and others during the pandemic?

beard mask

Funny beard face mask, £11.76, Etsy


 Increased protection from coronavirus: FACE MASKS WITH FILTERS

Adding a filter gives you extra peace of mind, and these are the top styles we found online.

casetify mask

Reusable cloth mask with filter, £12, Casetify


Ultra-special styles: SPARKLY AND GLAM FACE MASKS

These are a bit special, for those outings when you just want something a bit extra - from Swarovski crystals to metallic styles. Gorgeous!

black sequin mask

Sequin Face Mask, £6, Etsy


All the prettiest designs: FLORAL FACE COVERINGS

These gorgeous face masks are both pretty and practical - we've gathered together the best washable and reusable ones

boden masks

Floral face masks pack of three, £20, Boden



These fierce styles showcase 2020's hottest animal prints - they're just purrfect, wouldn't you agree?

black and white leopard

Black and white leopard print face mask, £9.50,  Etsy


Discover the must-have face-covering accessory: FACE MASK CHAINS

People are using sunglasses chain-style holders to avoid not losing or contaminating their masks and it's kind of genius - take a look.

gold facemask chain

Tonal gold mask chain, £15.87, Etsy


Shop your favourite stars' looks: CELEBRITIES SHOWING OFF THEIR FACE MASKS

If you want to get inspired by what celebrities like Jennifer Aniston (below) have been wearing, we've been busy scouring the shops to see where they got their face coverings.

jennifer aniston mask

Classic Mask, £20, Selfridges



Looking for something a bit regal? The Duchess of Cambridge would surely approve of these masks, which we've painstakingly matched to her iconic looks.

white floral mask kate middleton

White wildflowers floral mask, £11, Etsy


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