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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, £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 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
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 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?
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?
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.
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!
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
Floral face masks pack of three, £20, Boden
The wild ones: LEOPARD PRINT FACE MASKS
These fierce styles showcase 2020's hottest animal prints - they're just purrfect, wouldn't you agree?
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.
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.
Classic Mask, £20, Selfridges
Seriously regal styles: FACE COVERINGS KATE MIDDLETON WOULD LOVE
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 wildflowers floral mask, £11, Etsy
HELLO!'s selection is editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items our editors love and approve of. HELLO! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. To find out more visit our FAQ page.