Coronavirus Pandemic : Face Mask Types & Where To Buy Them

A close-up of a man wearing a blue surgical mask to the left. We see half the face, so just the left eye. To the right is the post title.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, attention is being turned towards the precautions necessary to re-open and re-start communities and economies. 

While in many cases masks remain a personal choice, there are some instances and some countries in which masks are officially required in public. In the UK, for instance, the push has been to make masks a requirement on public transport. 

I won’t get into my personal beliefs on the politics or the advice previously given on masks. I’ve been wearing a mask since the end of March, sadly only being able to get one a short while after I may have contracted the virus. I still don’t know whether it was or wasn’t covid-19, but I’ve shared my symptom experiences here for those that may be interested.

With the increasing demand for masks, what are the different types available and where can you get them from? 

What Are Respirator Masks For?

There are a few types of masks and coverings. Face masks with no quality rating, face coverings with a layer(s) of fabric, surgical masks, and industry graded masks, referred to as respirator masks. Respirator masks are sometimes also known as particle masks or particle filter half masks. They cover the nose and mouth and should fit snugly to the face.

Respirator masks are designed to filter the air of different particles, such as dust, aerosols, smoke or fine liquids. Potentially dangerous and damaging particles can be a threat to the body in different ways, such as with radioactive components or risks to the respiratory system. Others may offer much lower protection, such as just against obnoxious smells of certain chemicals. 

They predominantly protect the wearer, but in the case of coronavirus many unvalved masks can also help to protect others if the wearer is infected. No mask is a guarantee of protection against coronavirus. Not enough is known about the virus in terms of mask effectiveness in filtering it, and the virus is also thought to be able to enter the body through the eyes. This is why a face visor gives another layer of protection both to the mouth/nose and the eyes.

Mask Ratings

Respirator masks offer differing levels of protection and a grading system indicates the level they offer. When ‘leakage’ is mentioned, this refers to air leaks from and around the mask. Air leaks can often happen if the mask isn’t correctly fitted. Most of these P1, P2 and P3 masks have bands that go around the head, which ensures a closer, more secure fit compared to the ear loops on general face coverings.

What Do FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 Mean?

FFP is an abbreviation for ‘filtering facepiece’. 

FFP1 is the lowest of the three levels and as such offers the least protection. These are for environments that aren’t fibrogenic or poison, filtering at least 80% of particles up to 0.6 μm and with a total leakage maximum of up to 25%.

FFP2 is the mid-way point. This is the equivalent of the N95 class of mask. These masks offer protection from both fluid and firm particles, including the likes of dust and aerosols. Total leakage here is a maximum 11%. The FFP2 protection class is often chosen during the coronavirus pandemic for offering greater protection than a P1 mask but are usually cheaper than a P3 alternative. 

FFP3 is the maximum protection class, used for protection against poisonous, radioactive or deleterious types of particles. These are required by different healthcare providers like the NHS for use in bacterial and viral infection control. Total leakage maximum is 5%. Such masks filter 99% of all particles up to 0.6 μm. 

Man wearing valved face mask, with what looks like the top part of a stethoscope around his neck.

What Are N95 or KN95 Masks?

The N95 is the US class equivalent of the European FFP2, they just use different classification systems. 

The N95 and KN95 are roughly an equivalent rating. N95 is the US standard, where as KN95 is the Chinese standard. 

The criteria for the US and China ratings are very similar and both have a filter performance of 95% or higher. N95 masks should therefore filter out, and thus protect the wearer from breathing in, those airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. The coronavirus is estimated to measure 0.12 microns, but some studies are suggesting masks can capture a considerable amount of even nanoparticles. An N95 is the minimum standard usually recommended during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Valved or Unvalved?

Masks with a valve allow some carbon dioxide out of the mask when you breathe out. When you breathe in, you’re not using the valve so the valve is not detrimental to your protection. However, it’s thought possible that some air filtered out could, if the wearer is infected, contain nanoparticles of the virus, which could spread to those around the wearer. 

Gloved hands opening a fold-flat respirator mask to show the inside of two valves.

Moulded or Fold Flat? 

There are generally two types of typical P2 and P3 masks: soft and folding, and cupped or moulded. There are also much bigger masks, usually made of rubber and sometimes with in-built goggles, with filters that can be replaced. In terms of comfort, these aren’t as likely to be comfortable all day. 

When it comes to pre-formed/cupped and softer folding masks, softer and more pliable options are better for protecting against the virus when they form a closer fit. Cupped may be too big or too small, and there’s little room for adjusting them to your face shape. If you’re going for a moulded mask, it may be best to try one first rather than spending the money on several just to ensure they will fit adequately. Folding/soft masks on the other hand will usually form a better fit around the face. With greater flexibility, you’ll be able to adjust around the side of your face and chin, and firmly adjust the nose piece to ensure there are no gaps. 

Safe & Effective Mask Use

It’s important to fit, wear and remove masks safely and effectively. There are articles and videos online that demonstrate the best way to do this. Never to touch the inside of your mask, especially when your hands aren’t clean. Keep in mind that the band around the head or the ear loops may be contaminated, as may your hair. After removing the mask, if you intend on reusing it, make sure to store it safely, keeping the head band away from the inside of the mask. I roll mine in kitchen roll, to keep the loops away from the mask opening, and then I put the mask into a cardboard box underneath the dining table. 

As for whether or not to re-use respirator masks, this is a hotly debated issue among individuals, healthcare providers and manufacturers. Most respirators are designed to be disposable, single use masks. However, given their cost and the waste, many people take to re-using their mask. I can’t give advice or suggestions on this, I can only tell you what I do. There’s no guarantee as to the methods to de-contaminate masks, such as with rubbing alcohol, and masks like 3M P2s aren’t supposed to get wet. I re-use my P2 masks several times, but I have two in use and rotate them with alternate usage, making a note of which mask I wore on the calendar. I only do this providing I can be sure I’ve done everything I can to fit, remove and store the mask safely.

You’ll find that over time masks develop an unpleasant smell and the elastic of the headband will start to loose its shape. I personally don’t feel it’s safe or healthy to wear these for several hours and re-use repeatedly over several weeks, as there will be a build up of particles and bacteria. Never over-use masks and use your best judgement if you choose to do this. Alternatively, some face coverings, such as the fabric masks and hand-made coverings, can and should be washed and re-used. 

Where Can I Buy Masks?

Supermarkets, Discounters & Corner Shops

A few months after the virus became a pandemic, the availability of masks is starting to increase. However, most of these are either fabric reusable masks or disposable surgical masks below N95/P2 standards. If these are what you’re looking for, try supermarkets, discount stores, convenience stores and local corner shops. These are typically more readily available online, but check reviews before buying. 

Six cartoon illustrations of face coverings in different patterns with ear loops.

Boots (UK)

Boots have started to stock a range of masks, predominantly surgical 3-ply masks in different quantities. I’ve not seen these in store myself but they’re available online, where customers can opt for home delivery or click and collect to store. 

Shops face masks at Boots.

Make Your Own

If you are content with the lower level of protection offered by a cloth mask, then making your own face covering is an option. You’ll need the material for the mask body and some fabric for the loops or elastic for the headband(s). Some sites give step-by-step tutorials on DIY masks that you can follow. The UK government has also put together a guide for wearing and making your own face covering.

Online Generally

With more choice, greater availability and the safety of staying home, the online world is a good option to try. However, be cautious when browsing. In any time of crisis there will sadly be many trying to take advantage either through price hikes or fake websites. 

Ensure the site you’re buying from is credible; search online for reviews of the site and check out any social media pages if they have them. Ensure the website and the shopping cart have the padlock in the URL bar so you know you’re on a ‘safe’ site when entering sensitive information like your payment details. 

You can also try Amazon for different types of masks and take a look at the customer reviews before buying, though availability is variable.

You may also be able to find speciality masks online, or be exempt from their use (if government guidance allows) if you are deaf or hearing impaired and rely on lip reading. There are some hand-made masks online with a clear rectangle at the front to allow for the mouth to be seen, which may be helpful for carers, loved ones or friends who are going outside with someone who needs to be able to lipread to aid communication.

Search for Face Masks on Amazon UK  &  Amazon US.

eBay

eBay can be very hit and miss. You’ll generally find that prices are far higher for the likes of 3M products, where a mask that should cost around £3 each is being sold for anywhere between £8 without proof of authenticity, to £25. A P3 mask could cost you up to £40. There have been some wildly higher prices, too. In times of desperation, people can and do pay these prices. I’ve paid high prices for 3M masks that I trusted were authentic out of desperation. 

While eBay have made some attempts to verify certain sellers and remove listings where prices have been heavily inflated, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of sellers and products to be weary of. 

With branded masks like 3M, the market has become saturated with fake products. I’ve flagged several of these up to eBay, including ones I bought myself and had a refund for, with the seller claiming that they thought they were authentic. Do you research and know what to look for. In the case of 3M, there are a few things to keep in mind, the most obvious perhaps being that all masks should be individually wrapped in 3M packaging. There are sites online that provide other suggestions for what to look for. If in doubt, don’t risk it. 

A fake mask is a waste of your money so the seller can profit, but it also puts you at risk as you don’t know what the mask is like internally, and it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be wearing something with the same quality, the same filters and layers to ensure the best protection. 

Search eBay for FFP2 masks / N95 Masks / Face Coverings.

Construction, Trade & DIY Websites

Having looked on several websites daily for the last few months, I’ve found that many have been totally out of stock of branded P2 and P3 masks. 

Although the government has been sourcing PPE from abroad for NHS and care home use, many UK-based companies are continuing to ringfence P2/P3 face masks for the NHS. In these instances, individuals are unable to purchase them for their own use. Until recently, Screwfix had ringfenced their stock for NHS use but that message has recently been removed from their website. However, masks appear to be collection only but mask stock locally seems low or non-existent.

Recently In Stock

However, I have found one website that recently had stock of 3M FFP2 masks at a reasonable price. I contacted a few of those I know in the chronic illness realm that may be looking for a mask prior to sharing on social media and on here. Of course with anything like this the worry is that there will always be those who, instead of buying one or two boxes, will buy 30 boxes to re-sell on eBay at 10x the price. 

Try checking out RS Components as they’ve had stock of 3M 9322+ FFP2 masks. RS Components supply to businesses and individuals. I registered for an account as I like having an account area where you can see past orders. At the time of writing, one box of 10 (when you add VAT and delivery) is £31.16. It’s free next delivery for orders over 30, so if you want two boxes it’s £62.90 for 20 masks. I’ve bought these myself and would highly recommend for the ease of using the website, helpful customer service, genuine 3M products, quick delivery and great value. This isn’t an affiliate link, I’m just sharing the only reliable source I’ve found in the hopes it might help others.

If you go to the website and they’re sold out, it’s worth checking back in every now and then to see whether more stock has come in or drop the company a message to enquire. 

3M Aura 9322+ FFP2 Valved Mask
The 3M Aura 9322+ FFP2 Valved Mask

What If I Have Breathing Difficulties?

Respirator masks, particularly those with an effective, tight fit, can have an impact on breathing. Masks should have a close fit around the face and bridge of the nose, so if you have sinus or breathing issues it may make breathing more difficult, in addition to any mask can reduce easily available oxygen. 

I have problems breathing through my nose along with lung scarring, inflammation and bronchiectasis. I’ve worn both valved and unvalued masks and I have to breathe solely through my mouth, but I find valved slightly more pleasant. Because supermarket trips have become far lengthier with the current precautions, those couple of hours can become very uncomfortable. 

In the choice between the two, valved and unvalved, it’s a matter of why you’re buying the mask and what’s available to get. Obviously if you have even slight suspicions you may be unwell then you should be self-isolating. The valved option may be preferable if you have breathing issues or anticipate wearing the mask for an extended period of time so as to reduce the recycled carbon dioxide you’re breathing back in. 

If you find it difficult, try to minimise the time needed to wear the mask. Those with severe breathing problems ironically are more likely to be in the at risk/vulnerable group and yet are sometimes advised not to wear masks because they can make breathing harder, reducing oxygen intake. If a fitted respirator causes problems, try a looser fitting surgical mask. If you have breathing issues you may be recommended not to wear a mask and be exempt from requiring to use one, so speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Ensure you’re up to date with the latest government guidance for your country as to if, when and where masks are required. Beyond that, it’s a personal decision if you want to take the precaution of wearing a mask in conjunction with social distancing and hygiene to help protect yourself and those around you in the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Further reading :

A black scroll divider.

Caz  ♥

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46 Comments

  1. June 25, 2020 / 4:10 pm

    I have issues with getting enough oxygen so I’ve learned to slow down. I kind of panic because I’m not getting enough air and that just makes it worse. I just slow down and things level out. I’ve tried all kinds of masks and they are all the same for me. I wear mine all the time and just slow down.

    Have a fabulous day, Caz. ♥

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:20 pm

      A very good tip, Sandee. I’m sorry you have issues with breathing in masks, too, but you’re right, slowing things down, not over-exerting and trying to stay calm can all help. Thanks for sharing this – have a lovely weekend xx

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:22 pm

      Glad you thought so, thanks, John! 😊

  2. Ashley
    June 25, 2020 / 4:50 pm

    Excellent explantaion!

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:22 pm

      Thanks, Ashley – glad you thought it explained things well, there’s a lot to consider with these masks and I think it’s important to know roughly what’s what before you look to make or buy anything.xx

  3. June 25, 2020 / 5:00 pm

    Wow! 👏 Truly terrific coverage on masks! I rely on them every time I leave the house fir my MCAS and my site doesn’t even have as much info. I don’t know if Etsy is available in the UK, but I recently found some people making good quality masjs there, but you have to read carefully. I just ordered kwo from someone there and plan to review them as soon as I’ve tested one out. Thus is a fantastic resource for the community. Thank you!

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:25 pm

      I’m glad you liked the post, thank you! I know you’re used to masks and will be more knowledgeable on the types, what they do, what to look for etc. It was a big learning curve for me, especially figuring out the specifics with P2, P3 etc. Oh yes we do have Etsy here, that’s a good idea. I think in particular the likes of Etsy and eBay could be fantastic for hand made speciality masks, like those with the see-through front section for those with loved ones/friends who rely on lip reading. Hope the masks you’ve recently ordered are good, Mykie, will look forward to your review! xx

  4. June 25, 2020 / 5:47 pm

    excellent, Caz. great info. also a wonderful topic to help normalize. there seems to be so much confusion about everything. yesterday I took my dog to vet for routine rabies prevention shot, & the receptionist had no mask, & this is in a tiny old fashioned lobby. I bought one from the grocery, but it turned out to be such thin bit of fabric that surely it was a waste of $.

    here where rules are starting to loosen, so I’m a bit fearful of all our hard work going to waste…

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:32 pm

      There really is a lot of confusion, plus a lot of diverging beliefs, opinions and practices. Like what you found with the vet, their practices seem very underwhelming whereas another vet clinic may have staff all wearing masks and gloves and may require customers to also wear a mask. As for the mask types, I didn’t want to put across my personal opinions on this post too much but rather show the ‘facts’ and basics of what you get with each one. The thin ones, usually surgical types, whether 3-ply or less, I don’t feel are particularly effective and nor do they typically fit well. In terms of value for money, I don’t think you get it because they may be cheaper but they’re not doing much to protect you. I’m terrified of the restrictions lifting here in the UK, too, so I empathise with your concern there. Do you think you’ll look into another type of mask maybe? Please stay as safe and well as possible, da-AL.  ♥ xx

  5. June 25, 2020 / 6:15 pm

    I buy them on Ebay or Amazon and always make sure they offer highest protection and are washable.

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:33 pm

      That’s great! Sounds like you’re well on the ball with the masks, Bo. xx

  6. June 25, 2020 / 6:29 pm

    Thanks for such a comprehensive article Caz! It’s critical to know what kind of protection we’re getting from our masks, especially so we can make intelligent buying/wearing decisions. I’m severely claustrophobic and my nose stays stuffy all the time, so wearing a mask is difficult, but for me, my discomfort is a small price to pay to make sure I don’t infect someone if I were to be carrying the virus and didn’t know it. Thanks so much for this information! Hugs!

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:40 pm

      I think I feel the same with how the cost of the discomfort with masks is worth it, providing it doesn’t become more dangerous wearing it than not. I’m sorry you’ve got the stuffy-nose issue too, do you have anything you can use? The claustrophobia can’t make the masks any more pleasant either, so hopefully you can limit the time needed to be wearing them any time you’re out. I’m glad you liked the post, and I agree that knowing the basics is so important to help us all make informed decisions. Thanks, Terri – stay safe 🌷 xx

  7. June 25, 2020 / 6:56 pm

    This is really informative and helpful. Thank you for writing it up……
    Sending hugs…
    Love, light and glitter

    • June 26, 2020 / 4:45 pm

      I’m glad you found it to be helpful – thanks, Eliza. I hope you have a relaxing weekend ahead lovely xx

  8. June 26, 2020 / 2:28 am

    Thank you for providing some great and very helpful information. It is crazy, here in the states they are only allowing hospitals to buy N95 masks. I mean those of us with chronic illnesses that cause weak immune systems should also be allowed to buy them. The state I live in, after the increase in numbers was out of control, have finally made masks out in public mandatory and no longer optional. People that do not wear masks will be fined, which is great. Another issue people here have is understanding social distancing, which is so rude! I am so ready for this pandemic to go away, but fear it will be well into 2021 before there any changes. Heck, with how ignorant people are in the states it might not be until 2022.

    • June 30, 2020 / 3:04 pm

      It’s been similar here with N95, with companies ring fencing for healthcare, which I don’t fully understand when the government is shipping plane-loads from abroad. I’ve seen some awful comments from people berating others for trying to get these masks, as though they have the cheek to want to use one for themselves when the NHS needs them. Of course now with certain situations and places, like you’ve found, there’s an obligation to wear a mask, and yet the public can’t easily get them. I’m sorry you’ve found the same with so many not ‘getting’ social distancing, behaving as though it’s any other day. Please don’t say 2021 or 2022, it feels like this pandemic will never end! It has to, but sadly with the way governments have dealt with it mean far too many have already died and curbing it is taking far longer than it should. Hang in there, Alys. Stay as safe as possible xx

  9. June 26, 2020 / 9:06 am

    Great article, Caz. Personally I am using fabric face coverings. I understand these offer limited protection from the virus, but they do redu8ce the chances of passing it on if you are asymptomatic. It really is a nightmare deciding what to do for the best and what type of mask to get. I am just glad I am not in the highly vulnerable category myself.

    • June 30, 2020 / 3:08 pm

      I’m glad you’ve got something, Nick. As long as it’s used safely, then logic suggests that something is better than nothing. You’re right, it is a nightmare figuring out what’s what and what to do for the best. It’s good your not in the highly vulnerable category though I’d still say anyone and everyone is potentially at risk, so please be as careful as possible (goes without saying really, but I’m saying it anyway 😉).x

  10. June 26, 2020 / 10:44 am

    Thank you Caz. You have included lots of information I had not been aware of before. I tried clothe masks but find them very claustrophobic. The double layered disposable masks suit me so much better.

    • June 30, 2020 / 3:09 pm

      I’m glad you found the post useful, Bridget. It’s interesting you found cloth masks more claustrophobic than the layered disposable ones. It’s a bit of trial and error to see what suits best but I’m glad you’ve got something to use. Stay safe lovely xx

  11. June 26, 2020 / 3:36 pm

    Thanks for all the brilliant explanation about the various types of masks and where to purchase them. I personally wish more people would wear them.

    • June 30, 2020 / 3:32 pm

      I feel the same, Liz. I wish more were wearing them. I also wish more were using them safely because of the odd couple I’ve seen with them, they’ve been taking them off when they get out of a shop and hold them in their hands (dirty hands inside the mask) before putting them back on to go to the next shop. If used safely, you’d think a mask is better than nothing and surely we need all the help we can get with curbing this thing. xx

  12. June 26, 2020 / 5:36 pm

    I didn’t know anything about the masks with valves so this post was truly informative for me. The N95 masks seem to be the best. My company had some but when the supply ran out, they decided not to purchase more, since the medical field needed them more. We had a shortage of N95 masks in the US.

    How do you feel about the cloth reusable masks that are being sold everywhere? I guess they are okay, as long as you get the right size and follow the same procedures when you take it off.

    Have a wonderful weekend Caz.

    • June 30, 2020 / 4:49 pm

      I’m glad you found the post informative, Darnell. In which case my job is done 😉 I didn’t want to give too much of my personal opinion here so as to allow people to make an informed decision of their own, but personally? I’m not too sure about reusable cloth masks. I use an N95/FFP2, and I’m not convinced all the ones out there at the moment are anywhere near that level. Too many are looking like expensive (or cheap and tacky) fashion accessories, offering little protection. With more layers of fabric or different material you’d think they’d be a little more protective. We had the same here in the UK with the N95 shortage, and NHS and care worker staff not having enough PPE too. Hopefully that’s changing now so the US, the UK and elsewhere are more able to access the PPE they need. Thanks for the comment, Darnell. Whatever you use, with correct use I’d like to think it’s better than nothing. Stay safe my friend.x

  13. June 27, 2020 / 5:39 am

    I feel really strongly that non-disposable, washable masks should be the norm. I’m horrified at the quantities of this kind of waste going to landfill, or worse, beaches and the oceans. We’re laying up all kinds of problems here. A good summary of what to take into account when choosing a mask.

    • June 30, 2020 / 4:53 pm

      A good point about the environmental impact this situation could have. It’s been beneficial in reducing air pollution, but perhaps less so when it comes to more wipes and masks going to landfill. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Margaret. xx

  14. June 27, 2020 / 10:26 am

    A brilliant in depth summery, much clearer and simpler than official information! Thanks for doing the research and sharing your findings. Stay safe and take care.

    • June 30, 2020 / 4:54 pm

      I’m really pleased you found this to be detailed enough while still easy enough to digest. It took a lot of figuring out when I was first trying to get my head around mask types, and I thought it important to get the key info out there so people can make an informed decision for themselves. Thanks for the comment lovely xx

  15. June 27, 2020 / 7:39 pm

    I’m also in the same boat where it’s possible that I had it. Ugh.

    Next up, me writing some kind of ridiculous rhyme about the different types of masks, inspired by this post. 😉

    • June 30, 2020 / 4:56 pm

      Frustrating to not know, isn’t it? It’s not helpful that we can’t access antibody tests either, just to get an idea even if just for our own sanity. I’ll look forward to that rhyme – I hope it’s as ridiculous as possible! 😄 xx

  16. June 27, 2020 / 8:54 pm

    Very helpful post! Wish I’d seen it last week when I was buying extra masks! I found Etsy to be a great source for fabric masks. I was looking for a specific pattern – I have a small face and most masks are too big for me and also partly cover my eyes! So I wanted a contoured mask (with the nose part higher and the cheeks cut down a bit made from 2 pieces of fabric with a seam down the middle. I found them on Etsy from a seller who had a variety of different sizes and colors, so I could order for my small face and the big faces of my husband and adult sons.

    Going to pas this along – great info – thanks!

    Sue

    • July 1, 2020 / 8:47 am

      At least you found something suitable for you, which is the main thing. That’s great that Etsy has more customised sort of things with different sizes. I’ve also got a smaller face and find masks very big. I’ve got to be careful with the 3M and JSP N95 masks I’ve got as they can ride high on my nose and nearly go in my eyes, too! Hopefully this post can be of help to those still in the deciding phase and unsure of what to go for so they can make an informed decision. Thanks for the comment, Sue – stay safe lovely.xx

  17. June 28, 2020 / 2:28 am

    Wow Caz, I am very impressed with your thorough and comprehensive coverage of these masks and their coverage levels. The news media should be using your post as a guide for folks looking to find the right protection for them. I mean that! It’s much easier to understand than 99% of information available right now.

    We had been doing home renovations here before the pandemic struck. Thankfully, I had 1 unused N-95 mask. Just as you said though, the problem is, you can’t just use them endlessly and expect effectiveness. 😐 Masks here were impossible to find. It saddens me to think of how many people desperately needed them and couldn’t find them anywhere.

    I’ll be taking a look at your suggestions and will certainly be sharing on social media. Thanks for yet another amazing article! ♥ Sending love & well wishes your way. I hope you are enjoying some nice weather and a good bit of relaxation!

    • July 2, 2020 / 2:55 pm

      I’m really glad you liked the post, Holly. It took me a while to get my head around the different types of masks and what sort of protection they offered, and I think it’s important to know at least the basics so we can make an informed decision for ourselves. Hopefully this post can help others, even if only one other person, in figuring out whether to wear a mask and if so, what type to use. Making sure we use, wear and store masks safely is also so important.

      It’s great you had an unused N95 mask already at home! Trying to get them once the pandemic hit was ridiculous. Hopefully now (though it’ll sadly be too late for many) there will be slightly greater availability of these masks and others.

      Thank you for another fantastic comment, Holly, and for sharing the post. It’s much appreciated! Stay safe lovely xx

  18. June 28, 2020 / 5:14 am

    Caz, I don’t have breathing problems per se. However, I find having any covering over my mouth and nose quite uncomfortable; I can’t even have the bedclothes so close to my face that I feel my own carbon dioxide returning.
    Thankfully, for the moment, here in my part of Oz the need for masks isn’t compulsory nor is it really needed. In my state of New South Wales the daily covid numbers are extremely low (single digits) with very high testing keeping a good lid on things. This is not to say things can’t change – is all too apparent.
    Because of lax social distancing in the state of Victoria the daily numbers, for the past few days, have been 30 – 40. So low in comparison to many countries including the U.K. However, this ‘change’ has occurred over the past few weeks as their state government eased restrictions. A sad state of affairs!
    So, long story short: I’m so pleased you’ve taken the time to write this incredibly informative post. Hopefully, I won’t have need of the finer details (K and I have masks on hand). But, if I need to re-read I know where I can find you.
    Stay safe sweet girl..
    xoxoxo

    • July 2, 2020 / 2:59 pm

      You won’t be alone in finding masks or coverings uncomfortable, Carolyn. It really is heartening to see how the virus has been handled, contained and reduced in Oz and NZ, and I really hope it continues that way. I’ve got relatives in Oz and hearing what it’s like there is like a world apart from the UK, and I imagine the US too from what I’m hearing. It’s easing restrictions while there are any cases that can and does cause a problem, like you’ve been seeing in Victoria.

      It’s good that you and Keith have masks should you need them. Like you say, hopefully they won’t be needed but better to have them and not need them than the other way around.

      You stay safe too, lovely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts & leaving such a kind comment. xx

  19. June 28, 2020 / 3:19 pm

    I haven’t had to use a face mask yet (only mandatory in public travelling over here), but the good ones are all reserved for people with Health Care jobs (naturally, if you ask me). We are allowed to make our own, sot that’s what my mother is doing now. Yet, I wonder if they really do the trick.

    This post was very informative. Thanks for all the info, that must have been a lot of work you put into this!

    • July 2, 2020 / 3:11 pm

      I didn’t want to impose my personal feelings too much in the article, but personally? I’d be weary of how effective many cloth masks are, especially with only one or two layers. That said, it’s better than nothing provided they’re handled safely. I personally feel there should be access to N95 masks for all. They seem to be ring fenced here for the NHS, and yet I’ve not staff wearing anything other than paper surgical masks, so it’s a bit confusing. I’m glad you thought the post was useful – it took me a while to get my head around the different mask types and ratings and such, so I wanted to put something together to help others in making an informed decision for themselves. Thanks for the comment lovely. Stay safe.xx

  20. June 28, 2020 / 5:04 pm

    Charlee: “Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about masks.”
    Chaplin: “Yep, it’s good to be a cat!”
    Lulu: “Actually, they say that cats can catch the coronavirus.”
    Charlee: “WHAT?!”
    Lulu: “Yep. We dogs don’t seem to get it, but cats are another story.”
    Chaplin: “All right, I’ll go get Dada’s magic plastic rectangle and get us some masks ordered.”

    • July 2, 2020 / 3:13 pm

      Your dada is going to regret you knowing what the magic plastic rectangle is when ten boxes of cat masks turn up on his doorstep! 😂

  21. June 28, 2020 / 5:04 pm

    Thank you for a brilliant comprehensive guide Caz, my only issue is they steam my glasses up grrrr. xx

    • July 2, 2020 / 3:26 pm

      I’m glad you found it to be comprehensive, Rachael. I have to forgo glasses (which luckily I’m able to do) because I can’t get them on with the mask; the mask is too big and high up so it gradually pushes the glasses off my face! I hadn’t thought about the steaming up issue. I wonder whether the valved masks would reduce this, as they release some of the CO2? I’m curious now, might be worth considering…xx

  22. June 28, 2020 / 8:15 pm

    Good info and list.

    • July 2, 2020 / 3:27 pm

      Thanks lovely, glad you liked the post 😊 xx

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