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10 best face masks that you’ll actually want to wear

Unsure what face covering to invest in? Here we round-up our favourite reusable options

IndyBest Team
Monday 10 January 2022 15:10
<p>We’ve been searching high and low for the top designs, and we think we’ve found them</p>

We’ve been searching high and low for the top designs, and we think we’ve found them

Following the concerns over the coronavirus variant omicron, measures are in force in England to respond to the growing number of cases.

The guidelines, which were introduced by the government on 8 December, are the first of their kind since we basked in the glow of so-called “freedom day” in July.

The current plan B rules stipulate that the public should work from home if they can, and face coverings must be worn in most indoor settings, including shops, supermarkets, banks, places of worship, cinemas, museums and galleries, as well as on public transport.

Fines for failing to wear a face mask are £200 for a first-time offence, reduced to £100 if paid within two weeks. Costs will be doubled for each subsequent infraction, to a maximum of £6,400.

While you may have already found “the one”, if you still need a helping hand when it comes to adding to your collection of face coverings, we’re here to help.

Read more:

How we tested

This tried and tested piece was a team effort – we asked the whole IndyBest clan to recommend the face mask they can’t live without, with every product being thoroughly tested over the course of the pandemic. We of course only included those that are comfortable to wear, easily washable and reusable.

The best face masks for 2022 are:

  • Best silk mask – Slip reusable face covering: £39, Slipsilkpillowcase.co.uk
  • Best black face masks – Asos design three-pack fave coverings with adjustable straps and nose clip in black: £4.80, Asos.com
  • Best basic set – M&S five-pack reusable and adjustable adult face coverings: £9.50, Marksandspencer.com
  • Best for fashion lovers – Great British Designer reusable face coverings: £5, Boots.com
  • Best lightweight mask – Adidas face covers: £8.50, Adidas.co.uk
  • Best sustainable mask – Rowing Blazers yellow candy stripe face mask: £6, Rowingblazers.com
  • Best for beards – Sunspel cotton face mask: £10, Sunspel.com
  • Best leopard print design – H&M non-medical face mask: £9.99, Hm.com
  • Best breathable mask – Uniqlo airism mask, three-pack: £9.90, Uniqlo.com
  • Best for exercising – Under Armour sportsmask: £20, Sportsdirect.com

Slip reusable face covering

Best: Silk mask

Rating: 9.5/10

After consistent bouts of jawline acne during the first year or so of the pandemic, we knew we had to take action. Looking down the barrel of executing a three-hour, indoor photography shoot, we decided it was time to invest in a mask that would, hopefully, be kinder to our notoriously fussy skin. We chose this example from Slip and boy are we glad we did: our breakouts have returned to their pre-pandemic patterns, and we feel expensive when wearing it. It’s lovely and silky to the touch, comes with little adjustment bobbles that mean you can shorten the elastic easily, and a metal strip that helps remove any gaps around the nose. Our only small complaint is that the lovely pleats fall out a little after washing… but the fact it can be put in the machine is so wonderful that we can deal. It’s an investment that we are so, so glad we made.

Asos design three-pack face coverings with adjustable straps and nose clip in black

Best: Black face masks

Rating: 8/10

Sometimes all you need is a plain black face mask to complete your outfit, and we’ve found these do the trick. Each one has an adjustable strap, so you can make sure it fits your face perfectly, and the nose clip can similarly be shaped accordingly. The fact it comes in a three-pack is an added bonus, so you’ve always got a spare while your others are in the wash. Best of all, of course, the black colour goes with every outfit. Win, win.

M&S five-pack reusable and adjustable adult face coverings

Best: Basic set

Rating: 8/10

If you’re looking for a simple, practical face mask that won’t cost the earth, look to M&S – this pack of five works out at just £1.90 per mask. Upon first impressions, we liked the neutral colour palette and the fact they’re made from impressively soft cotton – they were one of the first options we discovered during the initial lockdown that didn’t instantly irritate our skin into breakouts. The adjustable ear loops and elastic straps also make for a secure fit and comfortable wear when travelling by train or tube.

But the best part about these M&S masks is how well they wash – M&S claims they are antibacterial for up to 40 goes and we have had some of our initial set for over a year now, so we can confirm they hold their shape. We tuck one into every bag, pocket or car glove box, and we’ve not been caught out since.

Great British Designer reusable face coverings

Best: For fashion lovers

Rating: 9/10

We’ve seen a whole host of designer brands cashing in on the face mask hype, with some options selling for hundreds, or even hundreds of thousands, of pounds. And if that seems as ludicrous to you as it does to us, but you still fancy the idea of a high-fashion mask, then look no further than the British Fashion Council x Bags of Ethics offering.

With designs from Mulberry, Halpern, Julien Macdonald, Liam Hodges, Raeburn and Rixo (sold in two separate three-mask packs), you couldn’t get a much bigger line-up of British fashion talent. And better still, 100 per cent of the profits are donated to NHS Charities Together, BFC Foundation Fashion Fund and Wings of Hope Children’s Charity. What more could you ask for?

Adidas face covers

Best: Lightweight mask

Rating: 8/10

None of our in-house team had any recommendations for the best face mask if you’re exercising. Luckily one of our freelance writers has tested a range of options. In their review, they noted that this one “easily stretches around the back of your ears to provide ample coverage”. They also found that it “doesn’t stick too tight to your facee”. It’s also “comfortable and washable, the material is quick-drying”. Best of all, it comes in a pack or three.

Rowing Blazers yellow candy stripe face mask

Best: Sustainable pick

Rating: 8/10

What we love most about Rowing Blazers’s selection of face coverings is that they are made from surplus fabric from blazers, suits, and shirts from New York City’s garment district. So you’ll not only be doing your bit by helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but you’ll also be doing your bit for the planet because we all know how bad single-use masks are. The patterns on offer are standout too, and while we love this yellow striped option for adding a pop of colour, there’s also tartan, rainbow stripes, and more.

Sunspel cotton face mask

Best: For beards

Rating: 7/10

If you have facial hair, you’ll know that finding a fuzz-friendly face covering is a complete nightmare. Luckily, Sunspel has created these extra large ones in a gorgeously heavyweight cotton material that will wrap around even the largest of great big bushy beards. They’re water repellent, anti-bacterial and are made in Europe’s primary clothing manufacturing hub, Portugal.

They don’t have a little nose press, sadly, but if you’ve previously struggled to find something generous enough for all your follicles, this is the one. The pleats also mean it can expand even further, and it looks incredibly smart. It also irons well, which means you can neaten it up for a wedding or celebration.

H&M non-medical face mask

Best: Leopard print mask

Rating: 7/10

If, like us, you’re a fan of leopard print, then H&M’s offering is where it’s at. And on the days you don’t want a pattern on your face, the pack of two also comes with a plain black mask. As with most of our favourite masks, the straps are adjustable to ensure you have the best fit. The reason this didn’t score more highly was the fact that the brand says these can only be washed up to 20 times, which of course limits their lifespan, but we did find them to come out looking good as new after being put in the washing machine.

Uniqlo airism mask, three-pack

Best: Breathable mask

Rating: 8/10

Uniqlo is renowned for its high-tech, breathable underlayers. If they’re not wicking away moisture, they’re creating heat-retaining insulating pockets of air to keep you cosy. So of course, the brand’s range of airism masks brings its textile expertise to bear on a pack of three, comfortable nylon/spandex face coverings. The three-layer design wraps a particle-catching inner layer in a pair of lightly elastic and breathable outer layers and forms a decent seal without feeling too tight or restrictive.

The smallest size is suitable for children, but it’s worth trying a few of the bigger sizes to find the fit that’s right for your face. The ear loops aren’t very elastic, which means they don’t tug on your lugs, but you’ve less room for error when choosing a size. Most importantly, they’re comfortable when worn for long periods. We’ve taken these on a three-hour flight and arrived without the telltale divot in the bridge of our noses. These masks are washable (though they’re never quite right again after the first wash) and come in a range of five neutral colours.

Under Armour sportsmask

Best: For exercising

Rating: 8/10

Previously reviewed in our guide to the best sports masks, our tester noted that these Under Armour masks are designed “especially for sport”, and also feature a “water-resistant shell”. They are “sleek and functional”, and “the earloop design makes it easy to slip on and off”. Best of all, however, is that it’s “breathable and comfortable”.

Face mask FAQs

Why are face masks important?

Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told The Independent: “The job of a cloth face covering isn’t to protect the wearer but to block the source of infection (what’s known as ‘source control’).”

“The main benefit is most of your germs will be caught in it, making you less of an infection risk to others. My mask protects you; yours protects me,” she adds. So face coverings are important because they protect other people from your germs.

How to wash a face mask?

To keep your mask as clean as possible, WHO recommends washing it once a day, using soap or detergent, with hot water. While most reusable fabric masks are machine washable, we’d recommend checking the label.

According to the CDC in the US, you should use “the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely”. A hot wash is recommended, so 60C or higher. If your mask comes with a filter you can remove, ensure you bin it before washing.

The verdict: Face masks

For something pocket-friendly, we’d recommend the Asos design three-pack face coverings. But, if you’re looking to make an investment, here at IndyBest a number of the team have raved about the Slip reusable face covering. It has its skin-saviour powers thanks to being made from mulberry silk, and we found it reduced jawline acne – it’s a yes from us.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on masks, and other fashion accessories, try the links below:

Suffering from maskne? Here’s everything you need to treat face-mask acne, according to dermatologists

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