From 24 July, you’re required to wear a face mask in shops (thankfully this doesn’t apply to restaurants, because y’know, things could get a little tricky and/or sticky). While we’re all wondering why this wasn’t a government requirement before (*put on monocle* we’re looking at you, Boris), it’s also dawning that masks are going to be a thing for a long, long time. So if you ask us – and we’re sure you are – you might as well invest in ethical face masks.
Not only will we’ll be wearing them regularly for months to come, but they’re also a better alternative than the blue hospital standard surgical face masks that are single-use. Of course these need to be this way in our to protect our heroic NHS staff and careworkers, but for you and us things can be a little bit different.
We’ve tracked down the best washable, reusable and longer-lasting facemasks, all made as ethically as possible – and they all look pretty cute, too.
Ethical face masks: 4 to buy
Birdsong, from £14
Bold, bright and seriously positive, Birdsong’s face masks will make you and everyone around you smile, even if you can’t see it. There are two kinds to choose from – one made of Tencel cutoffs, which is double-layered, pleated and comes with adjustable elastic to loop over your ears (very important if, like us, you have an enormous head); and one made from end-of-roll cotton and printed with the word OPTIMIST in rainbow colours (£28), also double layered. Most importantly, though, whichever mask you buy, Birdsong makes sure its seamstresses receive the living wage.
Gung Ho, £15
Gung Ho is another clothing brand with a focus on bold and bright designs – many containing hidden meanings. A dress illustrated with jewell-like insects comes from the Precious Insects collection, designed to highlight the damage caused by pesticides; a pair of trousers adorned with lush fruit and veg showcases seasonality in the Food For Thought collection. No less care has been taken when it comes to Gung Ho’s face masks, which are made out of offcuts, double layered with a filter you can replace. You can buy yours here.
Sabinna, £28 for two
If you’re after serious style, Sabinna does a matching headband and face mask set, which feels very Clueless, but make it coronavirus. The masks have different patterns on each side so you can tell which side is clean, can be washed at 30°C or steamed as hot as you can go, and have adjustable elastic. There are brightly coloured masks, simple checked masks, flower-patterned masks… You’ll find something to sort your covid lewk here, no probs. And they’re all handmade in Europe using upcycled materials and natural fibres. Tick, tick and tick.
In contrast to many of the other whimsical masks we’ve included here, ARMEDANGELS’ are stark and simple, imprinted with straight-talking messages: “Protect each other”; “I warmly smile under this mask; and “I wear this mask for you”. We couldn’t agree more – and with sentiments like this, it’s no surprise that AMREDANGELS masks are vegan, made out of organic cotton and recycled polyester, the brand is committed to fair working conditions, and it’s using the sale of its masks to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.