How to wear a face mask: advice from the experts

Discover how to wear a face mask so that you can maximise protection while shopping or on public transport

man wearing face mask
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to wear a face mask? If you have just got one these tips from experts will be just what you need. Obviously wearing a face mask can be as simple as just putting it on and hoping for the best. But, according to experts, there are a few additional steps that can help maximise the protection offered by your face mask.

From washing your hands before putting on your face mask, to ensuring that your face mask fits correctly, these steps are worth considering if you're looking to buy a face mask, or are already making use of one. Discover everything you need to know below.

Find more updates and expert advice over on our health and beauty hub.

How to wear a face mask

Want to know how to wear a face mask for maximum protection? Follow the simple steps outlined below:

  • It's important that you begin by washing your hands thoroughly before putting on your face mask. If you're at home, this should be using soap and water. Or, if you're out and about, opt for an antibacterial hand gel with 60% alcohol content.
  • Place your face mask on your face, seeking to avoid touching either your mouth or nose. You want to ensure that the face mask extends up to the bridge of your nose and sits snugly over the rest of your face.
  • Ensure that your face mask straps hook tightly around your ears. Again, it's important to avoid any gaps between your face and the mask.
  • While wearing your face mask, it's important to ensure that you do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • When removing your face mask, do so from behind, touching only the straps that attach behind your ears.
  • Place immediately in a plastic bag and do not touch – or allow to come into contact with other items – until it has bene washed. Wash your hands immediately.
  • Place your face mask in the wash as soon as possible. Remember there's nothing wrong with washing your mask along with other items. There are plenty of laundry tips in our guide: how long can coronavirus live on clothes?

Head straight to the stores to shop face masks and see the full ranges in the US and UK.

Where to buy face masks in the UK:

  • Amazon: reusable and disposable face masks from around £2
  • Ebay: cotton layered facemasks and options from crafters
  • Etsy: a wide selection of crafted layered face masks
  • Wowcher: reusable face masks with filters
  • Groupon: a range of both reusable and disposable face masks
  • Newchic: an extensive range of protective headwear including visored hats and face masks
  • Towelshop: bulk buy face masks and other PPE for professional settings
  • Vistaprint: stylish, reusable masks from £17. 10% donated to communities affected by the virus

Where to buy face masks in the US:

  • Alibaba: quality layered, disposable face masks and visors
  • Amazon: washable and single use options in a variety of styles
  • Home Depot: N95 and medical grade face masks
  • Newchic: hats with built in visors and medical grade face masks
  • The Reformation: they have partnered with LA Protects to make and distribute face masks for critical workers and you can buy your own there too
  • Walmart: plenty of disposable three ply face masks

Face masks for sale

Please note: these have not been designed specifically for coronavirus and you're still much better to stay indoors, away from others not in your family group, to maintain social distancing when you have to go out, to avoid touching your face and to always wash your hands when you get back. And, of course, if you're displaying symptoms, you should self-isolate for seven days, and your family for 14 days. And remember – think of others when you buy. Please don't stockpile.

20 disposable 3-layer face masks | Only £19.77/$21.29 on Newchic

Block viruses, dirt, dust and pollen with these three-layer face masks. They are breathable and designed to sit more comfortably on the face.

View Deal

Disposable child's face mask | Only £4.92/$5.99 on Newchic

This disposable face mask is designed for children. It is more comfortable for them to wear than adult sizes but still offers optimum protection.View Deal

UK face masks:

10PCS Disposable Dustproof Breathable Face Mouth Cover for Paint, Garden, Blue A73 | £5.80 at Amazon
This best seller from Amazon is a pretty straight forward example of a face mask, but it gets the job done.View Deal

Unisex Reusable Face Mask | £9.99 at Amazon
These reusable face masks provide protection for the nose and mouth, thanks to their multi fibre polyester design. Remember that this type of mask will require washing in between uses.View Deal

Masks with 2 pcs Filter Paper Protection Mouth Mask | £3 at Amazon
With replaceable filters, this face mask is designed to catch droplets of moisture and protect your mouth and nose in the process. Once used, simply pop in the wash and replace the filter.
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O'lemon Full Face Protective Shield Visor | £4.99 at Amazon
If you know someone working on the front line who doesn't have suitable protective equipment, it may be worth picking up a protective face mask in a bid to help them stay safe until PPE stocks are distributed to all who need it.View Deal

Kids and Adult Cotton Face Mask | £10 at Etsy
Suitable for adults and children, these patterned face masks are reusable – simply wash between uses – and boast some adorable patterns that we simply can't get enough of.View Deal

Organic Cotton Face Masks | £8.95 at Etsy
A great option for those with sensitive skin, or who are concerned about the environmental impact of single-use face masks, these organic cotton face masks can be washed between uses and boast beautiful patterned finishes.

Please note: we understand that single use masks are essential for many at this time and whole-heartedly support the use of disposable face masks for those who need to protect themselves, we're simply seeking to offer a more sustainable alternative to those who want it and for whom it's a suitable solution. View Deal

Reusable Cotton Face Masks & Filters | from £4.49 at Wowcher
These reusable face masks come with replaceable cotton filters which can be exchanged after a single use.View Deal

3 Ply Face Mask CE Approved | 1,000 pcs for £850 at the Towel Shop
If you're reopening a business – or anticipate doing so in the coming months – it's worth considering bulk buying your masks in order to protect your employees and customers from the spread of the virus. The Towel Shop offers these 3 ply face masks in packs or 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000.View Deal

FFP2 (KN95) Face Mask CE Approved | £495 for 100 pieces at the Towel Shop
Another option worth considering if you're bulk buying masks for a professional setting, these medical grade surgical masks offer three layers of protection and are available in packs of 100, 500 or 1,000.View Deal

US face masks:

Black Burberry Print mask| $15 from Etsy
Make like Billie Eilish (who was seen sporting a Gucci face mask earlier this month) and make your mask high-fashion. This Burberry-inspired design is $15 and ships from California.View Deal

Avocado Green Mattress face mask | $23 for four at Avocado Green Mattress
These face-masks are sold in packs of four adult masks, or a family pack of four adult masks and four child-sized masks. Either way, orders are limited to one pack per household.View Deal

LA Protects 5-pack face masks | $25 for five at Reformation
Reformation is currently selling simple black masks at five for $25, and they ship for free in three to seven days.View Deal

3-pack black face masks | $21.95 at eBay
These simple black face masks are fully washable and ship in a few days from Walnut Creek, California.View Deal

Alternative face coverings

There are great alternatives to standard face masks that will cover your mouth and face and can be used for general wear after the pandemic. Many are scarves or hats that can be used for general wear post-pandemic.

Buff Coolnet UV+® Buff | From £9.99 on Wiggle/ $25.99 on Amazon US

This Buff scarf can be worn as a headband, hairband, scarf, bandana or in this case, a face mask. The material is lightweight and breathable, so perfect for the warmer weather. Plus, it has UV protection so great for sun protection, too.View Deal

Manumar Loop Scarf | £12.95 at Amazon
Made from 70% polyester, 30% viscose, this neutral scarf offers plenty of fabric layers and could we worn across the face to protect the nose and mouth while out and about.View Deal

Liberty of London Handmade Silk Crepe Infinity Scarf | £35 at Etsy
Made from a gorgeous silk fabric, this infinity scarf might be an option for those with particularly sensitive skinView Deal

Toddler Infinity Scarves | £6.89 at Etsy
Designed to be smaller in size, these toddler infinity scarves are a much more appealing option if you're looking for easy ways to protect a little one. Not to mention that they're super sweet.View Deal

Infinity Scarf Vita Loop Scarf with Hidden Zipper Pocket | £8.49 at Amazon
Another great option for those seeking an infinity scarf, this option can be folded over to achieve the multiple layers of fabric we're all encouraged to look for when creating a DIY face mask. Plus, it also has a hidden pocket for storing essentials.View Deal

Infinity scarves | From £2.09 on Amazon

Choose from a huge range of colours and prints – with lots of stock available ASAP – on Amazon. Check the materials with a closer knit to offer better protection.

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Removable sun visor fisherman hat | Only £13.13/$15.99 on Newchic

This fisherman hat will not only keep you shielded from the sun but includes an anti-droplet sun visor to shield your face. It comes in black, khaki, yellow, pink and orange.View Deal

Anti-fog shielded fisherman hat with embroidery | Only £16.42/$19.99 on Newchic

Full-face protection and good sun protection in one, this pretty fisherman hat is embroidered with a daisy pattern. Get it in black, navy, pink or green.View Deal

Cotton Paisley Bandana 3 pack | £3.49/$8.99 on Amazon

Buying a multipack of bandanas is a good idea so you have spares while you hot wash the rest. These paisley ones remind us are a classic look that can be paired with a number of looks – just incase you were worried about your lewk.View Deal

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Emily Shaw
Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.