Face Covering and Face Masks… Which One?
a look at 4 main types of face mask/coverings what the differences and what the advantages and disadvantages are.
face masks, face coverings, PPE
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Face Covering and Face Masks… Which One?

Face Covering and Face Masks… Which One?

They’re going to be here for a while so you better get used them

So it has been a year now and even though they make you hot,  you find them stuffy and they steam up your glasses face masks and coverings, are now an essential accessory to have whenever you leave your house. As there is no specific regulation on what type of face mask/covering you have to wear, the options are abundant. Material, colour, style and type are left to our own preference and can be based on anything from price to our fashion sense, so how do you make the choice?

Let’s look at the 4 main types…

Cloth and fabric:

Be that homemade or shop bought these are probaly the most easily accessible and if homemade, will probably be the cheapest.

Early into the pandemic these were promoted and enocouraged as simple, cost effective and accessible compared to medical mask/coverings which were in short supply for healthcare professionals.

The downside however is that they are not water resistant so are vulnerable to cough droplets either from the wearer or the other person.  Another thing to note is they are not always close fitted around the mouth and nose, which potentially allows virus aerosols (micro particles travelling in the air) to pass through.


Once in short supply and high demand along with inflated price tags. These are probably the most common type of coverings used. Thankfully now stock is meeting its demand the prices are starting to come back down to a relatively cheap price for a one or a pack.

They are water resistant which is meant to reduce the chance of droplets getting through but even wearing them properly still leave gaps for aerosols to pass.

FFP2/FFP3 and N95

3 Different names? More confusion! Relax, the FFP versions are the UK equivalent to the USA’s N95 in terms of effectiveness and design. Both are made from many layers of synthetic filtering material and provide similar layers of filtration. These are ones you will find healthcare professionals using whilst at work.

These are considered to be better upgrades to surgical mask providing better all round protection. When fitted and worn correctly they greatly reduce the risk of aeorosols passing through but the key is the correct fit around the nose an mouth.

The negatives is that they can be quite expensive for one let alone a few. Expect to pay a few quid for one of these compared to the pence you spend for a surgical mask. They also tend to feel more stuffy and make you hot.

Face visors/shield

Easy to wear, reusable and dont cause your glasses to steam! What’s not to like!? Probably the least invasive, these types of water resistant coverings will protect from direct fluid but there lack of seal means aerosols can still pass through.

Using them in conjuctions with other mask do provide more protection but again you need to make sure you are wearing the right size and the correct fit for you.


Availability price and environment may dictate which you choose but with all mask/coverings, it is important to make sure you are wearing them correctly so that they are providing a seal around both your mouth and nose.

The key thing to remember is that regardlesss of which type of face mask/covering you choose, they alone will not stop the Coronavirus so good hygiene practice of regular hand washing and maintaining social distance should still continue.

Any questions or comments please feel free to enter below.


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