Guidelines on How to Use Face Masks Effectively and Healthily

Published on January 6, 2021

Using a face mask can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it is important to understand how to use face masks effectively and healthily to keep yourself and others safe.

When should you use a face mask?

The rules for using a face mask in the UK state that face coverings must be worn in a number of public indoor spaces, unless exempt or if there is a reasonable excuse not to be using a face mask.  You can read the current rules for using a face mask on the UK Government website.

Some people with COVID-19 display very mild symptoms or none at all so using face masks can help to protect others.  The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads via minuscule droplets in the air which can be passed on through talking, coughing, sneezing, and singing.  Therefore, using a face mask in most indoor spaces is recommended or required by law.

How you should be using a face mask

woman wearing surgical face mask outside
Wearing a face mask in some public spaces is recommended or required by UK law

Before using a face mask wash and dry your hands thoroughly to prevent transferring bacteria on your hands to your mask.  You should wash your hands again after applying the mask.

When putting on or removing the face mask you should take care to only touch the bands at the sides.

To ensure you are using the face mask effectively you should make sure it fully covers your nose, mouth, and chin at all times.  Wash your hands before and after adjusting your face mask.

Your face mask should be comfortably fitted but secure enough to stay in place during use. 

Disposable masks should be discarded safely and responsibly after each use.  Reusable face coverings should be washed after each use.

How not to use a face mask

Dispose of face masks safely and responsibly

You should not wear your mask beneath your chin or lower it under your chin between uses.  Ensure your nose is always covered when using a face mask.  

Do not touch your face mask, or other people’s mask during use. 

When in public you should not remove your face mask while around others.

Which face mask should you use?

Use a face mask with at least two layers of fabric. When you are using a face mask check there are no gaps around your nose, chin, and at the sides. If you wear glasses try using a mask with a flexible edge that can be molded to fit the bridge of your nose and tucked beneath the rim of your glasses.  This will help to prevent the lenses from steaming up!

Using a quality face mask is crucial for reducing the risks of spreading infection. Surgical face masks (such as a Type IIR mask) are fluid repellent with three layers of filtered protection. When purchasing surgical face masks, look for evidence of clinical validation to ensure you are using a face mask that will offer adequate protection.

Type IIR surgical disposable face masks are now available at a reduced price of £4.99 from the Kinetik Wellbeing website.