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6 January 2021

Guidelines on How to Use Face Masks Effectively and Healthily

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.

Woman Wearing A Face Mask


When should you use a face mask?

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.

While the government lifted the mandate for wearing face masks in July 2021, it still recommends the use of masks when indoors, especially in crowded places. Additionally, individual businesses are able to request that their employees wear face coverings and generally it is recommended that they are used in healthcare and care home settings.

Of course, this is a fluid situation and things may change again this winter. For up to date guidance, visit the UK Government website.

How you should be using a face mask

woman in face mask

Before using a face mask, wash and dry your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds (2 renditions of the “Happy Birthday” song), or use hand sanitiser to prevent transferring bacteria on your hands to your 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.

When removing the face mask, use hand sanitiser or wash your hands again for 20 seconds prior to removal. Again, take care to only touch the straps or bands at the sides.

Disposable masks should be discarded safely and responsibly after each use.  Reusable face coverings should be washed after each use. Wash your hands once more after removing or disposing of your face mask.

How not to use a face mask

dispose face mask

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.

To reduce the risk of mask-related facial spots, or ‘mascne’, ensure you wash your masks regularly. Also, depending on your individual needs, a cotton mask may be more breathable and help to reduce flare-ups.

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 moulded 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.

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