1

Jane and Neil MacKichan have made nearly 1000 masks for charity since March. Here they cast their expert eyes over the best models for retirees

The compulsory wearing of face masks has helped provide those considered at risk such as the over 60s with a visible level of protection against Covid-19.

However not all masks offer the same levels of protection and not all masks are suitable for an older age group.

First of all it is vital that your mask is comfortable to wear and fits snugly around the face without feeling too tight.

You should be able to breathe easily and talk without feeling you have to shout or take your mask off.

Once your mask is on you should not have to readjust it, as this risks contamination and having to touch your face.

You should also feel confident that you have the right mask for the right environment.

This means you may need to have more than one type of mask.

We have picked out a few masks designed for all budgets – that offer the best protection in different settings.

Disposable Mask

PROS

These are very light and comfortable and ideal for wearing in hot weather.

They are also very affordable. A box of 50 can cost under £10.

If they feel a bit big around your face you can double tie or put a knot in the ear loops so they fit better.

The paper-type material also wicks away moisture so it doesn’t get damp while wearing.

Disposable masks also come with an inserted wire that you can shape around your nose so they fit more snugly and offer more protection.

CONS

Disposable masks have just two layers with no option to add more, so they are more limited in protecting you.

They are really best for wearing outside in the street or in an uncrowded place.

They also only come in one size so can gape at the sides and not fit properly.

Also people tend to constantly readjust them and take them on and off creating a contamination risk. Most of the time they seem to wear them under their chin!

They are not environmentally friendly as they can’t be washed.

They are only designed to be worn once and are not recyclable.

Breathe Happy mask

PROS

This is the mask to wear if you are going on a long flight or train journey or mixing with people who are vulnerable or shielding.

The Commuter 98 mask is classified as a non-sterile medical device which uses special filters that prevent penetration of tiny particles.

It is very comfortable to wear and has adjustable straps so the mask forms a seal around your mouth, nose and face.

And joy of joys your glasses don’t mist up while you are wearing it.

It is made of silicone and polycarbonate so is 100 per cent recyclable and reusable and is very lightweight.

Each mask comes with five replaceable filters. Each one last seven days. It also  has its own mesh boiling bag for sterilising.

CONS

Looks rather clinical so you may feel a bit self-conscious wearing it initially.

But this mask will encourage people to keep their distance!

It seems a bit pricey at £24.99 with replacement filters costing £1 each.

But this is a robust piece of kit that can be reused.

A cheaper Everyday mask for low-density interaction such as going shopping and walking around public spaces is available for £19.99.

For more information visit www.breathe-happy.com

Home-made double-layer cotton mask

PROS

The simple two-tiered home-made cotton mask can be made to fit.

Cotton is a breathable fabric so comfortable to wear and can be reused as it is washable.

It has two layers but you can add an extra layer if you feel you need added protection (coffee filters are ideal and can be cut to any shape).

Cotton is thicker than the disposable mask fabric so better if you are visiting a busy supermarket or spending several hours in a crowded place.

You can also wear it back to front.

There are lots of simple designs on the Internet and step-by-step instructions so if you have a sewing machine or needle, thread and some elastic this is a very cheap solution to providing you with a mask wardrobe.

CONS

You can feel a bit claustrophobic as the mask is quite close fitting around your mouth and nose and you may find your glasses steam up!

You may also find the fabric feels a bit damp inside after a while as your breath converts to moisture.

So this is better for wearing for short periods, such as a quick visit to your local supermarket or popping to the pharmacy.

You should wash your mask thoroughly immediately after each use rather than let it languish at the bottom of your handbag or in your pocket.

 

Home-made double layer, shaped, cotton mask with wire

PROS

This has all the advantages of the double layer cotton mask with the added bonus that is it better shaped to fit your face creating a pocket around your nose.

There is also a shaped wire so you can fit it more snugly around your nose making it fit better.

It is more comfortable than the double-layer mask as there is more room to breathe so your glasses are less likely to get steamed up, and better if you feel claustrophobic.

If you are a dab hand with the sewing machine you can make them in your favourite fabric and coordinate them with your outfits.

And, most important, make them to fit.

CONS

Cotton does absorb moisture, so if you accidentally spill anything onto your mask such as coffee or water it will not dry immediately and will feel uncomfortable to wear.

Better to carry it in a sealed plastic bag to avoid accidents.

Also try to use a pipe-cleaner type wire in your mask which does not have any rough edges and is less likely to rust!