Coronavirus: tests reveal the best and worst masks from high street

High Street has been capitalising on the new facial accessory, but a study reveals not all High Street face masks will protect you from coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Tests Reveal the Best and Worst Masks From High Street
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Coronavirus: Tests Reveal the Best and Worst Masks From High Street

A recent face mask test has taken samples of masks sold throughout High Street and rated them for their effectiveness. And as it turns out, not all masks are the same. In fact, some are virtually useless in preventing the transmission of coronavirus… So which stores sell the safest, most breathable and most comfortable masks?

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Which masks are the best masks?

Anna Studman, a senior researcher at Which? stated:

Our first independent lab test of reusable face coverings has revealed that some cloth masks are highly effective at blocking particles, but that basic single-layer masks may not be up to the job.

To conduct the study, researchers at Which? used an aerosol generator to spray bacterial particles through the mask to test which ones were the most effective at preventing the spread of droplets. Then, to test the breathability of the masks, the researchers measured the air pressure needed to draw air in through the masks. Finally, in a measure of comfort. Researchers put on and took off each mask 80 times in order to see how well the masks would last over time. Then three testers with different face shapes tried the masks on and rated them for fit, comfort, and ease of adjustment.

Results showed that out of all that were tested, only two masks came out on top. The NEQUI and Bags of Ethics masks were rated the best masks by far and they both are available in packs of three for just £15.

The Step Ahead mask also did well. Being sold for just £2, it scored a 4 out of 5 for filtration. On the other hand, three masks analysed in the Which? study were labelled as complete ‘no buys’. Studman stated:

These include the Termin8 face covering (sold in Lloyds Pharmacy and WHSmith) and Etiquette face covering (sold in Superdrug), and the Asda White Patterned face mask. All are single-layer stretchy fabric masks.

Which? shared this information with the mask manufacturers and as a result, ASDA has pulled their masks from the shelves

As part of the study the team from Wish? also tested how well the masks held up after five washes. Almost all of the masks were still able to hold up their filtration abilities after repeated washing but one mask from ASOS stood out the most.

Based on the findings, Wish? suggests buying masks with at least two layers and preferably made from cotton. Studman added:

Make sure it’s adjustable or comes in different sizes – our testers rated face coverings higher for fit and comfort when they were adjustable, either by the ear loops and mouldable nose wire or because the mask came in different sizes.

What were the results?

Which? tested 15 masks all with varying results and were rated out of 100 for their effectiveness:

  • 15. Termin8 lightweight breathable face covering - 35%
  • 14. Asda White Patterned face masks - 36%
  • 13. Etiquette face covering - 37%
  • 12. Skinnydip Rainbow face covering - 50%
  • 11. Firebox Reusable face masks - 54%
  • 10. Delphis Eco Professional Antimicrobial reusable mask - 55%
  • 9. Maskie Loop UV Sanitized reusable face mask - 58%
  • 8. Smart Mask - 59%
  • 7. John Lewis adult face coverings - 62%
  • 6. Homemade UK Government face covering - 67%
  • 5. Step Ahead face mask - 72%
  • 4. AB Mask Reusable Antibacterial Mask - 73%
  • 3. ASOS design Palm Print face covering - 78%
  • 2. Bags of Ethics Great British Designer face coverings - 80%
  • 1. NEQI Reusable face masks - 81%
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