Where to buy a face mask: your guide to the best places to order now

Looking for a face mask? Here's where to buy now (plus, your guide to what kind of mask you need)

Where to buy face masks
(Image credit: Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash)

If you're wondering where to buy a face mask, or confused about what kind of mask works best against coronavirus, we're here to help. We've found the best places to buy face masks of different kinds, plus information on what you should be looking for, and why you should wear a face mask. Use the links in the boxout to jump straight to the section you want.

So far, authorities haven't been able to confidently say that the wearing of face masks is an effective measure in controlling the coronavirus pandemic. However, a new study from Hong Kong has found that wearing surgical masks could reduce the spread of COVID-19 by as much as 75%. A team of scientists in Hong Kong conducted a study using hamsters (more details here).

Although the specific guidelines still vary, most countries now recommend people wear face masks when out and about, especially in areas where social distancing is difficult. The CDC added the wearing of face masks to its recommendations in early April, and in mid-May the UK government revised its official advice along the same lines. Guidelines focus especially on wearing masks in enclosed spaces where social distancing difficult, and scenarios where you'll be coming to contact with new people – for example when using public transport or shopping.

In short, demand for fabric face masks has shot up all over the world, and you're unlikely to find stock at the retailers you'd usually turn to. Helpfully, lots of brands and home crafters have risen to the occasion and are busy producing face masks to meet this new need. Read on for the best places to buy face masks right now.

Before you hit the Buy button, be aware that wearing a mask will not stop you from getting COVID-19. However, it could help protect others – if you're carrying the virus but not aware of it, donning a face mask could help prevent others from catching it from you. 

Medical-grade face masks, including surgical masks and N95 masks, are in very short supply right now, so it's mainly non-medical face masks that are being recommended to the general public. For example, the UK document regarding face masks states: "A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it." We're focusing mainly on fabric face masks in this article. 

In a hurry? Here are our top picks for where to buy a face mask in the US and UK. Click to browse the ranges on offer, or read on for more details of different options, information on if you need to wear a mask, and buying advice. 

Where to buy a face mask in the United States

Non-medical masks:

  • Purple – Designed for supreme comfort, from the popular mattress brand
  • Bomme Studio – 100% cotton face masks, with free same-day shipping from LA
  • Vistaprint – High quality, robust reusable masks with a built-in filter system
  • Naturepedic – Basic, double-layer organic cotton masks, 6 for $49
  • StringKing – 2-ply washable cloth face masks
  • Reformation – Basic, non-medical, reusable masks, plus the option to donate
  • RendallCo – Double-layer dense, woven cotton, designed and made in LA
  • Los Angeles Apparel – Lots of colours and styles to choose from
  • Vida – Fitted fabric face masks, with multi-layer filter and nose strip for a snug fit

Medical masks:

  • DailySteals – Medical-grade masks available to order in bulk
  • NewEggMedical face masks in stock to order (50 per box)
  • Gearbest – Medical-grade face masks available to order

Where to buy a face mask in the UK

  • Vistaprint – Good quality, robust fabric face masks, with free delivery
  • Etsy – Lots of face mask designs and fabrics, from designers and crafters
  • Cotswold Outdoor – Try a Buff tube for a more versatile face covering
  • GoOutdoors – Buff multipurpose face tubes also in stock here
  • Hype – A few styles and designs to choose from; adult and child options available
  • Lulu&Nat – Cotton face masks for adults and children
  • Edeline Lee  – Masks made from Nonwoven Spunbond Polyproylene (also used for surgical masks)
  • Ebay – More hit-and-miss, but some bargain face masks to be found
    Marta Scarampi – High quality face masks, with different size options for men, women and children
  • Medisave – Surgical face masks and KN95 masks available to order

Should I be wearing a face mask?

The wearing of face masks and other mouth coverings continues to be a hot discussion topic, with official advice changing as we begin to understand more about COVID-19. At the start of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the leading national public health institute in the US – altered its advice, and is now recommending people wear a non-medical face mask when out and about. Whether it's mandatory or not depends on which state you're in.

The UK added the wearing of face masks to its official advice in mid-May, following a statement made earlier in the month by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (read the full statement here). Guidelines advise citizens to wear mask in enclosed spaces and situations where it's difficult to social distance effectively, such as in the supermarket and on public transport. 

What kind of face mask works best?

There are a lot of different types of face masks. The takeaway is that while medical grade respirator masks and surgical masks are the most effective, they're in extremely short supply around the world right now and should be reserved for healthcare workers. The general public should be opting for non-medical fabric face coverings. Here's a closer look at the different types of face mask.

Surgical masks

Surgical face masks are probably what you think of when you think of a face mask. These are disposable, single-use masks made from pleated synthetic fabric. The fabric is breathable and these masks don't form an airtight seal against the face. How well they filter pathogens varies according to different studies. They're in very short supply at the moment.

Respirator masks

Respirators are the most effective at filtering pathogens. These are fitted to the face and sealed to keep pathogens out, and tested rigorously by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

There are a few different types, with different efficiency rates. For particles 100-300 nanometres in size: N95 respirators can filter 95% of particles; N99 respirators filter 99% of particles; and N100 respirators filter 99.7% of particles. Coronavirus is estimated to be 125 nm in size. 

Respirator masks are in short supply at the moment. 

Fabric face masks

Finally, there's homemade fabric masks, which are the least effective of the bunch at filtering pathogens. However, the research we have so far suggests that wearing one is still much better than not wearing one when it comes to reducing the likelihood of you unknowingly passing on the virus to others. 

There are a few elements that affect how effective cloth face masks are at filtering pathogens. One is the fabric it's made from – porous fabrics don't keep out tiny droplets very well. The CDC suggests two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton. Adding a filter, such as a coffee filter or paper towel, can help make your fabric face mask more effective.

Fit is also all-important. Gaps around your nose and jaw will make your mask much less effective. If your mask fits snugly around your nose and face, this should help improve the situation.

Can a face mask protect me from coronavirus?

The wearing of face masks is geared more towards keeping others healthy than protecting yourself; if someone with COVID-19 wears a face mask, this could prevent them from accidentally infecting other people. This is all the more important as the highest amount of viral transmission happens early on in the course of the disease, which means people may be contagious before they start showing symptoms. 

The reason there's a lack of consensus regarding whether you should be wearing a face mask is because as of yet, we don't have strong evidence to say it will have a positive impact to slow transmission. Some experts fear that recommending masks could have a knock-on effect of making people less disciplined about social distancing rules. There's also no getting away from the fact that there's a massive shortage of face masks, and encouraging everyone to wear one could reduce availability for the medical professionals and healthcare workers who need it most. 

Where to buy a face mask in the US

In the US, plenty of brands have shifted their usual production line to include face masks in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Lots of suppliers are also doing their bit to help by adopting a buy-one-donate-one approach, or donating profits to COVID response efforts. 

The Purple Face Mask | 2 for $20 at Purple
Super-popular mattress brand Purple has harnessed its expertise to create what might be the comfiest face mask around. There's Hyper-Elastic Polymer gel for super-stretchy ear bands that won't lose their shape or make your ears sore, and moisture-wicking Breeze Mesh for a breathable but effective mouth cover.View Deal

100% cotton face masks | $14.50 for one at Bomme Studio
Free same-day shipping!
Bomme Studio is selling dual-layer face masks made from sustainably made, upcycled 100% cotton fabric. These face masks have been designed in line with CDC recommendation and are being manufactured in LA, California. If you order on a weekday, there's free same-day shipping too. View Deal

Medical face masks | 50 for $29.99 at NewEgg
If you're working in a healthcare capacity, head to NewEgg to pick up these medical face masks. There's a limit of one per customer, but there's 50 in a box so it'll last you a while. Ships from the United States, and delivery times are super-speedy.View Deal

Cotton face masks | 5 for $30 at Tie Bar
At just $6 a mask, you'll struggle to get cheaper than these fabric face masks at Tie Bar. They look super-smart too: there's a range of styles, patterns and colour palettes to pick from. View Deal

Ace face masks | $19 for one at RendallCo
These face masks are designed and made in LA. They're made from smart indigo chambray, denim, ticking stripe and dot patterns (all 100% woven cotton), and there's a copper nose strip to ensure a close fit.
Shipped 2 weeks from order date View Deal

Reusable face masks | 5 for $25 at Reformation
Free shipping
– Pick up a multi-pack of 5 face masks at Reformation, and you can buy another set to donate to those in need. It works out at a bargain price of just $5 a mask, and your order will ship in 3-7 days.View Deal

Protective face mask with filter | $10 for 1 at Vida
Vida face masks include a multi-layer PM2.5 Filter featuring 2 layers of Meltblown Filter and 1 layer of Carbon Activated Fabric, to effectively filter out particles. There are also adjustable straps and an integrated metal strip to keep the fit snug around your nose. Pick up one for $10 or get a multipack for a discount. Suitable for adults and children aged 5 and up.View Deal

Disposable face masks | Available to bulk buy at Gear Best
If you're a carer or need a medical-grade face mask, head to Gear Best. There are plenty of multipacks available to order right now, many with discounts (including a surprising number of flash sales) and speedy shipping options available. View Deal

Face masks | $18 for one at Vistaprint
These masks aren't the cheapest in this list, but they do look to be durable, good quality and well engineered. They feature reinforced stitching, a 3-dimensional chin structure and a nose bridge that will withstand thousands of bends, plus a nanofiber filter (you can also purchase replacement filters).
Free shipping by 28 MayView Deal

Liberty Elizabeth face mask | $40 at Araks
If you're after something a little more luxe, head to Araks. There are a range of high-quality, 100% cotton face masks available to order now. For every purchase, a medical-grade mask will go to a healthcare professional. View Deal

Subzero face masks | From $19 each (+ one donated)
Subzero has a range of alternative face mask designs available to order, from Day of the Dead-style skulls to lips, smiley faces and even some glow-in-the-dark options. It's operating a buy-one-donate-one system, so when you order a mask, another will go to an at-risk individual.View Deal

Shop US sellers of handmade face masks at Etsy
Etsy is a treasure trove of handcrafted face masks right now. There are options in a variety of sizes and fabrics, so you'll be able to find one you like. For a simple style that ships quickly, try BKBTailoring.View Deal

Protective face mask | $16.99 for 2 at Silkies
With a hydrophobic finish to repel bodily fluids, these face masks from Silkies are machine washable and reusable. They're made in the USA and available to order now, delivered as soon as 1-2 days away, apparently. View Deal

Cotton face mask | $30 for 3 at Los Angeles Apparel
These face masks are 100% cotton and can be adjusted to fit snugly around your nose. They're made of machine-washable, thick French Terry fabric, available in a whole load of different colourways. Constructed in the US.View Deal

Organic cotton face mask | $39 for 6 at Naturepedic
Ohio-based bedding company Naturepedic has designated a portion of its factory to face mask production. These masks are made with two layers of 100% organic cotton, certified to the GOTS organic standard, with adjustable straps to keep the mask secure. They're produced and sold at cost and not for profit, and there's a 7-10 business day shipping timeView Deal

Reusable face masks | $25 for 5 at Caraa
Bag maker Caara's face masks are constructed out of repurposed materials from its production line, to minimise waste. The company is currently donating 5% of all sales to the WHO's COVID-19 Response Funds (and you can also buy a pack to donate, if you want). They're reusable, hand-washable, and comfortable, and there's a slightly vague predicted shipping period of 3 May to 1 June.View Deal

Buff multifunctional neck gaiter | From $15 at REI Co-op
Outdoor brand Buff makes popular multi-functional neck gaiter that can be used as a great makeshift face mask. There are a variety of styles and patterns to choose from, suitable for men or women. Pop it round your neck and then pull it up over your mouth as needed. It's seam free, lightweight, machine-washable and breathable, making it perfect for warmer weather.
Available nowView Deal

Convertible face masks | From $16 at Zappos
If you're looking for something a little more full-coverage, or live in a colder area, these convertible face masks from Zappos could be ideal for you. They're designed to fit over the head, with a panel that can be pulled up and over the mouth as required. View Deal

Kids' face masks | $10.99 at Nuzzles
If you have little 'uns who are resistant to donning a mask, this could help: Nuzzles makes a range of super cute face masks designed especially to appeal to kids. Suitable for children over two years old, these are made from skin-friendly, soft, breathable cotton. Shipping takes up to 2 weeks. 

View Deal

Classic face mask | $14.99 for 10 at maskd
This multipack of simple black or white face masks offers perhaps the best value for money – it's just $1.49 per mask. The company is donating 10% of total proceeds, and a mask, for every order. Masks are made from 100% cotton. View Deal

Adult and child face masks | From $10 for 1 at Savilino
Savilino usually makes custom aprons and leather goods for restaurants, but at the moment it's making face masks. The company is based in Austin, and has been able to hire dozens of out of work tailors to ramp up production to over 2,000 masks per day. Buy a child's mask for $10 or an adult mask for $12, or purchase in bulk for a discount. Orders shipped in 7-10 days.View Deal

Cotton face masks | $25 for 5 at Matteo
Pick up a set of five masks for just $25 at Matteo. Each double-layered mask is 100% cotton with 100% linen ties, and has a pocket for a you to put a filter in if you have one. They're sustainable, reusable and washable. You can also purchase masks to donate to communities in need. Ships in 10-12 business days.View Deal

Fabric face masks | $9.99 for 1 at Swaddle Designs
Swaddle Designs is another company that has switched its focus in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The founder, an ex-nurse, swapped production from baby blankets to face masks. These 2-layer non-medical masks are available to buy now, as a single mask or a bulk purchase. There are currently delays of 5-10 days before shipping.View Deal

Biodegradable face masks | From $12.99 for 3 (+ one donated) at COVRUP
For an eco-friendly option, head to COVRUP. These face masks are not only reusuable and machine-washable, but they're biodegradable, so they won't end up clogging up landfill. Plus, for every order, a mask will be donated. Made in the USA and available in child, medium and large sizes. View Deal

Inkerman Anti-microbial face masks | Buy 3, donate 3 for $20
Inkerman is an NYC-based shoe company that has reallocated all of its resources to non-medical mask production. The company is selling them for no profit, matching all purchases one-to-one, donating masks to NYC essential workers. You can purchase 3 for yourself, and donate 3 for $20. 1-2 week shipping time for personal orders (donations prioritized). View Deal

Washable cloth face mask | $25 for 5 at Radian
Thee face masks are made from a double layer of jersey knit fabric (60% cotton, 40% polyester), with elastic ear loops. You can pick up a 5-pack, in shades of grey, black, green and blue, at Jeans company Radian. It ships in 7-14 business days, and for every pack purchased, Radian will donate a pack.View Deal

Disposable face masks | 100 for $79.78 from Mask Central
If you need disposable face masks, head to Mask Central, which is selling them in bulk. Smaller pack sizes have sold out, but you can still order 100 or more. These are CE-certified and made up of a three layers to effectively block and filter out particles and droplets in the air. Please only purchase if you're working in a carer / healthcare capacity.View Deal

DIOP face masks | $15 at DIOP
Detroit-based DIOP makes streetwear inspired by the African diaspora, including these face masks based on mudcloth from Mali and handmade in Baltimore. The brand has donated over $6,000 to Feed The Frontlines, the Southwest Detroit Mutual Aid Fund, and Power a Business & Feed The Homeless.

Homemade face masks | From $9.99 for 1 at Goimagine
Goimagine is a new venture – a handmade marketplace that donates 100% of its profits to charity. It specifically supports non-profit organisations focused on the needs of children experiencing homelessness and hunger. At the moment there are whole range of face masks on there, from under $10.View Deal

Akings first aid face masks | $1 per mask
If you're after a disposable face mask, these are on sale at Akings. It's a dollar a mask, and you can buy in quantities of 10, 50 or 100 masks. A portion of profits is going towards donating supplies to local communities. Available to backorder.
View Deal

SOLD OUT Camo or leopard print face | $12 at The Sis Kiss
Fashion brand The Sis Kiss is producing cool camo and leopard print face masks. They're 100% cotton with elastic straps, and suitable for both men and women. View Deal