Yes - You Should Be Wearing A Mask, Here's Why (+ Where To Shop The Best Ones)

To mask or not to mask?

Order one while you still can.

It seems like with each new day of the COVID-19 pandemic comes a hearty dose of surprising, overwhelming, and sometimes even conflicting information about how to navigate your way through this crisis. And while matters like visiting loved ones (read more on that here) and travelling (everything you need to know on that, here) have been cleared up, there's still one aspect of our 'new normal', that everyone is still confused on: face masks. 

For some time now, the rules have been somewhat muddy on when, where and how to wear a face mask. In the first crucial weeks of the coronavirus spreading in Ireland, everyone was instructed to wear a face mask only if they were sick.

Then there was the whole debate on whether or not they're even effective but now the Irish government has launched a campaign urging the public to wear face masks when out and about and in situations where they cannot social distance. 

Urging those who are using public transport and returning to work to be extra cautious, Leo Varadkar noted that although face masks aren’t a “magical shield” against coronavirus, they certainly do help and should be worn when in public.

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The most essential accessory in my closet, and in yours. Now we’re back shopping again, keep yourself and others safer, and make sure you’re masked up ❤️ Even these cotton masks will ensure you’re spreading less just in case you’re asymptomatic. Remember nothing is 100% safe, but this is better than using nothing. I’ve found the best selection of cotton masks from @springkode - a sustainable store I recently found online, based in Portugal. Bio-degradable, super soft, washable, sustainably made from off cuts of luxury fabrics, in a multitude of colours and ships super fast! I wanted to mention them in case you’re searching for cotton masks - and honestly I hope we all start to keep each other safer by wearing them when we go out ❤️ gifted.

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"But I don't have Coronavirus!", we hear you cry and while it's great news you're in good health, that doesn't mean you're automatically exempt for wearing a face mask. Though nonmedical masks are most effective when worn by an infected person, new studies from China and South Korea show that somewhere between 25 to 50 per cent of infectious people are either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic meaning there's a high rate of people who catch Covid-19 who do not develop symptoms until four or five days after being infected. Therefore, if you go outside without a face mask in those four to five days - you're spreading the virus and putting others at risk. 

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What's more, many shopping centres, hairdressers and even restaurants are going to refuse entry to those not wearing face masks in order to operate under the new safety guidelines.

However, let us remind you, do not wear surgical masks – these need to be reserved for our medical staff and frontline workers. Instead, we've rounded up the best face masks created and produced by Irish designers so you not only support local Irish businesses but stay safe whilst doing so. 

Bébhínn

Irish designer Bébhínn’s latest batch of masks sold out in just three minutes. But do keep an eye on her Instagram account for more. The masks are made with two layers of 100% Irish linen. The patchwork ones are created by stitching little pieces of leftover linen that were too small to be used for garments. Shop them here.

Eamonn mcgill

Irish designer Eamonn McGill has created a range of face coverings in fun patterns. With several styles to choose from, they are available from Trends Beauty Distribution from €22.25. A percentage of each sale will be donated to Dublin Simon Community. Since launching at the start of the pandemic, he has sold over 1,000 face masks and has since been inundated with queries and requests to create more and so, is constantly updating consumers on drops and stockists on his Instagram channel here.

Fionnuala Bourke Design

Kildare costume designer Fionnuala Bourke has been making a unique style of masks with adjustable straps. The masks are washable and are available in four different styles. You can mail her on Facebook or Instagram to order, and each mask costs €10. You can also pay it forward by paying €15 or donating to her GoFundMe page, to donate a mask to someone in a nursing home, to carers and vulnerable people living in Celbridge where she is from. Check her Instagram stories to place an order. 

Face Masks For Hospice

Handmade in Waterford, these face masks are reusable, made of 100% cotton and are also machine washable. 100% of the proceeds from every sale are donated directly to the Irish Hospice Foundation - which we think is just fantastic. These are all made by hospice volunteer Mary of The Owl OneShop them here.

FaceIt, By Ireland's Eye

Dublin knitwear company Ireland’s Eye has started producing 100% cotton face masks. They have already donated 1,000 to frontline workers. They are available in plain and patterned fabrics and come in packs of two for €24 or one for €13.  Shop them here.

Helen Steele

Designer Helen Steele created a limited edition range of sustainable cotton and silk face masks. Each mask costs €25, with a percentage of every sale going to the Jack and Jill Foundation. Order via DM on Instagram.

Mariad Whisker

Mariad Whisker’s handmade masks are made with 100% Irish linen, vintage ribbon, velvet or elastic. Each mask costs €35 and one is donated for every sale. Most designs have sold out, but there are a couple left and available to order from her daughter Domino’s website, dominowhisker.com. Oh, and for every mask sold - a mask is donated.

Mask Your Face

Anna, Lisa and Molly Kennedy are the designers behind ‘Mask Your Face’ – a project that makes masks for both protection and for accessorising. Their masks use coloured fabrics and pretty patterns to make a statement and to encourage people to wear them and flatten the curve. They are also functional and comfortable, as they are 3-layered and machine washable. Mask Your Face is also based on sustainable fashion. Rather than single-use packs of masks, these coverings have a climate-conscious element weaved in. The masks can be bought through private messaging the Mask Your Face Instagram or Facebook pages. One mask costs €6, or 3 for €15 and shipping is €2 for up to six masks.

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PINK COLLECTION •Paisley Pink •Striped Peach

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reuben avenue

Designed long before COVID-19, Reuben Avenue's silk masks were originally part of their AW'19 collection. Now, Eoin Dillon, the homegrown designer behind Reuben Avenue has redesigned the mask and launched in an array of new colourways. Each silk mask is lined with Irish linen which is anti-fungal, anti-microbial and durable. Shop them here.

Natalie b Coleman

Designer Natalie B Coleman‘s beautiful face coverings sold out the first time and she has recently placed a small restock of certain designs on her website today.  The stunning face masks are made from 100% silk taffeta, silk or lace and silk, with two layers and a pocket to add a filter. A share of profits will be donated to Women’s Aid.

Niamh McCabe

Designer Niamh McCabe prints and handmakes her masks. The designs are really gorgeous and the masks are ethically produced. They cost €33 each and 15% of proceeds will go to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. Shop the masks here.

The IRISH LINEN HOUSE

This is a family-run company based in Smithfield, which usually focusses on homeware has pivoted at this uncertain time and has created face marks using 100% sustainable Irish linen. The Irish Linen House's website explains "linen is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic making it suitable for sensitive skin". Their masks can be hand washed or popped in the washing machine, and are just €16. Shop them here.

we make good 

We Make Good sell products designed by some of Ireland's emerging designers and made by people facing social challenges. Their washable cloth masks are made by women from a refugee background – present and past employees of The Textile Studio, a charity that provides jobs and training to refugee women. When you purchase a mask for €25, another will be donated to someone in Direct Provision. Shop them here.

Main image by @doutzen

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