If 1966 was the year of the bootcut jean, 2020 was the year of the face mask.

In January, unless you had to wear one for work, wearing a mask probably had not even crossed your mind before. But since becoming a mandatory requirement to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, face masks have become a must-have accessory.

Keys? Tick.

Phone? Tick.

Wallet? Tick.

Mask? Tick.

That is the leaving-the-house checklist for 2020.

At this point in the pandemic, we are all pretty familiar with seeing people wearing masks everywhere we go. Many of us probably do not even really notice them anymore.

But once in a while, you come across a ‘face mask’ that you cannot help but stop and stare at. Over the past few months, we have seen a number of (ahem) interesting — although certainly not advisable — face mask solutions…

Plastic bags

Someone tell health and safety that they need to update the suffocation warning to include adults as well as babies and small children.

Snorkelling masks

Remember that time you went snorkelling as a kid and accidentally sucked in while underwater? Exactly.

Face mask alternative


We hope they were at least clean.


Where did they put all their stuff?

Ski goggles

The key word here is ‘goggles’.

Sanitary towel

Probably not the kind of protection you are looking for.


Save it for the baby!

If it were not for the photographic evidence we have seen of these examples, we would think it was all a joke. Remember: just because you can do something, it does not always mean you should.

A reminder of the rules

You might think that pretty much anything can be used as a face mask, but there are actually important guidelines that need to be followed.

Firstly, both your mouth and nose must be covered efficiently, so long as you can still comfortably breathe. The face covering also needs to be secure to your head.

To ensure the mask continues to offer optimal protection, it should be cleaned after each use or correctly disposed of if it is a single-use mask. (But let us not do even more damage to the environment; sustainable masks are undoubtedly the way forward.) And before you ask — no, you should not share your mask with anyone, even if they are from the same household.

Wearing a face covering also doesn’t make you exempt from social distancing measures and good hand hygiene. These measures work together to stop the spread of the virus, so keep your distance and be sure to wash your hands regularly as well as wearing a mask.

Safety first

Although these weird mask ‘substitutes’ might incite a good giggle, this really is not a laughing matter. Infection rates are high, with parts of the UK now in tier four facing the tightest lockdown restrictions.

Face mask alternatives

We could maybe understand this haphazard approach to mask-wearing at the start of the pandemic when there was a mad rush to get your hands on one. But while it is great to see people find another purpose for single-use plastics, we are not sure this is what medical experts had in mind when they urged people to stop panic buying face masks!

Now, almost a year into the pandemic, it is time to invest in a suitable mask (if you have not done so already). These comical solutions are not an effective way to protect yourself from coronavirus or, indeed, any other virus. And although several vaccines are now starting to be rolled out, the reality is that face masks are going to be part of our day-to-day lives for some time. So, please, get yourself one that is going to do the job and protect both you and the people around you! P.S. they do not have to be expensive…

What is the weirdest thing you have seen people use as a ‘face mask’?