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Like it or love it, it’s mandatory.

Compulsory wearing of masks whilst shopping is the next challenge that we have to take on. As of July, customers and staff will have to wear masks in supermarkets, shopping malls and retail parks. Whether we like it or not, we are all thrown into this if we want to go shopping. And we do want to. After weeks and months of not being able to browse the rails, people are beginning to enjoy a bit of retail therapy once more.

The early excitement however, has been somewhat dampened by the recent announcement that face masks are to be compulsory. Some people find face masks humiliating and uncomfortable, others just find them a nuisance. And there are so many options available, but none of them are particularly glamorous!

The home-made versions are an individual statement made to your own design and style. They are unique – you can even make one to match each outfit if you wish. And the majority of them can be washed and reused too.

But the manufactured ones come with many added properties to ensure you are properly protected.

For those wanting maximum comfort and protection, the double-layer premium masks are a good choice. They have a comfortable cotton layer next to the skin which prevents irritation. The outer layer is made from polyester, with an anti-bacterial coating (that filters out 99.9% of bacteria), anti-odour properties. They’re also UV resistant and filter out toxic air particles and smog.

Thanks to the elastic ear loops, these masks can fit any size and any shape. And in contrast to the handmade masks which can be inconsistent and poor quality, these are sewn by a professional team in Vietnam and are made to be used over and over again.

Also available is a more standard version which is similar, but without the elastic. They come in different sizes and are also comfortable to wear. They’re produced using a material which is a mix of Polyester, Cotton and Spandex – meaning they do have some flexibility, even though they’re fixed sizes.

And there is yet another version with a transparent section in the centre to enable lip-reading, particularly beneficial for those who rely on this as their way of communication. This window also removes the element of distrust that comes with wearing a mask. Being able to see someone’s expression when they talk helps to transmit confidence to those you meet. And perhaps best of all, these particular face masks also reveal your smile, allowing you to spread hope and encouragement to those around you!

Designer masks are also around, at a price! Brands such as Under Armour, Boden and G Star Raw have added fashionable options to their collection of clothing and accessories. Rather than seeing this as a barrier for their customers, these brands have eased the pain of wearing these masks by making them more attractive.

Whatever your choice, the most important thing is that they are protecting you in this current pandemic, so don’t forget to keep your masks hygienic by washing them regularly – they can be washed at up to 60 degrees, and retain their effectiveness for multiple washes. It makes it much more simpler when you can get home from your shopping trip, pop it in with your next load, and then it’s ready for another day’s shopping.