Undercover

 
 

From necessity to luxury: The evolution of face coverings during COVID-19 

Protection

 
 
 
Royal Mail Antibacterial face mask information leaflet

Royal Mail Face Mask leaflet, 2021

 

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE – consists of clothing and accessories designed to protect the user from health or safety risks at work. Within the context of COVID-19, those most at risk are professionals working in the health and social care sectors. These people are likely to be in close contact with individuals who are symptomatic or particularly vulnerable to infection.


In March 2020, the government published guidance on the regulatory status of equipment being used to prevent COVID-19. They stated that:


Face coverings intended for use by the general public are not PPE or medical devices. As such they do not carry a CE/CE UKNI/UKCA mark and should not be sold or donated as PPE or medical devices.
 

The government offered Guidance for manufacturers and makers of face coverings to comply with the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. They also directed manufacturers to advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who stated:
 

During the pandemic, Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that fabric masks and home-made face coverings had some effectiveness in preventing an infectious but asymptomatic wearer from spreading the disease, in some circumstances, when used alongside other more established measures (social distancing, handwashing etc.) but that there was no evidence that these types of face-covering could protect the individual wearer against infection.
Marketers are therefore advised to avoid implications that general face coverings are likely to protect the wearer from airborne infections, including COVID-19 unless they hold sufficient evidence to support such claims and be in a position to demonstrate that their products had been tested to, and meet PPE standards.

WAWWA

 
 
 
WAWWA face mask leaflet

FACE MASK LEAFLET

WAWWA

March 2020

Though it was one of the first masks produced at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in England, the WAWWA mask included one of the most comprehensive instruction sheets, complete with information on how to use the mask effectively. It also included links to research from the Netherlands and the University of Cambridge, which found that cotton masks can capture 50% of airborne particles.

Archive no. 2020.100.17

ProGARM

 
 
 
ProGARM information leaflet

MED-30 SERIE INFORMATION LEAFLET

PROGARM

July 2020

The MED-30 Serie mask was designed for electricians who work on construction sites. The leaflet that comes with it describes its many features, including the fact that it is flame resistant, water resistant, and Oeko-Tex 100 certified. It was also created in compliance with EU Regulation 2016/425. 

Archive no. 2020.100.40

ProGARM information leaflet
ProGARM information leaflet

Marks & Spencer

 
 
 
Marks & Spencer face mask instructions

ANTIBACTERIAL FACE COVERING INSTRUCTIONS

Marks & Spencer

July 2020

 

The instructions above were printed on the packaging for a pack of five antibacterial face coverings. These were 100% cotton and double-layered, but without a pocket for a filter. The packaging states: This face covering is not PPE. A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading a virus to others.

Archive no. 2020.100.24

 
Balenciaga care mask box
Balenciaga care mask box

CARE MASK BOX

Balenciaga

August 2020

Manufactured by Wolford in Slovenia, the packaging for the Balenciaga care mask states that it is not a medical device. It also informs the consumer that before packaging the mask has been treated with UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, and germs.

Archive no. 2020.100.36

 

Balenciaga

 
 
 
JW Anderson face mask leaflet
JW Anderson face mask leaflet

JW Anderson

 
 
 

FACE MASK LEAFLET

JW Anderson

November 2020

The face covering from designer JW Anderson was one of the few masks that provided clear instructions and details about its properties.  It states: The JW Anderson Mask is approved as a hygienic and reusable mask. It is made for daily use but not for health or medical use. Main purpose: To limit transmission of inhaled agents from the environment. Expiration date 2027.

Archive no. 2020.100.25

 

Burberry

 
 
 
Burberry face mask information booklet
Burberry face mask information booklet
Burberry face mask information booklet
Burberry face mask information booklet

INSTRUCTION BOOKLET

Burberry

October 2020

Most of the face coverings in this exhibition were packaged with little or no information included about how to use them properly. However, the Burberry face mask came with a 118-page booklet, translated into several languages, with detailed instructions on how to use and care for the mask. 

Archive no. 2020.100.7

 

Paul Smith

 
 
 
Paul Smith packaging box
Paul Smith packaging box

MULTIPACK PACKAGING

Paul Smith

December 2020

These face masks have a third layer of fabric inside to allow for the insertion of a filter and are finished with a nose clip and elastic ear loops. A sticker across the box’s opening states: The masks are not medical devices or personal protective equipment and are not a substitute for following the relevant social distancing guidelines. These are non-surgical masks made from 100% woven cotton which are washable at 40 degrees. The masks ae non-returnable due to hygiene reasons.

Archive no. 2020.100.32.1

Royal Mail

 
 
 
Royal Mail Antibacterial face mask package
Royal Mail Antibacterial face mask leaflet

FACE MASK LEAFLET

Royal Mail

February 2021

According to the packaging, this mask complies with the UK’s General Product Safety Regulations 2005. It also complies with FZ/T 73049-2014, a Chinese standard for knitted masks. However, mail workers were critical of the inclusion of a paper leaflet with the text "For fashion, dress up, party (non-medical)." 

Archive no. 2020.100.57

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