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Facial masks are here to stay. Even if the number of Covid-19 infections suddenly plummets, the aftermath and new hygiene protocols will stay longer, if not forever… And that means, we have to treat face masks as a part of daily life, an essential of our new pandemic wardrobe that can’t be forgotten at home – just like your cellphone.
While technology is still catching up with the supermasks that could potentially replace our fitness trackers, let’s have a look at the best reusable alternatives to surgical masks.
1. Bymamalaterre micro peach and Oxford cotton face masks
Run by a local art teacher and watercolour artist, Bymamalaterre is known for producing beautiful tote bags, kitchen towels, and hosting painting classes. With the growing demand for good quality reusable masks, it was just a question of time (not to mention a rapid learning curve) that face masks made without stitches in the middle arrived. The front fabric of Bymamalaterre masks is micro peach (a type of water resistant material, and hugely important for outdoor workouts) and there are two additional layers of Oxford cotton inside with an insert pocket for an extra filter.
2. ArtWomen reusable face masks made by refugees
ArtWomen collective was among the first groups in Hong Kong to offer reusable masks, made mostly of their signature colourful African fabrics. The group, which is made up of female asylum seekers, initially came up with the idea amid the shortage of surgical masks, that had also become unaffordable. Apart from selling the waterproof masks for adults and kids, ArtWomen also organise DIY workshops to teach more people to sew their own masks.
3. Washable face masks from Alchemist Creations
A community-based design company – as they call themselves – Alchemist Creations is a busy up-cycled creations shop in Stanley selling watches made of tin cans. Like many other local businesses, they saw the desperate need for reusable masks a few months ago so they acted fast and installed a huge table and two sewing machines inside their store in order to produce machine washable face masks non-stop.
4. Reusable cotton face mask from Edgar HK made by Saupei
Those who frequent Edgar HK for zero waste shopping may have already noticed handmade cotton masks on their shelves, made with love by local zero waste artisans Saupei. Available in 4 sizes (from newborns to teens and adults), they come in a variety of fun patterns and prints.
Update: This article was updated on August 13 2020 to reflect that the reusable cotton masks sold at Edgar are made by Saupei.
5. Buffs aka neck gaiters – face protection for outdoor atheletes
August 20 Update: according to a recent Duke University study, mask alternatives made using stretchy fabrics, such as neck fleeces or bandanas, which are often used by runners, were found to “offer very little protection”.
Buffs (or neck gaiters/neck fleeces) are known as ‘multifunctional headwear’ among runners, who use them to either cover their forehead to avoid sweat droplets or wrapping them around the wrists and necks with ice cubes to stay cool on a hot day. The name comes from one of the OG brands but you can find them in any sports shop – in fact you may already have one at home. Pro tip: add a reusable plastic shield, this will create some ‘breathing room’ for you when the buff gets wet.
BONUS: Reusable Face Masks For Babies: we recommend trying the Krak cotton face masks from Petit Tippi.