7th February 2022

The Evolution of the COVID-19 Face Mask

Entering a less and less coronavirus restricted world is giving us freedom and, as students, the social life we have all missed. Normality is slowly returning, allowing us to sit closer than 2 meters in lecture halls (thank god I can now get people’s names on the first try) and also engage with more new people.

This lifting of restriction also leads us to question what we should do with our latest wardrobe addition: the face mask?

So do not fear, this is an article not about dreary COVID-19 rules but about the fashion statement that is the face-covering….

The Beginning: The Blue Disposable

Top view of one use light blue medical respiratory protective face masks placed on top of each other in disorder
Image credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The face mask started out its life as a disposable medic-style baby blue mask. It was no longer the medics and vets sporting this number but the vast majority of us. Who knew Casualty and Grey’s Anatomy would be such trendsetters.

Whilst initially uncomfortable and accompanied with a self-conscious feeling, these quickly became commonplace in our pockets and handbags.

Little did we know, we started out wearing them wrong! TikToks and online videos showed us that we should be crossing the elastic over our ears and pushing down on the top of the nose to make it fit perfectly. A very technical and effective choice was the blue disposable.

This mask is easy to breathe and speak in, making it still a popular choice today. Perhaps soon the blue disposable will be considered retro?

Pretty Masks

Next came the eco and fashion-conscious revolution for the face covering.

Cloth masks became all the rage when we realised COVID was sticking around. This fashion item now demanded durability, sustainability and most importantly, style.

Personally, I was lucky to have a seamstress for a sister. I had my own unique face coverings made for me that were eco-friendly and looked way prettier than the blue disposable.

Many of us opted for this cloth/cotton choice to express individuality and style. Striped patterns, the LGBTQ+ flag, joke beards, quotes from films… you name it – the cloth face mask did it all.

The pink and black disposable were not so eco-friendly but also proved as a chic trend, giving more class to the disposable look.

Woman in Blazer Wearing Face Mask
Image credit: Mart Production from Pexels

Masks… Not as Masks

As we dipped in and out of lockdowns and mask rules, our masks fluctuated in use. Sometimes we didn’t need them at all. What, then, became of them?

Nose and mouth coverings became eye-masks for car sleeping and drinking games. Also seen were masks worn as hair coverings against the rain… inventive or crazy?

The Future of the Mask

Crop faceless person showing face mask on hands
Image credit: Photo by Monstera from Pexels

What will become of our beloved yet hated face coverings? We are still in a transition period of needing our masks some of the time but when the time comes, what will we do with them?

We’ve seen them used as novelty x-mas tree decorations to elbow jewellery. I’ve considered using mine as a very pretty cleaning cloth/reusable makeup wipe.

It may possibly soon be the demise of the face mask. They may be thrown out like flares were in the 80s… But let’s just hope face masks are not a trend that returns in several decades time.

So, what will you do with yours?

Featured image by cottonbro from Pexels