Marketing guidance for barrier or social masks

Barrier or social masks

There is now an unprecedented demand for barrier masks from consumers. Barrier masks are intended for the general public but not intended to be Personal Protective Equipment or medical devices.

Recognising how challenging the issue of face masks can be, Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards has worked with the Health and Safety Executive to develop advice for businesses.


The key issue regarding compliance is how the masks are marketed. If masks are marketed as:

  • personal protective equipment; or
  • as having a specific medical function; or
  • as making any specific claims as to efficacy or protection

such claims will bring them in to the jurisdiction of the Health and Safety Executive of The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Masks within this group must comply with various standards and have supporting documentation. See our separate guidance for compliance checklists.

If they are not marketed as above, then the products can be sold and the most likely audience would be consumers looking to wear them on walks, shopping etc. Provided consumers are aware of the status of the products and you don't make any additional claims about them, then the Health and Safety Executive has confirmed that it will not have any further involvement.

Together with the Health and Safety Executive, we have agreed some bullet points that should go on your marketing and product packaging:

  • these products are not personal protective equipment
  • these products are not medical devices
  • these products are not suitable for use in NHS or care home settings

Provided you let consumers know these things, then they can make up their owns minds as to whether to buy the masks from your business.

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In order to provide more information, you may use factual descriptions of the product with regards to the construction, layers and material used. You should take care to ensure the descriptions are accurate and remain accurate for each batch. You should also include care or usage instructions, for example they are washable.

Labelling should be legible and in English.

You may wish to clarify any issues with the Health and Safety Executive.

You may wish to clarify any issues with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency at

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