Face Masks & Respirators

  • Category Description
  • Faqs
  • Who We Are
  • Talk To Our Experts

Sterimax is a trusted supplier of Type IIR, FFP2, and FFP3 face masks and respirators to the healthcare, construction, retail and food processing industries.

Surgical masks, non-medical masks and respirators offer varying levels of protection from airborne diseases and viruses, dust, particles and other substances. Some masks protect the wearer only, while other masks filter exhaled air as well.

We can specify the correct face masks and respirators for any use case, so feel free to reach out to us for advice when choosing PPE.

Face masks and respirators – a quick guide

Face masks and respirators can be split into two types: surgical masks and respirators. A surgical mask protects the wearer from infecting others but offers limited protection to the wearer, while respirators protect both the wearer and others.

The most common products are Type IIR, FFP2 and FFP3 face masks and respirators, which are used in different fields for different applications:

Type IIR

Type IIR is a surgical-grade fluid resistant face mask with a 4-ply layer. It is used near patients, preventing large particles from entering the mouth and escaping the mask. This mask offers the highest Bacteria Filtration Efficiency (BFE) rating of Type II masks at 98%, suitable for infectious environments.


FFP2 masks have a 94% filtration efficiency rating, offering comparable protection to N95 masks (N95 has 95% filtration). The filtration level is suited to infectious environments, filtering 0.075μm (micrometre) solid particles. FFP2 meets WHO requirements for protecting against most viruses, most suited to lower risk environments.


FFP3 masks have a 99% filtration rating, making them the most protective respirator you can get. The NHS specifies these masks for high-risk environments, including hospitals, GP practices and testing centres. FFP3 masks are also best for construction and engineering to filter dust and vapours.

Masks marked (NR) are non-reusable and should be disposed of after use, while masks marked (R) are reusable and can be used until the expiry date or when spent (you should also replace R masks if they get wet).

Type IIR face masks are disposable surgical face masks designed to protect others from infection and the wearer. They are Class IIa medical devices and, as such, require a CE, CE UKNI, or UKCA certificate from the UK Approved Body or EU Notified Body to be used in clinical and medical environments. Staff working in care homes, patient homes, hospital admin and general healthcare facilities can wear Type IIR face masks. The mask offers 98% filtration and is characterised by a blue and white colour scheme.

The significant difference between FFP2 and FFP3 is the filtration level; FFP2 filters 94% of airborne particles while FFP3 filters 99% of particles. FFP3 face masks are best for infectious, dangerous, and biohazardous environments. Both FFP2 and FFP3 face masks protect the wearer and the environment. FFP2 is the EU equivalent of N95, while FFP2 is the equivalent of N99. Both have ear loops and fit close to the face, with a compressible nose fitting.

The short answer is yes, face masks do go out of date, and they should have an expiry date on the pack. They do not expire in terms of functionality (you can still wear them). Still, the silicon and plastic fibres in the mask can degrade over time, reducing the protection level and leaving you exposed to airborne particles. Face masks approaching their expiry date can be safely used, but face masks that have expired should be recycled. Additionally, if you have reusable face masks (marked R), you should note the expiry date before using them and replace them on expiry.

Sterimax offers the widest range of face masks in bulk quantities, including Type IIR, FFP2 and FFP3 face masks approved for medical use. We supply the NHS, private hospitals and care homes with face masks and respirators. Buying face masks in bulk will save you money, but you should only procure the number of masks you are projected to consume.

FFP3 face masks provide ultimate protection, filtering 99% of airborne particles, making them best for highly infectious and hazardous environments. FFP2 masks filter 95% of particles, so they are suitable for lower-risk environments, such as public spaces. Type IIR is best for surgical procedures and patient care, filtering 98% of particles with a waterproof barrier.

Sterimax is proud to supply disposable PPE and hygiene products to multinational food, manufacturing, and healthcare companies. Our established supply chain removes risks associated with global procurement, helping companies meet demand at volume with great customer service for a seamless experience.

We are one of the UK’s leading suppliers of disposable gloves, disposable PPE, face masks, wet wipes and sanitising sprays and hand gels. We only stock CE marked and approved products that meet industry requirements.

We invite you to browse our collection if you know what products you need. If you require advice before buying, please contact us for help. We are here to assist in any way we can, delivering a quality service from start to finish.