Masks have been used for celebrating Halloween for
literally thousands of years. In fact, Halloween is actually based on an ancient Celtic
holiday known as Samhain (pronounced "sow wan"), which means "summer's
end", and was celebrated for centuries by the Celts of old and many other nature
based religions. Today, Halloween is a "magical" night for everyone, and donning
a mask can instantly transform your into just about anyone or anything.
Masks make up part of the two and a half billion
dollars spend annually on Halloween costumes and makeup, with literally millions of Halloween
masks being sold every year. The price of masks vary greatly from under ten dollars to one
hundred dollars and more.
The more detailed, higher quality masks usually cost more
because more has gone into their design and manufacture.
Below are some of our best tips for the
wearing, safety and storage of your Halloween masks.
Buying a Halloween Mask
Every year hundreds of thousands of Halloween masks
are sold, most of which are through brick-and-mortar stores. As people try on a
mask over and over again in a store, they can leave a variety of germs including
bacteria, mold and fungus of various types that can be deposited on both the
inside and outside of a mask. Depending on the particular germs that are
present, diseases such as pink eye, skin rashes, virus's that cause the flu,
colds and other illnesses could be transmitted to the wearer.
In 2013, Dr. Stan Kikkert, head of the biotechnology
program at Mesa Community College near Phoenix, Arizona, tested a dozen masks
for germs and discovered that all twelve masks contained a variety of germs. Dr.
Stan Kikkert suggests that if you're a going wear a mask as part of your
Halloween costume, that you soak it in rubbing alcohol as a way to kill germs.
We never try on a mask in the store. Once we get
it home we clean it and then try it on. If it doesn't fit we can always exchange
or return it with our store receipt.
To clean our masks we place one in a plastic tub
and slowly pour common isopropyl alcohol over the entire surface inside and out
of the mask and let it sit in the tub for about five minutes. Remember, alcohol
is flammable! Do not do this near any open flame or possible ignition source.
Next, we hold it up and let the alcohol drip off the mask back into the tub.
Then we run warm, not hot, tap water over the mask to remove the alcohol.
Lastly, we pat all surfaces of the mask down with paper towel to dry it. If we
have more than one mask to clean, we just repeat the procedure.
Your Halloween Mask
Well designed masks like the skull mask shown to
the right, will fit your head snugly, but not too tight. It restricts your vision very
little by having large eye holes and offers well placed ventilation holes to breath
through. Some masks that fit over your entire head usually have a long slit down the back
to make them easier to put on and take off. The problem is that it also causes the mask to
not fit as well as it could. What we do is use Velcro dots on the back of the mask to
secure the slit together while the mask is being worn.
|You'll need two things, a strip of Velcro dots available
from your local fabric, hardware or department store and a helper. Try to choose a color
of Velcro that is the closest to that of the area on the mask where you will be attaching
them. The person who will be wearing the mask should put the mask on and with someone's
help, have them pull the two edges together and then stick on the two Velcro pieces so
that they will hold the two sides together.
|To assure that a mask fits as many head sizes as possible,
mask manufacturers will often make the mask "oversized." If your latex mask is
too large for your head, you can cut pieces of soft foam rubber and glue them inside using
spirit gum or use a low temp hot glue gun. If you use a hot glue gun be careful not to let
the tip of the glue gun touch the mask or it might melt it.
Once you've decided on the mask you will be wearing for Halloween you will
want a complimentary costume. Some come as sets that include both the mask and costume,
but most don't, so you will need to choose a costume. To help your mask blend in with you
face and neck, apply the appropriate colored grease paint around the eyes to achieve a
more authentic look with the mask. An often overlooked addition to a Halloween ensemble
are a pair of matching hands.
Halloween Mask Safety
|Avoid masks that greatly reduce
your ability to see. While all masks have either eye holes or slits to see through, they
all reduce your vision to some extent, some more than others. We have some really great
looking masks, unfortunately some of them are so vision restrictive that we never wear
them, and use them for display only. Remember, you will be walking around at night,
possibly on the street, and there's no reason to risk life and limb because of limited
vision. Always remove or lift up your mask before crossing a street, driveway or alley.
Before you buy a mask, or if
you've already bought one, you should try it on and determine if you can see well enough
to walk and navigate safely. If not, you might be able to improve your visibility by
cutting the eye holes larger or trimming the slits. Use a small pair of sharp, pointed
scissors to carefully cut or trim a little bit of the latex at a time, but take care as
its very easy to remove too much, and you can't put it back on, which could ruin the look
of the mask. Try on the mask each time you remove a little of the eye hole or slit until
you can see safely. Again, always use caution while wearing your mask.
|In addition to reduced visibility, masks can
also restrict your breathing and become hot and humid inside. So, its important that you
remove the mask periodically for a breath of fresh air. Keep some paper towel in a pocket
so that if the mask becomes wet inside you can wipe it down.
Your Halloween Masks
Whether you own just one mask or a dozen, you will
want to store them properly so that they can be used or displayed year after year. The
worst thing you can do is just toss it in a box as the mask will not hold its natural
shape. The best way we've found to store latex masks is on a Styrofoam wig stand. These
are shaped like a human head and only cost a couple of dollars at beauty supply stores.
Masks should be store in a cool, dark, dry place. Exposure to sunlight or excessive
temperatures for a prolonged period can cause the colors to fade and damage the
latex, causing it the mask crack.
By using some of our tips,
you can extend the life of your Latex mask and enjoy it for
years to come!