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 hundreds of dollars. The more detailed, higher quality masks usually cost more because more has gone into their design and manufacture. Basically, you get what you pay for.

Order your Halloween mask well in advance of October 31st. This gives you time to make sure that it fills your needs, and gives you time to accessorize. Many online retailers do not actually stock the products they sell. They will pass the order to a distributor and the product(s) will be dropped shipped to you. The problem is that since they don’t actually stock their own products it often takes longer for you to receive your order, or they might be out of stock. We suggest that you only order from reliable online retailers.

Below are some of our best tips for the wearing, safety and storage of your Halloween masks.

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.

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.

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!