How To Choose Halloween Masks

Part of the fun of Halloween is dressing up to be someone other than yourself. From silly to scary, Halloween masks allow the wearer to protect his true identity and for a short while, become an entirely different person. If you are in a Halloween mood, here are a few tips for choosing, making, and buying Halloween masks:

  1. Safety should always be the first consideration. For children, especially, you do not want to choose a mask that impairs the vision. Trick or treating is a fun and exciting tradition for many children, but it is vital that they can see well to maneuver sidewalks, walkways, stairs, and traffic.
  2. Other factors come into play when choosing a Halloween mask, as well. In warm climates, full head masks may be uncomfortably hot, so a partial mask or decorative face painting may be better options. Sensitive skin may inhibit some wearers from choosing masks made from latex, and a scratchy material such as hard plastic may be unpleasant for many people.
  3. Depending on your level of creativity, masks can be simple or very ornate. One of the most basic masks is made by simply taking an inexpensive paper plate, cutting holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth, and then adding decorations. A wide variety of materials could be used to make these simple masks fun and attractive. Some to consider: paint, crayons, markers, glitter, feathers, cotton balls, yarn, fabric, and wire pipe cleaners. Once the decorations are complete, use a hole punch to make two holes on opposite edges of the mask. The wearer can then use ribbon or elastic to tie the mask onto his head. One of the biggest advantages of paper plate masks is that children can do most, if not all of the decorating themselves.
  4. Craft and party supply stores sell a nice variety of blank masks, especially in the weeks before Halloween, that are ideal for individualizing by adding some of the same materials listed for the paper plate masks. These commercially produced, face-shaped mask forms are available in several sizes and offer the convenience of quick decorating while producing a professional result.
  5. If you are feeling ambitious and want to create a one-of-a-kind mask, you can make your own plaster face mask. The procedure is pretty simple, but is easier if you have a friend to offer a hand.
    1. Materials:
        • Plaster bandages, cut into strips about 4" long

        • Scissors

        • Petroleum jelly

        • Water

    2. Procedure:
        1. Brush hair away from the face and use a headband if necessary to keep the hair from getting in the way.

        2. Cover the face with a thin, even coating of petroleum jelly. Be sure that the eyebrows are thoroughly coated so that the plaster will not pull out any hairs.
        3. Dip the plaster bandage strips, one at a time, into the water and squeeze out excess moisture. Place the bandages, overlapping one another, across the person's face, avoiding the eye area. You can cover the mouth or the nostrils, but be sure to leave one of them open so that the person can breathe!

        4. Continue covering the face with the bandages until all areas have an even coating. Use scissors to snip smaller pieces as necessary.
        5. Apply two or three layers of bandages, being careful to keep the thickness even everywhere. For a heavier mask, apply an extra layer or two.
        6. Wait 3-5 minutes, until the plaster mask seems to be hardening, and carefully pry the mask away from the person's face.
        7. Allow the mask to dry, untouched, for at least 24 hours.
        8. Once your mask is thoroughly dry, you can decorate it as you wish.

  6. If you decide to purchase a mask, rather than making one, be sure to shop around for the best prices. Small, specialty costume shops will have a wonderful selection, especially in October, but their prices are typically higher than mass merchandisers or online merchants. If you decide to buy online, be sure to allow extra time for shipping. Also, the most popular characters are likely to sell out, so order early to beat the rush!


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