At Halloween Asylum, almost all of the masks we carry come right out of the box looking absolutely perfect. They were packed with care when they left the factory, so they hold their shapes and look just like you expect them to. Occasionally, however, some masks arrive at our warehouse flat as pancakes - this is more typical of those made in China as opposed to Mexico. My favorite masks are from Ghoulish Productions out of Mexico - they are of the highest quality. Opening a shipment from them is like opening presents on Christmas; it's always exciting to see how cool they are!
But I digress... today we're talking about problem masks. Most Halloween masks are made of latex, which is a material that can be molded to take on various shapes. A good and bad property. It's good because when the masks are made, latex in liquid form is poured into a mask mold and when the latex dries, it has perfectly formed into the design of the mask. The bad part comes when that mask is packed for shipment into a box with a bunch of other masks piled on top of it. It then has to travel for an extended period of time, probably via container to the U.S., then sit in a distributor's warehouse for who knows how long, before ultimately getting shipped to a retailer, such as us. During that process, if the mask has not been packed with paper to hold its original shape, or even worse, if it's been folded down the center so it lies flat, the latex takes on that new bent shape. And it will stay like that unless it is reformed... here comes the fun part with the hairdryer!
My first photo shows the worst example of a mask bent in shipping that I could find in our warehouse. This is the Pit Witch mask. I have placed the mask on a styrofoam head so it will sit upright - the mask is quite oversized so the head doesn't fill the interior fully. You can see that the front of the face is squished and completely bent to the left.
The first step to fix this problem is to stuff the mask with something so that it will fill out. You want to get the mask to look like you want as the end result. I'm just shooting for fixing the bent face so I stuffed the whole head with paper to give it a fuller, round shape. For about 15 minutes I heat up the latex in various places with the hairdryer, focusing on each problem area a few minutes at a time. Be careful when doing this - the mask gets quite hot to the touch. Never try to do this while wearing the mask!
On this mask, the problem areas were around the nose and mouth and the crease on the top of the head. I hoped that if I could soften the crease, the mask might resist trying to fold flat which effects the whole face. As you warm up the latex, you can feel it get softer and it becomes more willing to bend to the new shape. I used a ruler at times to keep the nose straight while I kept the hairdryer on it because it was too hot to the touch with my bare hands.
After a total of about 15 minutes I turned the hairdryer off. I let the mask cool while it remained stuffed. This took another 10 minutes or so. I did hold the ruler against the nose for the first few minutes of cooling to be sure it remained straight. It is while the mask cools after being heated that it takes on it's new shape.
Once cool, the mask definitely looks much better. My final picture shows the mask with only the styrofoam head in it, the same conditions as the fist photo, and you can see the dramatic difference. The face is no longer squished and the awful bend to the left is gone! All of these principles would apply to fixing any small crease or dent in a mask. I just picked a worst-case scenario for demonstration.
When you're not wearing your mask, it's important to keep it stuffed to hold the shape. Also, try not to store it where it will be exposed to direct sun or extreme temperatures, such as in an attic. This can decrease the life of the latex making it brittle. It's also a good idea to lightly dust the inside of the mask with baby powder after wearing to absorb any moisture.
I hope you have found this information helpful! Please stop by our Halloween Masks section on our website to see a great selection of some amazing masks!