How to Preserve Latex Masks

Starting from late August to early September, latex mask producers begin to flood the market with monster latex masks for various uses. With the Halloween season in view, retail stores such as Walmart and Target as well as specialty stores such as Halloween Express and Spirit Halloween begin to stock spooky Halloween latex masks. This underscores the need to know how to preserve latex masks.

Latex masks have been around for quite some time now. These masks are usually used for special effects in movies or during festivities such as Halloween, The Day of the Dead, and FESTIMA among others. They date thousands of years back into ancient civilizations, from the Aztecs, Chinese, Japanese, and others. But before we delve into how to preserve and make latex masks, and take a brief look into how latex masks came into existence.

How to Preserve Latex Masks

Like every piece of art, if you want your latex mask to last a long time, you need to make sure it is properly preserved. You however need some materials to get started.

Materials needed to preserve latex masks

  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Mild detergent
  • Newspaper for stuffing
  • Styrofoam wig stand

Basic steps to follow

  • Clean it inside out using a damp cloth with soap and water. Make sure it is mild soap and not labeled for dissolving grease
  • After cleaning and drying using a paper towel, store the mask in a Styrofoam wig stand. When this is unavailable, stuff the mask with wads of newspaper or even cloth to maintain its shape.
  • Put the masks in a plastic bag or wrapper. This keeps off dust and other foreign materials.


  • Do not store your latex mask in direct sunlight. It fades its color and increases deterioration.
  • Save it from perspiration and sweat. Always clean with soap and water and dry off before storing away.
  • Do not use combs and sprays on your masks.

A brief history of latex masks

Latex is the milky solution that flows from rubber trees. It is used to make toys, car tires, bowls, and anything plastic. It was first discovered 3,000 years ago by the Aztecs, Olmecs, and Mayans. These people harvested the milky and sticky liquid from rubber trees and used it to make sandals, balls, and other ornamental household utensils.

These ancient cultures even developed formulas for mixing latex with various other additives to create different grades of rubber with varying properties. However, it would take thousands of years before someone used it to make a mask. And that person was Don Post.

In 1938, Don Post founded his company The Don Post Studios in the United States and became the first producer of latex masks. While his early masks were quite generic and featured animals, clowns, and other funny characters; it was when he made the decision to pursue licensing deals with Hollywood that his business really changed the face of the mask industry.

Don Post and his crew began producing masks of all classic Universal Studios movie monsters such as Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Mummy. For the first time, people could don a mask and instantly be transformed into their favorite monster. These masks began an instant hit and Don Post began to be known as the “The Godfather of Halloween.”

Over the next decades, Don Post studios would go on to create some of the most iconic masks ever, including masks from The Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Sadly, Don Post passed on in 1979. But his legacy lives on and has inspired countless others to pursue the art, even giving rise to modern mask-making powerhouses such as Trick or Treat Studios and Distortions Unlimited.

How to make latex masks

You don’t have to have a huge manufacturing facility and an army of artists to make latex masks. The process is fairly simple and can be right in your own home with just a few hundred dollars worth of items, patience, and a little imagination. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Sculpting

Every latex mask is made from a lump of rubber latex. In order to turn this lump into a wearable mask, you must figure out what you want to make, how the wearer will see through the mask, how big the mask will be, how many copies you plan to make, and how it will be molded. An armature is a necessary part of your sculpting process and serves as your supporting body for your work, giving you something to build upon.

  • Molding

Molds are typically made in two parts – a front and a back. Occasionally, three or more parts may be required. The molding phase can be considered the most critical part of the mask-making process because the plastic kicks or begins to cure within a short period.

  • Casting

Once your mold is done and cleaned out, it is time to make your first pull. Latex casting is done using one of two general methods – slip or dwell casting. In dwell casting, latex is poured directly into the mold until it’s completely filled, then the latex is left to sit or dwell in the mold for about an hour. In slip casting, a small amount of latex is used and the mold is rotated by hand, allowing the latex to flow or slip around the inside of the mold, filling all the nooks and crannies.

  • Painting

When it comes to painting a mask, there are several different methods you can use. It really depends on your budget, available materials, and of course, your personal preference. From rubber cement paint formulations to pax paint to acrylics mixed with latex, and even household latex paint itself; whatever paint method that you choose, you have to make sure that it adheres to the latex and that it remains flexible even after drying. Otherwise, the paint will dry, peel, or flake off in no time.

Having learned how to preserve latex masks, you can now purchase one for Halloween and use it for many years without fear of damage.