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first published by 'Fetters' 1980
Revised March 2011

Because the head is the centre of sight/hearing/taste/smell, the simple act of hooding or even blindfolding effectively changes the whole personality balance. In a series of scientific tests it was proved that by creating the effect of separating head from body, to most of the people tested, the head represented "self" and in the circumstances the body could be viewed as a totally detached object.
The attractions and advantages of hooding in Erotic Bondage games and 'Scenes' fall into two main categories
The visual effect:
Not only can hoods look very dramatic, by removing the identifiable appearance the wearer a hood can:

A) Act as a release for a self-conscious 'victim',
B) Release the person outside from inhibitions caused by familiarity with (or fear of) the hooded person
C) Free both parties to fantasise that they are dealing with someone quite different. (However, at the same time, it is important that when hooding someone this does not seem to indicating that you don't like the look of the person you're with).

The general phenomenon of masks has been the subject of several books. The psychological effects on both wearer and viewer are rooted deep in the human mind. A false or featureless face makes it difficult to relate to it as another human being. A mask or hood may be deliberately designed to create a particular character or dramatic image, or the aim may be to de-personalise. Certainly the removal of direct eye contact or expression, even behind dark glasses, goggles or a mask with "pinhole" eyes (which allow the wearer to see but hides any expression in their eyes) results in a high degree of depersonalisation. Total removal of 'facial expression' is more difficult to achieve because the shape of every seam, line of stitching, eye or mouth-hole may create the appearance of facial features. The androidal image given by some conventional leather masks can be very attractive to see, and at the same time allow the wearer to either become someone else or nobody in particular

Fantasy masks.
In the field of Erotic Bondage the general range of mask images available has been very limited. Fantasy Character or Personality masks" seems to be a whole area ripe for development.
The tactile effect:
Texture and shape affects both the wearer and controller. Whether skin tight, heavily padded, rigid or box-like, or inflated and distorted in form .... from inside and out a range of very sensual alternatives are possible. Each hood or helmet can to some extent be played like a musical instrument. The acoustic properties of leather being caressed by gloved or ungloved fingers, a more rigid casing being drummed on, the introduction of inescapable sound all can be used as part of sensual games. Other sensual changes such as inability to see, muffling of speech or hearing can heighten any effect. Pressure and tightness of a hood can be varied to modulate the intensity of a 'Scene'. Because the head is the centre for so many different senses a hood or helmet can create a sense of total 'imprisonment' even when no other form of restraint is used.

Hoods for "Tops":
This is a subject to explore. Masks or hoods specifically for the dominator of a situation could also be an interesting area for development.
Elements of de-personalization or change of character can often help the controller of any Scene. The design of the hood may be less restrictive, but whether used for visual dramatic effect or just to hide the identity of one or more people involved in a scene it opens up new territories. Certainly an unhooded 'victim' under the control of unrecognisable people is a reversal which has a powerful impact.

In general hoods are reasonably safe to use. Certainly, tightness of the neck and adequate air should be of prime concern. Leaving somebody unattended when hooded is a matter of personal capacity and perhaps even mutual agreement - but the controller must be aware of the risks and assume full responsibility. (Notes on the legal responsibilities of S/M games are being compiled - contributions welcome).

A less obvious Safety Factor is that the face soon begins to swell inside a hood. A nose opening which is large enough when the hood is first put on may soon become partially obstructed as the cheeks swell. This can lead to serious discomfort if not something more dangerous.
Another important general point is that what is bearable at first may cause panic when other factors such as restriction of movement or intensity of action change.

Other safety points worth noting:

A) Breathing holes might become blocked when a hood shifts during action. Particularly if anchored in some way a hood can easily move.
B) Mouth/eye zippers are popular with people who like a variety of opportunities. Facial hair can be a problem, zips should be opened and closed with care, and if possible have some backing to them. Pressure upon either opened or closed zips can be painful and damage the skin.
C) "Poppers" used with hoods or helmets can have unexpected results. Because of restricted breathing, fumes can be more potent and perhaps hang around longer. Expect the unexpected until you have personal experience to guide you.
D) A very tight hood can cause wearer to bite inside of cheeks.
E) If the wearer of an eyeless hood is in darkness for too long this may produce a state of slight mental disorientation. When a hood is removed care should be taken because both thought and movement of the 'victim' may not be predictable.
F) In the same circumstances light can be painful on eyes which have been in darkness for even a short length of time.
G) NEVER use a hood to suspend body- weight.
The effect on neck and spine can be disastrous - and 'D' rings on hoods are seldom designed to take serious strain!
H) Gags under hoods which have no mouth holes aren't recommended. In an emergency such as vomiting, the whole hood has to be removed - and laces can get into knots.

So, finally, as a general note; more particularly than in any other form of bondage game having a pair of sharp scissors (preferably blunt-pointed) handy to cut laces or in emergency the hood itself is a wise precaution.


A hood which can allow the wearer to see or not see, talk or not talk gives much more variety to the action. However, in practical terms these options can also weaken the general structure or visual impact of a hood. Certainly, too many metal snap-on fasteners can make it uncomfortable to wear. The act of pressing on a snap-fastener cover to close eyes or mouth may cause in painful bruising. Some people don't seem to mind this and feel it worth it to have the variable effect.
The degree of tightness possible may depend on whether the leather is soft and pliable or heavy and tough. Aiming for a hood which allows too many alternatives may result in it not fulfilling any one purpose well, and cost as much as buying a heavy duty plus a more soft and supple hood.

Before buying a hood it is worth considering the following points:
Adjustment of a hood to different sized and shaped heads, and different degrees of pressure is usually achieved by lacing - but this can also be a tedious business - particularly if the victim is already lying down.
A useful alternative is the type of hood which has two side laces for adjustment plus a back zip to allow easy removal and replacement. Conversely, this adds hardware and may result in discomfort lying on side laces. Velcro tape offers a possible alternative for closing hoods, and certainly allows finer adjustment. Experiments are being made. Your ideas and news of improved materials are always welcome.

Closed or open nose:

The distinction in the FETTERS catalogue is of a hood with totally open-ended nose or one which has closed end with breathing holes. The latter does give a greater sense of being inside something. However, a nose with the bottom end open may be essential to some wearers. Even mouth breathing holes may be necessary to avoid the fear of not being able to breathe.
A hood with no eyes may not be light-proof if the nose has an open end - unless eye-pads and even a strap across the eyes is keeping pads tightly in position. (Eye pads can be impractical for wearers of contact lenses). Breathing is further restricted in eyeless hoods because eye holes also admit a certain amount of air.

Pinhole eyes:

This useful alternative to complete eye holes gives the wearer limited vision without allowing the expression in the eyes to be a means of communication. It also avoids the face of the hood
assuming a recognisable personality (which eye holes of any shape tend to give).

As an alternative to or addition to a hood, a simple blindfold can be very useful in many games or 'Scenes'. The traditional handkerchief is very unstable and can easily be dislodged. A shaped leather blindfold which is basically flat often allows limited vision. Only a padded and adjustable one can be guaranteed to exclude all light. Pressure on contact lenses has already been mentioned.
Blindfolds which attach to hoods with snap fasteners have also been discussed. A single snap-fastener, well to the side of the hood is usually better than snaps over the cheekbones. A separate blindfold with an adjustable strap which can if necessary be anchored to a hood is the ideal solution.

Closed or open mouth:

Ideally, a removable cover gives more opportunities, but even the softest hood, if tailored to fit closely, may prevent the jaw from opening fully. Even a gag which holds the mouth wide may be usable with a relatively snug hood. But, for any activity when the jaw may have to "work", a very tight chin on a hood can be a drag!
A zip mouth gives a simple practical alternative - but brings with it problems already mentioned under Safety. Although a removable chin section can be added to most of the FETTERS hood patterns, this will reduce the amount of tightening possible and add at least eight snap fasteners to an area which may be tender. A removable muzzle cup attached by straps around and over the top of the head may be another practical alternative.
Most FETTERS Standard hoods have soft two inch collars - which allow for collars of firmer leather or metal to be used over the top when required. However, some hood models do have a firmer narrow neck strap and 'D' ring centre front fixed permanently. Study the revised descriptions of the 'Standard' hoods. Minor details can be changed when ordering.
Longer collars can also be attractive. Soft fitted collars breaking onto the shoulders have great visual appeal, but don't always fit very neatly.
An even longer collar on a hood, reaching down both back and front to a strap which circles the chest and back (under the armpits) has a particularly dramatic appeal and psychological effect.

Back vent alternatives:
Whether a hood has laces or zipper, some form of internal lining to prevent hair getting caught or sticking out is essential. For most zippers a three inch wide 'tongue' of soft leather is all that's necessary. For laces, anything wider tends to get scrunched up and look untidy.
A full vent fixed to both back edges of the hood allows it to fully envelope the head even before it's fastened has many advantages. This then scrunches up to form a ridge of soft padding under laces or zipper and does not look too untidy!

Eyelets or Cinch Rings:
These are a matter of personal choice. On a very soft leather hood cinch rings (as on hiking boots) are stronger than eyelets, and many people find them easier to thread. Conversely, some people complain that the rivets in cinch rings dig into the scalp if laced too tightly. With a full vent under them, this is avoided. Descriptions for each hood in the FETTERS range lists whether cinch rings or eyelets are 'standard'- but your order can specify your preference.

Lockable hoods:
A simple padlock through the bottom two 'D' rings of a hood with laces locked inside (out of reach of fingers) can have a strong psychological effect. However, a zipped panel which closes over lacing and locks to the collar is a new and very effective 'extra' available for most hoods. This makes the hood impossible to remove even when hands are free. However, it does also reduce the degree of adjustability of the hood lacing.

'D' rings and attachment points:
Several illustrations in the current catalogue show 'D' rings on the tops of hoods. These are very useful for attaching and restricting head movement - but on very soft hoods these can easily tear the leather - and perhaps press into the scalp. They are no longer 'Standard' on most hoods. You need to ask for them when ordering.
Attachments can cause a hood to shift and move breathing holes away from nostrils. Hood fixing points should never be used to suspend body weight.

Other openings:
Holes for ears, pony tails and beards are other possibilities. Certainly the imaginative use of headphones for music, speech or "White noise" can add to any Scene.

Other decoration:
Whether ornamental or giving specific character to the masked head such additions to a hood can be used to great effect. Whether permanently fixed or temporary (glued or drawn on) they can be used to reinforce a fantasy or humiliate the wearer. Open faced hoods:
These are useful as a basis for attaching gags, blindfold or face-mask to while giving access to the face when required. The exact line of the facial opening demands accurate measurements and very specific instructions when ordering.

Muzzles or Bridles over hoods:

These can be used very effectively over soft hoods perhaps to intensify the situation for a short period during a longer scene. With heavier head harnesses the soft hood underneath can reduce wear-and-tear on the skin and prolong the time for which they can be worn, but from a safety point of view, this also means there are two to take off in an emergency. A chinless hood with eye holes can have a second hood over it quite safely. Semi-rigid hoods:
Most of the standard hoods listed can have more solid panels riveted to them to add weight and rigidity. This is a relatively new development. If it sounds attractive - make your demands. We can't resist a challenge.

Solid helmets:
Psychologically, a more firm 'box' is a very different experience. These are necessarily less close-fitting, and there is a tendency to rub the skin. Medieval knights wore soft leather 'balaclavas' under their metal helmets. So far we've found nobody willing to make iron helmets in the "Man in the Iron Mask" tradition - but a series of prototypes made in rigid leather are looking good. We're still working on them - and welcome the impetus of someone actually arriving on our doorstep knowing exactly what they want. The possibility of sculpted heads (with or without defined personality) perhaps made in glass fibre - and lockable - offer many exciting alternatives. With soft padded interior and rigid finger-proof outside shell, these would have many visual, tactile and practical uses.

Wrapped heads:
Adhesive tape, leather thongs, clingfilm or soft rubber strips can all be used to create an instant helmet in a mummification scene. Degree of tightness and ability to breathe must, naturally, be carefully controlled. With adhesive tape it's perhaps advisable to use a stocking or thin polythene sheet as a base. Method of cutting them off also needs pre-planning.
Cooking foil can be used to create a semi-rigid 'metal' helmet. If carefully removed (and thick enough) this might be re-used or dissected to make a pattern for a more permanent form-fitting helmet. In any event the wrapping process can in itself be an exhilarating experience for whoever is being wrapped or doing the wrapping (or watching).

Black box:
Scientific experiments in total reduction of sensitivity resulted in the development of a wooden box lined and padded to hold a head immovable inside. Fixed to floor or bed this completely isolates the head from the world (and from the rest of the body). Breathing through a tube (mouth and nose) is controllable. Psychologically the rigidity of the box creates a very very powerful effect - and it's not for the timid.

Sports helmets:
A variety of practical protective headgear for boxing, fencing, Kendo or other Martial Arts offers a wide range of practical and dramatic uses. Motorcycle crash helmets, particularly the Open Face type, can be used in conjunction with face covers, soft hoods and gags producing a range of excellent results. A crash helmet has the added advantage of being usable in 'outdoor' adventures. Old fashioned Flying helmets also have a very definite visual appeal - if you can find one. (If anyone has an old one we can copy - we'll welcome the opportunity to make them more easily available). Gas Masks can also be incorporated with some helmets. A variety of types are easily available by mail-order. Other helmets and masks used in industrial health and safety breathing situations can be interesting.

Rubber hoods:
Flexible moulded light latex hoods are quite readily available with or without eyes/mouths, with mouth tubes, with built-in gags, open faced or totally enclosed. Used in conjunction with other hoods or helmets these soft latex hoods can add an extra element to any Scene. Heavier rubber hoods including inflatables have unique properties of both feel and visual effect but are more expensive and more difficult to find.

END 8-HEADTRIPS original Info Sheet

1 Gags
2 Chastity Belts
3 Dildos & butt plugs
4 Hospital Restraints
5 Genital Bondage
6 Strait-jackets
7 Bags and Sacks