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Superheroes are able to fight and do any number of highly physical activities while keeping their strapless masks on and their identities secret. This would lead me to believe they use an adhesive of some sort, yet they are able to quickly remove their masks and appear in civilian garb without any apparent residue around their eyes.

Since the answer could vary from character to character, I'll ask about a specific character:

How did Robin fasten those tenacious strapless masks to his face and how did he remove them?

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Most likely he uses Spirit gum. Spirit gum is a common theatrical adhesive used to affix facial prosthetics. Alfred Pennyworth being a classically trained actor would be very familiar with Spirit gum, and would no doubt have suggested it's use in securing Robin's domino mask. To loosen Spirit gum you need only apply any acetone based remover, such as nail polish remover. No doubt any of the Robin's would have become adept at quickly removing any traces of Spirit gum residue.

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    Random trivia: Alan Moore indirectly addressed this in one of the "Under the Hood" chapters in Watchmen, where the original Night Owl talks about first using a string to secure his mask, and how it nearly got him killed when his opponent knocked it sideways and it temporarily blocked his vision. Spirit gum was the answer there, and it's probably the answer for any character that uses a domino mask. – John Bode Dec 19 '13 at 20:12
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    Although, in my experience, Spirit Gum is far from easy to remove quickly and the reek of pine sap would be likely to give them away. :) My current theory is that they surgically embed rare-earth magnets in their face and the masks have an electromagnet to allow changing the polarity from "cling" to "repel". – FuzzyBoots Oct 10 '14 at 18:59
  • @SeanDuggan I doubt they would be using an electromagnet in the masks. Most supplamental material for Robin's gear states that there are light amplifying (star-light lenses) and other electronics built in to the masks. A magnet that close to other electronics could interfere with it's function. Not to mention the scarring, and relative difficulty in embedding magnets under the dermis without making them visible. – Monty129 Oct 10 '14 at 19:20
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    @Monty129: I should have added a "joking" tag in there someone other than the emoticon. My family has been joking about "magnetic hats" since we started watching Buster Keaton shorts. – FuzzyBoots Oct 10 '14 at 19:45

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