What’s Behind the Sheet Mask Recall?

Skincare brand ‘Yes To’ voluntarily recalled their Unicorn face masks in early January after customers complained that the shimmery pink paper left their skin red and swollen. Itchy welts and abrasions gave some users a feeling as though they had an extreme sunburn, according to those who went on Facebook to warn others. They said painful burns erupted within minutes after applying the Yes To Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask, and swiftness led dermatologists to point to an irritant reaction as the probable culprit.

While an irritant reaction can look very similar to allergic contact dermatitis, dermatologists say anybody who applies an irritant to their skin can suffer a reaction.

Mothers of teenage girls wondered on Facebook if youth made their daughters susceptible to irritation, but dermatologists said that was probably not the case. While toddlers have absorbent skin, the skin barrier reduces sensitivity after the age of five. Adults also joined in with accounts of burns suffered after using the facial product. The Vitamin C that’s used in the Unicorn sheet mask is often used in facial products as an anti-aging ingredient, but it can be harmful to skin depending on concentrations, experts say.

‘Yes To’ apologizes, recalls and investigates.

“In light of reports that our Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask has resulted in skin irritation for some consumers, Yes To has decided to remove this particular product from store shelves while we investigate,” the brand posted on Facebook.

“We apologize to anyone who was affected in this way, especially over the holiday season,” Yes To wrote in another statement. “While our products are all independently tested for safety, irritation, and allergy – and while we provide both warnings and instructions on our products about the potential for skin irritation – the safety and satisfaction of our customers are our main concerns.”

In addition to discontinuing to carry the face mask, Yes To says buyers can return the product to the retailer and contact customer support for refunds.

What to do if your face mask burns

If your skin burns and reddens after applying any face mask, remove the product immediately by washing the face with mild soap and rinse several with water to make sure it’s completely washed off. You could also apply a thin layer of a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream or products like Aquaphor or Vaseline to soothe your irritated skin.

These over-the-counter products will turn off your skin’s inflammatory response to the injury.

Dermatologists say it’s not just ‘Yes To’ that has an irritation problem with face masks. Other brands may contain different ingredients that can cause a reaction. Fragrances and preservatives are common culprits. If you are already using anti-aging or exfoliating products, your skin may be more likely to react if the face mask contains acne ingredients such as salicylic acid or retinol.

An allergic reaction can cause hives.

Dermatologists say they suspect the problem with the ‘Yes To’ Unicorn face mask is irritation, but consumers who have experimented with other brands have come across another problem: hives. Hives occur because the skin comes in contact with an allergen. You’re likely dealing with an allergic reaction to something in the product formula.

If you get hives from the mask, remove the face mask with room temperature water. Don’t scrub vigorously or use hot water. Apply a bland gentle moisturizer and don’t try to camouflage the area with other cosmetics. You could also take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine like Zyrtec or Benadryl to stop the release of histamine from the inflamed skin and calm swelling, redness and itching.

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