3 Face Mask Ingredients to Avoid


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

I used to have a huge collection of face masks that were either impulse buys or gift from friends. One day, I decided to go through my stash and sort through which ones were actually safe for my skin and worth keeping. I was shocked how many were full of harmful ingredients! Now I'm careful about reading labels when I see a cute mask with clever packaging that's drawing me in. And if someone gives me a face mask as a gift that I don't feel good about, I just throw it away. It's not worth it to give someone else the harmful ingredients by passing it on.

Ingredients to Avoid

1. Steroids

Did you know some sheet masks use steroids? According to Byrdie, a report came out that a lot of cheap face mask companies were using glucocorticoid, a steroid that produces the results you want instantly, but at quite a cost. While you see an immediate fix in inflammation, your skin risks becoming dependent on the steroid. And if you stop using those same face masks, you could see much worse results than you had before.

"The brands are not named due to the ongoing investigation by authorities, but according to the Chinese FDA, one in four sheet masks contain banned steroids (glucocorticoid). The most frightening part of all this is that it only takes two weeks for users to develop a dependency." —Pheobe Song, Snow Fox skincare founder

Always check your face masks for any kind of steroid, whether it is called glucocorticoid or any other type like corticoid and cortisol.

READ MORE: The Surprisingly Scary Ingredient Hiding in Your Sheet Mask

2. Alcohol + Fragrances

OK, fragrances are in so, so many skincare products. And they may be the reason you're not seeing the results you want even though you stick to a diligent skincare routine. Whether you struggle with oily skin and breakouts or dry skin, alcohol and fragrances (referred to as sensitizing ingredients) can make both of those things worse.

"Oily, breakout-prone skin is especially susceptible to the effects of sensitizing ingredients. When problem ingredients aggravate skin’s surface, a chain reaction can occur that makes oily skin worse, possibly triggering more breakouts. ... Many sensitizing ingredients quickly dehydrate skin’s surface, leading to a feeling of tight, drawn skin. With ongoing use, sensitizing, drying ingredients can rob skin’s surface of the replenishing ingredients it needs to stay smooth, supple, and hydrated. If you have dry, flaky, dehydrated skin, switching to non-irritating products can make a visible difference, often overnight!" —Paula's Choice

I know face masks with fragrances can be relaxing and make you feel like you're at a spa, but it's not worth the irritation it can cause your skin.

READ MORE: How Sensitizing Ingredients Hurt Skin

3. Parabens

When we talk about avoiding parabens, it's usually related to haircare. But parabens also end up in many skin care products as well. They are used because they extend the expiration date of products so that they last longer on shelves and also on your vanity. But parabens can mimic oestrogen, which is related to breast cancer in women.

"In 2004, a British study found traces of five parabens in the breast tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied. The study didn't prove that parabens can cause cancer but identified that the parabens were able to penetrate the skin and remain within tissue." —Zoe Dubs, Elle

Additionally, when we dispose of parabens, or even rinse them off of us in the shower, we run the risk of transmitting them to marine life and causing environmental issues as well. So, to avoid face masks with parabens, look for ingredients such as butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.

READ MORE: What Are Parabens? The Truth About Skincare's Biggest Bad Guy

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer

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