You might have seen reports that the popular brand, Yes To, has recalled its unicorn face mask after many complaints of painful burns in users as young as 11 years old.

One of the tips I give my patients in trying new skincare products is to patch test, whenever possible. You really don’t know how your skin will react to a new product and a patch test is the most reliable way to ensure that your skin can tolerate the ingredients in a particular product.

Another option is to listen to your skin – and to your gut – when it comes to trying new skincare.  If you apply a product to your skin and develop any redness, burning, or stinging, IMMEDIATELY rinse it off! If you are trying a new face mask and you feel stinging discomfort – take it OFF! Do not assume this is the product “working.”

So, what happened with this popular brand’s mask and why were people reporting chemical burn-type injuries after just minutes of use? In my opinion, the most likely diagnosis is irritant contact dermatitis, meaning an irritation from an ingredient in the product that is being used at too high a concentration. In this case, the likely culprit is either Vitamin C or “fragrance.”

Even vitamin C, an amazing ingredient with tons of data supporting its use in skincare, can cause problems if the concentration is too high, or if it’s not being used in the right formulation.  The other ingredients in a formula, and the concentrations in which they are present, are all factors that can impact whether vit C can be safe and effective, or cause a major skin reaction.  Vit C needs to penetrate into the skin.  If too much of it sits on the surface, it can cause problems.  The other ingredients in the formulation, and the type of vitamin C used, can all factor into whether a product is safe.

As I’ve shared before, the term “fragrance” can mask hundreds of other ingredients, many of which are known irritants or allergens.  I recommend avoiding products that use the term “fragrance” or “parfum” on their ingredient list instead of disclosing the actual ingredients.  Transparency is KEY when it comes to safety, as we can see from reports like these!!

Dr. Whitney