The Ugly Truth Behind Peel-Off Face Masks

We’re sure you’ve seen it floating around - the peel-off face mask is almost as hot as Hansel right now. Beauty bloggers, Youtubers, and skin enthusiasts alike are earnestly sharing this recent beauty trend. Sure, it’s eye-catching, interesting, and almost therapeutic to peel off, but the affects peel-off masks have on your skin might not be so beautiful after all.

Peel-off masks became popular thanks to appealing claims and the fact that it’s more interesting to use than traditional mud masks. Remove blackheads and whiteheads, they say. Unblock pores, they say. But did you know that when you peel that mask off of your skin (sometimes quite dramatically, depending on the product), you are also removing essential oils and even the top layer(s) of skin?

But don’t just take our word for it - many others are discouraging the use of peel-off masks, including facialists, aestheticians, and dermatologists.

Andy Milward, Facialist, Aesthetician, and member of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology, stated that these masks are painful and damaging. True, peel-off masks can rip those blackheads and impurities out, but it also sticks to the face’s tiny hairs. When lifted, these hairs can also be pulled out.

“They effectively act like glue binding to the cells on the skin’s surface as well as any vellus hair,” according to Andy.

"In fact, there are loads of DIY versions of the mask doing the rounds on YouTube which literally are made from PVA Glue and charcoal powder. When removed, the mask is removing cells from the outer layer of skin (the stratum corneum) and any hair along with it. You only need to watch some of the videos that have gone viral to see the excruciating pain the mask users are in”, he added.

The “smoother skin” look is achieved because people are literally peeling off the surface layers of their skin. This process is considered “extreme exfoliation” and can irritate the skin. Not only is the lifting process potentially painful, but it can also damage the skin permanently if done repetitively.

Melissa Piliang, MD, a Dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic said, “the mask 'sticks' to not just the blackheads, but also the skin and hair on the face.When the mask is removed, it pulls off the outermost layer of skin and associated oils which serve as a barrier to protect the skin from the environment. Thus, plus pulling out the small hairs would cause significant pain—just like waxing the face.”

Dr. Piliang also warns about the the use of these masks, as they often contain chemicals that can cause irritation or allergies. Your skin is your biggest organ and it absorbs a lot of what you put on it. We suggest you always check the ingredients of your products.

DIY peel-off masks that use glue as base ingredient are the most harmful of all and should be avoided completely. This household product has not been thoroughly tested for safety or use on the human body. Non-toxic does not mean it won’t irritate the skin.

Dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu states, “the glue is to give that ‘peel-off’ effect, but acrylates can actually cause allergic contact dermatitis, which can lead to itching, redness, and sometimes even blisters on the face”.

Ok, so peel-off masks aren’t the best choice. Mud masks, on the other hand, have been around for a long time, and for good reason. Gently dislodging masks with warm water and washing them away are much safer for your skin. If you’re looking for a safe mud mask, we create a Turmeric Charcoal Acne Face Mask, which is packed full of natural, safe ingredients that will clear skin and balance complexion. If you’re looking to achieve that smooth finish on your skin, our Face Scrub Pads gently exfoliate the skin and clarify pores with ingredients like glycerin soap, lime essential oil, and baking soda. If you’re looking for a more interactive product our 4-in-1 Acne Treatment can be used in four ways and the crystallized sugar exfoliates skin without causing micro-scarring.

Have a story to share about peel-off masks? Share it in the comments!

We encourage you, our loyal customers, to be part of The Giving Tree, our growing community for our Exclusive Members. No membership fee required! Get exclusive perks and be the first to hear about new discounts, products, and events! Click the link below to learn more.

What Is The Giving Tree?