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Investigating face masks: How they’re regulated and what parents need to know

Most cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to pre-market approval.

A quick Internet search shows dozens of negative reviews.

Online, users are complaining about The Yes To Grapefruit C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask, writing posts that say the mask “burned my daughter’s face,” and that the mask “should not be marketed toward children.”

One post on Yes To Inc.’s website reads, “My ten-year-old daughter had a terrible reaction to this mask.  Within minutes her face was burning and skin was bright red.”

In January, Yes To Inc. took action and voluntarily recalled and discontinued the face mask, apologizing to anyone who was affected.  It put out a statement that read:

"Yes To Inc. has issued a voluntary recall of all lots of its Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask in response to complaints of skin irritation and redness. We have recently seen reports on social media that children have used the Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask unfortunately in skin irritation. We have also received similar reports from adults who have used the product. As such, we have decided to pull this particular product off of the shelves while we investigate the complaints that we have received and seen online.

The Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask is distributed nationwide in numerous retail and on-line outlets. No other Yes To products are included in this recall.

We apologize to anyone who was affected in this way, especially over the holiday season. 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.

Yes to Inc. is committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of all of our products and has maintained a strong track record of delivering quality products to our customers since our founding in 2006.

Please return the product to the retailer where purchased, if it has not been used, for a refund. Or, if you have already used the product, contact Yes To at customercare@yesto.com or by phone at 888.929.3786 on Monday – Friday between 9am – 3pm PST"

Dr. Jennifer Pennoyer, a Bloomfield dermatologist, has seen first-hand what reactions these popular masks can cause. 

“When you have any of these masks, you’re taking these chemicals which generally are good, like citric acid in this case, but you’re putting it under a higher concentration and you’re also putting it under occlusion, so you’re increasing the potency there, so of course there can be irritation and irritant reactions,” said Dr. Jennifer Pennoyer of Pennoyer Dermatology.

According to Monique Richards, a Press Officer with the FDA, “cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to pre-market approval, with the exception of color additives.”  Face masks fall into that category and aren’t required to go through any testing before being released to the public.  The agency also says there are no specific regulations for cosmetics marketed to children.

That said, face masks aren’t all bad.  Searching on the Yes To website, the Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying and Hydrating White Charcoal Paper Mask gets great reviews, with one user saying, “I love how it made my skin feel so hydrated after.”

Dr. Pennoyer says she uses masks in her office for hydration and post-procedure.  She says it’s important to know what kind of mask you’re using.

“I would stick with masks that want to promote hydration because that’s what they do so well is really moisturize and hydrate your skin and calm your skin.  That’s what’s tried and true about masks,” said Dr. Pennoyer.

For parents who are looking to let their children have a little fun with beauty, Dr. Pennoyer suggests testing the mask on yourself before letting your child use it.  If your child has sensitive skin, it’s probably best to avoid masks altogether.

“I think the masks are here to stay.  They are fun, and what a fun thing for kids to do at night.  I think we just have to be careful with what we choose,” said Dr. Pennoyer.

FOX61 reached out directly to Yes To Inc.  We received an automated email back, which said the company would get back to us if it deemed it necessary.

On its website, Yes To Inc. says you can return the unopened unicorn mask product to the store where you bought it for a refund.  If you’ve already used the mask, you can contact Yes To Customer Care.