Beauty Brand Pulls Face Masks Off Shelves in Response to Children's Burns
A mom from Iowa asked that Yes To recall their Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask after her stepdaughter broke out in red, swollen, itchy raised abrasions. And more children have had adverse reactions to other products from the company.
When it comes to getting glowy, radiant, youthful-looking skin, many of us will do just about anything—from blasting it with lasers to creating tiny injuries to the skin with microneedling. And the skincare obsession starts young, especially when drugstore and beauty store shelves are packed with cute facial products marketed to tweens and teens. After a mom from Iowa requested the recall of one such product, the Yes to Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask, noting that it injured her stepdaughter, the company has decided to pull it from shelves.
"Christmas morning, my 10-year-old stepdaughter received the face mask in her stocking," Anders tells Parents.com. "Her big push this year was unicorns! After opening her gifts, she asked if she could open the face mask. We read the directions on the back where I found no suggested age of use on the product, but it had a 10-minute recommend use time."
Anders says her stepdaughter was wearing the mask—which Anders bought at Ulta, but can also be found at Target and other stores—for two minutes when she said, "It tingles." "I grabbed the packaging and looked at the directions again," Anders says. "In bold it says, 'Close eyes and relax for 10 minutes. Remove mask. Tingling? It's working!' By the time I read that, she had spoke up again and said, 'Chelsea, its burning.'"
Anders told her to take the mask off. "Upon removal, I saw her face was bright red, swollen and had all the symptoms of a sunburn," she said. "After rinsing her face for 10 minutes every 20 minutes for over two hours and applying aloe vera, the redness and swelling started to go down."
Other people have reported injuries and assumed it was just an allergic reaction. Anders told local news station WHO, "I had first thought chemical reaction. It’s what a lot of people had assumed when using this product was that it was just an allergic reaction. Then, doing the research after I had seen what had happened, it looks like a chemical burn."
Anders also took to Facebook to share a word of warning, alongside a photo of the product the day after Christmas. "Ladies, double-check your stocking stuffers," the concerned mom wrote. "If you received this Yes To face mask, throw it out! Over 56 1-star reviews on their website due to chemical burns."
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As Anders notes, the mask has a slew of horrifying reviews, from other parents and adults, on the Yes To website. "Used this yesterday, marketed to children at Target," one reviewer wrote. "Left it on her for only a couple of minutes and had to put cold compresses and Benadryl and call the doctor to rectify the situation. This is criminal."
On Ulta.com, a reviewer wrote, "Horrible product. Wish I had read reviews before using. Received as a Christmas gift and used it about half hour ago. My face currently looks like I have a sunburn and stings. Using an ice pack on it to help. Don't use!"
Although the Yes To website notes that users should be at least 18 years old, the packaging doesn't state the age requirement, and given that both children and adults are having concerning reactions, Anders told WHO "suggested ages really isn't a point." She elaborated, "I understand the difference in the skincare, but your target marketing is definitely children, and if you are suggesting 18 and older, why are targeting unicorns at 18 and older?"
Reviews of the product say the effects are happening to all ages. Anders said the way the product is marketed is concerning. "The reviews about children, the same reaction is happening in adults, so suggested ages really isn't a point. I understand the difference in the skincare, but your target marketing is definitely children, and if you are suggesting 18 and older, why are targeting unicorns at 18 and older?" Anders told WHO.
WHO spoke to Iowa Dermatology Clinic Nurse Practitioner Christina Warren about the ingredients in the mask. "There was lactic acid in it, there’s fragrance in it, there’s vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that we usually recommend for aging skin or sun-damaged skin,” Warren said. "It's probably not appropriate for younger children." She recommends steering clear of paper masks and using a product that can easily be spot tested instead.
Talar Sabounjian, a Los Angeles-based esthetician and founder of Talar Natural Skincare, agrees, telling Parents.com, "I would never use lactic acid or vitamin C on children or teenagers, because it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. As your skin is sloughing off skin cells, it then leaves new cells more vulnerable to UV damage. Fragrance can also cause dermatitis, red itchy rash or other allergic reactions, such as headaches and asthma."
In the meantime, Anders said her concerns have yet to be addressed by Yes To and would like to see the product recalled and the suggested age printed on the packaging—as opposed to the website alone—in the future.
Parents.com reached out to Yes To for comment and received the following statement:
"Yes To 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. We have recently seen reports on social media that children have used the Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow-Boosting Unicorn Paper Mask, unfortunately resulting in skin irritation. We have also received some similar reports from adults who have used the product. 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. 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 controversy hasn't stopped there. BuzzFeed News reports that other parents have shared issues with other products from Yes To, such as their Detoxifying Charcoal Paper Mask. Customers have also complained on Ulta's website about the Yes To Coconut Mask and the brand's cucumber under-eye masks, with one writing "after only 30 seconds of use, I had a huge rash on my face." Donna Baines, a mom from New Jersey who had a similar experience to Anders', told BuzzFeed that the products in question "should be repackaged, recalled, and retested for safety."