Dangers of Masking

Who doesn't love masking? It's a quick and easy way to get instantly firm skin and a truly beautiful glow. It's not an exaggeration to say that sheet-masking is the crown jewel of Korean skin care routine. 

However, are you aware of all the nasties included in your mask? Read on if you want to know about potentially skin damaging ingredients lurking in your "believed-to-be" skin perfecting sheet masks. 

Sheet masks became a staple around the globe with K-Beauty wave hit. They come with convenient, mess-free packaging and offer a hydrated and oh-so-sexy dewy after-mask effect. They are imbued with skin-loving, skin-perfecting ingredients. Aren’t they? Well, that's how sellers’ market them, but the truth is a little different.


If you are a mask-addict like myself, you are probably aware of why they are so effective. It's because they literally "wrap" your face with all the ingredients for a good 15-20 minutes. And when I say ALL ingredients, I mean both "good" and "bad" ingredients. This is why you need to be extra cautious when choosing your sheet masks.

If you sheet mask daily with ones that contain "baddies" you are more likely to damage your skin, causing break-outs, increased sensitivity, and extreme irritation as your skin barrier function weakens due to harsh ingredients.

In this post, I’m going to reveal the common "baddies" that lurk about in sheet masks and review popular sheet masks after exploring their ingredients.


1. PEG/PPG Compounds

It's probably not an exaggeration to say that every single sheet mask on the shelf contains PEG/PPG compounds due to their immediate skin-softening effect, as well as being cost effective for manufacturers. However, you need to be wary of these petroleum-based impurities as they are skin sensitizing and skin drying when used long term. 
It's best to use sheet masks that don't contain these harsh chemicals, or only choose products that list tiny amounts.  They are normally labelled PEG with a number or other data such PEG-6 or PEG-40 hydrogenated.

2. Fragrance

Fragrance is a known skin irritant. As sheet masking sessions are seen as a relaxation ritual by most people, many sheet masks contain fragrance for divine, calming scent. However, we all know that many scents are harmful to our skin so it's best to choose sheet masks that are perfume free, or to select ones that contain a teeny-tiny amount. (The fragrance listed at the very end of the ingredients list is what you should look out for).

3.  Titanium Oxide

Have you seen masks that promise an instant, skin-brightening effect? Don't get too excited! They normally include Titanium Oxide which is an ingredient used to block UV rays in sunscreen and comes with a white cast. It's the white cast that immediately brightens the skin. Unfortunately, that temporary radiance will disappear the moment you cleanse your face. 
It’s a vicious cycle. You cleanse and exfoliate your face to get rid of chemical sunscreen, only to put it straight back on with a mask that you don't wash off! Ban Titanium Oxide in your sheet masks. It’s not beneficial to your skin whatsoever!

4.  High Content of Harsh Preservatives

Along with Parabens, there are other harsh preservatives that need to watch out for. It's relatively safe for sheet masks to contain preservatives, but only a minimal amount should be included.
Preservatives that are safe in small amounts:

  • Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, 
Preservative that should be avoided in sheet masks:
  • Paraben, BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), DMDM hydantoin, Formaldehyde, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

5.  Mineral Oil

It is said that mineral oil used in cosmetics is highly purified and safe to use. However, scientists have expressed concerns about it. It rarely delivers anything beneficial to your skin other than preventing moisture loss by sitting on its top layer. That may have been acceptable a decade ago, but today we have superior ingredient alternatives including natural plant extracts and oils that deliver antioxidants and essential fatty acids straight to the epidermis. 
Why settle for a mask made from petroleum when you can be so much kinder to your skin?

6.  Synthetic Dyes & Colorants

Fancy those cute animal and illustrated sheet masks for a fun experience? Time to say good bye to them! Sheet masks like these usually contain dyes and colorants which are generally not skin-friendly.

7.   Alcohol

Alcohol isn't that harmful but it's probably not the ingredient you want in your masks, as it dries out skin. Since sheet masks have the ability to suck moisture from the face when it's dry, it's probably not ideal to have any alcohol in them. What happens when your skin is dry? It irritates, flakes, and can become overly sensitive.

8. Triethanolamine (AKA TEA)

Triethanolamine’s main task is to balance the overall pH of a product, but it also works as an emulsifier that helps retain a more homogenous appearance, spreading creams evenly over the skin. In most cases, products containing Triethanolamine are not meant to have prolonged contact with the skin and should be washed away due to safety concerns.

With sheet masks, you are not meant to wash them off due to their hydrating and nutritious value, hence Triethanolamine should not be included in sheet masks.


We have reviewed the most popular and raved about and Korean Sheet Masks and decoded their ingredients list. Unfortunately, the beloved sheet masks below have been identified as "Not-So-Skin-Friendly".

Are they in your beauty stash? Maybe time to think twice about them.
Tonymoly, Dewytree, A by Bom, The Faceshop, Papa Recipe Bombee, J One Jelly Pack, Make P:rem, Leejiham, Mediheal, Dr.Jart+

What is your favourite sheet mask?  Let us know in the box below. We’ll let you know if your sheet mask is truly safe! Let’s get this conversation flowing!


  • Robin Romack

    I appreciate the info. Since my girls are young adults pampering products are something I ve added at holidays and I never thought of potential harm…like has been found in deoderants and toothpastes so i ll keep a list..whenI shop.

  • Zaid Moges

    I got the Mitomo Vibrancy “Diamond” Facial Essence Mask.

  • Team Glow Picks

    Hi Claire,
    The Dewytree Pick and Quick Mask also contains a high amount of PEG compound. In my opinion, it is best to use something else.

  • Claire

    I really like the Dewytree pick and quick masks but I was wondering if they are too much for sensitive skin?

  • CPF

    Quick and pick face masks?

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