The Toxic Truth Behind Sheet Masks

Before you Snapchat your next facial sesh, check out my findings for the most popular masks on the market and the toxic ones to avoid!

The creepy but trendy sheet mask movement is upon us! From Sephora to CVS, you can find the Mrs. Doubtfire-esque masks being sold just about everywhere. But have you ever stopped to wonder what these serum-soaked masks are actually made of?

Post-holiday season, I am sure you have quite the growing collection of masks thanks to girlfriends and grandmas. And with winter weather upon us, dry, dull skin is not how we want to start out the new year. Naturally, we turn to sheet masks to help moisturize, brighten and tighten – but BEWARE! Don’t let the brightly colored, cute packaging fool you.

Here are a few well-known masks you should AVOID:

I’m Real Red Wine Mask Sheet, Tony Moly – $3.75

This mask claims to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores while tightening and purifying skin.

Toxic Ingredients in this mask:

PEG 6- PEG chemicals often contain small amounts of ethylene oxide which is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing). Furthermore, EWG states that PEG’s may also be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane which is proven to be cancerous. PEG compounds are currently banned in Canada.

Phenoxyethanol– a very common cosmetic preservative that prevents bacteria growth. In Europe, many products go out of their way to say they don’t contain it. The FDA states “phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea..” Also known to cause eczema in larger doses. In small doses less than 1% this preservative is apparently deemed “safe” but I would rather not take my chances…

Perfume – what is “perfume” made of? We may never know since the FDA does not require companies to list what their particular “perfume” or “fragrance” is made from. What we do know is many “perfumes” are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.

All things considered, be weary of Tony Moly in general as just about ALL of their sheet masks include these ingredients.

Rose Face Mask, Sephora Collection – $6.00

This mask claims to help with moisturizing and brightening.

Toxic Ingredients in this mask:

Acrylatesthese chemicals are most commonly used in acrylic nails and nail polishes. Acrylates are known to cause cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, cellular and neurological damage and irritation. Even though the FDA banned 100 percent liquid methyl acrylate back in 1974, no specific regulations prohibit its current use at concentrations lower than 100 percent in cosmetic products.

This mask, and just about every other Sephora sheet mask, also contains phenoxyethanol and PEG compounds. Sigh..

Sorry all you Sephora-lovers, but I would completely avoid purchasing ANY of their Sephora Collection masks as they all seem to be pretty toxic.

Egg White Peel, Skinfood – $7.00

This mask claims to eliminate blackheads for smoother and clearer skin.

Toxic Ingredients in this mask:

PVP- a chemical pollutant derived from crude petroleum oil. It seals off the skin creating a barrier which feels slick, but doesn’t allow the skin to breath. This slows down skin’s function and normal cell development, resulting in premature aging and many other health and skin disorders like dermatitis.

Methylparaben– an anti-fungal and preservative that has the potential to mimic estrogens and increase your risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems.

This mask also contains “parfum”, ugh!

SKINFOOD is a sham and I would completely AVOID this brand at any cost.

So now for the good news. There are quite a few trustworthy brands that offer sheet masks that are organic and chemical free. Here are a few of my favorite non-toxic alternatives to treat your face to:

Caffeine Mask , 100 Percent Pure – $7.00

This mask claims to help with sun damaged and dehydrated skin.

Non-toxic Ingredients include Aloe Vera leaf Juice, Green Tea Extract, Seaweed Collagen, Vitamin C and Yerba Mate, all of which are USDA certified organic.

Greek Yogurt Nourishing Mask, Orgaid – $7.00

This mask claims to soothe, tighten and condition skin.

Non-toxic Ingredients include Aloe Vera leaf juice, Greek Yogurt powder, Chamomile extract, Thyme extract, Willow Bark extract, Rosehip extract and Green Tea extract, all of which are USDA certified organic.

Organic Sea Kelp Sheet Mask, Whamisa – $14

This mask claims to offer anti-aging, brightening, skin smoothing benefits and 72-hour hydration.

Non-toxic Ingredients include Laminaria Japonica (kelp), Aloe Vera leaf extract, Wild Yam Root extract, Licorice Root extract and Lavender Oil.

TIP: Since organic, chemical-free/non-toxic masks are made withOUT chemical preservatives, this decreases their shelf life and shortens their expiration date. So, consider buying smaller quantities more frequently, and preserving them in the refrigerator between uses!


Shockingly, most sheet masks (and beauty/cosmetic products) on the market are TOXIC and contain at least one or all of the following toxic chemicals:

Parabens– learn more about this endocrine disrupter and cancer-causing chemical here and here.

Formaldehyde– International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified formaldehyde as carcinogenic (cancerous) to humans. Read more here.

Phthalates– banned in Europe. Linked to birth defects, infertility and cancer. Read up here.

Sulfates- one of the most common sulfates is sodium lauryl sulfate, an emulsifier used to help clean and create lather. You should try and avoid anything that lists the following: SLS, SLES, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate. These have the potential to be tainted by 1,4-dioxane which is a known carcinogen. Read up here.

Fragrance/Perfume/Scent – get the scoop on this shady, all too common synthetic beauty product ingredient here.

This site is also a great resource tool that lists hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals that are commonly used in beauty and body products.

Have a favorite non-toxic sheet mask I didn’t list? Share in the comment section below!



Leave a Comment


  1. Aubrey Dang wrote:

    are you into non toxic/green beauty? You should be if you wrote about the above. Good post. 100% pure is just that! Love that brand. Orgaid is from OC I think. I just went to the Indie Beauty expo and they were there. Wish I could’ve gotten a free trial of their masks, but for now I’ll stick with 100% pure bc there’s a brick & mortar store in SD.

    Posted 2.11.17 Reply
    • Tasha Nichole wrote:

      Hi Aubrey, thanks for stopping by! Yes, non-toxic & green beauty are definitely a few of my passions 🙂 I also have a 100 Percent Pure store in my neighborhood which is a dream come true for me! Credo Beauty just opened in LA too, you should check them out online. Wish I could have made it to the Indie Beauty Expo!

      Posted 2.13.17 Reply
  2. Bren wrote:

    Such a valuable post to read before I used my ‘anti aging’ facemask. I’m very particular on what I use on m6 face and body. This one will be binned as doesn’t have the full safe ingredient list.

    Posted 3.27.19 Reply