6 signs a face mask is doing more harm than good to your skin

iStockNot all face masks are created equally.
  • Certain face masks can do more harm than good to your skin.
  • If you notice your skin is breaking out, is peeling, or is red and irritated as the result of using a face mask, you may want to stop using it.
  • Also be on the lookout for hives and tight skin as these can be signs your face mask isn’t working for your skin.

Face masks are a great way to practice self-care and give your skin a boost, but what if your mask is doing more harm than good? That can sometimes be the case, said Papri Sarkar, a board-certified dermatologist based in Massachusetts.

Sarkar told INSIDER that there are some red flags you should look out for when using a face mask. And if you experience any of these side effects, it probably means your face mask isn’t helping your skin.

Here are six signs a face mask could be doing more harm than good.

It causes your skin to break out

Skin care mistakesAnna Webber/Getty ImagesSome masks could clog your pores.

The first major sign a face mask isn’t working for you? You start seeing pimples pop up, Sarkar said. “Some masks that are meant for hydration can clog pores and cause blackheads, whiteheads or pimples,” she told INSIDER.

If your skin is acne-prone but you still want to use a hydrating face mask, she suggests looking for noncomedogenic ones. They won’t clog your pores and they will give your skin an extra boost of moisture.

The mask makes your skin red and irritated

Skincare applying face maskiStockSome masks contain irritants like fragrance.

“This could be due to a reaction to an ingredient in the mask,” Sarkar said. She said the most common irritants include essential oils, certain preservatives, and fragrances. If your skin is sensitive or you’re experiencing negative reactions to certain masks, it’s best to steer clear of products that contain those potentially irritating ingredients.

Removing the mask is painful

Peel-off masks may feel satisfying to remove, but they can cause actual damage to your skin and they can remove healthy skin cells.

“If left to dry too long before removing, some peel-off face masks take the skin with the mask when you peel it off,” Sarkar said. She suggests avoiding any face masks that cause breaks in your skin.

You get hives while applying the mask or after applying it

Another sign your face mask isn’t helping your skin out? If you break out into hives. “Hives look like swollen, red welts in the skin,” Sarkar said. “Usually if you get this reaction, you have an allergic reaction to something.” Sarkar said this isn’t as common as a regular irritant reaction, but it’s often caused by the same culprits (fragrance, preservatives or essential oils).

Your skin feels tight after removing the mask

Bentonite clayShutterstockClay masks oftentimes contain different ingredients and some might irritate your skin more than others.

Love how clean your skin feels after a clay mask? That’s totally understandable. But Sarkar said if your skin feels really tight, then something is wrong.

“People often experience this after using clay-based masks – especially if they’re paired with other ingredients designed to dry out the skin,” she said. “For a large population of people, clay masks are great. But some of them are too aggressive for some skin types.”

Another thing to keep in mind? Different types of clay have slightly different effects, Sarkar said. If your skin feels too tight, it may be time to switch out your mask for something less drying.

Your skin is dry or peeling after you remove the mask

Looking for smoother, brighter skin? Exfoliating face masks are a great start. But Sarkar said that sometimes these masks can cause dry and peeling skin – and those are both signs that the mask probably isn’t right for you. Sarkar said it’s also wise to make sure you’re not over-exfoliating with face masks.

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