Facebook Recalls 4 Million Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headset Inserts After Complaints About Skin Irritation

    Thousands of consumer complaints began to surface last year

    Oculus Quest 2 Image: Oculus

    Facebook has recalled the foam insert of its popular Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal agency that oversees the safety of most household products. The announcement comes after thousands of complaints from consumers that the headset causes rashes and other skin irritation on the face.

    Kelly Crothers of San Diego told Consumer Reports that she noticed a problem shortly after buying an Oculus Quest 2 for her son in March. “The irritation is extreme swelling and redness,” she told the company in April, describing her son’s face. “This is pretty ridiculous,” she added.

    Similar comments have peppered the likes of Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube in recent months following the October 2020 release of the $299 virtual reality headset. These complaints all say roughly the same thing: that using the Quest 2 for even just a few minutes causes redness, swelling, or other irritation.

    “My eyes are swollen, I have a rash where the headset sits, it’s itchy, and painful,” another user, Mitchell Brown, wrote on Facebook. “It might not be an allergic reaction, but this shouldn’t have happened to anyone.”

    “What started as a little itch every now and then became intense itching, redness, and now swollen eyes,” said Christine Ann, also on Facebook. “No doubt I am sensitive to some component of it.”

    More on Product Safety

    The CPSC cited more than 5,700 complaints from consumers regarding skin irritation following the use of the Oculus headsets.

    Consumers who experience skin irritation or another reaction should immediately stop using the recalled foam facial interface, and all consumers should contact Facebook Technologies to receive a free silicone cover.

    The company first publicly acknowledged complaints from users regarding skin irritation in a December 2020 blog post. And in April it said concerned users could contact customer support for replacement padding.

    Facebook told CR that starting on Aug. 24, all new Oculus Quest 2 headsets will come with a silicone cover that fits over the Quest 2 foam facial interface included in every box. And the company is temporarily pausing global sales as “we work to provide the covers in every Quest 2 box, as part of our ongoing effort to ensure our products are safe and comfortable for everyone who uses them.” Facebook also told CR that it “took the irritation reports very seriously, and beginning in December we promptly conducted a thorough investigation including receiving advice from leading dermatologists and toxicologists. Our investigation determined that our manufacturing process is safe, meaning no unexpected nor hazardous contaminants were found in the Quest 2 foam interface or manufacturing process.”

    Child displaying a bright red inflamed area on their cheeks
    This photo, provided an Oculus Quest 2 owner, Kelly Crothers, shows skin irritation on her son's face caused by the device's insert.

    Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Crothers Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Crothers

    But William Wallace, manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports, says the company should have acted sooner in the face of the issues flagged by users.

    “It shouldn’t take more than 5,700 complaints for Facebook or any other company to launch a recall,” he says. “They need to test products thoroughly on the front end to avoid harm, and when something goes wrong, they need to act quickly.”

    Facebook acquired Oculus VR, then a startup perhaps known for its successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign, in 2014 for $2 billion. The company has produced a series of headsets including the Oculus Rift, released in 2016; the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, both released in 2019; and last year’s Quest 2. The Rift and Rift S need to be connected to a powerful gaming PC to function, while the Quest models are stand-alone units that don’t need a PC.

    The Quest 2 was generally well received by critics for offering compelling virtual reality experiences at a relatively affordable price. It broadly competes with the Sony PlayStation VR, which was released in October 2016 for $399, and the Valve Index, a higher-end headset intended for use with powerful gaming PCs that was released in June 2019 for $999.

    Oculus Quest 2

    Image: Oculus Image: Oculus

    Recall Details

    Product recalled: Removable foam facial interfaces for Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets.

    Sold at: BestBuy, GameStop, Target, Walmart, and other retailers, and online at Oculus.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Gamestop.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com between October 2020 and July 2021. The foam facial interfaces that were included with headsets sold for $300 to $400, depending on the model, about $20 for a facial interface sold individually, and about $40 as part of a Fit Pack.

    Units sold: About 4 million (and about 172,600 in Canada).

    The problem: Facebook has received about 5,716 reports of incidents of skin irritation and about 45 reports of consumers who required medical attention.

    The fix: Consumers who experience a skin irritation or another reaction should immediately stop using the recalled foam facial interface, and all consumers should contact Facebook to receive a free silicone cover. Facebook is contacting all Quest 2 users directly.

    Owners of the Quest 2 headsets can request a silicone cover

    Headshot image of Electronics editor Nicholas Deleon

    Nicholas De Leon

    I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).