The use of face masks outside the health care facility dates back a century ago. However, face masks use noticeably soared due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. As a result, an unprecedented influx of discarded face masks is ending up in the environment. This review paper delves into face masks in the environment using the DPSIR (driving forces, pressures, states, impacts, and ... [Show full abstract] responses) framework to simplify and communicate the environmental indicators. Firstly, the historical, and briefly the economic trajectory of face masks are discussed. Secondly, the main driving forces of face masks use with an emphasis on public health are explored. Then, the pressures exerted by efforts to fulfill the human needs (driving forces) are explored. In turn, the state of the environment due to the influx of masks along with the impacts are examined. Furthermore, the upstream, and downstream societal responses to mitigate the environmental damages of the driving forces, pressures, states, and impacts are reviewed. In summary, it has been shown from this review that the COVID-19 pandemic has been causing a surge in face mask usage, which translates to face masks pollution in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. This implies proper usage and disposal of face masks is paramount to the quality of human health and the environment, respectively. Moreover, further research on eco-friendly face masks is indispensable to mitigating the environmental damages occurring due to the mass use of surgical masks worldwide.