What Skincare Should Be Refrigerated?
Fridges aren’t just for food and bevs anymore!
These days, beauty enthusiasts are stocking up on mini-skincare fridges that can be stored in your bathroom or bedroom (and some of these look super cute, too!). Folks with less real estate to work with are opting to store their products in their kitchen refrigerator, shelved alongside the mustard or vegan butter.
Why? Because a cold place can actually be the ideal place to store some of your skincare products.
But is all this really necessary? Haven’t skincare products been a-okay on bathroom countertops since our mothers and grandmothers were conducting their routines?
Times are changing, and for the better. Companies are going cleaner, meaning fewer chemical preservatives are being used. This is much better for your body, but clean products tend to require a bit of extra effort to maintain. The cleaner products you buy, the more refrigeration your routine could potentially benefit from.
So clear out some space and get ready to get on board the skincare refrigeration train!
Should you refrigerate skincare?
Let’s be clear: you don’t need to refrigerate your skincare (unless it’s explicitly stated on the label as is sometimes the case with prescription products). Most over-the-counter skincare products are formulated to be kept at room temperature.
But this doesn’t mean that some products won’t benefit from cooler temperatures—especially those with fewer or no chemical preservatives.
Chemical preservatives are used in many household products we regularly consume these days, including skincare; these compounds can be used as cost-effective ways to extend the shelf life of products.
Chemical preservatives might be cheap, but they come with hidden costs, since many, such as formaldehyde, pose significant risks to human and environmental health.
Clean beauty products are formulated with little to no chemical preservatives. At Kinder Beauty, we know this strategy is far better for your skin and body—you won’t find formaldehyde or other common toxins in any of our products—but the downside is that clean products sometimes don’t last as long as their chemical-laden counterparts, especially in warmer air.
This is where refrigeration comes in super handy.
Think about why we refrigerate anything. It’s the fresh food that spoils quickest, like fruits and veggies. Packaged foods like chocolate bars and candy typically have way more preservatives in them, which is why they can sit on convenience store shelves seemingly indefinitely.
Think of clean skincare like perishable food.
Refrigeration is also beneficial for stabilizing active ingredients that may be present in your skincare. Active ingredients can oxidize or become less potent over time, and in some cases, cooler temperatures can delay this natural process.
If you do decide to refrigerate your products, don’t keep products out of the fridge for too long. Temperature fluctuations can wind up causing separation and other problems. The best practice is to take it from the fridge, use it, and replace without letting it sit atop your counter to warm up.
Does heat affect skin care products?
Heat can certainly affect skincare products, which is why many labels will tell you to store your skincare out of direct sunlight—since this is the type of intense heat (and UV rays) that can wind up having negative effects on formulations.
In some products, heat can cause separation. Think of natural peanut butter just purchased from the store—usually, there’s a thick layer of liquid oil on the top. You need to mix in this oil before using (and yes, it’s a great bicep workout!). This is separation which can also happen to skincare products. But unlike peanut butter, not all skincare products can simply be mixed again and will be guaranteed work as well as they did before separation.
Heat can also negatively affect any actives in skincare, speeding up the oxidation process and rendering potent ingredients a lot less effective.
Does refrigeration extend the shelf life of skincare?
Refrigeration can extend the shelf-life of some skincare products in a couple of ways. First, it’s all about those actives—colder temperatures can slow down the oxidization process, keeping your products more potent for longer periods.
Refrigeration also helps with slowing down bacterial growth, which extends shelf life since it prevents products from spoiling faster.
When it comes to bacteria, it’s important to keep in mind that refrigeration won’t extend the shelf-life of clean products indefinitely. Refrigeration simply slows down the reproduction of bacteria—it doesn’t stop bacterial growth altogether. And because bacterial contamination can be invisible to our senses, especially during earlier stages, remember that just because you can’t see perceive spoiling doesn’t mean it hasn’t. So stay vigilant even with refrigerated products and don’t hold onto things forever!
Should you refrigerate makeup?
You might be tempted to think that since makeup also goes on your face, these products would benefit from refrigeration. But the truth is, you shouldn’t be refrigerating certain types of makeup for a couple of reasons.
First off, makeup generally doesn’t contain active ingredients that ought to be preserved—so refrigeration is less necessary.
Colder makeup can also be harder to use. Liquid foundation or mascara will become more viscous with chilly temperatures, making it more difficult to get out of the bottle and the application may be more clunky and gluey. You’d probably need to wait for your products to warm back up before using them.
So, you can generally skip the fridge when it comes to makeup.
This doesn’t mean you should keep makeup in direct sunlight or super-hot temperatures since the consistency can go too far in the other direction and become runny and unusable. Like the perpetually persnickety Goldilocks, makeup temperature needs to be just right—ideally, room temperature.
What skincare products should be refrigerated?
As you’re considering what to refrigerate, the number one rule is to always check the ingredients list. We’ll be repeating this a few times because it is that important!
Different products require different temperature environments depending on their ingredients, even though this may not always be indicated on the packaging (but make sure to always check for care instructions). Some serums might benefit from colder temps, while others will do just fine on your shelf. But it’s crucial to take a look at exactly what’s inside and make your judgment call.
A good rule of thumb is the cleaner the product, the more it will likely benefit from being colder—so take an extra-long look at clean skincare to determine what’s best.
Should moisturizer be refrigerated?
Moisturizers can certainly be refrigerated, especially if you’re battling conditions like rosacea or puffy eyes. The cold temperatures will act as a vasoconstrictor for your skin, reducing puffiness and inflammation.
But be sure to check the ingredients list for things like coconut or other oils that can solidify at cooler temperatures, since these might change the texture for the worse, or even render products less effective.
Can I put serum in the fridge?
There are so many types of serums out there, so it’s impossible to say that all serums should or shouldn’t be stored in the fridge.
With serums, in particular, it’s crucial to check the ingredients list since it will reveal if there are ingredients like oil and water that could become separated and rendered useless by refrigeration. In these cases, room temperature is the way to go.
But if your serum has a ton of actives and no ingredients that might separate, then the fridge is your friend!
Should you keep vitamin c serum in the fridge?
Vitamin C is a super potent and effective ingredient that should arguably be a part of everyone’s routine. But this ingredient is notorious for being unstable—particularly certain versions of the vitamin, like L-ascorbic acid—so this one will nearly always benefit from refrigeration to prevent rapid oxidation.
You’ll notice that many high-concentration vitamin C serums come in dark bottles since they’re sensitive to light and heat. When you see a serum in one of these darker bottles, storing it in the fridge is a pretty safe bet.
Can you put retinol in the fridge?
Just like vitamin C is beneficial but temperamental, since it oxidizes faster than other ingredients, retinol is another one to store in the fridge. Cooler temperatures will preserve the shelf-life plus keep ingredients as potent as possible for as long as possible.
What about DIY facemasks?
With DIY facemasks, the question of refrigeration comes down to what you’ve put inside (yep—ingredients again. We told you!).
An avocado oatmeal mask is definitely something you’ll want to toss into the fridge (and use it up pretty quickly, since avos oxidize very fast!). A bentonite clay mask, on the other hand, might turn rock-hard and need to be warmed up before use. The same goes with coconut oil-heavy masks.
What to put in a skincare fridge
Now you know that clean products can largely benefit from refrigeration depending on what ingredients they contain. So, if you were to purchase a skincare fridge, what would you put in it, and what would you avoid? Here’s a quick list that will give you a general idea, but again—need we repeat ourselves—the ingredients will ultimately help you determine what to put in your fridge on a product-by-product basis.
- Cleanser: yes, depending on ingredients
- Toner or mist: not necessary
- Serums: yes, depending on ingredients and actives
- Face oil: might change consistency, so proceed at your own risk
- Moisturizer: yes, depending on ingredients
- Sunscreen: yes, depending on ingredients
- DIY facemasks: yes, depending on ingredients
- Makeup: not necessary
Best skincare fridges
Wanna take the (cold) plunge and invest in a mini-fridge? Here are some of our faves.
This four-liter fridge is a big hit on Amazon, and at a good price point and cute little design, this is certainly one to snap up. We love the robin egg blue color the best!
Made specifically for skincare enthusiasts in mind, this mini fridge is perfect for small spaces and is even pretty portable. Customers report this one is very quiet too, so you can safely keep it beside your bedroom vanity.
This mini fridge does it all: it can run the gamut of temperatures, from cool to warm. This warming function can be especially nice to warm up certain types of face masks, compresses, or washcloths for a spa-like experience. This is an eco-friendly option too since it is highly energy-efficient.
Refrigeration is certainly not necessary, but it can bring benefits from extending shelf-life to preserving the potency of your products. Plus, you don’t need to purchase an extra fridge for the purpose: making room in your kitchen refrigerator does the trick too.
Especially if you’re a clean skincare aficionado, refrigeration may be the way you want to go.