How to store skincare products

The weather’s been warming up in sunny Los Angeles and I’ve found a new favorite walk. The route takes me past a dog run and a series of quirky homes that I love to peer into (in a totally non-creepy way!). One of these features a big bathroom window with about two dozen skincare and makeup bottles artfully arranged to catch the sun. It looks amazing. But every time I pass by I have to fight the urge to ring the bell and beg the owner to relocate those products. The thing is, cosmetic formulas are not indestructible. In fact, they can be pretty delicate and there are a few best practices for keeping them performing at their peak. These are our tips and tricks on how to store your skincare products.

Shelf life

Not to get to existential here, but the minute your skincare products are born they are dying.

Well formulated products (i.e. not the mask you whipped up in your home kitchen) are designed and tested to be stable for a specific amount of time. The tricky thing is that the exact date of expiration is not always clear.

In the U.S. there are only a few kinds of kinds of cosmetic products that must have an expiration date applied to the packaging. But many others do have PAO, or “Period After Opening” symbol. This looks like a number followed by an “M.” So, if your product has a label that says “12M” then it was intended to be used up within 12 moths of opening.

This is a number that’s really easy to forget, so here’s a tip: keep a fine tipped sharpie in your bathroom. Then, write the date on the bottle as soon as you open in. That way you won’t be left wondering. p.s. this technique also works great for food; I do the same for things like jars of sauce.

In general you can expect most skincare products to last between six months and a year. But there are things that can shorten that lifespan.

How to store skincare products

Skincare products are designed to be kept in a cool, dry place. Doesn’t sound much like your bathroom, does it?

Heat and humidity can cause products to degrade faster, which can mess with their consistency and potency, and may even speed the growth of bacteria. That’s why you should always keep skincare at room temperature, away from radiators, and out of direct sunlight. And if you have a bathroom that feels perpetually steamy, transferring those to your products to another room is ideal.

The scoop on skin fridges

When we think about refrigerators we think about preservation; put something in the fridge and it will last a lot longer than it would on the counter.

While this principle usually applies to food it only sometimes applies to skincare. That’s because product is designed are formulated to be stored at room temperature. Refrigeration won’t do too much to extend it that use-by date. But there are a few scenarios when it may be a good idea to store skincare products at a cooler temperature.

The best reason to consider cooling your products is if they otherwise melt. If you live in an area that gets really hot then you may have already noticed that the consistency of your products can change when the temperature rises. Creams may separate or feel more gloopy. That’s not good.

You may also consider storing eye care products or skin tools like jade rollers in the fridge. Cool temperatures are great for de-puffing. Indie Lee’s I-Waken eye serum has great ingredients for brightening dark circles and taming puffiness. Pop that in the fridge and it’s a de-puffing one-two punch.

Finally, during the summer I always keep a few sheet masks in my kitchen refrigerator for an immediate cool down session. My favorite masks are from Orgaid. They’re cruelty free (obviously!) made with organic ingredients, and come in a variety pack with different masks for brightening and aging.

Last note on the matter: If you choose to pop your products in a cooler space, just be sure that it’s not too cold. Cold temperatures can also shorten the lifespan of your products and mess with their stability.

The bottom line

Products degrade, and before you know it they’re ready to toss. The best way to store skincare products is to avoid humidity & temperature extremes and keep bottles away from the sun. But also, use up what you have before buying more! Feel like you’re in a cycle of buying new and shelving half-used products? Check out Kura Skin. We use your Skin Profile to help you find your best match. That means less waste, more shelf space, and happier skin overall. Get started at kuraskin.com.

And for more tips on things like avoiding a post-workout breakout or why you should be changing your pillowcase more frequently than you think, have a browse around our blog.

Katrina Moreno Lewis

Katrina is the Founder and CEO of Kura Skin