We know that the way beauty products are packaged is very important from a sustainability perspective, but the jars, tubes and bottles they are housed in are also important to protect the integrity of ingredients and ensure that are the most effective. Luckily for us consumers, product manufacturers handle all of that logistics, but knowing what to look for can also help you make more informed decisions.
For example, if you’ve ever inventoried vitamin C serums in your vanity, you might notice that they all have one thing in common: an opaque bottle. Some may be amber, others white and others black, but the important thing is that they do not let light through. You may also have started noticing brands touting “airless pumps” on their new launches, although you may not know how this differs from a normal pump. “Properly storing your cosmetics is critical for optimal potency and maximum shelf life,” Defne Arikan, founder of Bryhel Cosmetic Laboratories, told POPSUGAR.
The thing is, beauty companies and their respective product manufacturers have become quite savvy when it comes to packaging considerations in an effort to preserve formulations, extend the shelf life of actives, and keep bacteria at bay. . If you’re curious about the most common cardinal rules of beauty product packaging, keep reading.
Opaque packaging protects ingredients from sunlight
“Storing cosmetics properly is critical for optimal potency and maximum shelf life.”
Why is it so important that products containing vitamin C come in an opaque bottle? “Opaque bottles help reduce light exposure and prevent oxidation of active ingredients like vitamin C,” says Rohan Widdison, founder and CEO of beauty products maker New Laboratories. Vitamin C, while excellent for lightening, is photosensitive and unstable, which naturally degrades it over time, but sunlight can speed up this process (as can interaction with heat and light). ‘air).
Vitamin C is not the only ingredient to which this applies. “Fragrances containing the vanilla allergen, essential oils, and most lotions, serums, and oils are also photosensitive,” says Arikan. In general, sunlight can also make many active and oil-based ingredients prone to discoloration, which is why you will rarely see products in a glass or clear plastic container.
Airless pumps keep air out and ingredients fresh
Sunlight is not the only element that threatens the effectiveness of your products – air is another important one. In a classic pump bottle, air is used to push the product out. “As one milliliter of product comes out, one milliliter of air simultaneously enters the product,” says Arikan. “Air penetrates the formula and can deteriorate the quality of the cosmetic.”
Airless pumps, on the other hand, use pressure to lift a piston inside the bottle and dispense the formula. “[This] prevents the introduction of contaminants such as oxygen and bacteria, ensuring a longer lasting and more efficient product,” says Widdison.
There’s another reason why airless pumps are good: “The pressure exerted pushes most of the product out of the bottle without leaving excess at the bottom of the bottle,” says Arikan, which can stretch even further. plus your dollar.
Some containers may present a risk of cross-contamination
As for common packaging solutions, you have droppers, tubes, open-faced jars, and bottles with pumps, but depending on who you ask, they can tell you that some options are better than others. The jars, in particular, are often the center of controversy for some beauty people based solely on the fact that you have to dip your fingers in the jar.
“Jars are arguably more protective than pumps and tubes when it comes to products that degrade in the sun, but they can be more prone to bacteria and germs,” Arikan says. Adds Widdison: “The introduction of fingers into the jars has a confirmed impact on the integrity of the product and results in the progressive degradation of the product.”
A workaround is to use a skincare spatula to apply the product (which often comes with the product). “Without a spatula, washing and drying your hands thoroughly before picking up a small amount of product is ideal,” says Arikan.
However, depending on the quality of the preservation system built into the product, you may not need to worry about this. “The weaker the preservative system, the more susceptible the cream is to bacteria,” says Arikan. That said, this is a very real possibility for all-natural or homemade products that contain no preservatives.
Skin care droppers minimize bacteria
Products with droppers are hailed for their ability to reduce cross-contamination – although they often let a small amount of air into the formula – but some brands and manufacturers go even further. At Vichy, for example, it is renewing the packaging of all its anti-aging serums in a pharmaceutical-inspired bottle with a plastic applicator tip.
“[This] allows users to apply the exact amount of serum they need by flipping and squeezing the applicator, allowing for precision dosing,” says Minh-Dan Tran, General Manager of Vichy USA. “The main benefit of this type of application is that the amount of formula exposed to oxygen or other contaminants is minimized.”
Aluminum bottles guarantee the best protection
We’d be remiss not to call out aluminum, which is a staple of beauty packaging used for everything from skincare to hairspray and deodorant. But do you know why? “As a barrier material, aluminum protects against germs, UV, humidity and temperature variations,” explains Arikan. “Aluminium bottles are therefore particularly suitable for fragile contents, and this packaging is an excellent choice.” Aluminum tubes and bottles are also often easily recyclable.
As a consumer, you may not have the power to dictate the type of packaging your favorite brands use for their formulations, but with this knowledge you can ensure that you store your products correctly and shop around. smartly when possible to get the most out of them.