The Guerlain makeup post with tons of pretty pictures was a tough act to follow and I’ve been talking a lot about makeup, so it’s time to go back to skincare a bit, more specifically the packaging. Some great products come in plain packaging while some fancy looking products can be a real disappointment once you tried them. Sure, you are probably paying a pretty penny for gorgeous makeup products, and yes, the purpose of makeup is to enhance your natural beauty. However, it can also be art and make you feel happy. If pretty packaging makes you happy every morning when you use it, then who’s to say it’s not worth it?
Not to be outdone, some of the packagings for skincare products are just as gorgeous (and/or ridiculously priced) as makeup. For the outrageously expensive skincare like some of the cream from La Praire or La Mer that are $200+, everything is considered from the weight of the jar, the spatula included to the sound as you are opening or closing the jar and the fragrance. While packaging doesn’t really affect the product most of the time when it comes to makeup, packaging does matter for skincare, especially for those with potent/active ingredients (which usually also happen to be more expensive). You don’t want to spend $100 for something that’s going to lose it’s effectiveness in a couple of month, right?
Plastic vs. glass
Every skincare product comes with an ingredients list, but do you know the ingredients of the plastic jar/bottle that houses the products? When it comes to drinking water, we already know that plastic bottle is bad due to BPA, which has now been eliminated from most plastic container for food, but what about skincare? Some of the plastics are hormone disrupters or carcinogens, if you don’t want it touching stuff that goes in your body then do you want it touching stuff that goes on your body? For more details about their harmful effects (in general, not specifically in beauty products usage) here, here and here gives some good explanations.
Now that I’ve given you a scare, I’m probably still going to buy products in plastic packaging *gasp*. The thing is, skincare containers are a bit different from food containers. For one, they are not subjected to extreme temperature, or shouldn’t be. Cold temperature can cause certain products to crystalize or prevent certain ingredients from functioning properly, while hot temperature can cause products to separate or spoil. If you are microwaving your moisturizer, then you should worry more about the integrity of the products than the container. Also, while you may use a plastic food container for more than 1-2 years, skincare usually have an expiration date of 1 yr, or at most 2 years. If you keep it longer than that, again, you should worry more about the products going bad regardless of the container. In short, it would be nice to use glass if you can, but there is no need to throw away ALL your skincare products packaged in plastic.
Jar, pump, dropper, tube and more……
Now, for the more important/relevant aspect of the packaging. Many of the active ingredients potent enough to make a difference on your wrinkles, dark spot, pores etc are not stable or have a short shelf-life. Some start to lose their effect under light or are sun-sensitive so keep the products away from direct sunlight (especially serums since they contain more active ingredients than moisturizers). And of course, keep it away from humid area for sanitary reasons. In addition to sanitary reasons, like oil/dirt in your moisturizer jar, exposure to air can cause some active ingredients to lose their potency, the active ingredients that are the cause of the high price tag and important part of the products. While you can store it in a dark, cool and dry place, what can/should you look for when it comes to packaging?
Products that are packaged in dark or opaque containers are less susceptible to light/sun than those in clear packaging. Products in pumps and tubes lessen the effect from air exposure compare to those in jars. Pumps and dropper applicator also means the product in the jar does not need to come in contact with the skin so it lessen the chance of oil/dirt/bacteria in the products. Paula’s Choice give a detailed explanation of how the packaging affect the active ingredients (somewhat opinionated, take with a grain of salt). However, it is impossible to package some of the thicker moisturizers in anything other than a jar packaging, or maybe the packaging is not idea but it’s your favorite product. If the packaging is clear then take care to store it away from the light/sun/window. I usually use up a product within 6 month to a year and always apply with freshly cleansed hand. If you are particularly worried about jar packaging, you can use a little spatula so you won’t need to dip your finger into the jar. Or if you know that jar is going to last a long long time, maybe allocate a (couple month) portion of it into a smaller container so the whole product won’t be affected by air exposure everyday.
In short: Packaging does matter when it comes to skincare. Try to look for products packaged in pumps, dropper bottle or tubes instead of jars; and try to look for products in darker or opaque containers instead of clear ones. Serums have a higher concentration of active ingredients than moisturizers, so this is more important for serum than moisturizers. Also, try to finish your products within 1-2 years and while glass is nice, don’t panic if your favorite product only comes in plastic packaging (with proper storage, this should be fine).