How to Store Skincare

How to Store Skincare

Do you ever wonder if you’re storing your skincare correctly? We invest a lot of money in our skincare products. It’d be a shame for a serum or cream to lose its efficacy because you left the jar open overnight or forgot the bottle in your car. 

In this guide, we’ll give a few key tips for storing your skincare to keep it fresh, potent, and effective. 

Safe skincare storage tips 

These are the basics for safe skincare storage. Think of storing your skincare like how you would store a fine wine - as long as you keep your products well-sealed in a cool, dry, and dark place, you can ensure they last for as long as possible. 

However, exposure to any of the following factors may lead to your skincare to expire faster, losing their efficacy and potentially even putting you at risk.  

  • Keep your products at a lower temperature, between 60 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat can cause skincare to break down and can change the chemical structure of ingredients. If you live in a hot climate, consider keeping your products in the fridge. 
  • Away from the sun: Just as they can damage your skin, UV rays can also damage your skincare. This is especially true for formulas with fragile antioxidants like vitamin C or oils that can go rancid. We think the best solution for this issue is to package products in UV-proof packaging, but when in doubt, keep your skincare away from sunlight. 
  • Away from moisture: Especially when it comes to non-airtight containers, avoid keeping your products in humid environments like poorly ventilated bathrooms. Exposure to moisture can increase the risk of bacterial growth in your products, leading to faster spoilage. This is especially true with “natural skincare” products, which often contain weaker preservatives. 
  • Keep ‘em sealed: Make sure to always close your skincare containers shut once you’re done using them. Even well-preserved products aren’t developed to stay exposed to the open air.  
  • Ideally somewhere accessible to you: Convenience matters, too! Keep your products somewhere where they’ll be accessible and you won’t have a hard time using them.  
  • Consider the fridge: The fridge can be a great place to keep skincare, as long as it’s not turned down to too low. If your fridge is too cold or your product is not a very stable emulsion, there is a risk of some ingredient separation or textural changes.  This is especially true if you live in a hot climate, and it can add a calming touch to your favorite serum or lotion. We especially recommend doing this if you stocked up on products you won’t be able to use right away, like our Protocol Lab serums.
  • Take stability into account: The types of ingredients in your skincare will impact how stable the formula is likely to be. Products that contain ingredients that aren’t particularly sensitive can usually handle rougher storage. For example, you might be able to keep your cleanser in a hot, humid bathroom, whereas a delicate serum will need more careful storage. 
  • How you dispense a product can also impact its shelf-life. Always make sure to use clean hands when scooping out products and applying. With a well-preserved cream, you shouldn’t need to worry about using clean fingers to scoop out the product, but skincare spatulas are also an option. Avoid applying your skincare directly to your skin, such as touching droppers to your face. 

Where is the best place to store skin care products?

The best place to store skincare products is in a drawer or cupboard in a room that’s usually dry and cool, like your bedroom. This will keep your skincare accessible while ensuring it’s safe from heat and sun exposure. A skincare fridge can also be okay. 

Understanding which products need careful storage

Some skincare products can handle more haphazard storage, while others need to be put away with care. For example, within the Protocol Skincare range, we have some highly stable products with ingredients that don’t degrade easily, like our Double AHA Cleanser and Water Lock

On the other hand, we have some more delicate products that are made of fresh, potent ingredients like ascorbic acid (the most powerful form of vitamin C) and retinaldehyde (a more bioactive version of retinol). 

We’ve done our best to protect these ingredients from the main external forces that can break them down, with oxygen and UV-proof bottles and an airless production method that uses NASA-inspired containment technology. However, heat can still take its toll on our products, which is why we recommend storing them below 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does skincare need to be refrigerated?

Most skincare products are developed to be “pantry items'' rather than fridge items. They don’t need refrigeration as long as they’re kept in a cool, dark place. That said, if you live somewhere hot and humid, the fridge might be the best place for your skincare. 

At lower temperatures, chemical reactions slow down significantly, so fridge temperatures shouldn’t impact the efficacy of your skincare. Creams and balms can firm up a little which can make them harder to spread over the skin, but aside from that, they should still work as normal.  

With the Protocol line of products, and especially our serums, it’s best to store items at below 74 degrees Fahrenheit. If you won’t be using your products for a while or your home frequently gets hotter than that, storing your products in the fridge will help extend their shelf-life. 

Should I store skincare in the bathroom?

Storing your skincare in the bathroom can expose your products to a few problematic elements, especially heat and moisture. Keeping your skincare in a closed drawer in the bathroom would probably be okay, especially if the product packaging has a good seal and your bathroom is well-ventilated. 

Products in pumps are usually better protected from humidity compared to jars, and in the case of cleansers, you might even be able to keep the bottle in the shower. 

However, if your bathroom gets very humid and hot, it’s better to keep your products somewhere else, especially when it comes to more delicate products. 

Is your skincare really formulated to last? 

Skincare brands put a lot of effort into making sure their products look and feel nice for as long as possible. They don’t put as much effort into making sure their ingredients stay effective. 

We’re always annoyed when we see serums that come in dropper bottles, which expose the product to a lot of air that can rapidly degrade the active ingredients. The brands don’t care, though, since consumers won’t immediately notice that their vitamin C or retinol serum isn’t working anymore. 

Depending on how long the products have sat on store shelves, they might be totally depleted of their active ingredients by the time they reach your home. This is part of the reason why many people don’t see any changes in their skin even after using expensive serums and creams for months and years. 

At Protocol Lab, we think this is unacceptable. The main point of skincare is that it should help actually improve the look and feel of your skin. 

However, it can be costly to create packaging that ensures product efficacy in the long term. We know that because we went through that effort at Protocol. We spent years on research and development to create a patented formulation and packaging process. 

The Protocol freshness guarantee 

When you order a serum from Protocol, you know that it hasn’t been sitting in a hot warehouse for months - instead, our products are freshly made in small batches every two weeks or so. 

This is how we can ensure the stability of two of the most delicate yet potent skincare ingredients in the world: Ascorbic acid, which we keep stable and active in our Vitamin C Superserum, and retinaldehyde, the gentle cosmetic retinoid in our Enzyme-Active Retinol Serum, which has effects comparable to more powerful Rx ingredients. 

If you’d like to see the difference that real and pure active ingredients can make in your skin, it’s time you have a look at our skin renewing line.

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Is your retinol not yellow?

That's the first...yellow flag that your retinol may not be formulated properly. Real retinol––like it's cousin beta carotene that makes carrots bright orange––should be bright yellow.