Why Your Product Packaging Could Be Damaging Your Skin

The other day, I came across an influencer talking about The Ordinary skincare on her Instagram stories and left a question box in case anyone had some questions about the products or the brand. I asked what makes this brand better than other products, as I’d heard so much about it, to which she kindly replied with a list of bullet points, with one in particular catching my eye: “also try not to buy creams in pots. Most reputable skin brands won’t use pots – unhygienic, doesn’t preserve ingredients etc.”

Now, I don’t know about any of you, but this was news to me. If this isn’t new information, I’m sorry and you can skip this (or read on for further information!), but if you’re like me and had zero idea about this, have I got some news for you. As someone who uses moisturiser that comes in a pot sometimes, I was shocked by this comment. So, I decided to do some digging.

In short, this statement seems to be true! Here’s why:

It increases the rate of oxidation

The first thing that came up was an article from The Skincare Edit, which explained in simple terms that creams that come in jars encourage oxidation. They kindly explained what oxidation means too: it’s basically where a compound loses its electrons, which can leave it smelling bad or even ‘change it into something else’. Now that’s the last thing I want to happen to my products! They go on to say that oxidation of a product makes it less effective but in the worst case scenario, can damage your skin (where they use an example of oxidised vitamin C causing blackheads – yikes!)

This is also backed by Paula’s Choice, Allure and Marie France Asia, who explain that even so much as opening the pot can lead to impurities getting into the product via the surrounding air, which also makes the product less effective with every use.

Bacterial contamination

Your products can become contaminated just by your fingers when you scoop up the product! It’s not possible to keep your fingers (or any sort of applicator) squeaky clean and free of bacteria, hence making this a problem every time your fingers go in the pot or jar.

Why is this bad?

Bacteria can cause acne (which is why it’s bad to keep touching your face throughout the day), or irritation. The Skincare Edit also suggest that if you have eczema or atopic dermatitis, you should be more cautious as staph (a type of bacteria) is the most common bacterial trigger.

What can you do?

To stop oxidisation, you can:

  • Stay away from ‘fragile’ ingredients in jars/pots, such as vitamin C, retinol, polyunsaturated oils and green tea, as they degrade faster when exposed to air or light. If you want to get products with vitamins and oils, get them in tubes, bottles or airless pumps instead. Polyunsaturated oils are good to avoid completely for your skin due to how quickly they oxidise. However, The Skincare Edit suggests that jars may not be completely bad, as long as they have stable ingredients and preservatives.
  • Avoid getting water in them – they might mould if you do!
  • Keep away from light.

To stop bacterial contamination:

  • Get a spatula to apply and clean after every use (with soap and water). Change regularly too.
  • Transfer your products to a tube, bottle or pump if your usual products don’t come in them. Stay away from jars if you can!

So why do companies keep using jars and pots?

Some consumers prefer products in jars, as there’s an association with luxury products with that sort of packaging. It can also sometimes be cheaper and easier to place skincare products in jars for companies.

As a consumer who’s very wary of the products that they put onto their skin, this is definitely something I’m going to keep into consideration when buying next time. It was so interesting to discover more about this and I hope you found it interesting or learnt something new too!

All information from (click for full articles):

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