Q: Do I need to store skincare products with active ingredients in the fridge?

Short answer: No, you don’t. Just avoid storing retinol, vitamin C, and SPF in direct sunlight and don’t create a steam room in your bathroom (or, alternatively, keep your active ingredients in a cupboard or on a table in your room).

Recently, I came across several Instagram posts from cosmetologists claiming that products with retinol, vitamin C, and acids should be stored in the fridge. Otherwise, they will spoil.

This is not true. Storing skincare products in the fridge is not the best idea. Skincare formulas are designed to withstand the average temperature fluctuations in your home and are not meant to be stored in cold conditions – this can actually shorten their lifespan and stability. Oils, foundations, and lipsticks, in particular, are not suited to cold storage. Temperature changes can quickly destabilize these products, causing oils to separate and lipsticks to go rancid. The same temperature guidelines apply to retinol, vitamin C, and acids – up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).

I monitor dozens of articles on beauty resources about the role of the fridge in home skincare. I found what seems to be a reasonable source. In the BASF document, one form of vitamin C – Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate – is recommended to be stored at temperatures up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In the book Analysis of Cosmetic Products, the formulation process of products with vitamin C is described, again with storage recommendations up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. And guess what – no mentions of refrigerators or requests to move food aside to make room for your acid toner.

Every cosmetic product contains preservatives – they are included in the formulas precisely to keep the product stable at room temperature. Cosmetic sheriff Paula Begoun reminds us of this. The exception is perishable items like fresh masks from LUSH, which typically have clear labeling about refrigeration. And when a cosmetic product expires, you should dispose of it regardless of whether you stored it in the fridge or in your car.


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