What’s a skincare fridge—and should you be using one?
A dermatologist weighs in on the trend.
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There are several possibilities to explain why you’ve come to this article. Maybe you’re on the receiving end of targeted ads about skincare fridges and you’re wondering whether you’ve been skipping a step for all of your moisturizer-wearing years. Or you’ve scrolled through Tik Tok and seen the Gen-Zers giving tours of their miniature fridges filled with jade rollers, moisturizers, oils, and face masks galore.
No matter the reason, you need to know whether a skincare fridge is a worthwhile investment for your beauty routine. To better understand the trend, we tapped Dr. Farah Moustafa, a Boston-based dermatologist with Tufts Medical Center.
What’s the point of a skincare fridge?
The idea behind a skincare refrigerator is to store your beauty products in a cold place to preserve the shelf life of the products and to add a cooling sensation to the skin on application. A skincare fridge typically sits around the same temperature as a food refrigerator, which the FDA recommends keeping at or below 40°F to preserve food and significantly slow the growth of bacteria. Standing about 10 to 16 inches tall, these tabletop fridges are also stylish and provide a neat, compact storage space for your products, which may also be part of the appeal. (They can also, if you'd rather, easily store at least six cans of soda, in lieu of products.)
Will a skincare fridge help your beauty products last longer?
Beauty products can be expensive, so it makes sense to want to preserve products containing active ingredients (think: vitamin C, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and any other ingredient that specifically targets a skin concern). Unless the product has specific instructions, though, your skincare products were developed in room-temperature labs and they’re expected to be kept that way. By putting them into a fridge, you may inadvertently cause your products to lose efficacy.
Active ingredients are usually in some sort of vehicle, such as wax or cream, Moustafa explains, and when you refrigerate the mixture, it may cause the active ingredient to separate from the formula. “Things are mixed and formulated in such a way [and] with certain proportions to give you that very homogenous solution,” Moustafa says. “You want every pump to be uniform in terms of the way that the ingredients are distributed.” Refrigerating or freezing a product may cause inconsistencies in how much of the active ingredient you receive in one use, meaning some pumps could contain too much and others contain too little. Therefore, even if any ingredient preservation is happening because of the fridge, it’s probably not worth the risk of causing an imbalance in the product. It’s also safer for your skin that you adhere to the expiration date on a product, and not assume that by keeping it cooler in the fridge, you can use it longer.
Are there any benefits to keeping your skincare cold?
Applying chilled products can feel nice on the skin and elevate your everyday regimen to a spa-like experience. If you’ve ever woken up with puffy under-eyes or experienced painful acne, you may have placed a cooling sheet mask on your skin and felt a soothing bliss. And this makes sense—not only do cooling products feel good, they can reduce swelling and relieve itching.
And more good news: There are skincare products you can refrigerate without worrying about negatively altering the mixture. “The caveat to my general rule of ‘don’t refrigerate’ is if you have a sheet mask or actual instruments [like a jade roller] and you want to refrigerate [them for the immediate cooling sensation when you use them],” Moustafa says. The doctor also says that if you are compelled to use chilled products, try it with ones that are water-based, such as an oil-free moisturizer or an eye gel.
In general, though, stay clear of chilling down products that will likely separate or harden, like ones that contain oil, ones that have a wax-like consistency (think: a tube of lip balm), or ones made up of clay (like a charcoal mask). If you’re unsure whether a product would work well if kept in the fridge, look at the packaging for a recommended storage temperature or err on the safe side and keep it at room temperature.
Should you buy a skincare fridge?
Of all the skincare gadgets and gimmicks out there, a skincare fridge is certainly not the worst. But some of the popular brands, like Facetory and Teami Blends, will cost you $150 and at the very least, brands like Frigidaire and Cooluli run you $32 or $50, respectively. If you’re willing to spend the cash and don’t mind that you can only store certain beauty products in it, go for it. Or, you know, use your actual refrigerator, if you don't mind your serums sitting beside your cucumbers. Otherwise, your normal storage solutions work just as well (at least as far as product efficacy is concerned).
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.