Do You Really Need a Skin-Care Fridge?

Yes, certain products will last longer if you keep them chilled below room temperature. But also they're just really cute.

Photo: The Makeup Fridge/Oxygen/Getty Images

Those tiny skin-care fridges you see decked out all over Instagram are truly adorable, but do you really need one? Probably not—although there's a reason people are stocking mini skin-care fridges with all their favorite bottles, tubes, and vials.

It's not a necessity since most skin-care products don't need to be refrigerated, says Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. But many beauty manufacturers do recommend that skin-care products be stored somewhere that's between 45 and 50 degrees. "This temperature range maintains ideal consistency of products while reducing the risk of growth of bacteria, mold and yeast, and decreasing risk of accelerated deactivation of active ingredients and preservatives," explains Dr. King.

Your best bet is to "make sure they're always stored in a cool, dry place and avoid letting them sit in hot and humid places," says Dr. King. If there's no ventilation in your bathroom and it takes hours for the steam to fade from your mirrors, that humidity can increase risk of growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast, and the hot temperatures can increase risk of accelerated deactivation of active ingredients and preservatives and affect the texture and consistency of products, she adds.

This, actually, is where storing your skin-care in a fridge might come in handy.

Can You Put Skin-Care Products In Your Regular Fridge?

If stashing those products in a fridge sounds like a solid solution, your regular refrigerator will do the job just fine (as long as you don't mind making that looong walk to the kitchen when you need them).

"So long as your refrigerator is properly cleaned and your skin-care products are physically separated from your food, a regular refrigerator accomplishes the same goal as a skin-care fridge," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D. He recommends keeping products in your vegetable drawer or in the area where you store butter (typically on the refrigerator door) so they're not exposed to any drips or leaks from food and drinks—or grab a plastic bathroom organizer with drawers (Buy It, $23, that'll fit in your fridge and keep your skin care separate.

Keep in mind that if your fridge is kept between 35-38°F (the standard temp for a kitchen fridge), those colder temperatures may affect the consistency of some products, making them thicker and more difficult to spread, says Dr. King.

The Benefits of Chilling Your Skin Care

Whether you invest in a separate beauty fridge or not, chilling your lotions, gels, serums, and so on isn't a bad idea. As anyone who's ever put a cool compress (preferably eucalyptus-scented, thankyouverymuch) on their forehead knows, "cold temperatures have a soothing effect on the skin and can help reduce facial redness and inflammation," says Dr. Zeichner.

"The cooling effect on the skin can help complement the active ingredients in serums that are designed to hydrate, soothe, and brighten the skin," says Dr. Zeichner. "And applying a cold moisturizer can help calm an inflamed skin barrier for symptomatic relief of itching."

That relief would be magnified with any skin-care product that claims to be soothing, cooling, and anti-inflammatory—like face masks, lotions with menthol, and eye creams or gels that are intended to help decrease puffiness, adds Dr. King. "The cooler temperature helps to constrict blood vessels, which can decrease puffiness and redness," she explains. Storing tools like jade rollers or metal tip cream applicators in a fridge is a great option, too; that chilled sensation as the same sensation on the blood vessels. (FYI, blue tansy skin-care products and gel moisturizers are both great candidates for chilling.)

In some cases, those cool temps might extend the life of your favorite products. "Some formulations—like vitamin C and retinol, which can have unstable molecules, and probiotics, which contain living bacteria—have relatively short shelf lives," says Dr. King. "Refrigeration can help prolong that shelf life by providing a more stable environment." Refrigeration can also help extend the lifespan of clean or natural products that don't contain preservatives, she adds—in the same way the fridge keeps your kale and spinach fresh even when you order pizza for a second night in a row.

When skin-care products expire, their active ingredients may be less potent and therefore less effective (probably not your end goal after shelling out $80 for that Sunday Riley C.E.O. vitamin C oil). Plus, "it is possible for yeast or bacteria to grow in outdated products, which can then cause skin irritations or even infections," warns Dr. King. (It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the expiration date stamped on your products, but you can also check the manufacturer's website or Cosmetic Check if there's no visible date.)

Just don't put any makeup, fragrances, or oils in the fridge—under cold temperatures, these can separate and become harder to use.

If You Really Want a Skin-Care Fridge...

Hey, if you have the space and you like the idea of keeping your favorite skin-care products chilled and on hand right in your bathroom, why not make your life a little easier (and a little more luxurious)? Note: Some of these skin-care fridges simply cool down to that magic number of 40-50ºF, while others get colder like a traditional fridge—check the specs on the one you're looking at so you know what to expect.

Regardless of whether anyone actually needs one or not, you have to admit, they're freaking adorable.

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