Bottle or Jar? The Best Containers for Skincare Products

Bottle or Jar?

You may have asked yourself why companies use a bottle or a jar for a particular skincare product. Does it really matter? The truth is that not all containers are created equal when it comes to particular formulations. Factors that affect the type of container used are:

  • Oil vs water based formula
  • Ingredients that go rancid quickly (e.g. argan, hemp oils)
  • Ingredients that degrade easily (e.g. botanical extracts, vitamins)
  • Exposure to light, heat and/or humidity
  • TSA package requirements
  • Shipping requirements

The best container for the job

When ingredients aren’t taken into consideration when choosing a bottle or jar, the result is often a less effective product. Many ingredients are expensive to source, so it makes sense for companies to choose the right container for skincare products. Here are a few quidelines:

  • For liquid formulations like soaps, gels, oils and lotions, a pump bottle works well. Opening sizes vary according to the viscosity of the liquid. It is a hygienic choice because hands don’t touch the product directly. This includes airless pumps, which introduce less air into the container, minimizing degradation. An example of this is our Vitamin C Face Creme with Niacinamide.
  • Plastic is preferable to glass if the product is used in the bath or kitchen in order to avoid having a product slip out of one’s hand and break. Check the bottom of the container to see which plastic is being used. Some are more recyclable than others. If a product is going to be heated (e.g. oil treatments), then glass is preferable, as it is inert and not likely to melt.
  • As a rule, if ingredients degrade or become rancid easily, a dark or opaque container is preferable to a clear one. Exposure to light will degrade many oils, vitamins and botanicals. As an alternative, keep the product either in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place.
  • For thick creams, body butters and scrubs, a tube works best. That’s because it minimizes the likelihood of touching the product directly. Jars are less preferable because of what’s known as “head space”, which sometimes necessitates the use of additional preservatives to minimize contamination. Possible exceptions are products that are oil-based with low rancidity like our body balms.  Another alternative is an airless jar, a recent innovation that reduces the chance of contamination.

If you are trying a product for the first time or if you’re using it infrequently, it’s best to buy the smallest possible size. Once opened, a product’s shelf life is limited to between 3 and 12 months. If, on the other hand, you’re buying a product that you use frequently, get the largest possible size to save money.

Travel Requirements and Skincare Products

The Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) has developed strict rules regarding what to pack when traveling. As a rule, any type of liquid must be 3.4 ounces or less and sealed in a quart-size airtight bag for carry-on luggage. Anything larger must be in a checked bag. Many companies sell sample-size products that will serve this purpose. As an extra precaution, it’s a good idea to cover the area between a bottle or jar and its dispenser with duct tape to prevent its opening. It’s also safer to carry products in plastic containers than in glass ones.

Should I Re-Bottle or Re-Jar a Skincare Product?

It’s not recommended that you re-bottle or re-jar a product once you receive it. Even if you are careful to sterilize everything, you’re exposing all of the product to the elements, which introduces airborne particles and other contaminants. Exceptions might be made for household products that don’t come in regular contact with skin, like dishwashing liquid or detergents. When it comes to skincare, however, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

References:
Allure article on skincare containers
Transportation Safety Authority liquids rules

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