If you’re spending money on skincare products that come in jars, you’re doing your skin a major disservice, especially when buying anti-ageing products. We reveal what the research has to say about this topic and share the kinds of effective skincare packaging required for maximum benefit.
Research makes it clear that many of the best ingredients for skin – including antioxidants and anti-ageing champions like vitamin C and retinol – break down in the presence of air. Essentially, opening a jar* lets air in, causing these important ingredients to begin deteriorating, becoming less and less effective with each use.
Making matters worse, see-through glass jars (or clear bottles or tubes) allow routine exposure to daylight, further compromising the efficacy of these types of ingredients. There’s also the hygiene issue: Every time you dip your fingers into the jar, you contaminate the formula – even if you wash your hands first or use the “special” spatula that accompanies some jar-packaged products. It’s simply impossible to keep the tools and your fingers completely clean. This hygiene issue stresses the preservative system, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
There’s also the hygiene issue: Every time you dip your fingers into the jar, you contaminate the formula – even if you wash your hands first or use the “special” spatula that accompanies some jar-packaged products. It’s simply impossible to keep the tools and your fingers completely clean. This hygiene issue stresses the preservative system, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
* Airless jars (the kind where you press the top down to dispense product without opening the jar) are the exception to this rule because they restrict air flow and help keep the delicate ingredients stable.
Smart skincare packaging is a cornerstone of Paula’s Choice. From airless pumps, multi-layer tubes, opaque bottles, to UV-protected containers and air-restrictive openings, we make sure our complex formulas stay as potent and effective as possible.
Here are a few examples of what state-of-the art skincare packaging looks like:
The key takeaway: Minimising air and light maximises your skincare benefits.
You might wonder – if all of this is true, then why do companies continue to sell expensive skincare creams in jars? Trust us, we’re just as frustrated by this as you are. It’s not like the research on jar packaging is locked and hidden away somewhere – it’s been around for years and is undeniably known among cosmetic chemists.
Case in point, the Guidelines on Stability of Cosmetic Products, published by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) in 2004 states: "Packaging can directly affect finished product stability because of interactions which can occur between the product, the package, and the external environment. Such interactions may include … barrier properties of the container [and] its effectiveness in protecting the contents from the adverse effects of atmospheric oxygen..."
Regardless of these research-based facts about jar packaging, there remains a certain air of prestige tied to fancy, weighty jars, and many consumers still prefer them. That’s why so many brands continue to use them and why people continue to buy them.
Another factor is that it’s sometimes easier or less expensive for a company to put their formulas in jars; so, in essence, they’re taking a shortcut that shortchanges your skin. State-of-the-art, stability-proof packaging may cost more behind the scenes, but it’s vital if the formula is to work as effectively as it possibly can for your skin.
References for this information:
Cosmetics, 2016, pages 1–12
Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences, April-June 2013, pages 98–110
Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288
Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321
Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 2005, pages 197–203
Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, March 2004, page 4
Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32