This Will Make Your Skin-Care Products Last So Much Longer

Your mom told you not to judge a book by its cover. Solid advice, but here’s the rub: When it comes to skin care, you need to. That’s because some ingredients expire faster when they’re not in the right packaging, while others can even get contaminated. (Gross.)

So, to help you out, we've gathered everything you need to know about beauty product…containers. We know, we know — it’s not the sexiest story you’ll read today. But a little knowledge will save you some time, a lot of money, and ensure that when you slather, you get results. Check out what we've found, ahead.
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Opaque Tubes
One of the most effective skin-brightening ingredients is also the most volatile: vitamin C. “It’s relatively unstable and tends to degrade faster the more it’s exposed to light and air, so it holds up better in tubes than tubs that open right up,” says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson.

Important to note: Body scrubs also belong in tubes — especially the ones you slather on in the shower. “If water gets trapped in [big tubs], they can get moldy,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. Again, gross.

La Roche-Posay Redermic C Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer, $54.99, available at La Roche-Posay.
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Teeny Pots
These little babies suit formulas “that don’t contain a lot of water, like balms,” says Wilson. One thing they’re not so good for: eye creams. “They’re not airtight, so anti-aging ingredients will quickly degrade, and there’s a possibility of spreading bacteria to your eye as your finger dips in and out of it,” says Wilson.

Rosebud Perfume Co.
Minted Rose Lip Balm, $7, available at Sephora.
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Airless Pumps
Whenever a formula has wrinkle-fighters like peptides and antioxidants, or is intended for use on sensitive skin, you always want to limit its exposure to the outside world. Traveling from an airless pump (like this one) to your face is fine, but any more than that and those aggressive little oxygen molecules start to break down the active ingredients.

Radical Skincare
Multi Brightening Serum, $150, available at Radical Skincare.
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Non-Airless Pumps
You can stick to regular pumps for straight-up cleansers and plain lotions, though. They give even doses and tend to be more hygienic than jars because you’re not actually touching the formula every time you put it on your face.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $9.89, available at Drugstore.com.
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Double-Chamber Bottles
Some ingredients make great bedfellows on your skin, but need to be kept apart until the moment they land on your face so they don’t spoil. Serums that have separate, airtight compartments ensure the ingredients remain active and don't react in the bottle, says New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD.

Estee Lauder
Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Sculpting/Refinishing Dual Infusion, $360, available at Neiman Marcus.
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Dark Containers
Retinol does not like light one little bit — so don’t buy a lotion, cream, or serum containing it unless the packaging is fully opaque. “Retinol is very unstable and creates free radicals that begin to break the formula apart if it’s exposed to light,” says Wilson, who recommends a pump over a tube. “By lifting the cap off a tube, air can get in and cause the retinol to oxidize.”

Neutrogena
Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer, $21.99, available at Ulta.
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Medical Droppers
Ideal for liquid skin-care products like serums and face oils, “droppers allow you to dispense water-thin skin care onto your palm without dipping your finger into the formula,” says Dr. Day.

Olay
Regenerist Luminous Facial Oil, $22.09, available at Ulta.
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Individually Wrapped Items
They might seem wasteful, but individually wrapped skin-care products can serve a very important purpose — especially when it comes to formulas with exfoliating acids. “The pH of glycolic acid can change when it’s exposed to air, so packaging them separately prevents them from drying out and prolongs their shelf-life and potency,” says Robinson.

Dr. Dennis Gross
Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula, $16, available at Sephora.
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Big Tubs & Jars
When you lift the lid on a tub or jar, a large surface area of the cream is exposed to light and air. “That’s why hydrating formulas like thick creams, ointments, and body moisturizers — that don’t contain sensitive ingredients like antioxidants and retinol — work best in this packaging,” says Wilson. (Just be sure to wash your hands first before using to limit contamination.)

Dr. Jart+
Ceramidin Oil Balm, $35, available at Birchbox.
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Compressed Sprays
Aerosols might make for great hairsprays, but they're a little counterintuitive for body moisturizer since they can be drying, says Wilson. Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer releases a continuous mist containing super-hydrating glycerin and dimethicone, with the help of compressed air. “The lotion is dispersed like an aerosol without the usual drying alcohol,” says Wilson.

Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer, $6.01, available at Walmart.
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