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Are Mini Skincare Fridges a Scam?

by @sabletoothtigre
Apr 05, 2020


Perhaps it's a result of our love of miniature things and our love of beauty products coming together, but I'm sure you've seen countless teeny refrigerators made for the purpose of keeping your skincare products cold and preserved. They're usually the size of a shoe box and can hold... maybe two cans of soda. And they're real cute. But are they necessary? If you're really keen to keep your skincare products chilled, what's wrong with sticking them in your regular fridge (other than proximity)?

I was gifted one of these Cooluli skincare fridges at the last office I worked and I mostly kept cans of seltzer in it, which was very convenient for instantaneous bubbles.

At home, I stash all my sheet masks in my regular refrigerator though. I keep my skincare products in the medicine cabinet in my bathroom because that's where I use them. Makes sense, no? I guess I could just set up a mini skincare fridge in my bathroom but other than the lack of real estate in there as it is (NYC bathrooms are tiny), I am pretty sure that most beauty products are totally content to be stored at an even room temp and out of sunlight.

Alli Reed, founder of Stratia Skincare says nah, as well. "If something has a very short shelf life, like under three months, then keeping it in the fridge can extend it. If you live in a place that gets really hot, even stored in a drawer away from sunlight, and it’s over eighty five or ninety degrees, if the fridge is the only place that is room temperature or below then maybe the fridge is better. But other than that the shelf life testing happens at room temperature or above room temperature so it's meant to exist there."

Makes sense, right? When you consider the amount of research and development that goes into product packaging that is meant to preserve a product's potency and vitality, if you will, they have it covered in terms of preservation. Keeping it cold may just make things feel nicer on the skin, especially if you want to depuff (like with a jade roller or those little undereye pancake masks).

Of everything I know about skincare product stability, it's usually oxidization from exposure to air that degrades actives, and not temperature. That's why people get all up in arms about the kind of air-tight packaging that their expensive serums and moisturizers come in — if you're paying that much for it, you want it to be as potent for as long as possible.

However, it seems that skincare fridges have a secondary effect for beauty folks, which is... they make people happy.

I mean, it is way fun to decorate with stickers and keep on your vanity for a perfectly cooled face mist sprtiz. I get it. And for around $50, it's totally within attainability for lots of people.

I'm still...not sold though. Mostly because:

  • a) we've already uncovered that it's not necessary to make your skincare products better in any way.
  • b) We have even bigger fridges in our homes.
  • c) This is another plastic product that is tricky to recycle--if you even are able to--and another thing that contributes to landfills. The planet is kind of trying to cut back on plastic these days, you know? For the good of everyone.
Twist: one purpose I had not considered a mini fridge for, such as these on-the-go ones from Cooluli however (it offers the means of using a car as a power source...somehow), is in the case of if you're delivering medical organs that need to be kept cold before it can be donated and transfered. I know, extremely niche, but honestly this is how mini skincare fridges could be lifesaving in a literal sense, you know? I would way sooner trust this method of transport than a styrofoam cooler with sterile ice and a red plus sign on it. That's just a ticking time bomb of diminishing preservation whereas this will keep that kidney, heart, liver, or whatever organ nice and cool the whole trip. Mini skincare fridges for science!

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