Jar Packaging: A Waste of Good Antioxidants & Money
Innovations in skin care have led to formulations that can dramatically improve your skin, making it look less wrinkled, younger, healthier, and glowing. The primary ingredients responsible for these advancements are antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients (such as vitamin C and retinol, among many others), and skin-repairing ingredients. Products loaded with these are the absolute best for all skin types and any age, but you won’t get the benefits of these brilliant ingredients to your skin if the product you are using comes in a jar.
The Most Beneficial Ingredients Are the Least Stable!
The ingredients most beneficial for your skin are not stable, which means they won't be effective if exposed to light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar. No matter how great the formula, it all begins to break down when you first open it! There is also the issue of hygiene; dipping your fingers into a jar transfers bacteria from your hands into the product, and that causes the important ingredients to further deteriorate.
Great Ingredients Protect, But They Need Protection, Too!
One of the critical factors in any anti-ageing or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences. Sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke bombard our skin with destructive free radicals, depleting the skin's ability to heal, causing collagen breakdown, and producing abnormal skin cells. This is one of the major reasons why skin ages and wrinkles, and why dark spots begin to appear!
Antioxidants, cell-communicating, and skin-repairing ingredients not only can help prevent free-radical damage but also help repair that damage. Surprisingly, all of these ingredients are just as vulnerable to sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke as your skin. Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-ageing superstars it contains. (You can just visualise their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Minimising Air Maximises Your Skin-Care Benefits
With most skin-care formulas, all that is necessary to protect the beneficial ingredients is a container that minimises air exposure and keeps light, and your fingers, out of the product. A pump or airless jar (meaning you can't take the lid off) design or an opaque tube with a very small opening is enough to keep these important ingredients protected during the product's lifespan, and allow your skin to reap the rewards.
Remember, no matter how great a product's formula, jar packaging, and to a lesser extent clear packaging (i.e., let's light in), is always a deal breaker. Given the number and variety of products available today that come in air-reducing or airless packaging, why waste your money on products whose most beneficial ingredients will soon be gone after first use?
Will encapsulating antioxidants keep them protected from air? Well, no. Encapsulating ingredients like antioxidants or cell-communicating agents isn't about "protecting them" so much as keeping them stable in a formula (so the last use is as effective as the first) and increasing their effectiveness on skin. Note that "stabilising" an ingredient is not the same as protecting it from the environment, so let's look at that claim a little closer.
The notion that encapsulating an antioxidant somehow keeps it from breaking down with air exposure is actually counter to their primary function in skin-care products. Antioxidants protect your skin from free-radical damage (destroying themselves in the process), and oxygen is a free radical. Thus, keeping antioxidants from extinguishing themselves with air exposure is essentially reducing their benefit to skin as they are no longer able to protect you as efficiently from one of the most abundant free radicals, oxygen! Don't fall for the "encapsulated antioxidants are fine in a jar" excuse!
You can find superior products with the type of packaging needed to keep the key ingredients stable throughout the Paula's Choice line.
The information discussed above, about the instability of the ingredients that are so good for your skin, is widely available, and cosmetics companies throughout the world are aware of it. But, despite this widespread knowledge, one question remains: Why do companies still use jars?
Why Do Companies Still Use Jars?
The issue of jar packaging and its effect on beneficial ingredients is truly common knowledge in the skin-care industry. For example, this information is presented clearly in the Guidelines on Stability of Cosmetic Products (March 2004), published by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the major cosmetics industry organization in the United States. It also is presented in publications by COLIPA, the governing association for cosmetics in Europe. Both state:
"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.…"
After looking at all the research and the facts, we're not exactly sure why cosmetics companies continue to use jar packaging. All we can think is that they either are ignorant of the facts (which makes you wonder what else they don't know) or they ignore the facts, to the detriment of your skin.
There also is the reality that women love jar packaging, and given that cosmetics companies love to sell products, it's a smart marketing thing for them to do—it just doesn't make for smart skin care. We've heard all manner of excuses from cosmetics companies justifying their use of jar packaging, ranging from "we use a patented form of these ingredients to prevent degradation when exposed to air," or "we use preservatives that keep the ingredients stable." Neither of these explanations is viable. Patents are not scientific documents proving anything; they merely mean that you have the right to use it. In this case, even the best systems are not iron clad, the ingredients in lotions, creams, gels, and serums will still break down once you open the jar. The other issue is preservatives; they do prevent bacteria and microbes from multiplying out of control and reaching harmful levels in your skin-care products, but they cannot prevent the negative effects of light and air on those beneficial ingredients in the formula.
What Can You Do Now?
The best thing for you to do is avoid buying products that come in jars, especially if they contain beneficial, but unstable, ingredients. Because there are so many companies whose packaging excels at keeping the formulas they contain stable, spend your beauty money on those products. If enough of us do that, perhaps that will send a message to the companies that still use problematic packaging, and your skin will receive the greatest possible benefits.
The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! Learn more at Shop Paula’s Choice.
Sources: 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 12, 2005, pages 197–203; and Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32.
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