A well-edited Instagram image holds a curious kind of power. The artful arrangement of clothing on a body, or the just-so positioning of products in flatlay, can influence your style, inform your purchases and inspire moments of self-reflection: Can I pull off "fashion" bike shorts? Should I get lip injections? And do I really need a skin-care fridge?
Late last year, when the Skin-Care Mini Fridge (aka SCMF) first started making the odd appearance on my feed, I searched my soul and found the answer to that final question was, No. No, I do not.
But as the popularity of the Skin-Care Mini Fridge grew — and the amount of alluringly-styled Instagram shots of said fridges doubled, then tripled — I wavered in my decision to skip out on the SCMF. I mean, I did have certain beauty products that I kept in my regular-sized refrigerator… mostly perishable items, like the Mother Dirt AO+ Probiotic Spray and a few food-grade face masks from Lush. I'd been known to occasionally store my jade roller in there, too, because a cool crystal to the face just feels good.
Over time, opening up my cheese- and vegetable-filled fridge to grab a sheet mask seemed so pedestrian, so gauche, so ew, as I told ILLUUM. So I gave in; I dropped $45 on a tiny fridge meant for a six-pack.
I'm but one of many to fall under the #influence of the SCMF. Google searches for "skin-care fridge" have skyrocketed in recent months, and entire companies dedicated to manufacturing these mini fridges have popped up seemingly overnight (Mint Fridge, The Beauty Fridge, Cosmetics Fridge). But experts say aesthetic appeal — the cool factor, if you will — is pretty much the only reason to indulge in the trend.
"You do not need to keep skin-care products in the fridge. Keeping them in the fridge does not make them more effective," Dr. Devika Icecreamwala, a dermatologist with Icecreamwala Dermatology in San Francisco, tells Fashionista. She notes that refrigerating certain ingredients — retinol, benzoyl peroxide — may slightly extend their shelf life, but the amount of extra use you'd get out of the chilled product would be negligible.
"When a company creates a product and brings it to market, they should have already performed stability testing and exposed the formulation to multiple adverse temperature and light conditions over at least a three month period of time so the consumer can feel confident there won’t be any issues," explains celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia, who also produces her own line of products.
Science-minded skin-care lovers may rebut, Aren't vitamin C products notoriously unstable, though? To which Caglia counters, "In terms of vitamin C serum efficacy issues, the real culprit has been exposure to air, or oxidization, and not as much temperature." What's more, serums and oils can actually solidify in the fridge, rendering them ineffective.
Chilled products are not without their dermatological charms, though. Dr. Icecreamwala herself stores face masks and aloe-based moisturizers in her fridge, "because it does feel indulgent and soothing to the skin when products are applied cold." There's even evidence to suggest that cold skin care helps decrease swelling and redness more quickly than that of the room temp variety.
"When it comes to treating puffiness, you can't beat it," Caglia agrees. "I always recommend that my clients store their eye creams, certain masks and rose quartz beauty tools in the fridge."
The real question, then, is whether your Regular Refrigerator (RR) is worthy of housing such precious products. (Crystals! Aloe! Eye masks!) It's one that every beauty enthusiast must answer alone — but here, based on my own experience, are some prompts to point you in the right direction.
Are you an influencer? Sure, go ahead, get a dedicated Skin-Care Mini Fridge; it makes for great content. There are options at every size, style and price point.
Do you want to be an influencer? If you can figure out how to make your SCMF look glamorous in photos — which, trust me, is not as easy as you think — go for it. You just might make the Explore page.
Will you try to photograph it at all? For those with a few empty shelves in the fridge and no influential aspirations, I gently suggest skipping the SCMF and stashing your beauty products in the butter compartment.
Do you share your Regular Refrigerator with roommates? There is something worse than being the roommate who aggressively labels their oat milk, and that's being the roommate who takes up sacred refrigerator space with sheet masks. For the sake of your roomie relationships, invest in a SCMF instead.
Do you have the counter space? Yes, it's a "mini" fridge, but even the smallest models require a surprising amount of real estate — especially in a shoebox apartment. It may be more efficient to stick with your RR.
Do you have access to a conveniently placed outlet? In my case, the SCMF did not fit on my bathroom countertop, and the only available outlet was next to my toilet. As I've said before, I did not feel as chic as anticipated squatting down next to the porcelain bowl to retrieve an optimally-chilled eye cream.
Eventually, after months of SCMF experimentation, I migrated my products back to their rightful spot in my Regular Refrigerator. There's more space, it's easier to organize and I'm not sidetracked by the urge to snap a #shelfie every time I reach for my jade roller. (Although I have to say: My butter compartment's never looked better.)
Should you want to try a SCMF for yourself, shop some of our favorite cooling picks in the gallery below.
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