As we enter peak summer season, eager travelers across the country are preparing to fly away on vacation. But before you pack, experts recommend you leave this one common travel item off your travel shopping list — travel-sized containers for your skin care.

Jet setters have been using TSA-approved travel containers for years to pack their favorite skin care products into their carry-on luggage while complying with the TSA 3-1-1 rule for liquids. While you may want your favorite skin care items close at hand for a relaxing vacation this summer, cosmetic chemists interviewed warn that transferring your skin care faves to new containers could be a recipe for disaster.

Skin care packaging materials are specifically chosen to interact well with the product’s formulation

Transferring a skin care product from one container to another may seem as simple as transferring food items from one container to another. However, when cosmetic chemists are developing skin care formulas, they also must carefully select and develop the right container to deliver the product.

“Many skin care products come in the packaging they do for good reason,” said Vince Spinnato, a cosmetic chemist who’s president and founder of TurnKey Beauty Inc. “Transferring [skin care] out of their original bottles and into new ones can cause some surprising drawbacks, such as product degradation, discoloration or microcontamination.”

When a skin care product is transferred into a container made of the wrong material, things can go awry.

“Silicone containers can swell with silicone-rich formulas like conditioners, plastic [containers] are often risky with organic solvents, and metal [containers] can corrode with acidic products,” said Dr. Michelle Wong, an Australia-based cosmetic chemist.

Not only can the container itself be damaged by transferring the wrong skin care product into it, but the packaging’s interaction with the product could also render the product ineffective.

“Unstable actives like vitamin C can be too exposed to air and light, breaking it down,” Wong said.

And while transferring a pricey, high-end vitamin C serum to the wrong container might mean money down the drain, transferring sunscreen to a new container could cause skin damage.

“[Sunscreen] formulations may not be compatible with certain materials and can lose their efficacy and/or SPF value when transferred to the wrong material,” Spinnato said.

With an ineffective sunscreen, you may find yourself at an increased risk of sunburns, wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer.

You could potentially introduce contaminants

While the items on store shelves have gone through a rigorous process to ensure cleanliness throughout the manufacturing and packaging process, you most likely would not be able to provide the same level of cleanliness transferring your products into new containers.

“New containers can be a source of microbes and pollutants, dust and dirt (all of which can harbor microbes) depending on how they were handled and stored before they’re in your possession,” said Greg Peterson, the chief chemist officer at Opulus Beauty Labs.

While skin care companies include preservatives in their formulations to fight off nasties like mold, bacteria and other pollutants, the cosmetic chemists we spoke to warned that transferring your skin care products can cause the preservatives to become less effective as more pollutants are introduced to the formula.

“This is particularly concerning for any product that is used around the eyes, irritated skin, and around the nose and mouth,” Peterson said.

Even with thoroughly cleaned containers and tools, simply transferring your skin care could still degrade certain formulations.

“When you transfer a formula into another container, the formula is exposed to additional microbes that might be present in the container, air or on anything you may have used to transfer the product,” Peterson said.

How to safely transfer your skin care

While the cosmetic chemists we spoke to generally do not recommend transferring your skin care products for travel, they also recognize that there are some circumstances in which it’s necessary. Here are some expert-recommended guidelines on the best way to transfer your products before your next flight.

Choose the right product

According to Spinnato, products without active ingredients like shampoos, conditioners (including leave-in conditioners), face cleansers and toners, and body washes are generally safe to transfer into TSA-approved travel containers.

But for products containing active ingredients, like retinol and vitamin C, the cosmetic chemists we spoke to recommend against trying to transfer the item to a new container — particularly clear containers. Spinnato warns that transferring products with active ingredients to clear containers could expose the formulation to UV radiation.

“Retinol has been shown to absorb UV light when exposed for long periods of time. As a result, the ingredient degrades, impacting the product’s effectiveness,” Spinnato said.

Choose the right container

Peterson recommends that if you must transfer your skin care product, glass containers are the most preferable material. It’s also important to choose a container that’s an easy-to-clean shape. Peterson said some containers, like pumps, should be avoided as they’re difficult to thoroughly clean.

“Unless you are certain you can effectively clean and dry all parts of the container, I wouldn’t recommend reusing those components,” Peterson said.

Peterson also recommends ensuring the container is free from any cracks or damage.

Make sure the container is clean

“When it comes to transferring skin care products for travel, cleanliness is non-negotiable,” Peterson said.

The cosmetic chemists recommend using dish soap and warm water to thoroughly clean the container (plus any tools you’ll use to transfer your products), ensuring no residue from other products remains inside the container.

“Pay special attention to lids. Many lids have inserts that can trap old formula, microbes and water behind it. If possible, remove and thoroughly clean and dry the insert as well as the portion of the lid underneath the insert,” Peterson said.

Cosmetic chemists then recommend sanitizing your containers and tools with 70% isopropyl alcohol before leaving them to dry.

Lastly, as water can allow microbes to grow, you’ll also want to make sure your container and anything you use to transfer the product is completely dry before use.

Only transfer enough for your trip

While you may be tempted to grab that face cream you transferred to a TSA container for your flight back in March, our cosmetic chemists would highly recommend against it.

“Remember that the mixture’s shelf life is underneath the original product, and once it is transferred to a new component, you can plan that the best-by-use date is cut down by more than half,” Spinnato said.

Peterson recommends discontinuing use immediately and discarding the rest of the product if you notice any changes in it. “Always be vigilant for any changes in the formula that could indicate contamination, such as product separation, changes in odor, color, or texture, and mold growth in or around the lid,” Peterson said. “The old saying ‘when in doubt, throw it out’ (or recycle responsibly) is a good rule to follow.”

Need some highly rated travel products? Check out our favorites below.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.


A universal international travel charger

This versatile international charger is a HuffPost staple for a reason: It works in over 160 countries, including the U.S., throughout Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan. Even better? It can charge five devices at the same time, so it’s endlessly useful and convenient. You can grab it in four colors.


A tiny, on-the-go iWalk charger


A 100-pack of compressed towelettes that expand with water


A set of travel containers for your favorite skin, hair and body care products

Readers also showed up for this handy travel container set, which’ll keep you organized, leak-free and prepped with your favorite liquid, cream and gel products on your trip.

It includes four squeezable bottles, four jars and two spray bottles, along with a bag, scoopers, a funnel, a brush and labels so you can properly decant and keep track of everything. It’s made with BPA-free silicone and is available in four color combinations.


Aquaphor’s Lip Repair lip balm


A pair of cult-favorite Bluetooth earbuds


A twist memory foam pillow

This reader-favorite bendy memory foam pillow will make napping and kicking back on your flight that much comfier. You can also use it as a mini body pillow for easier sleeping at your destination. It’s available in four colors.


A three-pack of Quince compression socks

These compression socks are a favorite among HuffPost readers. They’re designed to help reduce soreness and swelling during travel or long days on your feet. They’re made with a soft blend of recycled nylon and spandex for a medium compression fit that’s comfy yet supportive. They’re available in two color combinations.


A Paravel weekender bag

HuffPost readers also love this splurge-worthy weekender bag, which combines the best of function and style with a super-sturdy, durable exterior that’s also surprisingly lightweight. This is an investment that’ll last you for years to come, and you’ll love how you can really make it your own with your own monogrammed initials. It also has straps to slide over your rolling luggage for extra portability and convenience.


A comfy two-piece loungewear set

This reader-beloved lounge set is elegant yet deliciously comfortable, so you don’t have to choose between comfiness and looking put together. (In other words, you can have your cake and eat it too.) The top is made with a soft, sophisticated rib knit in a classic crewneck style, and the pants are loose yet tapered for a structured yet comfy piece you’ll be able to actually relax in. The set comes in sizes XS-XL and is available in a variety of colors.


The Bioderma Sensibio micellar water

HuffPost readers swear by this cult-favorite micellar water, which is a type of cleanser that removes pollution, dirt, makeup and oil from skin without requiring you to wash it off. Because you don’t have to worry about removing it, you can use it just about anywhere, as long as you have a cotton pad or something similar to apply it with. That makes it a particularly great choice for traveling, since you can easily cleanse your face while having to take a trip to the airport bathroom or the lavatory on the plane (I’m truly not sure which one is less appealing).

Bioderma’s bestselling formula is designed to be extra gentle on skin, so you won’t have to resort to harsh rubbing or tugging to remove makeup, oil and dirt. It’s available in four sizes, including a travel size.


Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen — specifically Supergoop’s Unseen formula

Wearing SPF is always important, and it’s that much more important on a plane, when you’re at a higher elevation and therefore even closer to the sun. HuffPost readers loved Supergoop’s Unseen SPF 40 Sunscreen, which applies clear with a matte finish. It’s formulated with skin-loving, antioxidant-rich ingredients like red algae and frankincense to add moisture to dry skin while helping soothe irritation. Plus, it doubles as a makeup primer.

It’s available in three sizes, including a travel size.


The Madewell leather transport tote

This chic leather tote is also a HuffPost reader-favorite for its understated yet sophisticated style and roomy interior, which makes it a great carry-on bag (and day bag for the rest of your trip). It’s a bestseller at Madewell and is available in two colors.


The famously nourishing Weleda Skin Food moisturizer

HuffPosters love this popular European moisturizer, which you can use on dehydrated, thirsty skin on your hands, face and body. It’s a long-heralded holy grail moisturizer among skincare enthusiasts because of its rich, nourishing formula that’s chockfull of hardworking hydrators like glycerin and lanolin and plant ingredients including sunflower, pansy and chamomile oils. A little goes a long way, too.


The Tower 28 hypochlorous acid SOS facial spray

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