They’re tiny, they’re cute, and they’re colorful. In light of mounting photographic evidence—1,900 #beautyfridge images on Instagram and counting—a packed beauty fridge seems to have superseded the bathroom "shelfie" as the new and preferred way to show off your horde of beauty products. It’s not hard to see the allure: miniature in size and lacquered in shades of cotton-candy pink, baby blue, or lavender, these shrunken-down fridges have a leg up on the traditional kitchen appliance in both desirability and Instagrammability. And when brimming with sheet masks, colorful skin care products, and rows of serums, it feels very much like a personal skin care store, housed in something like an adult, larger-than-life version of a Polly Pocket.
The phenom has spawned beauty-dedicated fridges from new and old companies alike, including Makeup Fridge, The Cosmetics Fridge, The Beauty Fridge, FaceTory, Cooluli, and Saranghae. Editors have noticed, too. And so have dermatologists. But NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, for one, is skeptical about it all.
“A beauty fridge is unnecessary—a marketing gimmick—because whenever a product is released into the market it has to go through stability testing, which shows that a product is stable, that it will not decompose at room temperature, and that it’s not going to lose its efficacy even once it’s opened,” says Dr. Gross, explaining that products must be able to withstand extreme heat including at oven temperature—which far exceeds that of an apartment on a hot, sunny day. “Unless the manufacturer kept the product in a refrigerator or if it was sold at the retailer in a refrigerator, there’s no reason to do it.”
There are, however, prescribed medicated creams in dermatology that require refrigeration. In those cases, Dr. Gross says proper storage is paramount, but for the most part, beauty products, which aren’t perishable like food, don’t need to be kept at a certain temperature.
Natural or organic formulas might just be the exception—and, coincidentally enough, the source behind the inception of Makeup Fridge. A year ago, its founder and CEO Ilona Safonova stumbled upon a friend’s Instagram and a photo caught her eye: a wine fridge filled with beauty products. “She told me her skin care products are organic, and if she doesn’t keep them in a fridge, they tend to expire after a month or so,” she says.
The exponential growth of the natural and organic beauty industry (it was valued at $11.5 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $23.6 million by the end of 2025) hinges on shunning safe (and FDA approved) preservatives, which has led to its own set of problems with product stability, including oxidation, safety, and spoiling.
“Most products are stability-tested,” Safanova admits. “But when you’re talking about a natural skin care product, it’s beneficial to store them in a cooler environment as opposed to a hot, humid bathroom or in sunlight because it will oxidize. I thought, why not create a fridge that’s cute and easy to use for anyone with a skin care routine?”
She polled the skin care community and within a day or two, she had more than 100 potential consumers subscribed to a mailing list. That was when she knew she was onto something, that people are interested in a unique skin care experience. Since she launched Makeup Fridge in January, she’s sold 200 to 300 units (which amounts to $15,000 to $20,000) per month.
The demand was also there for FaceTory, the K-beauty subscription box brand. After learning that consumers were storing their sheet masks in their kitchen fridges, the company set out to provide a solution with a two-shelf beauty fridge starting in May.
“We were able to already sell 25 percent of our fridges from pre-orders alone,” says Janice Chang, head of marketing at FaceTory. “Chilled sheet masks and beauty tools give it an added benefit: It cools your skin, it helps with inflammation.”
It’s akin to old-school beauty tricks like pressing cucumber slices or a spoon against the eye to de-puff and revitalize the area. But, Dr. Gross is still not convinced: “[Refrigerating tools don’t do anything] more than ice or a bag of frozen peas; I’ve never seen any testing that proves otherwise.”
While, yes, a bag of frozen peas might achieve the same cooling effect, it lacks the Instagrammable factor, which for a beauty fridge, is a big part of its appeal. These fridges don’t come cheap, either (they run upwards of $80 and some as expensive as $180), but in the end, it all boils down to the fact that “they spark joy, they’re visually enticing, and they enhance an at-home spa feeling,” Chang confirms. “Many influencers have seen our fridge and they’ve wanted it. You can’t help but want it.”
By and large, refrigeration is harmless, but Dr. Gross warns that exposing products to fluctuating temperatures can actually lead to instability and “injuring the integrity of the product.” If you were adamant about using a beauty fridge for storage, however, he suggests setting the temperature in a safe range between 55 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Cooling your products is a huge trend in the skin care community, and for me, I enjoy the experience every morning,” Safanova says. “It’s been life-changing, and now that it’s a part of my routine, I can’t go back.”
Andrea Cheng Andrea Cheng is a New York-based writer who writes about fashion and beauty.