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Will Makeup Freeze? It Certainly Will, and You Should Avoid it!

So, your Sephora package came to your house in Minneapolis in February and sat outside on the porch for a few days. Should you be concerned?

We’ll answer that question in detail in this post! But for those of you that want it straight, right from the beginning…

Will makeup freeze? Yes, any makeup with water as an ingredient—that’s most liquid products, even if they’re viscous—will partially freeze. That means two things: the component in which your product is packaged might burst, and the separation of ingredients caused by freezing might cause the formula to never be the same again.

But that’s only the quick answer. Read on to learn the details!

A snowscape with caption indicating that makeup will indeed freeze
If this is your house, don’t let that package with the $45 foundation sit outside! Source: @todd_diemer on Unsplash.

What Kinds of Makeup Freeze?

The quick answer to “what kinds of makeup freeze?” is “anything with water in its ingredient list.” That means foundation, mascara, concealer, liquid eyeliner, brow gel, and the like. (Also, we’re focused on makeup here, but PSA: most skincare will have a lot of water in it, too.)

Some makeup that probably won’t freeze includes waxy or oil-based products like creams (think the Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek stick or the Fenty cream blushes). Oil will change consistency when it gets super cold, but as I understand it, it won’t undergo a restructuring of its molecular pattern the way water does when it freezes. It’s that state change of water that really wreaks havoc. More about that in a second.

Nice in drinks; not nice in makeup. Source: @izak99 on Unsplash.

Oh, and your powder products? All totally safe from the cold; they won’t freeze on you.

Why Is Water Freezing a Big Deal?

But water freezes and then unfreezes to become just water again, so what’s the big deal? Won’t it just go back to normal?

Probably not. And here’s why.

What Happens When Your Makeup Freezes and Thaws

Usual disclaimer: I’m not a chemist—I’m reporting things as I understand them. If you’re a scientist and I got any of this wrong, please check out my About page and email me!

When water freezes, it undergoes a physical change: its molecules slow down and form a lattice-like pattern that takes up more space than liquid water. So, first problem: that could cause the makeup container to burst open the way a soda you put in the freezer will burst if you forget it in there.

A diagram of ice at a molecular level
The expanded, hexagonal shape of frozen water. Source.

That will not only expose your product to lots of air but also will probably render the product unusable. After all, do you have an operation at home that will let you crack open this mascara tube and put its contents into one of the empty, new mascara tubes you have just lying around?

Second problem! Many products are emulsions, or combinations of things that don’t normally mix, like oil and water. When the water freezes and another ingredient, like oil, doesn’t, then these elements will separate…and they may not be able to be combined again.

Now, the product mixture as you bought it is a thing of the past, and you have this new formula with the water separated out even at room temperature. It probably won’t behave as you want it to, no matter how you shake it like a Polaroid picture.

A picture of oil and water, separated
Don’t let this be your makeup. Source: Pexels.

Conclusion: What This Means For Your Makeup

In short, the conclusion here is

  • Will makeup freeze? Absolutely, if the product has water.
  • Can freezing ruin your makeup products? Yes, in more ways than one. It can cause the product to burst from its container or for ingredients to separate, never to be united again.

So, respect the elements that can bring destruction to your precious beauties. That means you don’t want to store any non-powder, non-solid makeup in a freezer. And if you’re spending this winter in the frigid north like I am, you don’t want to store makeup in your car or let delivered packages sit for too long outside your house.

That’s all for now!