What is Cross-Contamination in Skincare?

And why should we care?

By Catie Ryan, Staff Writer

Cross-contamination has become a recent buzzword in the skincare community, but what does it actually mean? (Fair warning, the answer may inspire you to reevaluate your skincare routine.)

To begin, cross-contamination is defined as the “inadvertent transfer of bacteria or other contaminants from one surface, substance, etc., to another especially because of unsanitary handling procedures.” As we all know, this is a well-recognized concept in other industries, especially in those that involve food. Farmers, chefs, grocers, other food workers must minimize cross-contamination at all costs to avoid potentially fatal health consequences. Well-known tactics include refrigeration and scrupulous cleaning practices (like never using the same cutting board for raw meat and vegetables). Malpractice can result in incidents such as E. coli outbreaks, when fresh produce accidentally comes in contact with animal waste.


Interestingly, the skincare industry has been incredibly slow to recognize the dangers of cross-contamination, even though many skincare products contain the same vulnerable organic ingredients as food. And, although using contaminated skincare products may not kill you, it can definitely have unsavory effects on your complexion.

How do you know if your skincare products are vulnerable to cross-contamination?

The most susceptible products are those that require a user to dip his or her fingers into the formula for extraction and those that come in contact with the open air. Unfortunately, this means that any formula stored in a jar with a removable cap is likely to experience cross-contamination. This occurs because the bacteria that live on your hands and in the air will flourish if they come in contact with your skincare products, especially because many formulas contain fruit-based ingredients. What you end up with is a petri dish of sorts, where your formula becomes a breeding ground with limitless food for every strain of bacteria that has ever touched it.

To avoid this, companies have started to offer wands with their skincare jars in the hopes that your fingers never actually touch the formula. However, this tactic is far from fool-proof. The wand still has the possibility to come in contact with your skin, the product is still exposed to air, and to top it all off, you never really know what quantity to withdraw.

Just as you need clean brushes to apply makeup to your face, you need sanitized skincare products. When you put contaminated lotions, creams and serums on your skin, the bacteria can cause some unwanted side-effects.

The dangers of cross-contamination:

  • Acne: Blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, you name it. Applying contaminated products to your skin is essentially covering your face with a new layer of bacteria, allowing it to penetrate your pores and cause blemishes.
  • Inflamed skin: Unfamiliar microorganisms on the skin could inflame sensitive tissues and cause irritation. This means your complexion could become red, bumpy, or even cause you physical discomfort.
  • Infection (especially in and around skin lesions): If you have any areas of broken skin, the bacteria can cause a nasty infection when it infiltrates the wound. 

So, how can we avoid cross-contamination once and for all?

The solution: Use skincare products that incorporate new and innovative packaging concepts to minimize contamination. Steer clear of any containers that require you to insert your fingers into the formula for extraction. One of the newest technologies for practicing proper skincare hygiene is called “airless packaging,” which utilizes pressure to withdraw and dispense the product while keeping the formula sealed.

Other benefits of airless packaging:

  • It dispenses a measured amount of product: With each pump, our airless packaging delivers a precise amount of formula for proper use. This way, you never have to troubleshoot your dosage again and risk wasting product.
  • Fewer preservatives needed: Formulas are completely sealed in their packaging, allowing us to avoid using harsh chemical preservatives that strive to achieve the same effect, yet may harm your skin.
  • Guaranteed freshness and longevity: When formulas do not directly touch the air, they retain stability and potency far longer than most other skincare products.

What have we done to help reduce contamination:

ProD.N.A. Airless Packaging:

All items in the ProD.N.A. line use airless packaging to eliminate the threat of our products encountering unwanted bacteria. Each airless container draws out formula by utilizing pressurized air and dispenses the product with the light push of a fingertip.

Check out the newest innovation in skincare packaging technology, the airless dropper.

Try out ProD.N.A. today and experience our airless packaging for yourself!

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