How to Choose Safe Containers for DIY Skin Care Recipes

safe containers for DIY skin care recipes
So you’re the DIY Queen with your natural, homemade skin care brews, huh? The next step is choosing safe containers that don’t contaminate your recipe!
How to Choose Safe Containers for DIY Skincare Recipes

So you’ve become the DIY Queen with your natural, homemade skin care brews, huh?  Good for you! So the next step is choosing safe containers that don’t contaminate your non-toxic recipe, but his part can be a little tricky – especially if you're using essential oils. We'll have you headed in the right direction with a few quick steps!

Choosing Safe Containers for Your Specific Recipe

Choose glass containers and spray bottles when they won’t be stored around the sink, tub or in the diaper bag, and can be kept safely out of little hands.  Glass is non-porous and will hold up to pretty much any ingredient. Stainless steel works really well for many recipes too.

Glass and Stainless Steel Containers

Tins With No Liner

You can also use tin containers (not to be confused with aluminum) for recipes without potent essential oils, but be aware they are often lined with some sort of epoxy just like aluminum water bottles.

Polypropylene and HDPE Containers

When you need a less breakable option and stainless steel just won't cut it, choose containers made from HDPE (#2) or polypropylene (#5) for basic mixtures with mild essential oils. It's always a good idea to do compatibility testing before buying plastic containers in bulk. You'll know it's incompatible if the container begins to leak or changes in shape or color after 24 hours or so.

Durable + Safe Containers for More Potent Essential Oil Recipes

Some essential oils (especially citrus oils) have a chemical composition that is known to interfere with the chemistry of some plastics and metals, causing them to break down or rust.  Consider using PET (#1) jars for these recipes instead – even when diluted pretty thoroughly with a carrier oil.

PET has been shown to handle skincare products containing essential oils remarkably well because it has a high permeability resistance rating.  PET bottles should be replaced/recycled if they begin to show any signs of breakdown (leaking, warping or changing color).

Additional Cautions

  • Stay away from polystyrene containers and PVC tubes (often used for foundation or lip gloss, usually flexible).
  • Undiluted essentials oils should always be stored in glass, never in plastic.
  • Plastic containers may absorb the essential oil scent, so they will probably have to be used for cosmetics from that point on.
  • It's best not to use spatulas made from rubber or TPR, because the essential oils will ruin them.

Learn more about Decoding the Mystery of Safer vs Toxic Plastic here.

11 comments
  1. Glass bottles and plastic spray tops don’t always match. Many times, the “matching” spray top has a different thread size and the contents will leak as a result unless the bottle is always upright and never shaken (which is impossible if the product contains EOs). Sometimes they will match up good enough if there’s a liner inside the spray top, but many times they won’t–even when a liner is present. I wondered if wrapping pipe tape around the threads of the bottles would fix the leak, so I tried it and it does help as far as I can tell. I use the yellow tape since it’s made for use around chemicals (it’s for gas lines), because essential oils are really strong.

    Make sure to wrap the tape the right way and wrap it tight. Only wrap the bottle threads once or twice since too much tape can be detrimental. I do one and a half revolutions. There are instructions on the internet for how to use pipe tape, in general. Search “applying pipe tape”. You don’t want to do as many revolutions around the threads as they do for pipes, but all else applies. Keep it taut and wrap in the direction that the lid screws on. Speaking from experience, it’s much harder to apply this tape to glass than it is to metal or PVC. Patience is definitely needed when doing a lot of bottles. I use scissors to cut the tape but you can tear it off by just pulling straight off the roll (no angle needed–just pull straight out).

  2. Hi and thanks for sharing all of this great information. Can you please tell me your thoughts on using aluminum tins to store body butter with essential oils? I am looking at a screw top aluminum tin from papermart.com. I was able to confirm that they don’t use any internal liners. Can you tell me more about aluminum vs metal tins and their health risks?

    Thanks!

    1. We don’t have specific information on that at this time, Dawn, although we’ve added it to our ever-growing list of subjects to research! ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  3. Which oils are considered more potent? I love how many PET plastic containers come in amber and cobalt, but they aren’t reusable. They aren’t all recyclable either. Do these oils interfere with polypropylene plastic?

  4. Can i use Aluminum tins for storing herbal salves that contains essential oils too? And also normally what material is used t make these tin containers?? Which metal basically?

  5. You mentioned “aluminium” in this artical, (see below) I wonder if you’ve got information on using it to store natural oil/essential oil recipes?

    “You can also use tin containers (not to be confused with aluminum) for recipes without potent essential oils, but be aware they are often lined with some sort of epoxy just like aluminum water bottles.”

    Many thanks.

  6. I am debating between using PET or PP jars. PET jars are often offered in dark amber and blue, but are not reusable. PP jars don’t come in those colors, but do come in solid colors, which I would assume protects the EOs from sunlight just as well as dark amber?
    And I did not know that certain oils can break down PP plastic. Even if the oils are highly diluted, should this be a problem? I use about 40 drops of EOs in 8 oz of body butter. Would this be a problem?

  7. Hi Tiffany – I think you’d probably just have to test out the PP jars with the amount of EOs you’re planning to use to find out how it holds up. I’m afraid we don’t have a specific ratio of EOs to ounces to offer you.

  8. Hi Rae-lee – We personally haven’t used aluminum tins with EO recipes. You could give it a try, but you’d just want to confirm what the epoxy lining is made from before going with aluminum because it’s often BPA-based or PVC-based.

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