Steal a peek inside any wellness obsessee’s medicine cabinet and you’re likely to see rows on rows of amber glass bottles, emblazoned with directions to “store in a cool, dry place.” This doesn’t just make for a cuter shelfie—such packaging is designed to protect natural beauty products and supplements from heat and light, which can actually degrade the ingredients inside.
So call me super paranoid, but knowing this, I’ve always wondered whether I should be wary of putting my carefully honed regimen through an airport luggage scanner. I mean, if a little sunshine and a warm day could render my pricey facial serums and probiotics useless, wouldn’t a dose of X-ray radiation do the same thing?
If a little sunshine and a warm day could render my pricey facial serums and probiotics useless, wouldn’t a dose of X-ray radiation do the same thing?
To find out whether this is actually the case, I turned to a few people who are a little (okay, a lot) more well-versed than I am about science. And as it turns out, we definitely don’t need to stress over the contents of our plastic baggies.
“The X-ray machine doesn’t degrade your skincare products in any way,” affirms cosmetic chemist and Skin Owl founder Annie Tevelin. “The radiation dose typically received by objects scanned by the airport system is 1/10 a microsievert or less. That’s less radiation exposure than you get from eating a banana.”
The same goes for supplements, says Dr. Luke Bucci, VP of research & development at vitamin brand Ritual. “The dose is too low and for too short a time period to physically damage biological molecules.” (He should know: Before joining Ritual, he spent five years in the Department of Experimental Radiotherapy at MD Anderson Hospital.)
That said, neuroscientist and holistic health expert Leigh Winters notes that the flight itself exposes you and your luggage to radiation for a much longer duration of time—although no research has been done on the effects of this, specifically. “If you’re a frequent flier, the honest truth is that airplanes and frequent global travel haven’t existed long enough to paint the full picture of such cumulative exposure,” she says.
Still not convinced? The experts say you can wrap your products in aluminum foil and ask the TSA agents for a manual luggage check when you head through security, keeping them in their original dark-glass bottles. But ultimately, know that the X-ray machine should be very low on your list of airport-related anxieties. Those self check-in kiosks, on the other hand…
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