Guide to Reusing and Refilling Your Bottles
In-store or at home.
When I rebranded (unbranded) and redesigned my skincare collection this fall, I did something kind of radical. I knew it was a bit crazy but I felt like it'd be really good for all of us. (Um, especially me, the queen of just grabbing a fresh bottle because I forgot to bring mine from home to refill.)
I decided to package all of my dry products in refill bags only.
No more bottles! We have enough bottles, right? Besides, I thought this would give our toner bottles and facial oil bottles, and jars of butter something to do after we use those up too.
I've offered my dry products (like cleanser, dry shampoo, etc.,) in refill bags for years, so this is nothing new to many of you, but for my fellow, "I'll just get a fresh one this time. (Again.)" friends, there is no another option now. So I thought this would be a good time to share everything you need to know about reusing and refilling your bottles at Twinkle Apothecary.
First I'd like to mention that I am re-opening my OKC studio for shopping and refills, beginning next week. January 3rd, 2023. (That's Tuesday, by the way.)
So let's talk about the in-store refill process.
What can't be refilled?
Acne spot treatment
Solid products (deodorant, butter, body butter, balm) but you can wash the jars out and bring them in to be filled with a different product.
Sample sizes. If you like the product, please buy the full size, which I will gladly refill for you next time.
Everything else can be refilled in-store.
Powder products are already sold in refill bags so you can buy those to fill up a bottle you already have at home.
Mail-in refills for everything else are only available to all members of my Patreon community, and shipping is always free.
Fun fact - refills don't save much money, as the bottles and jars are the least expensive part of these products, while my labor and material costs stay the same no matter what bottle you use.
However, I offer a 20% discount on refills to reward you for making the effort and coming back to the shop to restock your favorites.
Refills are a flat price. You can bring in old Twinkle bottles or another bottle or jar you have at home, but it needs to be the same size as the bottles I currently offer.
I'm choosing to do a flat rate instead of offering refills by the ounce because of the way I craft my made-to-order products. If you bring in a different size bottle for your toner or facial oil I'll have to adjust my recipe, which is too many calculations to make on the fly, especially if there's more than one person in the shop waiting for my help.
Besides, there are other fun spots around town where you can take in random bottles to fill with household necessities. Let me make your Twinkle Apothecary studio skincare refill experience unique!
Preparing your bottles
Whether you're refilling at home or coming into the shop, your bottle must be clean and ready for the fresh new product.
That said, you don't have to wash and sanitize your bottles between every refill, so don't let the following technical details trip you up. It all depends on the shelf life of the product you are refilling, and how quickly you're going through it.
Consider the shelf life
For example, Oil has a 1-year shelf life. So if you're coming in to refill your new bottle every month (easily done if you have a small bottle that you're using for everything!) you don't have to do the whole cleaning and sanitizing process every month. Technically, you can do it yearly, although if the bottle starts to look grubby you might want to wash it sooner. (And please do! I don't want to have to handle grubby, dirty-looking bottles in my perfectly clean and sanitary studio. Hence the following instructions.) :)
Toner has a 6-month shelf life, so if you are refilling it every month, technically you'll just need to sanitize it around the 6-month mark, although again, washing and sanitizing your bottle sooner never hurts!
Powder/dry products have even more wiggle room, but it's still probably a good idea to wash out the bottle every 6 months to a year.
Now, if you are bringing in old bottles that you've been hanging onto because you've been waiting for my shop to reopen for ages (sorry!) you'll want to wash out any old product and make sure your bottle is properly sanitized before I fill it up with something fresh and new.
Or, if you're wanting to reuse a bottle for a different kind of product with a different fragrance, you'll need to wash out whatever was in there first.
Washing and Sanitizing your Bottles
*Optional* Peel off the label.
This is the beauty of the new "unbranded" packaging, by the way. You're free to put anything in the bottle next because it never said what was in there in the first place. It's a blank slate. Once it's clean, at least. Rubbing alcohol will remove any residual stickiness.
Wash in hot, soapy water, using a bottle brush.
The hotter the water, the more easily any oils or other residue will come clean. Always use a bottle brush to remove all of the product from the bottom edges of the bottle. You can soak your bottles in soapy water for a bit if they need extra help coming clean. I also do this little thing where I fill up the bottle about halfway with soapy water, cover the opening with my thumb, and give it a good shake. Whatever you gotta do to get it really good and clean! Rinse thoroughly to remove all of the soap, of course.
Did you know that tap water contains potentially harmful microbes and bacteria? Our digestive system kills those little bugs when we drink water, but if they sit around in your skincare bottles, they can lead to bacteria overgrowth that can mess with your skin or even make you sick.
It's helpful to do an extra sanitizing step to make sure your bottle is really clean. There are several different ways to go about it.
1. Do a sanitizing rinse with Iodophor
Iodophor is a food-safe, iodine-based sanitizer for bottles and kitchen equipment. It's easy to find on Amazon, and is often sold with things like home brewing kits for sanitizing the equipment. I use this in the shop to rinse my equipment at the end of the day. This is the most effective way to remove the previous fragrance too.
2. Rinse with alcohol after the bottle is dry
A high-proof rubbing alcohol will work for this. Make sure you allow the bottle to dry completely afterward so the alcohol fully evaporates.
3. Boil for 3-5 minutes in distilled water
Allow it to dry completely afterward.
4. Use a baby bottle sanitizer
Hey, I don't know. Maybe you have one on hand!
5. UV light
A UV light wand or box is another way to sanitize your bottles after washing without adding any extra drying time.
Here's the thing.
I won't know if you skip the sanitizing step because bacteria and microbes are invisible. It's your skin, skip it at your own risk!
Cleaning and sanitizing the caps
Glass droppers can be washed and sanitized the same way as you would the bottle, but plastic spray pumps are trickier. I'd rinse those in alcohol (spraying some up through the cap to get the inside rinsed if you can,) and allow them to dry completely.
This is the most important part!
Your bottle and cap must be completely dry before you can fill it with fresh product. I'm sorry to say that it can take over 24 hours, but it's worth the wait. Even a drop of water could lead to harmful bacteria or mold growth in your oil or cleanser bottle. I won't refill anything in my shop if it appears to be wet, (except a bottle of toning mist or wave spray that's still within its shelf life!) and you shouldn't at home either. You will regret it, trust me.
Refilling your bottles at home.
Time to invest in a couple of funnels! A soft silicone funnel (like the ones pictured above) is the best thing for filling a bottle with a powdered product because you can squeeze the bottom of the funnel to get the product through without making a mess. A regular hard plastic or metal funnel is fine for liquid refills.
Storing the refill bags
It's always best to transfer the contents of your refill bag to your bottle (or another airtight container) ASAP, to prevent them from drying out. Bags aren't the best option for long-term storage, especially if you're storing them under the sink where they can become leaked on by faulty plumbing. Always keep your Twinkle products dry!
Another option if you really don't want to do the refill thing
I do offer small bottles and jars of dry products for sale in my Etsy shop. I'll also make one for you when you're shopping in-store if you like.
But I think it'll be good to practice using less and repurposing what we already have going forward, don't you?
Cheers to a new, more sustainable year. I'll see you in the shop soon!