Small packages equal big business when it comes to cosmetics and beauty packaging. And plastics are increasingly serving all segments of that market, including high-end, luxury products.
Emotions and aesthetics play a key role in presenting highly personal products such as perfume, lipstick and skin cream to discerning customers, but performance and functionality remain vital, and sustainability (especially with “natural cosmetics”) continues to grow in importance.
A recent, 125-page market study, titled “Global Cosmetic Packaging Market Research Report – Forecast to 2022," projects the global cosmetic packaging market to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.2 percent from 2016 to 2022, when it will reach a market value of $35.6 billion. While this encompasses all materials and types of products – including bottles, jars, tubes, containers, pouches, sticks, roller balls, dispensers and others – it still notes that “the market is majorly influenced by the presence of plastic.”
Looking for materials for your packaging formulation?
Prospector gives you access to thousands of product listings from global suppliers. See material data sheets, request samples, and more now…
The report calls plastic “the most preferred material” that helps to ensure the durability of the packaging along with retention of the important minerals and chemical properties of the product.” And it declares “innovative and alluring packaging” to be the key driver of cosmetic packaging, noting its importance as an attribute of product marketing.
Sam O’Donahue, principal and co-founder of New York-based design studio Established, knows that all too well. He has carved out a place in the cosmetics packaging sector, serving clients ranging from Marc Jacobs and H&M to Ariana Grande and Rihanna.
The British designer’s Kiss Pop lipstick package for Marc Jacobs looks like a shiny, metal bullet, but actually is vacuum-metallized ABS plastic. In fact, O’Donahue says, nearly all the products he designs for the high-end Marc Jacobs line are made of plastic. Kiss Pop earns special mention, given that it’s been winning a host of awards, including first place in the 2016 Dieline Awards, a 2016 Gold Clio Image Award, and the 2015 Diamond Pentawards “Best of Show.”
When O’Donahue graduated with an industrial design degree from Central St. Martins in London, and before he and his lawyer wife, Becky Jones, launched Established in 2007, he said he had no idea that “designing makeup” was even a thing. But he now has made a living doing just that, and he notes that cosmetics packaging designers need a good sense of form, color, finish and material, and an understanding of how these elements go together.
In a recent interview with this reporter for a story on the Core77.com design website, O’Donahue noted how different plastics can finish in different ways, impacting how it feels in your hand. He also pointed out how some seemingly simple products – particularly on the luxury end – can be very complex. A single compact case for Marc Jacobs, for example, might involve six to eight parts – a button, spring, top tray, bottom tray, etc. – plus very nuanced curves, slopes, colors (such as marrying a matte teal next to a champagne silver) and high-end, precisely controlled, secondary finishing.
One materials supplier very active in this space is Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co.
Eastman touts its Glass Polymer™ portfolio of products as “the clear choice for luxury packaging.” The portfolio includes one grade each of Tenite cellulosics and Tritan copolyester, along with six grades of Eastar copolyesters. While noting that these grades can be injection molded, extrusion blow molded and stretch blow molded, the firm points to their attributes of sustainability, performance and luxury.
Glass has long been the preferred material for packaging of luxury beauty products, with its clarity, gloss, heft and cool touch. But it also has one big performance drawback.
“The biggest problem for glass is that it breaks,” says Renske Gores, Eastman’s Netherlands-based market development manager for specialty plastics packaging in the EMEA region. “What opened the door for our materials was brands looking for more durable packaging that doesn’t break,” while its lighter weight also was a major advantage.
Consumer habits also are changing. Highly mobile consumers increasingly prefer lightweight, durable, portable products – even for things such as perfume and cosmetics, according to Dr. Cedric Perben, Eastman’s technical platform leader for global cosmetics and personal care packaging.
Based in Lyon, France, Perben noted the rise of such refill systems, which allow consumers to travel light and use cartridges to replenish the contents of their products once they reach their destination. The ability to reuse the original container also makes for a good sustainability argument.
And as more and more shoppers buy their products online, the brand owners and retailers prefer lighter-weight plastic containers that are virtually unbreakable, thereby lowering shipping costs and reducing damage-related recalls and wastage.
Perben maintains that Eastman’s Glass Polymer materials can deliver transparency and gloss on a par with glass, while offering increased functionality (for printing, silk screening, special effects, etc.) that gives designers such as O’Donahue more freedom and flexibility.
Meantime, another innovative cosmetics package is worth noting. Paris-based entrepreneur Agnion Mpiere, founder and managing director of sampling specialist Saabelis, recently introduced a product he calls CapScent. The tiny, flexible, decorative CapScent capsules contain single-use perfume samples. Mpiere could not be reached before deadline to provide further material details, but in a recent interview with Packaging Europe1 he offered the following description:
“CapScent consists of two main components. The first is made from a closed-cell copolymer (as light as a dandelion petal), which we can shape in any way we want. The second is a hermetic and breakable capsule made of rigid substrate, which contains the cosmetic solution. After filling, the capsule is inserted into the flexible form.
“To use it,” continued Mpiere – a mechanical engineer who previously worked as a purchasing and supply chain manager for Otis Elevator – “the customer simply has to squeeze with two fingers. This breaks the inner capsule, releasing the solution and allowing consumers to smell it and apply a few drops of product to their skin. Product release is controlled: the more you squeeze, the more you release.”
The product – said to be launching first in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and then Italy – reportedly is suitable for all cosmetic solutions, and can accommodate medium to high-viscosity contents. The product’s website says the perfume is stored in its liquid form, and the capsule can be molded into different shapes and sizes.
The site states: “CapScent is a versatile, scalable and customizable solution that brings added value to the professionals operating in the cosmetic industry: brands, marketers and event professionals. The competitive advantage of CapScent lies in its unique design and ability to fulfill specific visual branding requirements.” For its part, Packaging Europe declared that CapScent “represents one of the most eye-catching examples of packaging design we have seen in a long time.”
It’s clear that innovation in its many forms – materials, process, function and design – continues to thrive when it comes to the large and fast-growing sector of cosmetics and beauty product packaging.
- Packaging Europe: Revolutionising the Cosmetic Sample
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.