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Packaging expert Keith Barnes explores the world of packaging possibilities for beauty.

There is no doubt that packaging in the beauty market is much admired and is in itself wide open to innovation within the diverse range of products sold. Over the years, the demand has grown and grown and it has been suggested that when recession hits, more money is spent on cosmetics and personal grooming.   

It is a fascinating area, with Asia providing more and more examples of new ideas and less expensive packaging elements. By searching through the webpackaging.com site, many companies can be found offering novel packaging that can rejuvenate a product and may well provide an edge over competitors.

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Asia is not the only source of good ideas and opportunities. I always strongly advise users to keep up-to-date on the market via journals, exhibitions and the Internet. Of course, packaging may only be the icing on the cake: so much is being discovered in Universities and by companies around the world and chemistry is evolving to enhance product formulations.   


The LIPSTICK has been around for many years and I am still amazed at the variety available and the ingenuity of the designs with mini mirrors and light sources often built in. The basic shape can be enhanced with expensive additions such as diamonds down to simple coloured plastic. At the other end of the scale, lip balm presentations have seen many variations in dispensing, including push up and roller blind styles.



Moving on to MASCARA, what an enlightened selection we have here! The primary focus of this piece of packaging is the brush and there are myriad variations that seek to provide the ultimate finish. These days, we can obtain vibrating brushes, heated brushes, and even shape changing brushes thanks to built-in mini batteries.

COMPACTS can be seen in many different shapes, sizes and mixes and like lipstick containers, range from the economical through to the luxurious. Here again, designers go  absolutely mad in order to produce the pack with a ‘wow’ factor. Look through webpackaging.com and be amazed. Design has come a long way since only powder was the cosmetic of the day: nowadays, every kind of decoration imaginable is available, moulded into the compact product.


With the popularity of nail parlours around the world, the available selection of polishes and colours has blossomed. I notice when out shopping the variety of colours and ‘on nail’ decorations that the ladies are wearing. I only recently read of an offering of ‘fur’ for your nails – the reporter did not give it a high rating. There is a wide range of glass bottles for nail polish with even more inventive caps to attract the buyer. Naturally, with this product comes the need for nail polish remover, normally sold in a simple glass or plastic bottle, but more enterprising innovators are producing devices where you can insert the fingers and remove polish more efficiently.

I won’t dwell too long on standard body lotions, shampoos, conditioners or sun care products, as the diversity of packaging and dispensing can be seen by visiting any large chemist or supermarket. The technique appears to be attracting the consumer with colour, shape or dispensing ingenuity. I foresee that in the future it may be via interactive labels or cartons that may speak or light up or interact with your mobile phone e.g. QR codes.

Glass is virtually always used for the bottles, often in amazing shapes and with equally clever closures and decoration, as most of these are custom tooled for the relevant beauty house.

With so many new celebrities coming out of the woodwork on a daily basis, there is no shortage of contenders for that new, winning fragrance. Many glass producers have design departments who can create something new for you, and from what I have seen over the years, there is no end to their ideas.   

Of course this sector always introduces miniatures for a wide variety of fragrances to help one cut down on weight when travelling and providing excellent gift pack opportunities. Also, for ease of travel and for sampling, many beauty products are available in small packs e.g. jars, pouches, stick packs, bottles and sachets.



JARS are widely used for creams and skin applications, particularly for anti-wrinkle formulations which seem to be much in vogue these days. Depending on the product formula, glass or plastic is used, often with fitted refill container possibilities. Once more, have a look at the webpackaging.com site which shows many suppliers of jars from 3mls up to 1 Litre in every shape imaginable.


Inevitably, one must mention CAPS, CLOSURES and DISPENSERS. Here, too, there are many suppliers who can fulfil most  needs, from simple ‘screw on’ caps to roll-ons and spray mechanisms. Custom tooling can provide the customer with a tailor-made shape to suit the overall image of a product. Whist in the world of dispensers, one must mention the ever popular aerosol, now available in various sizes and spray patterns. Normally, a metal container is used and undoubtedly, this is a most convenient dispenser albeit maybe the most expensive. Airless dispensers have grown in demand in recent years and are effective with certain formulations.

Among those items I have not mentioned are deodorants, wipes, individual brushes, spatulas, face masks and gift packs. All of these are available, and again, a search through the webpackaging.com site will show new and wonderful examples. I have mentioned a number of  suggestions for future packs and I must emphasize the potential for electronics in the beauty arena through new packaging technology. As a final thought why not consider using  the packaging in conjunction with a liquid product to slow release part of the formulation into the main body when the cap is opened. This is feasible via encapsulation in the inner wall of a container.

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  • Modified 10 Dec 2015
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