Albéa introduced a new oval tube to market.
Meeting the Challenges of Skincare Packaging

With a competitive market bursting with formulas using highly sophisticated and/or natural ingredients, packaging suppliers must satisfy a number of specific demands and requirements.

In the United States’ beauty market, skin is in. Whether it’s scooped and slathered, rolled on, or precisely administered with a tip, Americans love to apply the latest in dermatologic breakthroughs. The consumer lust for products that plump, fill, moisturize and smooth has also presented an enormous opportunity for the packaging sector.

Cosmetic and toiletry container demand in the skincare market totaled 5.5 billion units in 2011, up from 4.6 billion units in 2006. Forecasts predict skincare packaging will grow faster than all other packaging segments, trending 3.7% to 6.6 billion units in 2016, according to data published August 2012 in the Cosmetics and Toiletry Containers Focus report by The Freedonia Group, Inc.

“Suppliers of containers for skincare will benefit from the growing anti-aging, men’s, natural/organic product sectors, and products with active ingredients,” according to the report. The market research study also says container demand will include strong demand in tubes, airless pump containers and niche products, such as ampoules and roll-ons.

Aside from its growth opportunities, skincare product packaging as a segment provides its own unique challenges. Currently the market is inundated with formulas using highly sophisticated and/or natural ingredients, both of which necessitate specific packaging considerations.

“The skincare market is more demanding than ever before,” says Lesley Gadomski, vice president of sales for Fusion Packaging. “Brands and formulators are held to a higher standard when it comes to consumer demand. There are more products to choose from and brands can truly differentiate themselves by offering the latest in technology and higher standard formulas that really work.”

Naturally, the complexity of today’s skincare formulas require enhanced packaging properties, says Doug Jackson, market manager North America for Albéa. “Formula protection must be provided by the package—from the point it is filled to the end-of-use when it is disposed of by the consumer.”

There are specific ingredients that pose the greatest challenges, and formulations that include UV protection are one of the most difficult challenges for packaging providers. “Sunscreen components have a tendency to attack traditional packaging materials resulting in loss of package integrity. Sunscreen components are not the only components that can be challenging, however. Other ingredients can include salicylic acid, peroxide, dyes, oils and alcohols,” explains Brian Ingraham, product development manager for Amcor.

At other times, says Ingraham, “The reverse can be true.” Packaging material and even something as seemingly benign as air, can attack the product, resulting in loss of performance and/or discoloration.

Studies suggest the trend toward complicated formulations will not end any time soon, and infiltration of skincare characteristics are on the rise in other beauty sectors. According to the Makeup In-Depth Consumer Report 2012, by market researcher The NPD Group, more than eight out of 10 women want makeup products with skincare benefits. Moisturizing and SPF protection, according to the study, are the two most sought after benefits.

“It can be said that makeup products with skincare benefits create a perception of more bang for the buck, and consumers may believe they are getting more value,” says Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, The NPD Group—and a member of Beauty Packaging’s board of advisors.

Compatibility Testing

All of the formula complexity in today’s marketplace requires brands to conduct extensive product compatibility testing before packaging and sending products to market.

“From the brand’s perspective, they are required to perform a considerably larger amount of compatibility testing due to increased regulations and monitoring by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Several skincare formulations can contain SPF, retinol, or other ingredients deemed ‘pharmaceutical,’ so this has a huge impact on their packaging decisions,” explains Kristy Hooper, product manager, Beauty & Personal Care at MeadWestvaco Corp. (MWV).

Compatibility testing must be taken seriously and even then, the outcome might not be sure. “We don’t really know whether the packaging can fit the skincare formulations without running a compatibility test. Even if we run the test for one month, there is no guarantee that the packaging remains fine for two months,” says Anderson Tsai, vice president, Taiwan KK Corp.

Tsai says a key packaging consideration for skincare product is air tightness. “Most of the active ingredients are highly volatile compounds and most natural ingredients go bad easily when contacting with the air,” adds Tsai.

“Packaging skincare formulas can be more challenging due to the active ingredients in the formulas. The clinical data to meet label claims needs to be contained with packaging such as airless and particular plastic resin to keep actives in the formulas,” agrees Ray Lewis, account executive for Jansy Packaging.

Airtight properties are only one concern for brands and packagers. Ingraham of Amcor lists five key packaging considerations: package/product interactions, seal integrity, barrier integrity, aesthetic appeal and physical performance in distribution.

Consumers have their own requirements when it comes to skincare and its packaging. “From a consumer experience perspective, brands are far more concerned about the overall usage experience. They want a smooth delivery, accurate dosing, and they want to ensure that the package will preserve the integrity of the formula for the duration of that product’s use,” explains Hooper.

Product Introductions

Fusion Packaging recently launched its Fuse collection, a uniquely designed package for products that swirls two different formulas into one bottle.
To meet these complicated demands, skincare packaging suppliers have met the challenge, and offer a range of compatible products.

As airtight properties are a major consideration when it comes to housing volatile ingredients, many packaging suppliers tout airless packaging to skincare customers. “Airless packaging can provide skincare formulators and brands with cutting edge packaging that has zero oxidation and therefore, upholds and maintains the integrity of the actual product,” explains Gadomski.

Today’s airless containers continue to evolve based on the needs and desires of end-users. For example, Fusion Packaging, which specializes in the design and manufacturing of airless packaging, recently launched its Fuse collection, a uniquely designed package for products that swirls two different formulas into one bottle.

The design speaks to a trend in the skincare marketplace for dual-purpose products, adds Gadomski. “Products that multitask—such as serums and tinted moisturizers sold in one package—have been an increasingly growing trend over the past couple of years and are continuing to grow.”

The Pearl airless system from MWV does not use metal in its delivery system.
Also within the airless category, MWV has introduced airless systems Pearl and the Pearl Mini, which do not use metal in the delivery system, making them ideal for natural and preservative-free skincare products. These systems incorporate MWV’s proprietary Rolling Bellow technology, which replaces six traditional pump components, simultaneously serving another benefit by lightening the total package weight.

With such an emphasis on natural product formulations, it should come as no surprise that brand marketers are also interested in eco-friendly skincare packaging. Strategic selection of tubes, which comprise the lion’s share of skincare packaging, offer another way to make a package more sustainable.

Lageen Tuboplast launched a bioplastics PE eco-friendly tube.
Lageen Tuboplast has upped the ante on eco-friendly tubes by recently launching its Bio-Plastics PE tube, especially suited for the natural ingredients and organic skincare products market. “This tube is manufactured from 100 percent virgin polyethylene (PE) derived from sugarcane, in lieu of fossil-fuel based PE, and fits well with this market segment’s ‘all-natural products’ mission. For products containing essential oils, we also now manufacture the sugarcane tube in a high barrier version, co-extruded with EVOH,” says Steven Gallo, director of business development, North America, for Lageen Tuboplast, LTD.

In the flexible package category, Amcor Flexibles offers a high-barrier non-foil sachet material that complies with many demanding applications while offering economical and environmental advantages. “The new sachet material offers sustainable benefits through a reduced carbon footprint as well as improved chemical resistance over traditional aluminum-based materials,” explains Ingraham.

Cosmogen has just added Squeeze’n Clean to its product line.
New ways of applying skincare formulations have also spawned innovations in packaging. Cosmogen, for example, has just added Squeeze’n Clean to its successful Squeeze’n product line. Squeeze’n Clean is a new application solution for hygiene and care products. Its bi-injected and ergonomic top consists of a surface covered with flexible spikes. The design allows uniform application of the formula and then exfoliates and cleanses the face. A patented open/close rotary head prevents contamination and preserves the formula.

And for facial care formulas requiring precision, Albéa offers its roller-ball innovation, Trio Tube, a small tube with three stainless steel balls that cool and stimulate skin during application.

The use of applicators is a growing trend in skincare packaging, spurred on by demand for easy-to-use and added-value packaging, says Lewis of Jansy Packaging. Speaking to this trend, Jansy has introduced a line of applicator pens. The pens provide precise application to the target area in a convenient design.

Improved Design

While package integrity is of critical importance, brands also know the product must look good too, appealing to consumers who browse crowded skincare aisles. For this reason, suppliers of skincare packaging also work toward improving the design and decoration of packaging.

This upgrading takes many forms. David Hou, director of marketing and sales for Cospack America, has noticed a trend toward “using metal components to enhance and add to the perceived value of the product.” He adds, “For a lot of our clients, the cost of going with metal overshell components often times are only minimally higher than going with the plastic option, and the overall enhancement in the look of the package makes it cost effective to use metal over-shelled components instead of just plastic.”

Cospack has recently developed a manufacturing process that rounds the edges of metal components.
In response to this trend, Cospack has recently developed a manufacturing process for its line of metal closures and dispensers. The new process enables customers to choose rounded, non-exposed edges on their metal components. This choice results in components that are “smoother to the touch and improve the quality of the user’s experience,” explains Hou.

Also offering a change of shape but in a different packaging segment, Albéa introduced a new oval tube to market this past summer. “Oval packages and oval tubes are becoming more prevalent,” says Jackson. Oval packages distinguish the packaging from traditional round tubes while providing a larger front panel, and an ergonomic and flatter shape, adds Jackson.

And sometimes, it is the small changes to decoration that result in big brand recognition. With this in mind, Taiwan KK together with its subsidiary American KK Corp., are now offering engraving technology, adding this to their range of decorating capabilities. This technology enables engraved logos on the lid of skincare products for a unique tactile experience.

As brands continue to jockey for market share, design trends in the skincare space run the gamut, from the use of intense graphics and bright colors to a simple and clean, clinical look.

The bottom line: “The intense growth in the skincare market has led to a much higher number of skincare systems available in the marketplace. Differentiation is key and the first moment of truth is critical,” says Hooper.

In the end, brands choose designs that are most likely to attract the target customers they have in mind. As Gadomski explains, “Regardless of the price point, consumers command a package that looks prestigious and is something they would be proud to display on their bathroom counters.”