Skin Care Steps Up Its Image

By Marie Redding, Associate Editor | November 2, 2016

Enhanced designs for skin care packaging are elevating the user’s experience, as suppliers offer more design options.

Brand marketers, package development teams, and designers always have several difficult decisions to make when deciding on the best type of package for a product, especially for skin care. Products such as facial masks, exfoliating scrubs, shave cream, anti-aging moisturizers, and vitamin-packed serums all have such different packaging requirements, and each has to deliver the ease of use and functionality that consumers want in the products they use daily.

Skin care is also about delivering a pampering, spa-like experience, no matter if the product is prestige or mass. Since the best skin-nourishing ingredients don’t come cheap, bottles, tubes, and jars need to convey that a product is worth buying. Many skin care brands also strive to de-velop an image that reflects the effectiveness of a technologically advanced formula.

New Launches Convey Luxury

Several brands this year are opting for more “luxe” looks, with packaging designed to attract attention. 

Amway is launching the Artistry Supreme LX collection in November. The products are based on the latest skin cellular research, and the packaging is the brand’s most luxurious, to date. 

Formulated with regenerative stem cells from the Gardenia Grandiflora plant and a combination of other scientifically advanced ingredients, the line promises to help renew skin cell energy, so skin performs better. The products also contain 24 Karat gold, to diffuse light and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The collection shines in flashy gold. Artistry Supreme LX Regenerating Cream comes in a jar, and Supreme LX Regenerating Eye Cream is in a bottle, with coordinating caps, molded with several panels that shine as they catch the light’s reflection.

Robin McGraw, founder of Robin McGraw Revelation, has partnered with renowned dermatologist Jessica Wu, to develop a luxury skin care collection for the Robin McGraw Revelation life-style brand. The line will launch on November 15.

The collection includes 14 products formulated with potent active ingredients, and without sulfates, mineral oil, parabens, and chemicals. The line is packaged in tubes, airless bottles, and jars decorated in metallic blue with silver caps and accents. The design also includes a surprise—a motivational quote printed under each cap. McGraw says she wanted the hidden messages “to serve as a reminder to women to feel empowered, and always live each day with a smile.”

Delivering Luxury with Deco

Decorating can be a sure way to take a package’s image to the next level, and we’re not seeing any shortage of high-end designs. But alongside shiny coatings, fancy finishes, and vibrant graphics, a minimalist aesthetic is also popular.

Lesley Gadomski, business development officer, Fusion Packaging, says matte finishes are being requested most often. “Many of our customers have been requesting matte sprays over an entire package, including caps, in different colors. This has been a pretty popular trend.”

Fusion does all its decorating processes in-house. “This is a huge benefit to many of our customers,” explains Gadomski. “Plus, we have the ability to guide our customers because we understand the constraints of what can and can’t be done, especially dealing with different materials and color-matching.”

Ines Vieira Varela, marketing manager, CTL Packaging USA, says that customers are choosing its tubes mainly because of CTL’s decorating capabilities. “The right decoration can elevate a tube’s look, and make sure it fits in alongside a prestige skin care brand’s product line,” says Vieira. She adds, “We can achieve decorations that would be impossible using offset or silkscreen decoration. We can print just about any type of graphic a brand requests, including metallic and holographic effects.”

CTL’s tube-making technology allows for the decoration to be printed flat. The supplier offers all types of decorating techniques, including digital offset printing. “Decorating a tube’s entire surface gives it an elevated look,”  Vieira says. “Our technology allows us to achieve this. We can decorate the entire sealing area as well, so you don’t end up seeing a narrow white strip at the top and bottom edges. This detail makes a world of difference,” Vieira says. “When we use this process combined with various decorating techniques, we can achieve stand-out looks that will make an impact on shelves.”

Perfectly Posh is a brand that sells face and body products in colorfully decorated tubes produced by CTL. “The brand requested a design that would capture the attention of their target market. With our IML proprietary technology and unmatched decoration capabilities, we were able to provide an outstanding decoration with metallic effects that covers the entire tube,” says Vieira.

Virospack offers a wide range of decorating techniques for its droppers and bottles. Rosa Porras Mansilla, marketing and communication manager, Virospack, says, “This year, we heavily invested in our decorating capabilities. We offer new types of innovative decorating processes and finishes, which are customizable.

One new type of decoration that Virospack offers is injecting the top part of the dropper, or the bulb, with a micro-relief design in a natural or lacquered finish. “This decorating technique has attracted lots of attention from brands, and we have some projects in development,” says Porras.

Decorating & Compatibility Issues

Decorating a package for a skin care product—or any product—always involves some compatibility testing. But since many skin care brands are choosing to use luxurious finishes, metallic looks, and detailed graphics, compatibility testing becomes even more important.

“Compatibility is always an issue, so every type of product must be tested, but with skin care, formulations are changing and evolving quickly. There are new types of ingredients, plus more brands are going a more natural route.  As formulas evolve, compatibility becomes more challenging,” Fusion’s Gadomski explains.

To ensure a formula won’t affect a decoration, Gadomski says that Fusion’s team has to get the chemistry of the decoration correct. This includes decorating techniques such as special finishes and metallization. “Each of our customer’s product formulations is completely different, so it is a custom process each time. There are always some ingredients that can be readily identified as ‘troublemakers,’ but there are never any guarantees. As soon as one ingredient in a formulation changes, you have to re-test,” she explains.

The Popularity of Tubes

Tubes are a popular option in the skin care category because they can accommodate so many different types of products,” says CTL’s Vieira. “Specifically, we are seeing an increase in re-quests for tubes from men’s grooming brands.”

CTL’s customers include Mancare, Surface and Owen & Fred, which all use tubes for products that include shaving cream and face moisturizer for men. “Men’s grooming is a category that is still not fully developed, and has great potential,” says Vieira.

CTL offers an Elliptical Tube, which is an oval shape, with a very flat surface. “This unisex style is convenient and portable as it easily fits into a slim bag or pouch,” says Vieira.

Many brands are also using tubes for facial masks. When a product is formulated without a typical chemical preservative system, aluminum tubes offer extra protection. The Robin McGraw line mentioned above includes several products in aluminum tubes.

Dr. Hauschka just launched Hydrating Cream Mask in an aluminum tube. “It is lined with food-grade resin to ensure that the product is never in contact with the metal. Since we deliberately refrain from using synthetic preservatives for Dr. Hauschka products, adequate protective packaging material is of great importance to guarantee the quality and durability of our products,” explains Inka Bihler-Schwarz, WALA Heilmittel GmbH, Bad Boll, the company in Germany that manufactures and markets the brand.

Dr. Hauschka’s aluminum tube won’t lose its original shape after dispensing, which is another protective feature. “This feature helps to keep air from coming into contact with the product, which gives the formulation additional stability to prolong shelf life,” says Bihler-Schwarz.

Beautycounter, another brand that emphasizes the use of natural ingredients, just launched a limited edition collection for Target.

The line includes white tubes for its Nourishing Night Cream and Nourishing Eye Cream, decorated with a minimalist logo in navy blue.

Elevating a Tube with an Applicator Tip

Yonwoo/PKG offers many types of packages for skin care, including tubes with applicator tips for easier application—and added value. Yonwoo offers tubes with applicator tips in plastic, silicone and metal—or a combination of metal and silicone together, which delivers a cool and soft feel on the skin. “Most brands are asking us for more cost-effective options for skin care. They will bring us an idea for a package, and want to know the most affordable and easy way it can be produced, while still retaining its performance attributes,” says Curt Altmann, vice president of global development, Yonwoo/PKG.

Altmann says brands often choose tubes because they are cost-efficient, but adding an applicator tip elevates the user’s experience. “We have been working with brands on more tubes that incorporate different shaped applicator tips. It’s a way to re-invent a traditional skin care package, in a cost-efficient way,” he explains.

HCT recently launched Color Correcting Milks, which are color-correcting serums in peach, pistachio, and lavender. They are packaged in HCT’s stock airless tube with a ceramic cool tip, colored to match each product’s pastel hue.

Hard Candy just launched a new line exclusively at Walmart. The brand’s under-eye treatment, Sheer Envy Instant Eye Fix, is formulated to de-puff, brighten, smooth, prime and moisturize. It is packaged in a pink tube, with a silver applicator tip, and features the words “Luxury Metal Applicator” right on the outer package.

Dual Designs

Skin care brands typically develop lots of different types of products—even when it’s not a Korean line that is promoting a 12-step, twice-daily routine. Perhaps this is one reason why several brands are looking for ways to package several different products together—in a package that’s “connected.”

“We have had lots of inquiries regarding dual packaging—it is definitely a trend,” Fusion’s Gadomski says. “Dual packaging is ideal for two skin care products formulated to use together, especially if one enhances the other. Or, for day and night creams,” she explains.

Fusion offers several new options in dual packaging, including its Hook Up and Duet collections. Hook Up features two airless bottles that connect through a shared cap. “Our Hook-Up collection allows the consumer to separate the products, to carry only what she will need,” says Gadomski. “They are designed for portability,” she adds.

The Duet collection features double-ended packages. “We have a double-ended package with a rollerball on one end, and airless bottle on the other,” says Gadomski. “These styles have been popular for makeup, but brands are beginning to request them for skin care,” she adds.

Fusion offers its collection of dual packages as stock items, which makes the style affordable for an Indie brand. “Not many stock lines offer the option of having a double-ended package,” says Gadomski.

Fusion’s team made sure filling wouldn’t be an issue. “When a dual package is two chambers that are side-by-side and attached, it is a challenge for fillers and can be expensive for a brand. It would have to run through filling machines twice, to fill each side separately, which is costly and time-consuming,” Gadomski explains. “When we designed our dual packages, we made sure that each compartment could be filled separately. After filling, the components are connected during the assembly process, but they are not attached,” she adds.

HCT Group offers dual packaging options, as well as skin care products that it delivers, turnkey. HCT’s dual-chamber packages have two separate compartments, and two pumps. The two sides are connected with an over cap.

Dual packaging isn’t only for bottles. Nest-Filler’s engineering team has developed a new Dual Cream Jar. The jar is essentially two jars stacked on top of each other, and held together by the lower jar’s screw cap. “Our Dual Cream Jar comes in a variety of different sizes that can be mixed and matched. The jar has a sleek silhouette that adds convenience for the consumer,” says Elise Kim, account executive, Nest-Filler.

Sprays for Skin Care

Airopack originally developed its spray packaging for the hair care market, but the container’s capability to dispense very high-viscosity products continues to drive interest and the development of new launches in skin care, according to Earl Trout, senior vice president, Americas, Airopack.

According to Trout, Airopack has worked with brands to launch several types of skin care products in its spray packaging, including body wash, body and facial sprays, foaming cleansers, anti-aging creams, and dermatological aids. A few of the supplier’s most notable launches in skin care are Elizabeth Arden cleansing mash and Bulldog shave gel—and more new products are currently in development.

“We are known for elevating the user experience,” says Trout. He continues, “Many brands turn to tubes and jars for their packaging solutions, but in consumer tests over and over again she clearly prefers the convenience of a dispensing system that protects her favorite products and simplifies her use. She is willing to pay for that convenience, especially when she can fully empty the package.”

Airopack’s patented design is similar to an airless dispensing system in that it can dispense or spray a product consistently and continuously through full evacuation, but uses pressure to push the piston. It is an eco-friendly alternative to a traditional aerosol package. “It delivers the same user experience but in a transparent, plastic package without any flammable propellants,” says Trout.

Airopack delivers many of the same benefits that brands look for in airless packaging when a formulation doesn’t require a package that is completely airtight. “Airopack is a nearly airtight system that is ideal for natural products since it does allow for a reduction or even removal of traditional preservatives,” says Trout. “Just like airless systems, it allows for full product restitution, which drives consumer value.  It also delivers a consistent performance when used at any angle,” explains Trout.

The supplier recently launched the “Airopack Authorized Filler Network,” to localize filling in the USA. “We have key partners that are receiving their first fill-lines for Airopack units in September and October,” says Trout.

Glass Is a Trend

It seems that plastic has always been the most popular choice for many skin care lines, as brands say it’s bathroom-friendly, but the use of glass is on the rise.

“I am seeing a definite trend among skin care companies transitioning toward using glass packaging,” says Nest-Filler’s Kim, explaining, “To be specific, I would say that there is an increase in choosing glass pumps, bottles and glass droppers.” 

Compatibility is one reason for choosing glass. “Since glass is impermeable and non-porous, there is no disruptive chemical interaction between the container and product inside. Certain product formulations do not pass stability and compatibility testing when filled into plastic containers. This can result in plastic jars cracking or bottles disintegrating,” Kim says.

Glass has other benefits as well. “Glass retains moisture and oxygen for prolonged shelf life, even more, when a bottle and pump are chosen, as opposed to a glass jar,” Kim adds.

One new brand that is using glass packaging is OY-L Skin-care. OY-L launched at the Indie Beauty Expo this year, and includes facial products formulated with natural ingredients, without chemical preservatives.

“The look and feel of glass ties into our brand aesthetic,” says OY-L Skincare’s founder, Andrea Pierce-Naymon. “It didn’t make sense to have an all-natural, toxic-free product stored in a plastic container that is made from chemicals,” she adds.

OY-L’s packaging has a minimalist aesthetic that features black and white. The packaging was designed by Twist Creative. Glass bottles and jars are decorated with labels. “Our labels are made from recycled stock paper with a high-gloss aqueous coating. We hand-stamp the batch number on the label with permanent ink,” Pierce-Naymon says.  “Making sure our packaging was functional and sustainable took a bit of trial and error, but at the end of the day I am proud that it is fully recyclable,” she adds.

Droppers for Serums & Oils

Serums and oils are more popular than ever, for skin care. “Serums are the main skin care category demanding dropper packaging,” says Porras, of Virospack. “Since they are highly concentrated, low viscosity formulas, they are ideal for a dropper dispenser, which can deliver a precise dosage,” she says.

Virospack has 60 years of experience manufacturing droppers for the beauty industry. “Through the years, we have developed many new innovations in both design and functionality,” says Porras. “Technical features have greatly improved. The droppers we currently produce are vastly different now, as technical features have improved.”

Virospack recently worked with The Hero Project to launch its new dry facial oil, Glow Drops. The brand chose Virospack’s 30ml glass bottle with a pushbutton dropper. The bottle has a thick, heavyweight bottom. “The bottle is designed with a clever dimple-shape in the base, which allows the user to get every last drop of product out,” says Porras. “This design allows for a product restitution of under 0.4% of the product, which is much lower than the norm,” she explains. 

Solving Oils & Serums Challenges

Oils and serums pose several challenges, suppliers say. “A common issue is dealing with oil leakage. More often than not, oil products tend to seep through the crevices of packaging com-ponents. Unless you are using a specific pump made for oil, the product will exude through the different inner parts of bottles and leak out,” says Kim, of Nest-Filler. To solve this issue, Kim recommends choosing dropper bottles with orifice reducers for oil products.

Air pockets are also an issue with high viscosity products that are in dropper packages. “Air pockets, or bubbles, form through the normal use of pressing a bulb to retrieve product. It is almost inevitable because air sits in the pipette of the dropper bottle. So once the user presses the bulb to draw product up, the pipette also releases the air downwards into the product,” Kim explains.

Kim says that Nest-Filler’s engineering team developed the High Viscosity Auto-Fill Dropper (HAD) to solve this issue. It is specifically for high-viscosity products, and the package is often requested by skin care brands. “The HAD is unique in that it has an auto-fill feature. The user twists the cap once when first using the product, and it will draw an equal amount of product into the dropper’s pipette each time the product is used,” Kim explains. “The user does not have to pump the bulb of the dropper multiple times. The HAD efficiently draws up an equal amount of product with each use, with minimal air bubbles,” Kim adds.

Innovation from Indie Brands

As the skin care category continues to grow, we can expect to see more Indie brands continue to launch new product lines.

Glossier just launched a collection of three new skin care serums.

Glossier targets younger consumers, while connecting beauty with wellness. Rather than market each according to skin type, the brand suggests using each serum depending on how you feel, since that affects how your skin looks. For example, the brand suggests using its Super Glow serum “after a night of partying” because it “brightens and energizes dull, tired skin.” Packaged in a dropper bottle, the serum contains Vitamin C to help reduce dark spots and Magnesium PCA, to stimulate the metabolism of tired skin cells, according to the brand.

Many suppliers say they welcome the opportunity to work with Indie brands. “We work with many smaller brands, which is very interesting,” says CTL’s Vieira, adding, “It is very motivating to see them grow, and satisfying to help them.”

Nest-Filler’s Kim agrees, saying, “The foundation of our company was built upon smaller, Indie brands—companies that were placing orders in small quantities. Now, the number of small start-ups reaching out to us is increasing, and we appreciate having the chance to work with companies of all sizes.”