Diversity Is Key for Lip Color & Mascara

By Marie Redding, Associate Editor | January 30, 2017

There is an extensive array of options on the market for lips and lashes.

Brands and suppliers are offering more options than ever, in both formulations and packaging, for lip color and mascara, since apparently, consumers like more variety. According to Euromonitor, prestige and mass brands are continuing to offer more color options in various makeup categories. The strategy will likely continue, researchers say, since it has been fueling market growth for the past year.

Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group, states in the report, the U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, January-October 2016, that a “binge mentality” is taking hold in beauty. “This began with makeup, as more consumers are using more products than we have ever seen,” she says.

It’s likely that social media is a factor causing brands to lean toward diversity. Offering an extensive number of color options is a safe bet, when it is so difficult to predict what type of makeup look will be the next big hit on Instagram or YouTube.

We’re also seeing bolder colors, for both eyes and lips. Makeup in bold, unexpected colors, including green lipstick and turquoise mascara, have gone mainstream this year. “Many women are expected to embrace adventurous and bold colors in the years ahead,” states Euromonitor International in its most recent Color Cosmetics in the U.S. report.

The new Spring 2017 campaign for Marc Jacobs Beauty features Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford and Randy Gerber’s daughter, wearing the brand’s Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara in Peacock, which launched this month.

MAC Cosmetics launched its Liptensity Lipstick Collection last fall, straying from its all-black lipstick case for the first time, ever. The lipstick case’s cap, and inner part that holds the bullet, are color-matched to the product color. Liptensity’s long-wearing gel formula is described as having “enhanced amounts of pigment for extreme color intensity.”  The collection includes an extensive 24 color options, in bold hues, such as Ambrosial, a bright plum pink; Blue Beat, a deep, dark blue; and Hellebore, a vibrant mid-toned purple.

NARS launched Velvet Lip Glide last fall, and it comes in a range of colors that the brand describes as “intense.” The bold colors are showcased in a clear, square double-wall lip gloss bottle. Formulated with the brand’s “oil infusion complex,” the product glides on like a gloss, while delivering the saturated color and coverage of a lipstick. It has a plush, doe foot applicator.

More Options Than Ever, for Products & Packaging

In both the lip color and mascara categories, brands are making sure consumers have enough options to “binge” on. Textures for lip color include high-shine glosses, long-wearing stains, and matte finishes that look and feel as soft as suede.

The types of packaging, and ways to apply lip color, are numerous as well. There are slim pencil lipsticks, chubby crayons, and double-ended packages, plus traditional bullets and squeeze tubes with specially designed applicator tips.

“We’re seeing much more diversity in the lip category,” says James Farley, VP global business development, World Wide Packaging (WWP). “Traditional bullets are still popular, but brands are also requesting a variety of different types of packaging, to accommodate all types of lip color products,” he says.

Classic bullet lipsticks, in traditional lipstick cases, come in a range of finishes, including creamy satins, highly pigmented mattes, and sheers. Lip glosses, lip stains and “liquid lipsticks,” most often packaged in bottles, are being paired with various types of applicators.

Suppliers say many brands are requesting recyclable lipstick mechanisms—and Coverpla is delivering. Coverpla is now representing Reboul in the U.S., and will introduce a new recyclable lipstick mechanism in April called the R3000. “It is fully recyclable, since it doesn’t require glue or lubricant, and delivers a smooth and constant torque,” says Gilda Cutri, national sales director, Coverpla.

Vonda Simon, CEO, Seacliff Beauty says more brands have formulations for lip color that require airtight packaging. “Our patent-pending BeautiLock compact can be filled with a hot pour matte lipstick, and it would be preserved throughout the life of the product due to the airtightness of this package,” she says.

Alkos offers a chubby lip crayon that doesn’t require sharpening, called the Jumbo Twist package. “It is one of our best-sellers for lip color because it is easy to use and perfect for discreet touch-ups throughout the day,” says Florence Lefeuvre, group sales, marketing and communications director, Alkos Group.

Roberts offers its patented Brik Stik, a rectangular-shaped package. “Our original Brik Stik was developed as a face product, primarily for contouring and color correcting. A new lip size will be added to the Brik Stik collection, with a planned launch of Spring 2017,” says Kristen O’Connell, director of marketing and product development, Roberts. When a lip color bullet is in a rectangular shape, it allows a user to apply the product more precisely, at different angles, using different sides of the bullet, according to O’Connell.

Mascara has a slew of variations as well, even though the packaging is less diverse since it’s always a bottle and brush, with the exception of double-ended packages. However, there’s no shortage in the number of brush styles.

We’re not seeing one specific look for lashes trend this year—instead, brands are offering ways to create them all, using different types of mascara. Some mascara products deliver a more natural daytime look, for lashes that are separated and defined, while others deposit more color and have lengthening properties for a more glamorous look.

Each type of mascara requires a different formulation, paired with a specific type of wiper and brush. MYC offers a patent-pending airtight magnetic mechanism that is designed for both lip color and mascara. “It makes the package very easy to open and close, but it also allows for a new assortment of rod shapes and applicator shapes, since there is no longer the restriction of the round wiper orifice,” explains Colin Philips, general manager MYC Packaging.

Slim Bullets for Lips

Many suppliers say that more brands are launching lip color in a slim bullet style. This elongated, pencil-thin package offers more control and precision than a traditional bullet.

WWP offers an extensive range of options for lip color, and its slim bullets have been popular. Package developers have to be sure the bullet won’t break off during use. “Our very slim bullets require more support in the case,” explains Farley.

HCT Group recently partnered with Tom Ford to launch Lip Contour Duo—a lip color in a slim bullet shape. It is a custom 2-in-1 component designed in collaboration with HCT. “Tom Ford’s Lip Contour Duo features a lip shaper on one end and full coverage slim stick on the other,” says Anthony DeMarco, executive vice president, HCT Group. “This incredible product allows consumers to achieve a wide range of different looks that vary from a subtle contour to a high-definition, ombré finish,” he adds.

HCT also offers a stock version of this package, called the “2-in-1 Parker.” Finding a way to combine a lip color and liner makes the application process more travel-friendly, according to DeMarco.  He says, “This type of package makes it easier for consumers to use contouring techniques to enhance the natural shape and size of their lips. More brands are looking for lip components that deliver this type of 2-in-1 solution that is convenient for on-the-go use.”

Liquid Lipstick, Lip Oils

Liquid lip color is trending, suppliers say. “Liquid lip products offer workable textures that feel barely there on the lips. They can be formulated in an array of finishes, such as matte, high-shine and satin,” says Alkos’ Lefeuvre.

Alkos will launch new textures and innovations at the upcoming Cosmopack show, including two new lip lacquers. “One is super glossy, and one is matte,” says Lefeuvre. 
WWP offers a number of options for liquid lip color products. “We have been working with brands on tubes with rollerball applicators, as well as vials with paddle-shaped applicators,” says Farley. “More brands are marketing long-lasting formulas that are oil-based, and many of these formulations require tubes,” he adds.

WWP recently worked with Milk Cosmetics to launch its oil-based lip color, in a tube. “Due to the oil in the formula and the product’s viscosity, dispensing was a challenge. It works best in a tube,” explains Farley.

Presto Packaging Solutions has a bottle with a ball-shaped applicator on its cap, which is designed for lip oil products. “It is a modern, sleek design, and a perfect package for a liquid lipstick or lip gloss formulation. The soft sponge applicator tip delivers a luxurious sensation when it touches the skin,” says Carli Windsor, vice president of sales and marketing, Presto Packaging Solutions.

This package also has mixing balls in the vial and a patent pending wiper that allows for oil based formulas to be shaken and mixed. “The wiper allows for the sponge tip to get saturated just enough for a perfect application without being messy,” explains Windsor.

Design & Decorating Trends for Lip Color

Metallic finishes, for both products and packaging, are popular, suppliers say. “Lip color that delivers a metallic look is being introduced by many different brands—and a metallized finish is also very trendy for lip components,” says HCT Group’s DeMarco. “This type of decoration gives the package a more luxurious look and feel,” he explains.

WWP worked with Bad Medina on its lip gloss packaging, which is a double wall bottle that showcases the intense color of the product inside. It is paired with an innovative applicator that is ergonomically shaped. “Delivery was critical for this formulation,” says Farley. The bottle’s shiny gold cap matches the brand’s logo.

HCP offers a number of lip gloss stock packs in different sizes and profiles, which are all in line with the “shade ID trend.” The supplier says its thick-wall designs are popular. “Our Fusion Glass Lip Gloss, available in both standard and mini sizes, is a thick-walled, glass-like package that puts the focus on the product color,” says Stephanie Rowntree. product manager, HCP.

Rowntree continues, “Alternatively, we see a market need for opaque packaging that offers formula protection, such as our new stock item Fusion Glass Ultra [pictured at the beginning of this article]. This pack offers great formula compatibility with its PETG bottle/base button.”

There are various color-matched decorating options a brand might utilize for this package to allow for shade identification, Rowntree explains. “The pack features a combination of opaque and transparent sections, to create a customized look for a brand,” she says. The pack has an OFC of 10.4ml with an estimated fill capacity of 7-7.5ml.

Lip Applicator Innovations

Applicators for lip color must be compatible with a product formulation, in both material choice, and shape. “In terms of applicators, we are always coming up with innovative applicators in various shapes and sizes that are designed to make lip product application easier than ever before,” says HCT’s DeMarco.

HCP says it is also focusing on applicator development, due to the increased popularity of liquid lip sticks and lip gloss. Our new longer slant tip applicator is designed for liquid lip products,” says Rowntree. “It provides the optimum angle for accurate application, and allows for a controlled product distribution on the lips,” she explains. This applicator is available as a stock item.

Another new stock pack by HCP is its Fusion Round Slimstick Wand. “This also delivers a precise application.” says Rowntree. “It features an extended base to aid dexterity when applying the product,” she explains.

Material selection will affect the performance of an applicator, especially for lip color. Porex Corporation launched Nubiform last December. It is an advanced elastomer that is an innovative alternative to foams and foam-like products — and the supplier says they are seeing a lot of interest from the cosmetic industry.

Nubiform has the ability to be molded into a variety of shapes, including three-dimensional ones. “Enabling unique 3D shaping makes Nubiform a cutting-edge elastomer material that gives product designers more freedom, flexibility and control over traditional materials,” says Rusty Martin, global marketing director, Porex.

The material can even be molded into a bullet shape, for example, Martin says. “Lipstick has been around for 100 years, and not much has changed with regard to the design of applicators,” says Martin. He continues, “With our technology, this might soon change. There isn’t another flow-through material like this on the market today—and none that resemble the shape of a lipstick bullet.”

In contrast to other foam-like materials on the market, Nubiform maintains an open-cell porous structure, regardless of its shape. “This enhances its flexibility and characteristics,” Martin says.  A brand might also opt to include Porex Barrier Technology with Nubiform, which incorporates anti-microbial protection evenly throughout the material structure. Utilizing this can prevent microbial growth, reducing the potential for contamination.

Mascara Packaging

Brands are continually looking for mascara packaging that will provide better solutions for making the application process easier, suppliers say. Roberts’ O’Connell says they are focusing on developing innovative wand applicators for mascara. “We are incorporating the use of more flexible materials and hinge points in our wands, to provide better access to hard-to-reach lashes,” she says. “We’re also developing brushes in more innovative shapes,” she adds.

Alkos’ Lefeuvre says that the “mini” trend has hit mascara. “We recently launched two new volumizing mini mascaras that deliver maximum volume effect and perfect definition,” she says.

Geka, a leader in mascara packaging innovation, has launched the new softSECRET brush, manufactured with its patented ‘Sandwich’ technology. This technology was originally developed for one brand, and it is now available to all as a stock item, the supplier says.

Geka’s patented “Sandwich’ technology allows a molded brush to be made using two different materials. “This eliminates a well-known problem in mascara application,” says Julia Kiener, marketing manager, Geka.

Kiener continues, “Often, a brush is either so soft that it causes the lashes to clump together, or so hard so that the brush hurts on the eyelid. Our patented Sandwich process allows us to produce brushes that have a hard core for stability, which separates and lifts the lashes precisely to avoid clumps, while the bristles are made with a soft material that feels very soft against the skin.”

HCP says that its customers are looking for more prestige looks for mascara packaging. “Both mass and masstige brands are upgrading,” says Rowntree.

HCP’s stock mascara package from its Magnum range is an ideal option for the premium market, according to Rowntree.“It has a slick look and premium feel due to its aluminum exterior,” she says.  “Alternatively, our customers often ask for plastic packs for mascara with a metal appearance, which is achieved through metallization,” she says. HCP offers this pack in two material types, PP and PET, both suitable for cream and waterproof formulations.

Looking Ahead

Roberts’ O’Connell says exciting times are ahead, as more brands are developing custom shaped applicators, and using innovative design elements to differentiate a brand. Formulation trends will continue to influence packaging designs—and vice versa, according to O’Connell.

“As dispensing techniques are re-thought, products will continue to change, as well as packaging,” she predicts. “Brands are looking for more non-traditional products, in new types of packaging that will be adapted for different application techniques,” she adds.

Seacliff’s Simon says that we can expect the matte liquid lipstick trend to stay strong. “The matte look and feel of liquid lipstick, and its long-wearing attributes, appeals to women of all ages. The trend is moving toward stronger colors that provide a staining effect,” she says. “Doe foot applicators are still preferred for liquid lipstick products” she adds. 

Alkos’ Lefeuvre says that for lips, color that incorporates “care” will continue to be popular. For example, Make Up For Ever’s new Artist Lip Balm described as a “3-in-1 product that is as comfortable as a balm, with the color intensity of a lipstick, and as shiny as a gloss.” Its slim, opaque black squeeze tube, has an elongated cap that’s color-matched to the product color.

Lefeuvre says, “Consumers are looking for lip products that offer comfort and care, not products that are cakey or drying. Lipstick is no longer only considered as makeup—it has also become a care product, for healthy and good looking lips. It is likely that this trend will continue.”

In mascara, we can expect formulas that “do more,” suppliers say. Alkos’ Lefeuvre says, “We are working on a water-resistant volumizing formula for mascara.”

Geka says they are seeing an increased demand for mascara packaging that will help a brand differentiate itself from competitors. “More of our customers are going for customized products. They are investing in tooling to create innovative applicators and bottles that feature sophisticated decorations.”

WWP’s Farley adds, “Everyone wants what’s new and different—always. Brands are definitely looking for innovation in all categories, especially lip—and we continue to develop new options.”