According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the global market for airless packaging is projected to grow to reach $6.34 billion, progressing at a CAGR of 5.5% through 2024. The cosmetics industry is playing a key role in the proliferation of demand, analysts say.
“An airless bottle is a great packaging choice for many HBA products, as it provides optimum formula protection and shelf-stability while reducing the need for excessive chemical preservation, says Marianna Cilauro, vice president of business development, APC Packaging.
Cilauro describes how an airless system that uses a piston mechanism inside the bottle works. “With each pump, the piston rises and pushes the product upward, creating a vacuum as the product is dispensed. This vacuum eliminates waste in two ways: The airless environment preserves the product’s efficacy and freshness longer than traditional packaging, and it also allows for every last bit of product to be easily extracted.”
Other types of airless systems use a plastic pouch inside a bottle or jar, which keeps the product contained, making it completely airtight. Lumson is known for its pouch technology. (See the supplier’s new airless jar described below.)
Suppliers say that today, consumers are more aware of the benefits of airless packaging—and credit brand marketers for the shift. “More brands are choosing airless bottles, so consumers are more aware of the convenience of airless dispensing, says Curtis Altmann, director of marketing fo Yonwoo/PKG. “We might finally be moving away from the conventional action of dipping a finger into a jar of skin cream,” he says.
Vonda Simon, CEO, SeaCliff Beauty, agrees. “More brands realize that their formulations may dry out or become contaminated if they’re not properly protected,” she says.
Suppliers are continually offering brands new types of airless packaging solutions. “Our engineers have come up with several innovative airless components this year, for all types of skin care products as well as color cosmetics,” says Elise Kim, account executive, Nest-Filler.
Beauty products are becoming more advanced, and packaging is keeping up, airless dispensing systems are keeping up. “We are seeing advances in airless dispensing systems, such as in dosage accuracy and variable dosing,” says Altmann. “We also see multi-layer EBM airless containers quickly becoming a cost-effective replacement to traditional piston airless systems,” he says.
Airless Makes Clinique’s Fresh Pressed System Work
Many different types of products benefit from airless dispensers, but skin care is a major category. It is usually a certain ingredient in a formulation that dictates the need for an airless package.
Clinique recently launched the Fresh Pressed 7-Day System, which includes a cleansing powder, plus a booster serum—and its formulations are dependent upon airless packages. The team at Clinique chose an innovative dual chamber vial and single-use packettes to protect the Fresh Pressed line’s starring ingredient, vitamin C.
“Vitamin C naturally degrades over time, and is most powerful when fresh,” says Janet Pardo, senior vice president, global product development, Clinique. “The Clinique Fresh Pressed System uses vitamin C that is pure and minimally processed, with no additional additives—so it is potent,” she explains.
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10% is packaged in a vial that keeps the vitamin C separate in an airtight chamber, so it is “delivered fresh at the touch of a button,” the brand states. The user firmly presses the vial’s inner bulb twice to release the vitamin C powder into the emulsion. After shaking well, remove the cap and apply the Booster, either directly to the skin or mixed with any moisturizer.
“The pure Vitamin C 10% is at its most potent for the first week,” says Pardo. “Once the product has been activated, we recommend using it twice a day for seven days. It can be used up to 14 days after activation, but the formula may experience discoloration and reduced potency due to the normal oxidation of Vitamin C,” she explains.
Most Anti-Aging Products Are Best in Airless Packaging
In addition to Vitamin C, there are other ingredients in skin care products that are best preserved in an airless package. Paula Begoun, of the website Beautypedia and the Paula’s Choice skin care line, often explains why airless packaging is so important in the product reviews she posts about other brands. Begoun writes, “Jar packaging won’t keep beneficial ingredients stable once opened.”
Begoun also states, “All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate.”
Biopelle says it chose an airless pump delivery system for its Tensage Stem Cell product line to protect its ingredients from degradation and oxidation. The line includes Tensage Stem Cell Eye Cream, which is shown. The products are formulated with the company’s trademarked Cellpro technology—an ingredient that contains the signaling proteins harvested exclusively from the eggs of the Cryptomphalus aspersa snail. (See more about this line as well as other skin care lines that use unexpected ingredients on BeautyPackaging.com).
“Our airless pump system will increase the longevity of the Stem Cell Creams while providing smooth and accurate dosage that will be perfect from the first to the last pump,” says Jenell Chubb, director of operations, Biopelle.
The team at Biopelle chose design details that elevate the package to make it look luxe, including double-wall bottles, which can make a brand look more upscale. Biopelle’s double-wall airless bottles are silver, with matte silver oversized caps and yellow accents. The bottle’s airless pump systems feature ergonomically shaped actuators that are wide enough for a user’s finger to fit comfortably as she dispenses the product.
APC Packaging offers several double-wall designs as stock collections. APC Packaging’s Cilauro comments, “Double walls allow for curved and other shapelier exteriors for bottles, while metallization and custom spraying techniques provide a high-end touch. Airless packages have evolved from basic shells into luxurious vessels.”
Alastin Skincare uses peptides in its products to help support the skin’s production of new, healthy elastin and collagen. The products are formulated with Alastin’s trademarked TriHex technology, which is what the brand calls its exclusive ingredient complex.
Alastin chose double-wall bottles with airless dispensing systems for many of its products, including its new Regenerative Skin Nectar, shown. The bottles are white with elongated, shiny silver caps. Each product features a bright accent color on its logo, with a matching metallic stripe that horizontally encircles each cap near the bottom.
APC Packaging offers an airless collection of beautifully shaped, double-wall bottles in different sizes (shown). The bottles have a slight curve, making them easy to grasp.
Advanced Designs for Airless Jars, Compacts & More
Bottles aren’t the only option in airless packaging—suppliers offer airless dispensing systems paired with jars, compacts, tubes and more. “We offer a range of completely airtight options,” says Seacliff Beauty’s Simon. “Our airless packages include bottles, tubes, compacts, jars and stick packages,” she says.
Lumson’s new Envers airless jar incorporates the supplier’s airless pouch technology, which makes it completely airtight. It is ideal for lotions and heavy creams. The jar has an oversized cap that doubles as the actuator—and also the locking mechanism. “Twist it to open, twist back to lock,” explains Maria Nikolis, VP of sales, Lumson USA. “It has a clean, modern, sleek look and is simple—and hygienic—to use,” she adds.
Matteo Moretti, CEO, Lumson, adds, “Envers is unique — and different from all other airless jars.” Moretti explains that unlike Envers, there are other airless jars that dispense the product from a center orifice, which is not ideal because certain formulas may ‘cake up,’ clogging the orifice. Envers can be held and dispensed from any angle.
Airless compacts are ideal for color cosmetic products that contain air-sensitive ingredients. These products usually offer some skin care benefits. Liquid-to-powder formulations, first popularized by the K-beauty trend, are often in airless packages called cushion compacts. Other types are designed to hold liquid foundation products, offering a modern design that is easy to transport, while keeping on-the-go application hygienic.
The team at Nest-Filler has found a way to improve the way a typical airless compact works. Its new “Downward Airless Compact,” or “DAC,” is a “revolutionary design,” the supplier says. Kim explains, “Our DAC’s key feature is that it has both an airless and physical pressurizing system, and offers greater functionality for high- and low-viscous products.”
The DAC is named for how it works. The DAC is unique in that the piston is built into the compact’s plate. Instead of having the piston move upwards, the plate is lowered with each use, dispensing the product,” says Kim. “With the change in piston positioning, the system is less inclined to malfunction,” she says.
An added benefit for the user is knowing when the compact is running low on product. With regular use, the plate moves lower, revealing a growing gap between the compact and the plate. “This small detail is helpful for the user to know when the compact is almost empty, Kim adds.
Mally Beauty chose an airless tube for its Perfect Prep Neutralizing Primer, which is an example of a color cosmetic combined with skin care benefits. The primer is a color-correcting hue that neutralizes sallow tones, redness and veins, while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. The formula is designed to “magnetize makeup to lock it into place,” the brand states. The lightweight liquid dries to a flawless, long-wearing finish.
Mally Beauty is a prestige cosmetics line fronted by celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal, and the brand recently launched on Australia’s premier shopping channel, TVSN.
Designed to Dispense Challenging Formulations
Some skin care formulations aren’t compatible with certain types of pump dispensers, but this is changing. More suppliers are improving upon the latest dispensing technologies to offer more options, to accommodate any product, even those that pose the most challenges.
“Airless pump systems don’t have some of the limitations you might expect,” says Yonwoo/PKG’s Altmann. “Airless systems are more successful with viscous emulsions than dip tube pumps, and marketers are pushing the limits with products that have higher viscosities,” he says. Depending on rheology, an airless system can handle quite high viscosities,” he explains.
To prevent issues with more viscous products, Altmann suggests using a pump with torque, or rotational dispensing. “In rotational dispensing, the whole head is used, rather than a traditional finger pump, so the consumer has much more power to easily drive the product,” he explains.
Challenges for an airless dispensing system includes formulations that contain beads. “These will often pose compatibility issues for airless dispensers,” says Altmann. However, Yonwoo/PKG offers a solution, and it is designed to showcase these types of formulations. The supplier’s new airless pump, shown, was developed specifically for this purpose. “Our airless system can dispense a full capsule bead without breaking it,” says Altmann.
SeaCliff Beauty offers brands its BeautiLock collection, which is designed for “ultra-sensitive” formulations, the supplier says. “Our BeautiLock patent-pending airtight jars, compacts and foundation sticks are truly airtight, and we have done the testing to prove it,” says Simon.
Simon explains that solvent and water-based products packaged in its BeautiLock packages show less than a 1% loss in weight. “Other types of airtight packages on the market today can’t achieve this,” she says.
The supplier’s BeautiLock airless compacts now offer a window option on the cover. “This feature allows the consumer to see the makeup color without opening the compact. It is ideal for mass brands where the product cannot be opened prior to purchase,” she says.”
An Innovative Actuator Design
Reinventing the look of a bottle may seem like an unrealistic goal, but the team at Fusion Packaging has managed to achieve this using a simple design element. Fusion Packaging’s airless collection called MOD Reveal has a newly designed actuator that offers numerous advantages.
Lesley Gadomski, business development officer, Fusion Packaging explains, “It has a clear window at the top, which can be custom-made in any translucent color—or opaque—for a two-toned look, she says. This design feature might be used to differentiate various types of skin care products in a collection, using different colors on the actuator. When left as a clear window, it can provide the added benefit of showcasing a specific makeup shade. “This is useful for foundation or concealer. Our 30ml size bottle is perfect for color cosmetics,” adds Gadomski.
The clear window might also be used to highlight an unusual product color. “The color of the product shows through the window as the actuator fills up, after the user presses down to dispense,” says Gadomski. “An unexpected pop of color adds a surprise element, providing an interesting user experience. It’s a different way to showcase a formula,” she adds.
Gadomski, says this new package is generating a lot of interest, so we might see a brand using it for a product in the near future.
Decorating Trends for Airless Packages
Brands are requesting all types of decorating techniques for airless packages, suppliers say, and there’s no shortage of options. Altmann says pairing metallic sprays with gradation techniques is a strong trend at Yonwoo/PKG. “We’re also seeing more gradation sprays being used on airless bottles in various colors, instead of metallization processes,” he says.
Kim, however, says she sees more brand marketers opting for simplistic looks at Nest-Filler. “Whether it is monochromatic, shiny metallic, or translucent effects, brands are choosing simple designs, using one or two colors,” she says.
Simon says more of SeaCliff Beauty’s customers are asking for unique colors, as well as fully metallized looks using vacuum metallization and hot-stamping. “We also often hear requests for iridescent colors, to enable a brand to attract the consumer’s eye on-shelf. Full hot-stamping is often requested as well, paired with designs that showcase a brand’s artwork on the entire cover of a compact or jar,” she explains.
Looking Ahead: What’s in Demand?
As the demand for airless packaging grows, so does the need for even more advanced solutions, including designs that are more intuitive and more functional. Product formulations will continually change, but suppliers intend to ensure that airless packaging remains a step ahead.
What’s most in demand now? “Airless tube systems with dispensing heads,” says Yonwoo/PKG’s Altmann. “This is our fastest growing category, this year,” he says. “Spray dispensers for airless tubes are also in high demand,” he adds.
According to SeaCliff’s Simon, airless packages are a “must” for many of the formulations on the market today, and she says the demand for different types of airless solutions will continue to rise. “High-performance products will continue to require high-performance packaging,” says Simon.