In the cosmetic industry, tubes used to be synonymous with toothpaste and hand lotion, but beauty and personal care brands are increasingly embracing them—harnessing all of their structural and design flexibility to house everything from high-end hair products and body emulsions to lip lacquers and eye shadow creams.
According to ResearchAndMarkets, the current tube packaging market is valued at $11 billion and is forecasted to reach $11.43 billion by 2022 (CAGR +7.43%). One of the biggest trends in beauty and personal care tubes right now is premiumization. “This manifests in a variety of decorating and material processes including texture (soft touch, embossing), metallics for closures and tubes, and seamless, or virtually seamless, tubes with 360-degree decoration,” says Amy Waterman, global marketing communications manager, Berry Plastics, Evansville, IN.
Berry has been granted a patent related to registered embossing on laminate tubes that precisely aligns intricate artwork with embossing or debossing to enhance the look and tactile experience of laminate tube packaging. “The new process allows eye-catching, 360-degree decoration for 1-1/2”, 1-3/8”, 1-3/16” and 2” laminate tubes, creating a premium package that stands out on the shelf and enhances a customer’s brand,” Waterman says.
Tube decoration is the best way to convey a tube’s “premium” vibe. James Farley, executive vice president of global business development, World Wide Packaging (WWP), Florham Park, NJ, points to advancements such as improvements in IML technology for yielding higher-resolution, photograph-quality imaging. “Direct silk screen technology has reached the process print level, with super crisp resolution and superior registration,” he says. “Cold foil stamping has [also] become an economical alternative to hot foil stamping, its more expensive sibling.”
WWP has channeled its tube expertise into luxurious tubes for a number of top-shelf personal care tubes. Its most recent project was the tube for Peter Thomas Roth’s Mineral Matte CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30. The 30ml, oval extruded polyethylene tube was custom metallized using a multi-decoration process combination of offset and hot stamp techniques, in both silver and purple to achieve the desired look for PTR. The tube is capped off with a matching custom metallized closure.
Express Tubes, Kent, WA, worked with Mia del Mar, “a culturally-infused beauty brand made by Latinas, for Latinas,” to create beautiful tubes to house the brand’s SPF 30 moisturizer, a five-shade tinted SPF 30 moisturizer range, and a primer. In addition to SPF, the products are formulated with powerhouse skincare ingredients like Vitamins A and C that required in-package barrier protection. Add to that, Mia del Mar sought to work with a tube material that would enable them to freely express the elements of their branding and packaging artwork.
All of the tubes are oval with a matte finish. Both the primer and moisturizer products feature vibrant, full-color artwork designs and Shanna Johns, Express Tubes’ sales director, says the company had to get creative with the materials they used to achieve their CMYK decorations. “The Primer tubes are standard white LDPE tubes with a full flood of artwork to achieve their layered ombre look,” she says. “One of the biggest feats we faced was producing a beautiful watercolor splash in a variety of colors on their gorgeous moisturizer tube artwork.
“The designs were delicately created to showcase many levels of translucency of the artwork that would effectively communicate the watercolor effect of their packaging in high definition all while achieving a look of brightness and vibrancy that would resonate with their consumers,” she continues. “We chose the matte PBL (Plastic Barrier Laminate) tube material to achieve the best and truest print for these designs directly on the tubes. The real challenge came in not just producing one tube that met all of these qualifications, but having to produce six in different color variations of the same artwork so that everything looked cohesive.”
All seven Mia del Mar SKUs are topped by premium screw-on caps accented with a gold foil band that elevates the overall aesthetic. Moisturizer tubes have two-layer acrylic caps that also impart an extra special elegance.
The luxe execution of Thymes’ 35mm, 3oz fill, Goldleaf Hand Cream earned Granby, QUE-based Plastube the Tube Council’s 2017 Silver Award for Tube of the Year in the personal care category. A key point of differentiation was the use of Illumifoil for its barrier protection and metallic shine, in combination with a custom-colored copper sleeve. Plastube is the sole manufacturer offering Illumifoil in North America.
“The personal care category challenge was to provide a vintage tube with crisp details and barrier properties,” explains Steven MacPhail, Plastube’s vice president, sales and marketing, noting that the level of complexity was elevated due to the level of artwork detail and Plastube’s ability to prevent ink contamination. “This tube was applied with a base coat of silkscreen to create opacity, followed by a fine screen of ink to print the leaves and lastly application of a hexagon closure to complete the vintage look.”
Like every other facet of the packaging industry, the tube segment continues to do whatever it can to shrink its environmental footprint. The primary way is sustainability, which is being achieved through the use of Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic materials.
ABA Packaging Corp, Holtsville, NY, is one company offering PCR materials for use in multi-layer tubes and according to the company’s Tonilyn Bruno, account manager, these tubes have the same look and feel of virgin material, while benefiting the environment.
There’s always room for improvement. Berry’s Waterman adds that brand owners are still in search of ways to improve the recycling of beauty and personal care products. “Even though many of the containers are fully recyclable today, most are thrown away,” she says. “Brand owners are working with third-party organizations and using the power of social media and influencers to encourage consumers to recycle.”
Toronto-based Viva IML Tubes prides itself on being at the forefront of sustainability with all its tubes and tube-related componentry. “Our tubes are 100% Poly Propylene (PP) fully recyclable and using up to 35% less emissions to produce,” comments Bruno Lebeault, Viva’s marketing director, North America. “Now Viva IML Tubes is going one step further by integrating up to 65% PCR into our tubes.”
Viva IML recently worked with Marc Anthony Cosmetics for the brand’s Styling Cocktails line to deliver a 100ml, 48.5mm diameter, dual chamber tube. “The tube is 100% Poly Propylene (PP) and has a clear window at the bottom to allow the consumer to see the two formulas inside the tube,” explains Lebeault. “It has a dual flip cap with multiple orifice options to allow full customization of the blend.”
Decoration includes pearl color, cold foil, spot matte and spot gloss varnishes.
With so many different beauty and personal care products looking to the tube as a potential package of choice, packaging suppliers are working to increase the functionality of tubes through a broadened selection of caps, closures and applicators.
According to Atsko Fukada, the New York-based senior director for Takemoto Packaging Inc., one of the strengths of her company’s tubes is in the variations of its caps. “We’d rather show our caps at first than tube bodies when we are asked about tube variations by customers, she says, noting that the company introduced a variety of different functional caps in the last year with the goal of adding value to its stock tubes. “We will focus on one tube whose neck is the same as 24/410 (standard bottle neck) so customers can play with our various caps.”
La Habra, CA-based Global Packaging offers a variety of applicators such as titanium alloy, zinc alloy, and ceramic applicators, as well as traditional options like brush heads and roller balls. The company also has a new vibrating applicator that Vinay Upsani, owner, says can be used as a massage tool while dispensing the product.
For brands in search of airless options, tubes represent an economical alternative to airless bottles, providing similar benefits by protecting products from oxidation, however according to Upsani, the airless dispensing pumps currently employed by tubes utilize either screw-on or snap-fit pump dispensers and each have their own limitations. “In the case of a screw-on pump, the pump can be unscrewed by the customer thus allowing the air to go inside the tube and thus the pump stops dispensing the product till it primes out all the air,” he explains. “In the case of a snap fit pump, the assembly cannot be guaranteed to be 100% leak-proof, because there is no way to check whether the washer of the pump is fitting on the head of the pump.”
To overcome both the above problems, Global Packaging designed a tube with a ratchet on the head of the tube and with a corresponding ratchet on the pump. “This design works similarly to the functionality of the screw-on pump, but it ensures a perfect leak-proof assembly by applying the pre-determined torque and thus the pump cannot be unscrewed,” he says. “It also provides protection against accidental opening of the pump by the user.”
Personal care brand Nubian Heritage, sought a tube with a high level of personalization for its African Black Soap Exfoliant Spot Treatment and Albéa, Gennevilliers, France, delivered a piece of art using a tube distributed by O.Berk.
Albéa worked closely with Nubian Heritage during the tube design and the client was clear about their desire for precision dispensing of the product to a targeted area. “They also wanted a precise applicator, and we thought the Pinpoint applicator was the best way to achieve it,” recalls Marion Patel, Albéa Tubes’ marketing manager NA. “The Pinpoint applicator features a soft-touch silicone tip that enables targeted application to skin. The leakproof applicator facilitates controlled, ergonomic dispensing.”
The plastic tube is hallmarked by an eye-catching orange, black and gray textile pattern, and features a matching secondary carton. The applicator is housed in a black collar and cap, which also helps the dispenser stand out. “The Nubian African Black Soap Targeted Exfoliate Spot Treatment conveys a cultural inspiration through the primary packaging, paying homage to the diversity of healing traditions and cultures that are represented in the Nubian Heritage family; this tube has a true soul and a story behind it,” says Patel. “For smaller brands to pop, they have to have clear values and convey them through packaging. Nubian Heritage did an excellent job of conveying its story with packaging.”
Nubian Heritage African Black Soap Exfoliant Spot Treatment received the 2017 Ted Klein Tube of the Year Award along with the Gold Award in the Pharmaceutical category for Tube Council’s annual Tube of the Year Awards.
“Brands are seeking more efficient and effective ways to deliver their formulation, while capitalizing on the economic dependability of tubes,” says Evan McVittie, innovation and marketing manager, Unique Distinctions Inc., Aurora, ONT. “Increased product performance translates into a heightened user experience and brand differentiation.”
In the last year, Unique Distinctions has launched a new applicator tube series that features a variety of tube heads and tips, designed specifically with product application in mind. Each tube features a unique application method for pairing with the specific formulas. The series includes scrub, sponge, exfoliator tubes and direct-release applicators, as well as a forthcoming line of mini gel pinpoint, brush, spatula and gel tip applicators.
The company recently helped personal care brand, type:A deodorant, match the right tube with the right applicator for its natural, sweat-activated, cream deodorant product. Two SKUs were produced—a sample size and an 80g—incorporating a D40 MDPE sidewall tube, a clear over cap, and a “smooth soft” applicator that delivered exactly the kind of dispensing the brand was hoping for.
The delivery system was “mission critical” because, according to Allison Moss, founder and CEO, type:A deodorant, not only did the packaging need to deliver a visual cue to the unique, outside-the-mainstream product it contains, the user experience had to be fast, easy and clean, matching the best of what mainstream deodorants and antiperspirants had to offer. “With the circle made of three thin, long orifices, type:A deodorant cream flows out of the applicator in smooth ribbons that look beautiful and also make it very easy to apply under the arm, again using the applicator to spread the product over the skin and thus keeping your hands clean and mess-free,” she says.
She adds that the special, soft-touch applicator helps glide the product onto the skin in smooth, thin ribbons that allow it to more quickly and easily cover skin surface area as it’s dispensed. “The density of the tube combined with our formula allows the user to dispense as much or as little as needed with a gentle squeeze (which can easily be done with one hand alone),” she concludes.