Think about how a consumer uses any type of beauty product or fragrance—the cap is the first part of the package they touch. Whether or not it works properly throughout the entire life of a product will greatly affect the experience of using the product.
“The package—and especially the cap—is the first point of contact the user has with a product,” says Rosa Porras Mansilla, marketing and communications manager, Virospack.
Jing Santos, regional sales manager, Compax, also emphasizes the importance of caps and closures, saying, “If a brand is developing a custom bottle, it is typical to design it based on what the closure looks like, not the other way around.”
Package development teams take the time to consider how a product will be used when designing and engineering caps and closures. Different cap styles accommodate different types of products and formulations, from oily serums to thick creams. There are threaded caps, and closures that offer dispensing features, such as dropper caps.
The rise of e-commerce brands brings new challenges, suppliers say. Beauty fans on social media are quick to call out issues, such as caps arriving broken or not working well, especially if they are messy when dispensing a product, for example.
Robert Randall, vice president of dispensing closures, Silgan Dispensing, says his team always considers this question: “Will the closure hold up to shipping, without compromising on design—or the dispensing experience? We are constantly tracking how well our products stand up to rigorous e-commerce testing,” he says.
What’s in Demand?
Prestige brands are always on the hunt for caps, collars and accessories for bottles, jars and tubes that will help ensure a product gets noticed. “I see a quest for more complex designs and originality, especially in fragrances—that ‘wow effect,’ ” says Boris Schaefer, vice president of sales, USA, TNT Global Manufacturing. “Our customers are looking for a design that conveys luxury, and that means using quality materials. They also want a shape that is pleasant to hold,” he says.
Metapack’s commercial director, Isaure de la Noue, also says brands are paying more attention to caps. “We see an increasing complexity in our customers’ designs for caps and closures. Some brands no longer want to use the same cap across different products,” she says.
De la Noue says that she has seen one brand incorporate individual marketing messages into a cap’s design, individualized for each SKU. “This is a trend that we feel will continue to grow,” she notes.
Anthony Di Maio, chief operating officer, Cameo Metal Products, says their customers are requesting more advanced features. “I’m seeing a big push in the market for child-resistance features and tamper-evident closures,” says Di Maio. “We often hear requests from brands with cannabis skincare product lines, and they want to upgrade their packaging with caps that have CR features. But at the same time, they want their caps to look upscale,” he explains.
Compax offers caps with specialized features. The company just launched new bi-injection molded closures, available with airtight seals and CR features.
Coverpla has a new stylish cap design that looks inspired by fashion trends—the Corset Cap. The supplier says that mixing materials, such as metal and fabrics, will create a memorable look. The Corset Cap is zamac, wrapped in faux leather. “We offer it in two colors, with a low MOQ,” says Gilda Cutri, vice president of operations and business development, Coverpla Inc.
A wood cap will convey a specific message about a product—and is often chosen by natural brands. Coverpla has a new collection of caps and closures in wood. “Since we introduced our wood closures in different colors, we are receiving a higher number of requests for wood caps,” says Cutri.
Metallic Looks Convey Luxury
One sure way to make a plastic cap look more upscale is with a metallic finish. There is no shortage of requests for metallic looks this year, especially for cosmetics. “We see a move back toward metallics, again,” says Compax’s Santos. “More requests are coming in for aluminum overshells. We can ‘dress up’ a cap using vacuum metallizing techniques,” he says.
Santos describes one project that involved a flip-top cap for a tube. “The brand wanted something a little more ‘luxe,’ so we added aluminum inserts on the top of the cap and along the sides. It added weight, and made it feel more luxurious,” he explains.
Mini packages have been popular for a while now, whether sold as stand-alone travel-size products or luxe samples, and Compax recently worked with Urban Decay to supply a square cap for its mini fragrance. “It gave the package a more upscale look,” says Santos.
Virospack offers custom colors for its metallized bulbs in custom colors, as well as texturized droppers. “Differentiation is more than a desire—it is a need, due to increased competition in beauty. More brands are requesting customized looks, and they are personalizing our dropper caps in different ways,” she says.
Coverpla’s Cutri also mentions metallics, saying the demand for metallic looks hasn’t slowed. “We continually hear requests for both aluminum caps and metallized finishes, because they have a high-end look and feel,” she says.
Di Maio says Cameo’s team hears lots of requests for rose gold and matte rose gold finishes. “These shades make a metal cap look like jewelry, and have been popular for quite a while,” he explains.
Karin Gran, co-founder of the Kari Gran beauty line, says she just redesigned the company’s Lip Whip collection. The new packaging features rose gold caps. “We wanted a more ‘luxe image,’ ” says Gran.
Lip Whip by Kari Gran is a cross between a balm and a lipstick, and it is available in numerous colors. The collection is housed in a low-profile clear frosted pot paired with screw-top caps in rose gold. The caps are plastic with a metal overshell. The caps’ rose gold hue coordinates with the line’s lip colors, which are mainly pinks with a touch of metallic shimmer.
Gran, explains, “Finding the right cap for Lip Whip was extremely challenging. As a brand, we had a vision for what we wanted our new packaging to look and feel like, but finding a vendor that could execute the exact materials and colors was difficult.”
Delivering a Positive User Experience
Whether it is designed to pull off, push in, or unscrew, a cap’s functionality is key. Brands enlist design and engineering teams to ensure that caps and closures will help contribute to a positive user experience with a product, not cause issues. Styles vary from basic designs to caps that offer added-value features, such as closing with a magnetic “click” or a locking mechanism.
“Luxury brands equate quality with sound, and feel,” says Metapack’s de la Noue. “Not only must a cap meet all functional requirements, but we evaluate the ‘feel’ of the force during application and removal. Package designers are going so far as to request a specific sound or tone when the cap is applied or removed,” she explains.
De la Noue says that how the physical senses interpret that a design is critical to delivering a luxury user experience. “We see a real demand for magnetic caps that offer a unique locking sensation, automatic orientation, and no visible mechanism,” she says.
Virospack’s new Magnetic Dropper is an innovative closure system that offers users a new experience while using a product. “It is the first dropper on the market for skincare with a magnetic closure and perfect seal,” says Porras.
The dropper is fitted with Virospack’s patented sealing system, developed by the company’s Barcelona team. The two parts of the dropper feature a magnet with four poles, which produce an attraction to each other in order to close, sealing the dropper to the vial. It opens with a simple rotation. Gustavo Bay, development leader, technical department, at Virospack, adds, “The magnetic attraction of the poles substitutes the screw-on gesture for the pack opening and closing.”
Compax offers a unique cap for a jar that features ribbing, so it is easy to grip. “These details help a brand differentiate; the user appreciates the added functional benefit,” says Santos.
Staying on Budget
Luxe details and specialized features often come at a price. “A cap is often the most costly part of a package, and some brands don’t realize this at first,” says Compax’s Santos. “Not budgeting enough for the cap is an easy mistake to make,” he says.
Caps and closures typically have more parts than a bottle or a jar, for example, and this raises costs. “Even a simple disc-top cap has two parts, which requires two molds,” Santos says. “Plus, the injection-molded parts require assembly,” he explains.
A design might become cost-prohibitive when certain design elements aren’t taken into consideration. One example, Santos recalls, is when a marketing team requests vacuum metallized parts to make a polypropylene cap look more luxe—but then the cap’s living hinge can’t support the extra weight. “Over time, it will crack. To prevent this, aluminum inserts can be added, but this will often push the cost-of-goods over-budget,” he says.
One way to create a custom look while staying under-budget is by decorating a standard cap with a brand’s logo. “Using a debossing technique will give a cap a custom look without having to tool a completely new closure,” says Santos.
Cameo Metal’s Di Maio agrees that standard stock closures are always a sure way to cut costs. “We have the ability to easily make any stock closure look upscale—it is our specialty,” says Di Maio. “Our options include placing a metal shell over an existing plastic stock closure to add weight. Then we can use a variety of decorating techniques to achieve amazing results,” he explains.
“Choosing a stock closure—and then customizing it—eliminates the time, effort, and cost of having to re-engineer a package, since it already exists,” he adds.
Di Maio also says Cameo Metal’s brush finish technology helps keep costs down. “It is a luxury look, and we are also able to create multiple colors using this process,” he says. Cameo Metal also offers precision color-matching capabilities. “We’re the industry leader in the colors we offer,” says Di Maio. “Using a lacquering process, we are able to create more shades and color options than you can with alternative methods,” he says.
TNT Global Manufacturing’s Schaefer says the company keeps costs down by relying on their team’s technical expertise to optimize the production process. “We produced a cap for the Jean Paul Gaultier fragrance that is one single piece, which reduces the number of steps and costs,” says Schaefer.
Metapack’s de la Noue says budgets are important, so its team welcomes challenges. “We find it crucial for our design engineers to understand what a brand wants to accomplish, and work toward that while keeping costs in check. We are proud when we are able to achieve a brand’s goals by incorporating the best materials and engineering,” she says.
Silgan’s Randall says their team often works closely with customers to discuss solutions and options for caps and closures—even when budget constraints are tough. “We work with brands to discuss price and design goals, and come up with ways to deliver solutions that meet both requirements,” he says. “We have some very competitively priced products, such as our Polycam one-piece flip-top closure,” he adds.
Stock flip-top closures are often budget-friendly, and Silgan recently developed a new line with a matte finish. “The matte finish is especially popular with men’s grooming brands,” says Randall. “The color tone pairs nicely with men’s products,” he says. The caps are available in three diameters.
Silgan also offers a number of customization options for standard caps, including logo inserts on the top of a closure, different finishes, and color-matching capabilities. “We are continuing to expand our customization capabilities. One example is our Polycam closures, which now offer logo insert capability. This is a cost-effective way to customize a cap for the luxury market,” says Randall.
Virospack’s Porras says their team often works with brands that have different types of budget requirements. “Some brands opt for a rich formula with novel ingredients in high concentrations. Others want the best quality, precision, finishes, and security in their presentation, allocating a large part of their budget to packaging. We work to meet this wide range of needs, which are specific to each project,” she says.
Porras says Virospack offers a wide range of standards. “A brand can choose between different components, in various shapes, designs, sizes and different finishes to create a dropper cap that looks unique,” she says. By adjusting each option, prices may come down.
Brandless Focuses on Functionality
Staying within budget constraints is important for any brand, but for Brandless, which sells all of its products on its website for $3, there is no wiggle room. Brandless recently launched new skincare products, including facial toner, facial scrub, night cream, and foot cream, which are all in plastic bottles and tubes decorated with labels. When choosing its caps and closures, the team at Brandless says that functionality is their most important consideration.
Rita Katona, director of merchandising and wellness innovation, Brandless, explains, “Our beauty packaging components certainly drive costs and we mitigate the impact to the overall price of the product by focusing on consumer needs and function.”
Katona says that Brandless has a ‘Just What Matters’ philosophy for its products, which extends to their packaging. “We evaluate everything during the product development process, from every ingredient that is, or isn’t, in a specific formulation. We also evaluate what type of delivery system is necessary to give users the desired experience. As we firmly believe that better shouldn’t cost more, product development can sometimes feel like a very sophisticated puzzle,” she says.
Over-Sized and Extra-Tall Caps Look Luxe
When a package features an oversized element—even when a cap is just slightly taller than the norm—it gives a package greater shelf presence. It can change a brand’s image, and is often a budget-friendly design solution.
Joseph Brodner, president, Olcott Plastics, says he is being asked more often for extra-tall caps, and the company offers this style as standards. “We often work with brands to customize a stock closure through embossing, and we just finished adding an engineering change to our manufacturing process of extra-tall caps. Now, we have the ability to emboss the side of the cap,” he explains. “We can do custom brand logos on the side wall,” he says.
Prior to this process, embossing required an intricate mold. “This would limit your cavitation. It was expensive to decorate a cap this way,” Brodner says. “Now we can use our existing molds, so the cavities and cores are the only investment for a brand,” he adds.
Creating Crystal-Like Looks
When a brand wants a cap that will mimic the look and clarity of crystal, they are likely to choose DuPont’s Surlyn. It is an extremely popular material for fragrance caps.
Zhejiang B.I. Industrial Co. used more than 300 tons of DuPont’s Surlyn last year, according to David Chen, the company’s sales representative. “We are the largest user of Dupont Surlyn in China,” he says. “More brands are requesting the material, due to its transparency, especially for luxury fragrance packaging, because it can make a cap resemble crystal,” he says.
The team at Zhejiang B.I. Industrial Co. has been working with DuPont Labs in Shanghai to experiment with different technologies and come up with new ways to decorate Surlyn, as well as combine it with other materials, such as zamac. “Hot-stamping is usually a challenge on Surlyn, but now we have the ability to use injection-molding to ensure a flat surface,” Chen explains.
Mixing colored powders into Surlyn caps is another technique that Chen’s team has used, to achieve a unique look. “We are also using different materials, including zamac and leather, and can fuse them to the Surlyn,” says Chen.
“Surlyn’s transparency combined with zamac’s weight are an ideal combination that looks luxurious,” Chen says. “Adding leather, or even wood, to a Surlyn cap can make it look like a sculptural work of art,” he adds.
Fancy Caps, Collars, and Accessories for Fragrances
Brands are placing more emphasis on caps and closures, as well as other accessories, especially for luxury fragrances, according to Metapack’s de la Noue. “Many of the luxury fragrance brands we work with will choose a standard bottle and pump-collar system, paired with several of our custom solutions. This creates an individualized look,” says de la Noue. Metapack offers custom aluminum or brass plates, as well as custom caps in zamac. “This offers the best way to customize a package with the lowest costs or quantities,” says de la Noue.
Collars and accessories are often designed to coordinate with the look of a cap or closure. Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat Eau de Parfum is in a rectangular-shaped bottle, paired with a clear square cap, and accessorized with an organza scarf that looks like it is tied around the bottle’s neck.
Seram designed the glittering metallic scarf, which adorns the bottle’s silver collar. The scarf is made using a combination of ribbed grosgrain, for the part that wraps around the collar, which is connected to sheer organza made from lurex. “It illustrates a nice way to enhance a closure with a sophisticated material,” Seram’s team states. Seram offers brands on-trend accessories and promotional items that are customizable and connectable.
The new fragrance Bella by Nina Ricci, launched in May, in the brand’s iconic apple-shaped bottle. The bottle is acid-green to represent the scent’s acidic floral composition. The round cap is a dark purplish green, and the gold collar is designed to resemble leaves.
A small ladybug, in emerald green with gold wings, sits on top of a leaf. The ladybug is made by TNT Global Manufacturing.
Schaefer explains, “The ladybug is designed as one part, in zamac, but it has a surprising delicacy because the thickness has been reduced to its maximum. The ladybug glimmers, with a gold e-coating finish that emphasizes the two-tone epoxy decoration on its body. The challenge lies in the repeatability of this manual process on an industrial scale.”
Metapack used an e-coating process on zamac to create By Kilian’s black fragrance caps, and used the same process for Tom Ford’s candle lid. The fragrance, Valentino’s Valentina Poudre, features a blush pink bottle adorned with an oversized flower. “To create the flower, we used matte and soft touch finishes with a Teflon lacquering technique,” says de la Noue.
Sustainability is an ever-pressing issue. Due to the type of plastic most caps are made from—as well as recycling issues—suppliers and brands have had a few challenges to overcome.
The number of requests suppliers are hearing for more sustainable caps is rising—and there are new options in the works. “We are investing in our PCR capabilities, and we currently offer closure options made with 100% PCR,” says Silgan’s Randall.
Decorating PCR caps is another area that more suppliers are exploring. Randall says, “This is an area that we will continue to expand on; ‘being green’ is so important now.”