Cosmetic packaging, an entire universe of technology and innovation

Dr. Pascale Gauthier

First of all, please keep in mind that design remains a fundamental partner to any product; looking at the etymology, design has medieval Latin roots in the word ‘designare’ (combination ‘De’ and  ‘Signum’ which means ‘to mark’). From ‘create’, to ‘execute’, ‘construct’ or ‘to conceive and plan out in the mind’, finally, the definition of design can result in a ‘functional object’ that will propose a ‘use value’ and be functional in all areas of everyday life. The design process should absolutely be integrated early on in the research. A check list integrates initial intentions, competitive market, innovation references, usage profiles/context/sequences, as well as all the opportunities and constraints of the product [1]. 

The main definition of a cosmetic product is a product “in contact with the external parts of the human body (or with teeth or a mucous membrane of the oral cavity) with a view to cleaning, perfuming, protecting, changing their appearance, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odors”. In contrast to a drug form, this cosmetic product does not present any properties for treating a disease. The European single regulation (2013 CE 655) has introduced common criteria for all cosmetic products with a strengthened safety requirement; the concept of ‘responsible person’; the obligation to report serious adverse events; various rules on the use of nanomaterials. A long list of substances prohibited or restricted supplemented this rule, and it represents a great challenge for formulators [2,3,4,5]. 

The global cosmetic market is in good health. In 2017, it was valued at $200 billion, with growth of 5% (mainly in Asia/Pacific 37%; North America 25%; Western Europe 18%; Latin America 11%; Eastern Europe 6%; Africa and the Middle East 3%).  According to analysts, this global market is set to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 7.10% for 2017-2023. Flagship categories are skin care products (37%), hair care products (22%), make-up (19%), fragrance (12%), and hygiene products (10%). Make-up (+7%), skin care (+6%), and the whole luxury beauty market (+8%) performed especially well last year (2016-2017) (Figure 1) [6,7].

Figure 1: Main cosmetic figures for 2017 [6,7]

This large beauty market is marked by some clear differences. For example in Europe, the German beauty market is number one for ‘Bio’ products. Consumers are pragmatic and environmentally aware and have a median age of around 45 years.  Italy is the country of charm and glamor, an ambivalent market between tradition and modernity, where the ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) approach has been rejected as a recipe for grandmothers. In the UK, London remains a capital that focuses on ideas and new trends and has shown an interest in beauty-oriented appearance (‘successful selfies’). It also has a large young male audience fond of hair cosmetics. In the UK, people also do not forget health awareness and environmental impact on the skin (N°1 market for cleaners). France is the country of dermo-cosmetics, the ‘French girl’ remains a pragmatic beauty who requires effective basics, ‘smart’ products, ones that are easy to use. The USA, is the ‘XXL-always MORE’ country, with a beauty approach that requires immediacy, even a ‘surgery-like’ appearance, definitely a simplification of the beauty routine. ‘The big USA melting pot’ remains the country of multiculturalism, with the invention queen (ultra-natural, ‘wow’ effect) [8,9]. For more than 10 years, Asia has been a ‘must-have cosmetic actor’ that has evolved from consumers to precursors of trends (K-beauty / J-beauty booms ...) [10,11,12]. The male sector is now a peak sector in Asia. The male market is definitely a growing market, with demand for high-performance products, niche markets that show increases in make-up and segments for the ‘new gender’ (make-up/care) (Figure 2) [14,15]. 

Figure 2: Diversity of beauty consumers [8,9]

At the same time, however, a new consumer ‘expert globe-trotter’ appears in relation to the explosion of tourism. Expert globe-trotters are looking for products with subtle cultural references. Trends are changing from ‘made in’ to ‘lifestyle’ in order to arrive at ‘made for’ customized products. There is a strong need to mix properly traditional and globalized codes, in order to understand that the multiculturalism of tomorrow is reinvented (Figure 2).

Now, in addition to the diversity of users, there are those who are part of the ‘Z generation.’ They make up approximately 27% of the population, they are the first generation born with the Internet, they know how to use it as vector of knowledge with a controlled hyperconnection (5 simultaneous screens/2 for their elders, ‘you-tube’ new ‘wikipedia’ for 13-17 year olds). They reinvent their own codes, brands must consider them, because the ‘Z’ like to speak and give their opinion [15,16].

Beauty products have shown innovations at all levels in order to satisfy all these new consumers. Such a large number of active ingredients are coming from natural sources, bio-based, algae derivatives, cell cultures. The new idea of ‘active beauty’ is reflected in numerous products that offeri a new sensoriality; touching a cosmetic product can induce its transformation. This is the era of chameleon structures in relation to the multipurpose effect of cosmetic products; as an example, layering is achieved with no fewer than 7/8 products, regrouping helpfully the steps which represent definitely a good challenge. For more than ten years, successful trends such as layering, contouring, and K-beauty have been acclaimed. Alphabet creams from ‘BB’ to ‘GG’ have provided hybrid cosmetics, integrating skin care in make-up, in order to provide a successful new line of products. After anti-aging, pollution has become a major target for cosmetic markets also in relation to the development of urban megacities (more than 40% growth in this sector between 2012-2014 in the Asia-Pacific region).  Now waterless cosmetics are described as another new successful era of products, as water is regarded as a scarce luxury to be conserved [12].

For all these new product lines and also all these new consumers, there is an adaptation of packaging. Definitely much more than its original definition (contain and protect), the packaging is now an unavoidable partner of the beauty world. It remains essential for branding/communication and adding solutions for anti-counterfeiting/dosage/application. This is definitely the era of smart packaging for design and function, for eco-design (created with no impact on waste management), and at least making packaging smarter and cleverer (idea of safe-secure-inert) [17,18,19].

Some examples can be presented from the huge world of spray, a large market sector, which is also a very specific one. According to the reported fillings of European aerosol products, production reached 5.7 billion in 2017, reflecting growth over previous years. Personal care and household represent over 77% of the European production. Definitely a world apart, full of precise technological parts comprising an English terminology, it is a very complex world full of patents, which emphasize the control of the spray with various nozzles. Actuators are also carefully studied for improving the ease of use 

Figure 3: Diversity of pumps for spray and foam [20,21,23,24,25,26]

and combining both functionality and aesthetics. All materials used for aerosols should been carefully checked to avoid any corrosion. The spray modifies the physical form of products with this idea of droplet dispersion and particles‘ scattering [20]. Much more than a pack, the spray enlarges the surface of application for any product; sprays allow use in 360° or the production of a very fine mist [21]. Aerosol and also pump systems without any gas allow production of these sprays, and also the creation of foam that modifies the product density by integrating small gas bubbles. New market opportunities as well as new cosmetic products can be launched thanks to this particular packaging [22]. Suppliers have proposed innovative forms of sprays (longer, specific bottle) that redefine all the vocabulary that can be associated with sprays [23]. Looking at foam products, a very technical proposal that delivers rose foam has been presented with several international prizes (Figure 3) [24].

The pumps can also be associated with an airless function for combining several functions in one packaging, once again, much more than a simple container. An airless system contains, delivers (a large range of viscous substances) with a perfect reproducibility and ensures the product’s protection (from oxygenation or microbial attack). The airless market is growing by approx 10%, split between airless bags and  jars, and represents a very innovative sector that integrates multiple proposals (tubes, bottles, jars), with sometimes separate containers (reconstitution of incompatible products just ‘on-the-go’).  The use of various materials can offer a nice transparency for seeing the inside formulation (swirling creams, pearl substances). Multiple shapes for push button are proposed, with integration of a design approach always aimed at improving ease of use. From the smallest pouch to a larger size with the new arrival of an airless bottle for more than 1000ml, all these new products can also combine sustainability with the use of recyclable materials. The airless sector represents a very innovative world that can also

Figure 4: Diversity for airless and droppers [1,28,29,30,31,32]

integrate applicators and systems such as droppers. When fully integrated into beauty world, droppers represent the perfect example of a successful switch from the pharmaceutical world (where they are not used so often: lack of safety/reproducibility) to the cosmetic target, where they are proposed for multiple materials, shapes or adaptation (to formulas with beads, or for serums) (Figure 4). The universe of masks is also very innovative, with multiple innovative proposals, both in formula (foam, stick, peel-off), and uses (face, hands, foot, chest) with the boom of multi-masking thanks to social networks.

Finally, things digital are arriving with beauty masks connected to or incorporating LEDs. Products such as patches are also used in beauty for application on skin and for lips, eyes, nails added sometimes to digital [33,34,35]. For example, the era of electronic tattoos developed in beauty with the aim of protecting people from the sun. Now we are seeing the arrival of the second generation of products with nail patches and new tattoo systems that track skin pH to prevent any problems [36,37]. With smartphone addiction, multiple apps can make new marketing offers in the beauty sector. Smartphones allow people to see a product in order to promote its uses or they sometimes propose a virtual test for eyebrow, make-up, and various cosmetics. Now, augmented reality is creating a “wow” effect and increasing sales [38]. The Internet of things is also present in the beauty sector, with connected hair brushes, toothbrushes, and beauty mirrors [39,40]. All these objects are combining their primary function with that of diagnosis, but also providing advice associated with dedicated applications. This represents a full range of possibilities for skin care, beauty care or make-up (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Digital and beauty world [36,37,38,39,40,41]

Finally, the beauty world remains a world in motion. It is always proposing more innovative products for new uses and sensation to consumers who understand this so multiple beauty challenge. Packaging appears to integrate a design approach and new technicity for products that should not forget sustainability. This ‘more in less’ approach seems to remain fundamental and can integrate the digital in order to reinvent uses and increase sales of cosmetics. 

Some References (non exhaustive list)

1 - Gauthier P. ‘Le design, atout indispensable d’un packaging innovant’, 14th Perfume Cosmetic and Design, Paris, 1/02/18, Paris, ‘Is design a weapon to make packaging more innovative?’ , Aerosol Europe, 2018, Vol 26, N°6, p. 15-17.  |  2 -  |  3 -  |  4 -,5671  |  5 -  |  6 -  |  7 - ‘Market trends and indicators, a snapshot of the latest market facts, figures and trends’ BW Confidential 2018, 36, 34-35.  |  8 - ‘Cartographie de la beauté mondiale.’ Addiactive, Gattefossé, 2015, N°96, 6-7.  |  9 - ‘Cocoricosméto.’ Addiactive, Gattefossé, 2019, N°110, 8-9.  |  10 - K-beauty’s 3 trentiest ingredients from 2018  |  11 - Hainer C. ‘La K-beauty à la conquête du monde.’ The Treat Issue, Inspire, 2016, N°3,p.23-26.  |  12 - Gauthier P. ‘from Asia to digital world.’ Aerosol Europe 2017, 25(6), 7-11.  |  13 - ‘Men’s market is changing his marks’, Expression cosmétique, 2015 N°34, 28-40.  |  14 - Huynh J. ‘L’homme est une femme presque comme les autres.’ Cosmetic Mag, 2018, N198, 46.  |  15 - Carret M.  ‘La génération Z dicte ses codes. Emballages Magazine, 2016, 46, 28-29.  |  16 - Bonnafous P.’La génération Z multiple et habile.’ Addiactive 105, 2017, oct-nov-déc, 6-7.   |  17 - Wynne A., ‘What’s next?’ Trends for 2019 and beyond.’ BW Confidentioal, 2019, N°36, 148-149.  |  18 - Bauer E.J. ‘Pharmaceutical Packaging Handbook’. Ed Informa 2009, 585 p.  |  19 - Gauthier P., ‘5 advances and packaging trends in the beauty universe’.  |  20 - Gauthier P. ‘Spray and foam, overview of products and use’ 7th Aerosol and Dispensing Forum, ADF-PCD Oriex,  Paris, 6-8th February 2013. ‘Spray and foam, overview of products and use.’ Aerosol Europe, 2013, vol 21, N°6, 12-17.  |  21 -!section=features-and-benefits  |  22 - Nattier C. ‘La pompe dans l’air du temps.’ Cosmétique Mag, 2016, N°178, 34-35.  |  23 -  |  24 -  |  25 -  |  26 -  |  27 - Gauthier  P. ‘Airless, when less is more, overview of products.’ 8th Aerosol and Dispensing Forum, ADF-PCD Oriex, Paris, 5-6th feb 2014. Aerosol Europe, 2014, 22, 5, 23-27.  |  28 -  |  29 -  |  30 - | 31 -  |  32 -  |  33 - Ruchon P. “Packaging connecté en pleine effervescence.” Formes de Luxe, 2017, Nov, 71-79. | 34 - Lherminier V. ‘la beauté connectée rebat les cartes’. Cosmétique Mag, 2017, oct, 36-38.  |  35 - Carret M. ‘L’offre connectée s’étoffe.’ Cosmétique Mag,2017, N°188, 30-31.  |  36 -  |  37 -  |  38 -  |  39 -  |  40 -  |  41 -

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