Today I would like to share some insider knowledge with you about cosmetic packaging. Why? Simply because it has a great impact on you, the end-user.
As it’s a broad topic which I have divided into two parts. Make sure to read Part 2 as well!
- Part 1 will take a closer look at your safety and product stability.
- Part 2 covers functionality and design, sustainability and the cost.
Let’s dive in.
The power of first impressions
When we see a new skincare product our first impression is created by its packaging, long before we get to try it or smell it. Hands up who at least once bought a cosmetic purely because of its lovely label or container (I certainly did in the past)!
The packaging is an incredibly important part of any brand identity and ethos, but the truth is it’s also one of the most challenging decisions a cosmetic brand needs to make when launching a product. When it comes to packaging, the reality of running a small business is that you need to constantly balance many different factors, which are often contradictory to one another.
How does this concern you?
The short answer is - greatly! This is why I’d love to share this information with you, dear friend, and equip you with the insights that will help you make your own choices consciously and responsibly.
If you are seeking recyclable, environment friendly (or better yet zero waste!) packaging, you also need to keep in mind user safety, product compatibility, functionality, good design and - of course- the price.
Let’s have a look at the user safety first. We all love natural skincare. The more natural - the better. If you are buying a truly natural product, it shouldn’t contain any strong preservatives (such as phenoxyethanol or parabens). In fact, waterless products usually won’t contain any preservative at all! But remember - we must include water-containing products in our beauty regime (I recently wrote a short blog post about it on Instagram, you may check it here), otherwise your skin will become dehydrated, dull and will age faster.
What does it mean for you?
If you are using a natural moisturiser, lotion, water-based serum, toner or anything that contains water/ juice/ hydrosol that’s in a container allowing you to directly touch the product time after time - prepare for a party. Bacteria party that is.
We have around 2-10 million bacteria on our hands and washing our hands eliminates only some of them.
Mild preservatives accepted in natural cosmetics are used to prevent bacteria, yeast and mould growth so that the product remains safe to use and doesn’t give you all sorts of skin infections. But they are much gentler (to the skin and the microorganisms) than their synthetic counterparts. This is why a wide-mouth jar for face cream or body lotion is not a good idea. With all the amazing botanical ingredients in the product, the bacteria will be in a very happy place. Pipettes and dropper bottles are generally safe options as long as the glass part doesn’t get in any contact with the skin (face, fingers, etc.).
If your all-natural moisturiser or lotion comes in a jar it should be used up very quickly (2-3 weeks), always wash your hands first and ideally keep the product in the fridge.
Solution - airless containers and pumpsNot only do they prevent direct contact with the product, but also allow for a lower dose of preservative and extend the shelf life of a product!
However, if you are seeking an eco-friendly airless container or a serum/ lotion pump - prepare for a challenge. The issue with such containers is that in 99% of the cases they are made of mixed materials, therefore are not recyclable. It took us 2 months (and many emails and phone calls with suppliers, environmental authorities and councils) to find recyclable airless containers used in our Daily Glow moisturiser and another 3 months to save up to buy them! This is because suppliers have very high (usually starting at 10,000 pieces) minimum order quantities, which is near impossible to meet for indie, small scale manufacturers.
Packaging and product compatibility
On top of user safety, the packaging must provide a stable environment for the cosmetic product so that it doesn’t spoil, lose its efficacy upon exposure to light and air or react with the container. This is why prior to releasing any product to sell, rigorous stability and challenge tests are conducted in the final packaging to ensure container-product compatibility.
What does it mean for you?
Results.... Or lack of them. If your beautiful natural oil serum, cream or balm comes in a transparent or semi-transparent (frosted) clear glass container, you can safely assume that by the time you’ll manage to use up the product, it will lose at least part of its efficacy. Natural oils are by default sensitive to light and air (some even more than the other). This is why the best type of packaging for oils is amber or opaque glass or aluminium bottles of smaller volumes. Why? They will eliminate the light and reduce the amount of air, therefore, slow down the oil oxidation which causes rancidity and loss of efficacy.
Our Aurora oil serum comes in an opaque white dropper bottle that helps preserve the efficacy of precious natural oils and botanical extracts and a 10ml capacity ensures your product is always fresh.
That was quite a journey, wasn’t it? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, and are happy to answer your questions. Please leave your comments below and make sure to read Part 2 of the packaging blog as well!
Hi Allie! Yes, they can be recycled :) It took three months to find recyclable airless containers for our Daily Glow face cream, and I’m very happy we did! Reducing plastic waste is one of our key objectives.
Here are more details about our airless containers from the packaging company:
“Airless pumps are constructed from two plastics PP & PE. These are usually recycled down the same stream in the UK. We also have to ensure there is a dominant percentage bias toward one polymer.
There remains a metal spring in the pumps. This is extracted when, in standard process, the melted plastics are floated on water, essentially sinking and being drawn and held by an electro magnet.
We worked with the Plastics Sector Specialist from WRAP ( http://www.wrap.org.uk/) in design configuration of our pumps to ensure their environmental credentials for the UK."
So, can the daily glow pump bottle be recycled in the average domestic plastic bin? Or does it need to be sent somewhere specific? I did not realise it could be recycled and found this very interesting.
Thank you 😊