Color Cosmetic Packaging: Designed to Work
Packages for color cosmetics have been designed to give the consumer a better experience when using a product.by Marie Redding, Senior Editor
A package that simply looks good is not enough in today’s competitive market. Packages are being designed to surprise the consumer, to provide a solution for some of the common problems associated with specific types of makeup, or to accommodate an unusual formulation. Both marketers and suppliers are realizing that a package that provides additional benefits is necessary—and this is driving innovation, especially in cosmetic packaging. We have investigated some of the new packaging options for loose powder and mascara—and also found one very unusual compact that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
The Talking Compact
Stila sought a package that could help consumers apply eye shadow correctly to achieve a certain look—specifically, a glamorous smoky eye. Jill Tomandl, vice president, global product development and package design at Stila, recalls a meeting with Sephora during which a Sephora executive mentioned that the number one most-asked question by shoppers is, “How do I achieve a smoky eye?” When Sephora executives later challenged its brands to come up with something “futuristic,” Tomandl created the Smoky Eye Palette, a compact that literally speaks to consumers through every step of the application process.
When a button on the compact’s inside cover is pushed, a voice recording of a Stila makeup artist plays, detailing exactly how to use the four eye-shadow colors inside the palette. The makeup artist also explains the best types of brushes to use, how to use them, and which other products should be used to complete the look—all in less than a minute.
The front of the compact is decorated with a lenticular graphic of an eye. Lenticular refers to a unique printing process. In this case, it was used to create the illusion of a moving image. As each application step is described by the makeup artist, the user can see each color being applied to the appropriate part of the eyelid on the lenticular graphic. The eye winks when the compact is rotated. The inside of the compact features a silk-screened illustration of the Stila girl.
“Previously, I had re-searched lighting and voice recording technologies because I knew I wanted to use these concepts for the right project one day,” Tomandl says. She already had a lenticular sample on her desk that could be incorporated in a compact. It was sent to her by Scott Morrell of JAMB Packaging (Costa Mesa, CA). “I kept it on my desk because it was so cool. Then, my ‘mad scientist’ compact idea came to me. I wanted to create a compact that combined visual and audio instruction from a virtual professional makeup artist for Sephora’s Futuristic Product challenge,” she says.
The greatest obstacle Tomandl faced on this project was the fact that Sephora needed a sample within three months. Serge Gander, president of Cyrk (Hong Kong), promised Tomandl he could deliver it in time, and he did. Vents had to be placed on the back of the compact’s platform to allow the recorded voice to be audible. An illustrated pamphlet is also included.
The compact was originally intended to be a one-time limited-edition item for Sephora in the United States, but it has been so successful that other versions are being produced. One will soon be launched in Europe with three buttons—for English, French, and Greek. “Since the look of a smoky eye doesn’t translate well in the Korean market, a different color palette will soon be developed to launch there,” says Tomandl.
The concept of an instructional cosmetic component is now patent-pending. “There is definitely an emotional reaction from anyone who sees the Smoky Eye Palette,” Tomandl says.
New Solutions for Loose Powder
Loose powder is another type of cosmetic that has been known to be challenging for the consumer to use. The right package is critical for this type of makeup and has the potential to greatly enhance the consumer’s experience of using the product.
Many suppliers have been developing new types of packages designed to make application easier. “Loose-powder formulations are definitely a growing area, and we have been working to address the need for more packaging options,” says Nicholas Thorne, innovation and development director, Alcan Packaging Beauty (France; New York City).
One commonly used package for face powders dispenses the product through a sponge or brush applicator. Alcan Packaging Beauty has been recommending its Tajine plastic jar to customers because it is designed to provide more control when using a loose powder. A sponge is attached to the underside of the jar’s lid, which also acts as an ergonomic handle.
Another supplier, 3C Inc. (Hawthorne, NJ), agrees that this makeup category is expanding. “The demand for loose powders, especially mineral-based, has grown. Packaging options must also increase in response to this need and be better designed to accommodate these types of formulas,” says Lou Della Pesca, president of 3C Inc.
3C Inc. has just introduced a plastic jar with a covered sifter, designed to solve some of the problems associated with using loose powders. “The average loose-powder container has a jar with a sifter that usually holds a sponge or puff, with a standard screw-on cover. When you shake the powder into the puff or sponge, too much product is wasted. We enhanced this type of package by putting a snap closure over the holes in the sifter,” says Della Pesca. There is a standard cap on this plastic jar, and an applicator fits inside. “The product stays locked in,” he adds.
Della Pesca also has another new loose-powder container with a special locking device and a built-in sponge applicator. When the cap is screwed onto the jar, the sponge automatically locks down, blocking powder from coming through the sifter’s holes. When the cap is removed, the sponge is released, and the powder is dispensed. “What’s great is that you don’t have to remember to lock it. It happens automatically when you close the plastic jar,” says Della Pesca. These new packages that 3C Inc. is promoting are just hitting store shelves.
Cosmopak (Port Washington, NY) has also developed a new loosepowder package that is designed to contain eye shadow. The package is small and portable—less than 3-in. high. The clear teardrop-shaped bottle has an opaque cap. The package is meant to be shaken before use so that the product can travel from the bottle into the cap. The cap has a hole on top. After unscrewing the cap, the product can be dispensed into a customer’s hand.
This package is designed to hold a unique formulation, which Cosmopak also provides turnkey. “The powder is heat-activated. When you dispense the product by shaking it into your hand, it turns into a cream, which you can then apply to your eyelid with your finger,” says Walt Dwyer, president of Cosmopak, who is located in the company’s London headquarters.
A Popular Pot
Two cosmetic brands have relied on the classic plastic pot for its loose-powder products and have had no consumer complaints. These types of pots usually contain a sifter and an overcap.
Pout uses a small plastic pot for its eye color named Glitter Pot. “Finding a package that worked with all our loose-powder formulations was not a challenge for us. We use a lot of standard componentry, embellished with feminine details,” says Chantal Laren, Pout’s cofounder. She explains that they had to make sure the holes in the sifter were spread far enough apart to dispense the appropriate amount of product.
“The trick to dispensing all types of loose powders is to give the product a little shake before opening the package, and then to use a brush to collect only what’s been disbursed into the lid,” says Deb Svarc, West Coast brand representative for Pout. “We place a lot of emphasis on educating our sales team so that they can convey these tips about how the package should be used to the consumer,” Svarc says.
TINte Cosmetics is another brand that uses this type of pot, for its product called Color, a universal eye-cheek-lip formula. (The color chosen determines the part of the face it is best suited for.)
“Consumers like the fact that this type of powder is so versatile and easy to use. It can be applied with a brush or the finger, and our lighter colors can even be mixed with foundation for an all over glow,” says Stacey Provines, creator, TINte Cosmetics. Because the formula is mineral based, it can be used wet or dry. “Our darker shades work well with a wet brush as a liner. When wet, the color becomes six times as intense,” says Provines.
Choosing the right type of package for this product was difficult for Provines. “We had to make sure the sifter sits lower in the plastic jar so there is room to dip a brush into it and to shake off the excess product before applying,” she says. “We also wanted to give consumers a lot of product, and this is four times the amount you would normally get in a regular pressed shadow,” she says.
Pout’s Laren feels that the demand for all types of loose powders will continue, but especially for face powders used for setting makeup. “All the loose powders being made today are much more advanced than they were 10 years ago,” says Laren. Pout’s Translucent Face powder is a cashmere talc formulation that blends into any skin color, making it look smoother and more polished, rather than dry or “caked.” It is packaged in a standard plastic jar with a sifter.
Provines also feels that loose powders are here to stay, rather than just a passing trend. “Women don’t want such heavy coverage anymore. Some loose powders feel as if you’re not wearing makeup. They are definitely going to continue to be a staple in our industry,” she says.
Mascara is perhaps the cosmetic for which a product’s performance is most closely related to its package—specifically, its brush and wiper. Ever since P&G Beauty launched new mascara packages with brightly colored injection-molded brushes last year for its CoverGirl and Max Factor brands (with lots of help from supplier Geka Brush), it seems like every cosmetics manufacturer wants this type of brush. This is partly because the brushes have been known to work well, and partly because they can be molded in any color.
Brightly colored brushes give the consumer an element of surprise. They are perfect for adding “newness” to an ordinary mascara package, according to Thorne at Alcan Packaging. “A colored brush has that ‘wow’ factor that clearly makes it look different and tempting to try,” he says.
There has been a rapid move toward injection-molded plastic applicators, according to Thorne. The reason this type of brush works so well is that during the molding process, suppliers can control the exact placement of the fibers. This increases the ability of the brush to separate and define lashes, solving one of the most common consumer complaints about mascara use, which is clumping.
The drawbacks of a molded brush for a cosmetics company include the fact that a custom brush can be costly and that it can take months to develop. Samples cannot be easily tweaked because changes must be carved out in the mold.
Alcan Packaging Beauty is offering a few alternative solutions that might help more companies choose an injection-molded brush. First, Alcan Packaging Beauty has a stock line of molded plastic brushes. These brushes have been designed in various shapes and colors, using elastomers with different flexibilities. Each type of brush has been tested, and each will enable a formula to achieve different results on the lashes.
Some of the molded plastic brushes Alcan offers look like conventional fiber brushes. “They are still colored, but they don’t look so rigid. People like what looks familiar,” says Thorne.
Also, Alcan Packaging Beauty is developing its 15-Day Express service for injection-molded mascara brushes. “We will start providing this special service to fulfill all the requests we’ve been getting for these types of brushes,” says Thorne.
Shortly after receiving a brand’s formulation, Alcan Packaging Beauty is able to provide a functional mock-up brush that is ready to be tested. Thorne explains the unique development process the supplier uses in order to quickly suggest customized brush designs. “For a standard fiber brush, a machine is programmed with close to 100 different parameters, and testing of the brush can be performed almost on the spot. We are now approaching the development of this same service for injected brushes,” he says. Alcan Packaging Beauty’s mascara application experts use information provided by their customers regarding the formula and desired results, and a specific brush design is recommended.
“Using this method, the brush’s shape and flexibility can be varied rapidly. This makes it possible for our customers to test different brush designs after just 15 days,” Thorne says.
The Big Brush
In addition to the increased demand for molded brushes, super-sized brushes are also being chosen a lot lately, ever since the folks at Dior started this trend with the dramatically oversized brush designed for Dior Show Mascara. “Oversized brushes are very popular now,” says Karl Hartstock, innovation manager, Geka Brush (Germany).
Pout Cosmetics recently launched Plump mascara. It contains an extra-large volumizing wand, according to Laren. The bottle is decorated with a lace design, which was applied using a silk-screening technique. “Making sure the design on the lid was aligned with the base was a challenge,” says Laren.
Regarding a brush’s size and how it affects performance, the experts will tell you that it’s not so much the size that matters as it is the placement of the brush’s fibers. “Larger brushes are being used as an effective marketing tool. When consumers see the brush’s size, they automatically feel that the product will perform better and create longer lashes,” says Hartstock. A larger brush also adds a little bit of a surprise element to a mascara package.
The Multi-Benefit Brush
Perhaps one of the greatest recent developments in mascara applicators is Geka Brush’s new, patented Multi-Benefit brush. It is a traditional twisted wire brush, reinvented. This brush has the ability to provide consumers with an all-in-one solution for achieving just about every benefit they could possibly want from a mascara—and provides manufacturers with the ability to make several different claims about the product’s performance.
“It used to be that one brush was designed to achieve one specific benefit, such as volumizing or curling. Now, this brush can achieve multiple benefits,” says Hartstock.
Hartstock agrees that molded brushes are definitely being sought after right now. However, Geka Brush’s custom-molded brushes usually aren’t affordable for smaller companies. The Multi-Benefit brush is an alternative economical solution because it provides many of the same attributes as the molded brush. Geka Brush offers a large standard range of Multi-Benefit brushes, designed to accommodate a wide range of formulations. Because they are stock packages, there is no tooling cost. Multi-Benefit brushes could even be made with brightly colored fibers, but that would add to the cost.
The exact position of every single fiber on a brush can’t be controlled unless the brush is injection molded, but the fiber distribution is controlled on this twisted brush. “During the development process, we took a closer look at the molded brush to determine why it worked so well. We worked with a makeup artist to shoot a detailed video to examine exactly what happens when the brush meets the lashes. We transferred everything we learned about the molded brush and applied it to this Multi-Benefit brush,” explains Hartstock.
The fact that several different features are combined on the same brush is innovative. These features include a special chiseled cut on the ends of the fibers, to create instant volume and separation.
Hartstock says that no matter what type of formula a manufacturer already has, this new brush could be used to provide additional benefits. “This makes it very easy for a brand to relaunch the same product with this new brush and to deliver an improved product to the consumer,” he says. “The results we’ve been able to achieve with this brush can definitely compete with the molded brush.”
As visionary retailers such as Sephora continue to inspire the creative teams at unconventional brands like Stila, we’ll be seeing even more futuristic types of packages designed to surprise us. As formulas such as loose powders become even more advanced, we can expect suppliers to work even harder to develop packages that better accommodate these products, while providing the consumer with more-functional packages that are easier to use. In the area of mascara, new types of brushes have been inspired by a need for fresh designs, combined with the demand for applicators that work better.
The common element among all of these new packaging developments is innovation. New designs are being created to provide new solutions. As long as emphasis continues to be placed upon the needs of the consumer, we’re all headed down the right path. More than ever before, everyone seems to be working together on this common goal.
HCT Packaging shows us two new types of packages, expertly designed and engineered to dispense even the most advanced formulations.
At the recent Cosmoprof trade show in Bologna, Italy, we met with package designer Rebecca Goswell, who leads HCT Packaging’s creative team in London. Goswell has been working on several new innovative packages that will no doubt soon be on the market.
One new package being offered now as an HCT standard was designed to dispense a product in a unique way. This package can be used for under-eye concealer, corrector, or even a cosmeceutical type of skin care product. It looks like a small vial-shaped bottle and is made from crystal-clear PCTA. A flat, round, spatula-like disc protrudes from the cap. This disc is actually a dispensing tip, made from surgical-grade steel. It is being produced by the HCT Metals facility in China, which opened just recently. When the disc touches the skin, it creates a cold and soothing sensation. The tip is a flat, rounded shape and is perfectly angled to fit nicely around the eye area.
“This revolutionary dispensing tip will also be used on other types of packages such as tottles, tubes, and conventional click pens. It is suitable for all types of color cosmetic, skin care, and sun products,” says Tim Thorpe, West Coast president, HCT USA (Santa Monica, CA).
HCT Packaging first exhibited the original model of the package at the Cosmoprof 2006 show in Bologna. “We have spent the past 12 months intensively engineering each component. The first production pieces will launch in June,” says Goswell. The company has also worked with its legal team to obtain utility patents. “We feel this unique tip requires worldwide protection,” says Goswell. When asked what the name of it is, Goswell replied, “We call it So Cool.”
Another new packaging option was developed as a result of a meeting between James Thorpe, general manager, HCT Packaging, and the design/development teams at YSL Beauté. This package is exclusive to YSL Beauté until March 2008 and is being used for its Creamy Eye Shadow. After the exclusivity period, HCT Packaging will begin offering it to other customers as one of its standard packages.
This unique package is designed to accommodate powder-to-liquid formulas, such as eye shadow. “It is airtight and is perfect for sensitive formulas because the applicator doesn’t come in contact with it,” explains Moshin Asaria, technical development manager at HCT Packaging.
The package looks like a small vial-shaped bottle, which contains a powder. There is a spring mechanism inside the cap, attached to the applicator. When the cap is unscrewed and lifted off, the applicator extends downward into the bottle, picking up some product. When the brush is used to apply the color onto the skin, users realize that the powder has instantly become a creamy liquid.
“Water is encapsulated inside the powder. When the brush touches the powder and it is rubbed against the skin, the capsules break and the water is released,” explains Asaria. When the cap is screwed back on, the spring mechanism causes the applicator to return to its original position, which is hidden up inside the cap so that it doesn’t touch the formula inside the bottle.
The extra-soft-tip applicator is a Rubicell applicator, specifically developed for this type of formula. Its material had to be tested to ensure it wouldn’t react adversely with the formula. The team at HCT Packaging is currently working on developing new applicators for this package. The company is also developing its own liquid- to-powder formula and will be able to supply it with this package turn- key by next year.
An Innovative Mascara Formula
Japan’s best-selling mascara launched in the United States in January with a newly modified brush.
Fiberwig mascara, created by the Pias Corp., has been a huge seller in Japan since 2002. It even has a cult-like following there.
It launched in the United States at Sephora stores in January. Its unique formulation is designed to create dramatic length by coating the lashes with a special film made of fibers, which help to separate and define. “Using the product is like painting on false eyelashes,” says Keizo Iida, vice president, U.S. Division, Fiberwig.
Before the product launched in the United States, a few changes had to be made. “The brush is larger, and the formula had to be slightly modified in order to achieve the right effect on American women,” says Iida. Its custom brush consists of two types of materials, with short and long fibers. However, Iida says that the product stands alone, and consistent results will be achieved no matter what type of brush is used—even a disposable tester. The one aspect of the package that is critical for this formula is the wiper. “The wiper allows the brush to become very saturated with product. The formulation works best with a very loaded brush,” says Iida.
“The challenges faced were more about the secondary package,” says Iida. Fiberwig mascara is packaged in a clear acetate box. It is much wider than the usual types of mascara boxes, and that extra space is used to explain all of the product’s benefits. Specific keywords are used to describe the product on the box, and the graphics are designed to be consistent with Fiberwig’s advertising strategy. “We always consider the box to be a type of marketing tool to explain how the product works,” says Iida.
Beeswax is one of Fiberwig mascara’s key ingredients. It is used to mold the product to the lashes. “The beeswax doesn’t clog the hair follicles, so your own lashes aren’t damaged,” says Iida. Rubbing with a little warm water, however, can slip off the “lashes,” but the product is water resistant.