Packages and closures for packaging

Packaging functions: what changes, what remains the same?

Nowadays customers become more and more eco-conscious. People read and analyse the product composition and are aware of the materials used for packaging. Many shopping choices are made based on their eco-friendliness.
However, it does not change the fact that cosmetics’ manufacturers have to comply with many guidelines when choosing packaging for their products. There are many different requirements and it is a real challenge to come up with a solution that would fulfil them all.

First of all: security!
The most important packaging function is to secure the product – firstly in transport, and finally at the stage of use. Packaging should be airtight and durable. It cannot leak on the route from the factory to the store and then while taken home and used by the consumer.
Another security-related factor is the packaging’s material stability. In most cases cosmetics are closed in plastic. Hence, it is recommended to test the global migration which will verify whether a packaging does not react with food-imitating substances.
Another important part of the process is to test the plastic for heavy metals.
In both cases there is no room for compromise. The test results must fall within very strict standards.

Size is important!

Sometimes a wide range of available solutions may make our heads spin, and there is no shortage of different types of packaging to choose from. If we explore the key properties of their main types, especially regarding the closures, we will know what to pay attention to and what to ignore.
One of the crucial features is the capacity. We assume the cosmetic is dedicated to use at home by one consumer. Although we all know that in reality girls love to secretly steal some of their mom’s cosmetics, in this planning process we will not take into account any stowaways.
Let’s take a closer look at a face cream. On average, one application equals 0.5 ml and after opening it can be used for about six months (leaving aside preservative-free products with different expiry dates). If we assume that the daily usage is 0.5 ml, then the minimum 50 ml packaging is the most reasonable choice. If the product is used in ca. three months, it will not become boring and the skin will not stop reacting to active ingredients. And even if the consumer takes a break, the six month period is enough to use the products again as it will still be fit for use.
Lotions, shampoos and hair conditioners are usually closed in 250-500 ml bottles. In this case it is also good to count the daily usage vs. the shelf life.
A real challenge is the so-called “economy” packaging. An interesting example would be a 700 ml micellar cleansing water. According to the label such capacity equals 350 uses, while period-after-opening symbol is six months. We could assume that here one application is meant by one application onto a cotton pad, but most consumers would normally need more than one. And even if it they didn’t, it would mean that after six months they would have to throw away half of the product. So seemingly economical and ecological bottle might waste customer’s money.

Technical parameters

Another factor to consider when selecting a packaging are the packaging’s and medium’s technical parameters. They should go hand in hand with each other in order to satisfy the consumers both with the effectiveness of the product, as well as easy and smooth application.
Regardless of the type of cosmetic and the group of consumers it is dedicated for, the product application should be user-friendly, failure-free and till the very last drop! Consumers will not buy again a cosmetic which was difficult to dose.
In order to gain a compatible duo, we need to carefully consider a few important details. During our conversations with customers who search for suitable packaging, we ask seemingly weird questions. They are very important at the early stage of planning as they help avoid later setbacks.
Firstly, we ask about the density and viscosity of the medium. These two indicators play a key role when selecting dispensers or sprayers. Since their mechanisms have a limited power to lift the medium up, it is crucial to have tests and choose a closure which will be a perfect match for the cosmetic.
It is also important to pay attention to a tiny detail which is a tube. While its proper length may be the key to success, if it is too short or too long the whole project may be doomed to failure.
At the manufacturing stage, a too long tube might break. Capping machine will exert pressure on the tube and may damage it. And even if it doesn’t, the tube might bend upwards, which means the mechanism would be unable to pump the medium from the bottom of the bottle.
If the tube is too short, it cannot reach the bottom and we end up with the same problem.
In both cases, an improperly selected tube is unaesthetic and might leave our customer with the feeling that the product has not been made professionally.
Another important factor is the proper cut of the tube’s end. If it is shortened perpendicularly, it might suck into the bottle’s bottom, leaving no gap for the medium and ultimately blocking it inside. Hence, the tube’s tip should be cut diagonally or forked, in the shape of the swallow’s tale like a “V”.
Another problem which might be avoided already at the stage of planning is filling the packaging with medium. Here we also have to find a golden mean. We will discuss it on the example of the airless packaging. If it is filled with too little medium, the consumer might have a problem with the first dosage. It might be considered a defect and lead to a customer complaint. The customer might not know that in order to make the mechanism work properly, he has to press the dispenser even as many as twenty times or more. On the other hand, if we put too much medium inside the packaging, it will overflow already in the factory. In such case it would be necessary to clean the packaging or even the production belt. It would not only increase the costs, but also delay deliveries to stores.

Customer buys with eyes

Up until recently it has been calculated that over 80% of decisions to buy are made in front of the store shelf. After over a year of periodical closing of shopping malls and intense development of the e-commerce market, one could also say that we make spontaneous decisions while scrolling the offers of the online stores.
Hence, whether we sell online or in a traditional store, our packaging has to be eye-catching. How to influence the customer with a packaging? It is a lifelong issue that many marketing specialists constantly puzzle over. The question is: what type of impression do we strive for?
A herbal shampoo with simple ingredients requires a packaging that speaks for itself. A common solution for this type of cosmetics is an amber bottle which connotes a product straight from a pharmacy, and a practical closure which promises easy application. Another solution would be chosen for an anti-cellulite balm that should work similarly to regular exercises. In this case the colour and shape should be dynamic – intensive colours and a flip top bottle whose opening and dosing connotate movement and are a visual guarantee of fast results and effectiveness.
Simple luxury is another marketing strategy. Plain bottle with an elegant dropper dazzles with sophistication already at first glance. However, we should not forget about many Italian industry giants whose expensive and elegant bottles are still very baroque and drip with gold.
In sum, in order to create a perfect product in a perfect packaging, it is crucial to start with a full picture of our target customers.

Eco-conscious customers

In the face of the current access to information and inflowing facts about ecological and pseudoecological behaviours, the group of eco-customers should be dived into two subgroups. The first one includes consumers who are satisfied with the labels with symbols of sustainability, animal friendliness and colour of the waste bin dedicated for the empty packaging. If we add that 25% of the packaging comes from recycled plastic recovered from the oceans, we can easily steal the customer’s heart!
Such attitude may come from a good place and may be indicative of the trust towards the producer and the inner need to minimize the impact on the planet, but it might also result from the lack of time to study recent news on ecology.
The second subgroup are eco-educated customers who follow the changes and verify information. They know that sustainability may be just an empty catchword. They are aware of that fact that while animal testing of ready-made formulations is forbidden, most companies report the ingredients as pharmaceutical, test them on animals, decrease the concentration and then put them on the market as cosmetics. Hence, the picture of the bunny on the packaging does not impress them. Using regranulates in cosmetics is not entirely safe, as the contamination of a once used polymer on the particle level may impact the quality and safety of the final packaging. The catchy note on the oceanic waste has been so often called into doubt that less and less people believe it.
An eco-friendly solution which is great for the future recycling purposes is to make the whole packaging in one colour, leave it white or transparent. It is also recycling-friendly to make the label and other elements from the same material (or materials which can be processed together despite the differences in polymer chains) as the main packaging. These solutions are the pro-sale tools, but first of all they represent sustainable practices and eco-responsibility.
We explored the subject of the eco-design at the beginning of this year. The detailed analysis can be found in the “News” section on our website News -
All customers, regardless of the level of their knowledge, should be honestly and accurately informed about the source of both the cosmetic and all elements of the packaging, as well as what to do with an empty packaging.

Cosmetics and their packaging wink at us from the store shelves or tempt us on the websites, and then become an element of our dressing tables and accompany us during beauty and good mood rituals.
Thanks to Polpak’s knowledge and experience that we have been sharing with our partners, we can guarantee that your customers will never have to face any technical difficulties with our closures.
And if we can use the packaging to save the planet, then let’s do it!
Adding recyclates (PCR) to those elements of the packaging that do not come in contact with the medium is entirely safe and our offer includes such solutions.
We recommend giving the Earth one square centimetre on the label by informing the customers where to throw away the empty packaging. This little gesture might be a big bow towards the ecology!