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Vinay Kumar Singh

General Manager-Technical,
Mikasa Cosmetics Limited,
Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Before going into various aspects of Packaging in general, let us understand uniqueness of Cosmetics packaging. The primary aim of packaging is the protection of the product from all hazards it can be exposed to during transport and handling. A cosmetic package, in addition, is also required to be attractive and unique in its features so to trigger “impulse buying” in the end user. Many a times we all have encountered this situation that instead of purchasing medicine from a chemist’s shop, we land in purchasing a Cosmetics that immediately drew our attention. The role of packaging for Cosmetics is not only the prime role of containing but  also to enhance aesthetics. In fact it acts as a silent salesman, acting as an advertisement for the product it contains and influencing consumer’s purchasing choices. It is meant to seduce the consumer and transform products into objects of desire. Cosmetics packaging are attractive and eye-catching as they are extensively decorated. Cosmetic packaging contains everything from the logo of the cosmetic company to the ingredients that the cosmetic contains. It is what gives the consumer their initial opinion about the product. There are various reasons as to why the graphics on the packaging is important to the consumer. Although the packaging is what catches the consumer’s attention. Packaging contributes to the overall feel and image of a brand; high quality packaging signals to consumers that the product inside is high quality. As in other industries, “cosmetics companies try not only to sell a brand to consumers but an image that is associated with certain characteristics or qualities. Even if the products themselves are relatively similar, the packaging can be what sets them apart.

With cosmetics, there is a direct relationship between quality (or perceived quality) of packaging and the perceived price and quality of a product.

Now let us try to understand about various aspects of Packaging.

HISTORY:  The need to carry liquid or large quantities of berries, seeds etc. were felt by primitive man during Mesolithic (middle stone) age.  So the first package were probably cups, bowls or bags made from natural materials such as leaves, animal skin, gourds, bark or shells.  Later packages of similar shapes were fashioned from bone, wood, twigs and grasses.

Fabricated wooden objects have been known for thousands of years.  The barrel with fitted staves and hoops was invented by Alpine Tribes in early days of Rome.  Pottery and leather were invented some time after 8000 B.C. Glass making started about 7000 B.C. Paper started to be used in Chine in the 16th century A.D. The earliest recorded use of paper for packaging dates back to 1035, when a Persian traveler visiting markets in Cairo noted that vegetables, spices and hardware were wrapped in paper for the customers after they were sold. The use of tinplate for packaging dates back to the 18th century. The first corrugated box was produced commercially in 1817 in England. In 1952, Michigan State University became the first university in the world to offer a degree in Packaging Engineering. Many prominent innovations in the packaging industry were developed first for military uses.

PACKAGE:  A package is a manufactured article which partially or totally encloses a quantity of products.

Packaging is the art and science of operation involved in the safe delivery of product to the ultimate consumer in sound condition at minimum overall cost. In fact Packaging sells what it protects and protects what it sells.

PURPOSE OF PACKAGING:  Products are packed in a suitable package for the following purpose :
1. To facilitate transportation and storage.
2. To guard against contamination.
3. To prevent accidental spoilage.
4. To prevent from pilferage.
5. To minimize spoilage.
6.   To identify the products contained and the quality.
7.   To proclaim the manufacturer of the product contained.
8.   To explain how the product should be used.
9.   To attract the shopper’s attention and
10. To convince the customers to buy.
11. To  add convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, reclosing, use, dispensing, reuse, recycling, and ease of disposal.
12. To have portion control– Single serving or single dosage packaging has a precise amount of contents to control usage. e.g. Sachet

PACKAGE CLASSIFICATION : Packages may be classified according to function, to a common property, to the materials they are made up of, or to their contents.

It is sometimes convenient to categorize packages by layer or function : "primary", "secondary", etc.

  • Primary packaging is the material that first envelops the product and holds it. This usually is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents.
  • Secondary packaging is outside the primary packaging, perhaps used to group primary packages together.
  • Tertiary packaging is used for bulk handling, warehouse storage and transport shipping. The most common form is a palletized unit load that packs tightly into containers.

Classification according to contents :  Beverage packaging, Food packaging, Hardware packaging, Drugs and Cosmetics packaging.

Classification according to common property :  Flexible, Semi-rigid or rigid packages; Breakable or Non-breakable packages;  Transparent or Opaque packages;  Liquid-Tight or gas tight packages.

Classification according to materials :  Glass Bottles, Metal Cans, Paperboard Cartons, Wooden Crates, Paper Labels, Plastic Bottles, Laminated Tubes etc.

THE PACKAGING FUNCTION:  The package is merely a part of the system by which a product is Marketed and distributed.  The packaging function is to bring together the product and its package in the desired way with the desired end result in the quantities needed in a given time.  In most packaging operations the product is formulated first and then brought to the package.  Each and every step in the packaging must be carefully controlled, if good final package performance is to be achieved.  Improperly made packages will interfere with opening, filling or closing operations. It is important in the development of a package, that it not only perform the static duty of containing and protecting the product but also that it perform the dynamic duty of surviving and efficiently moving through the packaging operations.  This must also include warehouse stacking and transportation.

The only way this performance can be assured is for the packaged product to be submitted to extensive testing both simulated abuse testing in the laboratory and actual performance tests in the plant, in the warehouse and in the transportation system.

PACKAGING MATERIALS Glass has served Cosmetics industries as an efficient container for many centuries as glass is economical, can be handled at high speed on production lines, is inert thus giving excellent product pack compatibility.  It provides good product presentation (clarity, sparkle, design and shades) and good product identification.  Glass is completely impermeable to all gases, solutions or solvents.

If a product is sensitive to light, amber glass or cartoning can be used. Glass can be moulded into very attractive designs and provides excellent brand or product image.

Glass is manufactured in many different formulations but the most common in packaging is soda lime glass. Soda lime glass contain Silica (from sand), Calcium Carbonate (Limestone), Sodium Carbonate(soda ash), Aluminium oxide and Trace oxides. It is trace oxide that provide colour to glass. The only disadvantage which glass has is that it is fragile and it has weight.

The technology of glass making is thousands of years old but it is only in recent years that fully automatic methods have been developed for manufacture of glass components. There are various glass moulding processes like The suction process, Press and blow flow process or Blow and blow flow process.

Metals were first used as containers at least as early as 4000 B.C. and probably before that.  Today steel, tinplate and aluminium are used for packaging.  Metal containers are strong, relatively unbreakable, opaque and impervious to moisture-vapour, gases, odours, bacteria;  provided they are pinhole free.  They are resistant to both high and low temperature.  However, metals require the application of coatings and lacquers to prevent chemical reaction and corrosion from the inside or outside.  Special coatings and coating techniques have therefore been developed for this purpose.  Metal containers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles ranging from small elongated collapsible tubes and shallow drawn containers to large built-up containers including steel-drums.  It is in the field of aerosols that metal containers have predominantly been used.  Another area in which metal containers have found a specialised usage is for cosmetics items such as Lipstick cases.  Although these containers involve a number of components which are made up of metal and some plastic. 

The use of collapsible aluminium tubes is extremely widespread and almost all varieties of semi-solid products, including emulsions, pastes and gel are marketed in collapsible tubes.

Plastics: The use of plastic for producing primary components and point-of-sale material now dominates packaging technology.

There are two main groups that are used – Thermoplastic resin and thermosetting resin

ThermoplasticsResins can be extruded at their melt temperature and then blow moulded or injection moulded. After cooling the resin can be remelted by heating to the limits of thermal fatigue and oxidation.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Low density polyethylene (LDPE), High Density polyethylene (HDPE), Polypropylene and Polystyrene are thermoplastic.

Thermosetting resin are moulded using an irreversible chemical reaction and the resins tend to be rigid, hard, insoluble and unaffected by heat up to decomposition temperature

Generic term “amino plastics” is used for plastics produced by reacting formaldehyde with amino compounds. Their applications range from electrical equipment such as switch plates, sockets or circuit breakers, work surface laminates, etc. It is generally processed by compression moulding

In Cosmetics, caps and closures are the main uses.

Plastic Technology: There are five main methods of converting plastic resin into packaging components.
1.Injection moulding
2.Extrusion blow moulding,
3.Compression moulding
4.Thermoforming and
5.Injection blow moulding

Coupled with the growth of cosmetic industry there has been mushrooming of the variety of package forms and types. 

While rigid packages such as tin boxes and glass bottles tend to capture a particular segment of the market, flexible packages are adaptable to nearly all market areas.

Solids, liquids, ointments and powders all can be packaged in flexible units.  The three basic structural components in flexible packaging are paper, plastic film (Cellulose Acetate, Polyethylene, PVC, PP)  and metal foil. A single ply package will be constructed form only one of these substrates; more multiple complicated structures are made from laminations of multiple plies.  Adhesives and hot melts are used to stick plies together.  Decorative and functional coatings may be applied to outer and inner surfaces.

The various requirements of packages for cosmetics and toiletries (such as attractive appearance; impermeability to water and volatile oils) are not always available from a single material.

This problem can sometimes be solved by the use of composite materials in laminar form.

Laminates have found particular application in the production of sachets and of collapsible tubes as alternatives to pure metal tubes for toothpastes. Laminates are used for flat sachets that are heat sealed around the periphery.

Laminates for collapsible tubes aim to combine the appearance of plastics with the impermeability and collapsibility of aluminium.

Aluminum foil even in the thinnest gauges offers the best barrier properties.

Paper and Board: It is mainly used for Secondary and Tertiary packaging.
Rigid and semi-rigid paper board packages e.g. Cartons, Box, Corrugated Shippers are widely used in cosmetics industries.

Varieties of rigid plastic materials like plastic bottles, boxes, vials, trays, sleeves and closures are used for the packaging of cosmetics products.

Printing, foiling and decoration: All packaging components can be printed to give a wide range of decorative effects. Different processes are used depending on the application. It could be Screen printing, Letterpress, Flexography, Offset lithography or Gravure printing.

Package Development and Design: In the development of New Product, Packaging must be considered as early as possible to allow time to ensure that pack and product are compatible. The pack must be suitable for the product and its market. The development process begins with a detailed analysis of the product so that a pack can be designed to give protection. Graphics and aesthetic design should also be considered at this stage.

Packaging Development is done due to following main reason. Conversion of new idea into a pack form, to do any innovation, to renovate existing packaging or for cost reduction. We at Mikasa Cosmetics have full fledged Packaging Development Section where various packages are created. We also take third party packaging development job.

No doubt at times idea created may not get converted into required package form but one must not give up. Once I had idea of creating shoe-polish like applicator for Eye Shadow, Blusher etc., but at that time I was ridiculed, whereas today such applicators are available and widely used..

Compatibility testing is performed when the final product formulation and packaging system has been decided. The general compatibility of the pack and product needs to be checked by storage testing which will enable as assessment to be made of the effect of the pack on the product as well as that of the product on the pack. The first step in selecting a package system for a given product is a compilation of the characteristics of the product itself.  Package - product interaction can result either in a weakening of the package, a partial destruction of the product or both.  These undesired results can occur from permeation, sorption, leaching, photochemical reaction or chemical reaction. Thus checking of behavior of product while in contact with package and vice versa must be done and studied to avoid any possible interaction. Effect of spillage on the outside of pack and Shelf life testing must also be done. Even convenience of the pack must also be tested by in-use tests as well as by laboratory tests and local customs and the climate of the country in which the product is to be marketed. That means one must ascertain all aspects that can affect product-pack interaction to ensure no problem in future.

Security Features in Cosmetics Packaging:
Product counterfeiting is an Intellectual Property (IP) crime, which is a deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods bearing well-known trade marks. Product counterfeits look like those made by a reputable manufacturer when they are, in fact, inferior illegal copies that can have a serious impact on the health and safety of the consumer. I myself have experience to have witnessed hundreds of counterfeit of brand leaders in the market.

Preventing the counterfeiting of sensitive and vulnerable products is a big business globally and one in which packaging plays a crucial role on the front lines in thwarting crime that causes economic damage and risks the health--and potentially the lives--of consumers. Following methods are adopted to prevent counterfeiting.

-Ultra-violet fluorescent ink
-Thermal reactive ink
-colour shifting ink

The counterfeiting of cosmetics products, particularly at the higher-end and luxury segments of the market has continued to be a significant issue, especially for manufacture of prestige brands.

Let us update ourselves on what is New in Cosmetics Packaging
-Marc Jacobs Lipstick is designed in the shape of stylized pencil, made of sublime metallic materials.

-Airless compact for higher viscosity and high-coverage foundation formula is available with foam cushion and without.

-Foil pillow pouch is introduced by Unit Pack, which is foil unit pack having metering channel and an iris tip to control flow of dispensed liquid without it spilling all over. The high barrier foil ensures stability and prevents contamination. It also tears easily, allowing neat discharge of product.

Miniature sized packaging can be referred by many names like unit dose, trial sized, travel/amenity, sample and limited use. Sachet is one such example. These can be used to create a buzz around a new product, allow users to experience a new product or give users a convenient way to travel with the products they already love. Basically it increases reach of products to also those who can not afford large pack.

-Arcade Beauty’s Fusion pack is an ideal sampling format for products that need to be separate until time of use, as well as for single formula that can not be in contact with an applicator until use.

-Ultra slim Spray bottle from Phoenix was honored with Gold award for Excellence in Technological Advancement and Enhanced User Experience, cleverly enables users to carry and dispense 11mls of fluid of mouthwash, hairspray, hand sanitizer or sunscreen. It is fitted with pump housing that allows consumers to spray the product while keeping the package leak proof.

-Axilone has a “one Hand” lipstick mechanism keeping in mind busy another hand. This was developed keeping in mind general trend in behavior, doing several things at the same time; on the mobile, in the car while walking, women check the way they look. Redoing lipstick is the task repeated most often.

-Axilone created Vaposphere, again to target ease of handling and use. Is is a single-handed capping system. one has to turn the locking ring with two fingers to open the sphere-shaped cap and activate the spray. Closing ii is again straightforward; one counter rotation of the ring and the container is locked. There is no risk of an accident. Vaposphere is suitable for make-up, care or perfume products.

-Aptar created Skin Master, a next generation pen for facial skincare application dedicated to the treatments of laugh lines, eyelids, bags under the eyes and skin imperfections. Its pump architecture allows adjustable side actuation and continuous formula dispensing. Skin Master is also equipped with three standard tips for three different types of application and three sensation on the skin.

Antiseptic Mascara Brush: In this the principle consists in depositing on the fibres of the mascara brush, an insoluble salt composed of a broad spectrum preservative used as cleansing solution for eye lenses with good thermal stability and a large size of sodium salt. The brush is then dipped in the cation/anion mixture. The brush is rinsed and dried through a rotary drying system to obtain a uniform and homogeneous deposit. The most appropriate fibre is polyamide. Insoluble salt on the filament was stable and do not disintegrate in contact with water or o/w mascara and was verified to have antiseptic property.

-Promen’s Slidissime is the airless jar that combines protection and sensuality. It allows cosmetics creams to be released by a simple slide and thus remains fully protected.

-3D printing is adding a new dimension to cosmetics packaging.

-International cosmetics packaging manufacturers design lipstick tubes help brands offer consumers more pleasurable and memorable beauty routines

Environment Friendly Packaging
Growing awareness about environmental crisis and eco-friendly options are fueling innovation in design, manufacture and material used for Packaging.

-Bamboo packaging is eco friendly and bio-degradable. Beauty products with a bamboo packaging are more attractive thus triggering impulse purchase.

-Paper from Stone: Limestone or calcium carbonate is the material being used by some companies to create TREE-FREE paper. TerraSkin, a paper made from limestone starts to degrade six to nine months after direct exposure to sunlight. Limestone for it is collected as waste material from construction industry.

-Bio-based Jars are made with a hybrid resin comprising of tapioca and potato blended with traditional petroleum based PP.

-Cellulose acetate film is made of wood pulp from managed forest. The film is used for laminations, carton window, labels etc. has clarity, gloss and scuff resistant finish.

-PhoenixBotanicals has Lip balm packaged in eco-friendly paper push up tubes.

-RPC Cresstale has successfully completed production of a 100% biodegradable Lipstick & Compact. The pack was produced using PHA, a polymer produced from organic sugars and oils that break down in soil, composting, waste treatment precesses, river water and marine environment.RPC patented Revolve mechanism which boasts a unique collapsible tower. This allows the lipstick, including the decorative cover and base, to be made in four moulded parts and from one single material, instead of the conventional five components requiring a number of different materials. Thus it indicates that fully biodegradable cosmetics packaging can be a reality.

-TPC has developed biodegradable compact and lipstick containers using Polylactic acid, which is derived from starch rich plants such as corns and grains.

-Vista packaging, Inc. has launched bio-sugar tube packaging as replacement option to traditional plastic.

-The Body Shop has teamed up with Newlight, a sustainable materials company using captured carbon to manufacture plastic.

Packaging plays a very important role as Packaging will ultimately make Cosmetics and Personal care products stand out from the crowd and seduce the consumer. Often the first impression of a product and its value are based on the quality of the design and manufacturing of pack components, so the pack can help contribute to the purchasing decision of consumer.




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