cosmetic packaging cosmetic packaging



  • Cosmetic, skin care, hair care, and personal care products are all in the business of enhancing or maintaining one's appearance or hygiene. Successful packaging embodies this to drive sales and profits.

  • Cosmetic packaging can refer to both the inner and outer layers of packaging, which can sometimes be categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging.

  • Key factors in the decision-making process include: the type of packaging material, visual or stylistic elements, the customer's functional experience, brand consistency, safety, eco-friendliness, sustainability, and shipping and logistics.

  • Cosmetic packaging and labeling must adhere to local, national, or regional laws and regulations for safety and quality wherever products are sold; these can include those mandated by the FDA or Health Canada.




Choosing the right packaging for your cosmetic, skincare, or personal care product is vital. Not only must it effectively safeguard the product's contents, it must also be durable, safe, functional, and appealing in the eyes of potential customers. Whether it's on the shelf of a retail store or en route to being delivered to a home, one of the first direct experiences a customer has with the product is its inner or outer packaging; for this reason, ensuring a positive first impression of this interaction is a wise business move that promotes brand loyalty and repeat customers.

In this in-depth guide, we cover the main factors that beauty brands or small business owners need to keep in mind in order to achieve successful cosmetic packaging. This includes: choosing the right cosmetic container, understanding the different types of packaging material available on the market, health and safety issues, environmental considerations, and finally, shipping and logistics.




Deciding on the kind of packaging that is most suitable for your own cosmetic, skin care, or personal care product depends on several factors:

What kind of packaging material do I want?

Cosmetics may be packed in glass, plastic, metal, paper, shrink wrap, ribbons, and many other creative ways. Each of these carry its own unique features, advantages, and disadvantages, based on the context and specific purpose you may have in mind. A basic requirement here is that the packaging material must be suitable for the type of product you wish to package and not degrade its chemical formulation. For instance, pure essential oils or essential oil blends will typically need a glass dropper bottle, while wrapping paper can be ideal for soaps. You may also have to consider the varying temperatures and shipping conditions that your product may go through; this will be discussed in more detail in later sections.

What are the visual or stylistic factors that I want to incorporate?

As cosmetic and personal care products are designed to beautify or support personal grooming and health, it goes without saying that its packaging must also be attractive. The shape, size, color, labels, and other visual elements should all come cohesively together in order to entice customers. Common cosmetic containers can come in the form of jars or canisters, pet plastic jars wholesale (boston round bottles, bullet-style bottles, rectangular-shaped bottles, spray bottles), airless dispensers, roll-ons, and more. Finishes of containers can vary from clear, frosted, tinted, to completely opaque. NDA offers a full range of cosmetic packaging solutions to suit your style and preferences.

What will the end experience be like for my customers?

The functional experience provided by a product's packaging is as important as its visuals. Thicker formulations, for example, will need to be packaged in a jar instead of a lotion pump bottle for easy dispensing. You may also consider the long-term use of your product. For instance: how easy will it be for a customer to dispense the last bits of your product? Will the printing fade or label disintegrate over time? How will the packaging behave if the product is dropped or mishandled? The solutions to these questions can require some careful planning and testing, and can vary from product to product. For products containing essential oils and bath and shower products, for example, it is recommended that your labels are laminated and/or made of vinyl material to prevent smudging and water deterioration. Providing a seamless user experience can sometimes also be a balancing act; glass, for example, can offer a luxury look but can also break through careless usage. Ordering and testing out a sample is an essential step for any beauty brand. It is also recommended to purchase your container plastic bottle caps or bottle tops at the same time and from the same manufacturer to prevent any potential mismatches.

Innovatively thought-out user experience can easily help you set your brand apart from the competition. Airless dispensers, for example, can offer a particularly seamless dispensing experience due to their unique vacuum pumping features. This can not only mean the customer can easily access and use up remaining bits of product, but the formulation can also last longer due to the decreased exposure to oxygen.

What message will my packaging carry about my brand?

Successful cosmetic packaging ultimately translates into successful marketing and sales. Keep in mind that product packaging can make a powerful brand statement that is also tangible and interactive. If your brand emphasizes sustainability, for example, it is important to invest in eco-friendly packaging that clearly shows that commitment. If your brand is all about luxury skincare and pampering, the packaging must reflect that instead. Poor or inconsistent packaging can undermine a quality product and also hurt the brand image.




Modern cosmetic packaging materials fall into three main camps: plastic, glass, and metal.

Plastic Cosmetic Packaging

Due to its flexibility and cost-effectiveness, plastic remains a widely used material for cosmetics and personal care products. With unrivaled options, there's an endless line of plastic packaging solutions available to fit every taste, style, budget, and formulation.

Resins are a diverse group of substances that form the foundation of every plastic; they can be manipulated through various physical and thermal processes to give rise to different plastic types. These plastic varieties are denoted using numbered symbols in the shape of an arrowed triangle, called the Resin Identification Code (RIC). There are seven RICs, all of which make it easy to recognize and evaluate each plastic's properties and recycling potential.



PETE or PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)

PET is extremely popular in cosmetics due to its resistance to damage, low weight, and flexible finishes. It can be made transparent, frosted, or opaque. It is suitable for most cosmetic formulations and allows the elegant showcasing of the color and/or consistency of beauty or skincare products. See our cosmo round bottles

PET can be recycled once used. All of NDA’s PET bottles and jars are also BPA free.


HDPE (High-density polyethylene)

HDPE plastic is strong and highly durable, and can be reused and recycled. It is suitable for most cosmetic formulations. Clear finishes like with PET are not possible with HDPE, although semi-transparent options are available.


PVC or V (Polyvinyl chloride)

While PVC is lightweight and able to withstand varying temperatures and conditions, it cannot be easily recycled. It can also cause serious health effects due to the toxins and pollutants it can release during usage and disposal.


LDPE (Low-density polyethylene)

LDPE is highly flexible, although less firm than HDPE and also shows decreased resistance to temperature variations. It exhibits good chemical compatibility, however, offers clearer finishes, and can be a good option for products that need to withstand squeezing or careful dispensing, such as travel-sized lotions, makeup, and pharmaceutical products or medicine.

LDPE products can be reused but are difficult to recycle.


PP (Polypropylene)

PP is light, rigid, semi-transparent, and resistant to temperature variations. In addition to cosmetic containers, PP is commonly used to create cosmetic lids, caps, and Caska seals (round discs that seal creams into the container before the top is secured).

PP can be recycled and generally re-used.


PS (Polystyrene)

Commonly used to make styrofoam products, PS applications in cosmetics are mainly for outer packaging purposes, such as packing fillers or protective cushioning.

PS breaks easily and is designed to be disposable. It can be difficult to recycle. 


O (Other)

This classification relates to miscellaneous resins such as Polycarbonate and Acrylate polymers. The recycling potential and properties will, therefore, vary from type to type.

It is important to note that cosmetic products containing essential oils, if packed in plastic, tend to 'panel' over time. Paneling causes the walls of the plastic container to collapse, creating an unappealing, hollow, and distorted look. To prevent this from happening, ensure that stability tests are conducted before choosing the final plastic packaging for your products. As a rule of thumb, plastic packaging with thicker walls helps prevent paneling.

Metal Cosmetic Packaging

Cosmetic containers made of metal can offer a sleek, elegant, premium look that is also sturdy, non-toxic, and durable. Aluminum is a popular choice as it is easy to handle and very lightweight, making it user-friendly at the hands of customers. For small business owners, it can also be a good budget-friendly option that carries other useful benefits as well. Unlike glass, metal is less fragile and can, therefore, endure tougher transport or storage conditions, which can be favorable for those shipping over long distances. It is also highly recyclable and can easily be melted and reused for novel purposes.

One factor you may want to keep in mind is metal's lack of transparency. Products where it may be useful for buyers to view the container's insides, whether for better sales or enhanced user experience, may be better suited for plastic or glass packaging.

Aluminum bottles are especially convenient for dry or powdered products, as well as sprays and deodorants. Aluminum canisters are ideal for scrubs, creams, candles, salves, butter, and lip or body balms. Plastic lip balm packaging can also be used for lip products. 

Glass Cosmetic Packaging

Glass containers can be an excellent choice for luxury or high-end cosmetic products due to their attractive, crystalline appearance. Available in transparent, frosted, or tinted finishes, they are especially suitable for packaging perfumes and fragrances, but are also abundantly used for essential oils, candles, skincare products, personal care products, nail polish, and makeup. One big advantage of glass as a material is its recyclability; it can be continually recycled while still retaining its quality and integrity. This can make glass products even more appealing due to their sustainability. For some consumers, glass is also perceived to be safer than plastic due to concerns over BPA exposure.

Because of its chemical inertness, glass is extremely forgiving for practically any cosmetic or skincare formulation. Pure essential oils, for instance, will interact with plastic and rubber, and so are generally stored in glass bottles. Tinted glass containers, such as cobalt blue or amber, are sometimes preferred due to their added UV protection.

On the flip side, glass containers tend to be more expensive, heavy, and fragile. For obvious safety reasons, they should be avoided for bath and shower products. Their fragility should also be given special consideration during storage and shipping.




There is a great deal of trust placed by consumers on the health and safety of cosmetic products, including its inner and outer packaging. This must translate into a sense of ethical responsibility on the part of the brand owner or manufacturer so that all steps and precautions have been taken to ensure this trust is not broken. To contribute to safety, the chosen packaging vessel must not interfere with the integrity of the cosmetic formulation contained within, and must also stand the test of time as customers interact with the product throughout its lifespan. In addition to this, the vessel must be able to safeguard its contents from contaminants, moisture, dust, sunlight (if required), and other potential sources of mishandling and degradation.

It is also important to realize that safe labeling practices and safe packaging practices go hand in hand. Deceptive advertising or marketing claims, inaccurate labeling or ingredient lists, the exclusion of expiry dates or safety warnings and other useful information can all directly impact the health and safety of consumers and should be carefully considered.

The health, safety, quality, and labeling of cosmetics packaging can be subject to both local or national regulations, including those mandated by the FDA or Health Canada. Cosmetic businesses must, therefore, be vigilant to any guidelines or regulations that are applicable to wherever their products are sold. In the US, for example, manufacturers must adhere to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). In Canada, they must adhere to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. Another useful international specification is the ISO 22715:2006, which can provide a starting point for criteria that must be considered for quality cosmetic packaging.

In addition to abiding by laws and regulations, the avoidance of known toxic or harmful chemicals in packaging is also critical due to increased consumer awareness and education. Not only can certain substances have real, extended health impacts, but such cosmetic products can be perceived as much less desirable. Many consumers, for example, are concerned about Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure in plastics; BPA-free containers are therefore recommended.




The impact of cosmetic packaging on sustainability and the environment has become a hot topic for both businesses and consumers. Many brands have now realized the importance of transitioning to packaging that is not only safe and attractive, but also environmentally friendly. As consumers become increasingly more eco-conscious and demanding, brands that do not embody the spirit of 'green' or 'clean' beauty can be pushed aside in favor of those that do.

From a packaging point of view, factors to be considered here include reusability, recyclability, wastage, carbon footprint and other potential environmental implications, such as toxic build-ups or hazardous elements. Simply using less packaging wherever possible can be extremely useful. The product-to-package ratio can also be maximized to reduce unnecessary usage of packaging or shipping resources. Fortunately, minimalistic packaging that embraces rustic or natural looks are currently on-trend and can promote positive consumer perceptions of beauty brands.

Opting for materials that can be recycled, reused, or biodegradable can be preferable. Glass and aluminum containers are extremely recyclable and therefore ideal options for environmentally-friendly brands. Relative to other plastic choices, PET plastic containers are considered to be much more eco-friendly due to their recyclability and lower carbon footprint. Investing in ECOCERT verified or Fair Trade products can also be useful in strengthening an eco-friendly brand statement. Whether or not sustainability forms an important core of your company's brand identity, it is important that all cosmetic brands take proactive steps towards protecting our ecosystems, conserving natural resources, and contributing to the overall safety and integrity of the environment and human life.




The successful shipping and delivery of products rely on the packaging decisions made at the very start of the process as well as investing in the sturdy and appropriate outer packaging. If not carefully thought through, products can end up broken, damaged, scratched, or dented during transportation, leading to costly compensations and unhappy customers. The size, shape, and weight of your product can initially be considered. A small item, such as a lip balm, can be easily shipped in a bubble mailer or padded envelope, whereas larger items will require an appropriately-sized box with protective filling. Brown paper, tissue paper, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap are commonly-used fillers and protectors used in shipping which help absorb impacts from falls or rough handling.

The material of the product container, as well as the product itself, is also important to take into account. The risk for potential damage or deformations due to transport, shipping, or weather conditions should always be assessed ahead of time, and conducting a test delivery can be an effective way to foresee any complications. Glass products are extremely fragile and must be carefully enclosed in multiple layers of bubble wrap or air pillows, filled with packing peanuts, and may also need to be double boxed if particularly heavy. While aluminum containers are more resistant to breakage, they can easily dent or contort on impact if not protected.

Other products that are particularly vulnerable include liquids and oils, which may leak out during transit, as well as crushable items such as bath bombs and candles. Cream, lotion, or shampoo bottles can be enclosed with layers of waterproof wrapping along with air pillows for extra cushioning. The container lid or cap must already have been tested for leaks and spills. Products like candles and bath bombs are best packed in a hardy box and padded in a way that ensures little to no movement, accompanied by an appropriate warning label.

Lastly, be sure to consider the functional experience and attractiveness of your outer packaging as well. Few things are as exciting as unboxing a long-awaited order or purchase! The creative use of colors, ribbons, or a thoughtful note can go a long way in creating an impactful and memorable first impression.




Explore NDA's packaging solutions for beauty and personal care brands here.

Access information on the US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) here.

Access information on Canada's Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act here.

Access ISO's (International Organization for Standardization) specification for the packaging and labeling of cosmetic products (ISO 22715:2006) here.

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