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Packaging Organic Cosmetics

In the world of organic cosmetics, packaging can be a headache. Whereas the regular products tend to be scrutinized by consumers primarily from aesthetic and convenience point of view, organic products have to answer to much higher standards.

The manufacturers do have to content with the looks and user-friendliness as well. Naturally. If the product is not packaged attractively, no one will pick it of the shelf. Or so the rumor goes. And if you can’t get that product out – you aren’t likely to buy it again.

But in the natural skin care and makeup field there are two other serious considerations:

First, the natural consumers demand that a packaging is as earth-friendly as possible. It better be recyclable, or else ;)

Secondly, it is also important that the packaging contributes to the longer shelf life of the product. Because organic skin care usually (ideally) does not contain harsh synthetic preservatives, packaging has to help in protecting the ingredients from contamination.

One of the most popular packaging materials for natural cosmetics is glass. Glass is non-porous and inert material, which is good for the lifespan of the formulations.  And it is recyclable, making it a popular “green” choice.

Aluminum tubes (with protective resin) are also popular because they are recyclable, and because they squeeze the product out and don’t refill with air — thus minimizing contamination. They are used by Dr. Haushka, Weleda and many others.

Incidentally, the worst packaging from preservation point of view are the open jars where you have to put your finger in to get the cream out. You effectively transfer the bacteria from your hands into the jar. Not to mention continuous air exposure.  If you have such a product, try to use it as quickly as possible, store it in the fridge and always wash your hands! Or consider getting it out with a stainless steel spoon – but don’t double dip…

My recent excursion around the web has found a couple of other interesting packaging ideas:

I found a company called Megaplast (www.megaplast.de), which is a packaging manufacturer used by the likes of L’Oreal, Biotherm and Yves Rosher among others. They have recently patented a new type of dispenser, aimed specifically at bio-cosmetics and natural products. The Self-Sealing Actuator system “protects products from impurities and contamination through a membrane in the pump’s orifice that automatically seals once the formula has been dispensed. This prevents the product from coming into contact with oxygen, thereby reducing contamination, discoloration and product dry-out, and ultimately, increasing shelf life and effectiveness.”

This sounds promising. Preservation of natural products is a key concern when turning away from synthetics. But I think plastic is a bit of a drawback. Recyclable as it is, as Beth never tires to point out – we have too much plastic to deal with already.

And then there are companies like The Packaging Company (TPC), who introduced Biodigradable Cosmetic Packaging last year. They look like regular plastic products, but will biodegrade in a landfill after 5 years. Called PLA (polyactic acid or polyctide) the material resembles regular plastic in every way. But it is corn based. TPC presently makes compacts and lipstick cases from this material, and just by looking at it you’d never suspect anything unusual about them.

Hopefully the trend towards recyclable/biodegradable and preserving packaging will continue and leak into the mainstream as well. I think in the ideal world the job of preserving a product lies in the package – then we don’t have to ingest it. But this only works long term if the package is not the kind that will preserve itself in a landfill for thousands of years to come. Pretty or not.

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16 comments

1 btoguy { 04.13.09 at 7:17 am }

Packaging issues can be dicey. Certainly glass is nice when applicable, but it does take a considerable amount of energy to create and/or recycle it. Recycled plastic is an improvement on non-recycled, but has energy use, long term decay and efficiency considerations. Labels are an issue too. At Brigit True we try to balance costs, efficiency and recycling into our efforts to minimize negative impacts of packaging. We minimize overall packaging, we recycle boxes, seek recycled plastics whereever possible and use glass whenever we can. A majority of our products in glass are water free, so preservatives can be minimized or left out completely. Refrigeration is always a good idea, but not ideal for many consumers.

2 Anonymous { 04.13.09 at 10:39 am }

All Things Eco Blog Carnival Volume Fourty Six…

Welcome to the April 6th, 2009 edition of All Things Eco.

Be sure to Stumble the posts you like, or submit them to other social bookmarking services. Let’s promote each other, as well as this blog carnival.

Forgot to mention last week that we re…

3 Organic Cosmetics { 04.21.09 at 2:50 pm }

Packaging in case of organic cosmetics turns out to be a really challenging task. Specially considering the fact that they have to be both user-friendly and yet also functional. :-)

4 Joanna { 05.06.09 at 9:15 am }

I try where possible to buy only products that have recyclable packaging but it is not that easy. There should be more packaging supplier trying to do more of this.

5 blynzee { 05.07.09 at 8:19 pm }

Does anyone know if you have to get any certifications to sell natural or organic cosmetic products

6 julena { 05.07.09 at 10:33 pm }

Certifications are completely voluntary. As in — you are not obligated to join any program to make natural or organic products. But you would have to join them and meet their specifications if you want to desplay a certification on your product.

7 All Natural Mineral Cosmetics { 10.02.09 at 6:55 pm }

We strive to make certain that our cosmetics and its packaging meet eco friendly standards. While it is challenging, we feel that it is an important factor in today’s world.

8 Organic Cosmetic Packages « { 02.24.10 at 5:58 pm }

[...] here for a great article and references to organic packaging.   « Avoid Petrolatum | [...]

9 kerry { 03.15.10 at 11:23 am }

So exciting to find this blog. Just finally starting to create my vision in this arena. sure i will have many questions along the way…

10 Joyce { 04.06.10 at 2:11 am }

It is a headache to create the new way to do the business in the line of cosmetic packaging,any one in this industry ?or need packaging,pls add me//

11 all natural lip gloss { 07.02.10 at 7:48 am }

Great advice,this is very helpful for us to know and what is best for our skin i’m one whose looking for what is best to make my skin smooth and finally i found out and by reading more information context from a different site like this helps a lot.thanks

12 marina bruchlen { 10.18.10 at 9:41 am }

i’m going 2 creat my -own mark- of natural herbal cosmatics .so the informations that u hv given is very usful.

thanking u
regds
MARINA

13 Carnival of the Green #175 | RE: Green { 02.11.11 at 10:13 am }

[...] Packaging cosmetics products is an art form of its own, writes Julena at Organic Makeup and Skincare. But in this day and age, not only do they need to be pretty, they also need to be environmentally friendly and prolong the life of preservative-free products. Learn what she’s found, here. [...]

14 Carnival of Beauty Smarts: The Beauty Grab Bag - 4th Edition | One "Beautiful" Blog { 05.10.11 at 2:43 pm }

[...] those of us who work on our own organic skin care lines, Julena has some advice in Packaging Organic Cosmetics posted at Organic Makeup and Skin Care. “Pay attention to your beauty product [...]

15 Beauty Products { 07.17.11 at 11:08 pm }

Really Nice post. Sending cosmetics gift to your friend is the best way. I fall in love with this Cosmetics beauty products. I am Crazy about Beauty cosmetics.

16 Dominique { 03.28.12 at 2:43 pm }

According to my research, the biodegradable plastic poses two problems: that of land use rather than for food packaging and the fact that he can mingle with the standard plastic that is recycled to make tables, toys, etc. . Imagine you buy an item of platic that to your surprise starts to decompose before your eyes! In short, should be put in place mechanisms that distinguish different kinds of plastic.

Looking forward,

Dominique

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