By Erin La Row, editor, Plastics Decorating

Beauty trends come and go – and sometimes circle back again. Take the mullet – a hairstyle that is experiencing a renaissance of sorts – along with blue metallic eye shadow and 90s lip colors. But some trends impacting the packaging of beauty products are likely here to stay, including a greater push for more sustainable and recyclable products.

Jean Marc Perez, co-founder of custom decoration company Mepco Decorating, Inc. – founded in 1987 – and founder and president of Novapac Laboratories, has witnessed many changes throughout his career in the beauty packaging industry. Novapac Laboratories provides tailored solutions in the health and beauty industry. The company, located in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, includes an in-house laboratory and repository of formulations that allows it to design and produce an array of health and beauty products tailored to its clients’ specifications.

“We’ve been doing almost everything there is to do in packaging in the beauty and cosmetic industry,” Perez said.

 MOSS srl.
MO 2620 is a dry-offset machine for tubes. Photo provided by MOSS srl.

In recent years, the cosmetic and beauty packaging industry has undergone significant changes, particularly in container design. Perez said producers have been doing more renewable packaging, and there’s been a shift from plastic to glass. That trend goes beyond the packaging and into the product. Perez said there’s been a push for more natural cosmetics. For example, many cosmetic producers are moving away from including parabens in their products. “They are trying to be as close to 100% natural as possible,” he said.

MOSS srl, headquartered in Reggio Emilia, Italy, specializes in the manufacturing of dry-offset and silk-screen printing machines for the decoration of plastic objects and containers. Manuel Montermini, area sales manager at MOSS srl, also has watched the shift toward more sustainable materials, with an increased emphasis on eco-friendly packaging solutions.

“Containers, tubes and jars now often incorporate recyclable materials, catering to the growing demand for environmentally conscious products,” Montermini said.

At KURZ, Scott Tacosik, director of sales – business area plastics, said innovative materials like bamboo and sugarcane-based plastics are being incorporated, while customization and personalization are on the rise.

“Additionally, technology integration, minimalist design and a focus on hygiene – especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – are shaping the evolving landscape of cosmetic packaging,” Tacosik said.

In its report 2024 Inkjet Trends Reshaping Beauty, Textiles, and Digital Transformation, inkjet manufacturer Kao Collins, with US headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, said beauty brands are, “exploring packaging innovations that embrace aesthetics and environmental consciousness.” For Kao Collins that includes eco friendly ink options such as water-based or LED-curable inks

While the push for more sustainable products is coming from users of the products, Kao Collins reports it’s also driven by more stringent packaging regulations looming over the United Kingdom and European Union. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers in the United States to enhance their brand image by also complying with more stringent regulations.

Chris Rogers, vice president, partnerships & business development at Kao Collins said in a press release, “Understanding and acting upon annual trends is critical for our industry’s sustained success. It’s not just about keeping up. It’s about shaping our path forward.”

Decorating and printing trends
Decorating and printing trends have evolved in tandem with the industry’s focus on sustainability, according to Montermini.

“There’s a notable surge in demand for minimalist designs, emphasizing clean aesthetics and eco-friendly messaging,” he said. “Our customers are increasingly requiring water-based varnishes or UV-LED curing technology, reducing environmental impact. Sustainability has become a key influencer.”

In addition to screen printing and offset printing, there are several other decorating processes being used in decorating beauty and cosmetic containers and tubes including flexography for collapsible tubes and hot foil technology. “This growth is driven by the market’s increasing desire for intricate, distinctive and high-quality packaging,” Montermini said.

Tacosik said the team at KURZ has educated the cosmetic/beauty industry on the sustainability of the transfer decoration processes. “Metallic transfer decoration offers impactful appeal that has no negative effect on the recyclability of a package, which is a win-win for the brands and consumers,” he said. “We also have embraced the design of packaging to incorporate more organic shades and patterns to the portfolio. The trend toward sustainable practices includes brand image and design, too.”

Onshore vs. offshore production
Montermini said there’s been a trend toward onshore decoration of cosmetic packaging. “Brands are increasingly prioritizing local production to reduce carbon footprints associated with transportation,” he said. “Additionally, the ability to maintain quality control and respond swiftly to market trends has led to a preference for onshore decoration.”

Tacosik said several factors can influence production closer to the consumer, including cost considerations, supply chain efficiency and quality control. “As customization and personalization trends continue to increase, run sizes reduce. This promotes the localization of production,” he added.

Perez agreed that for many producers of smaller quantities, it makes sense to stay stateside. But for many of his high-volume clients, pricing for offshore production can still be more favorable. He added that the advantage the US has in this regard compared to East Asian countries is flexibility.

An evolving industry
Minimalism also appears to be growing in popularity. It’s the idea of less is more. When it comes to packaging, consumers are looking for packaging that’s simple, but aesthetically pleasing that goes hand-in-hand with sustainability preferences.

Montermini anticipates more traditional decorating techniques that enhance exclusivity, like screen printing and hot stamping, will continue to gain prominence. “Innovations in metallic finishes are likely to captivate consumers, offering a balance between visual appeal and eco-consciousness. As technology advances, we foresee increased adoption of smart packaging solutions, integrating digital elements for enhanced consumer engagement.”

Tacosik said looking toward the future, smart packaging, incorporating technology like augmented reality and RFID, is expected to grow for enhanced consumer engagement. Personalization and customization will continue to be popular, allowing consumers to tailor products to their preferences. Advanced decoration techniques and a rise in refillable, reusable packaging options also are anticipated trends.

The team at Novapac Laboratories also sees a future with more refillable packaging that provides customers the opportunity to replenish their beauty products with refill packages.

“I believe the trend is going to be to produce more pouches because of sustainability,” Perez said. “For example, a company producing body spray will offer the bottle and sprayer decorated and labeled. But it’ll sell refills in pouches so the bottle can be reused.” Perez said he also foresees the growth of subscription-based services in the health and beauty sectors. An example of this is a shaving club that provides refills of razors and shaving supplies to the customer’s doorstep.

Perez added, “The beauty industry is really trying to do what’s best for the environment and consumers.”