October 16, 2013

4 Things Your Skincare Packaging Needs to Have

4 Things Your Skincare Packaging Needs to Have

Because most skin care products are luxury items in the “let’s face it, you don’t really need this at all” vein, branding, packaging and labeling is critical to a skin care line’s success – more so, even, than the brand’s message. Here are four packaging design components for your skin care products that you can’t afford to ignore.


Self explanatory, isn’t it? The ingredient list should be, if not exactly prominent, legible. Nowadays, people are – or at least think they are – well-educated in cosmetic ingredient benefits. They want to know if your exfoliating cream, or serum, or toner, or any number of other products contain ingredients that have been scientifically tested and verified as being effective for whatever it is your product claims to achieve. Most of all, your cosmetic product should have a list of ingredients for no better reason than it is intensely suspicious if it doesn’t. Besides, sometimes people are allergic to certain ingredients, and you want to make sure they can spot these sorts of things before buying your product and potentially suing you for everything you and your five next-of-kin are worth.


There really should be one or two “health benefits” to your skin care product, really. Even though there are almost no verifiable health benefits to most skin care products that don’t contain sun protection ingredients, the label should nonetheless suggest that there are some sort of beauty enhancing features, even if they are primarily imaginary.

The design of the label should graphically represent the healthfulness and effectiveness of the product. If you notice, products that have clinical and medicinal ingredients (i.e., products that are meant to solve or soothe a particular medical problem) tend to have labels and packaging that looks as though those products would be prescribed by a physician, even if they can be picked up in any drugstore. Very sparse graphics, photos and illustrations, and the bottles and jars are almost uniformly white. On the other hand, products for which nature is a selling point, products that are meant to be more luxurious than problem-solving tend to use more comforting, pretty and folksy labeling and packaging.


Should the product be rinsed off or left on the skin? Should it be applied liberally or sparingly? Will there be lather? Should it be worn alone or under a moisturizer? How much love should be in your heart prior to application?

Even though most people know how to use cleansers, moisturizers and toners, there are some skin care products that are covered in a shroud of ambiguity. Foams, serums, masques, and what are commonly called “body butters” haven’t really entered into the consumer vernacular as of yet, so if you’ve described your product as such, you’ll need to make their purpose clear. If your product has to be used in a certain way, or alongside another product in order to really work, that information needs to be clear as crystal.


Yes, there is a cosmetics line called “Origins,” and the brand uses that name for an excellent reason: people want to know where their products come from.

The source of cosmetic ingredients is critical. People want their natural products to come from wherever the highest quality raw materials are grown. Olive oil from Spain; Shea butter from Africa, etc. Failing that, ingredients that were sourced responsibly merit very prominent placement on the label.

When it comes to consumers of cosmetics and skin care lines, the locality of manufacture isn’t really important in terms of environmental responsibility – although there are some that prefer their cosmetics, like their food and clothes, to be locally made. However, there is a huge amount of prestige in cosmetics that come from wealthy countries that have either a long history of beauty expertise, or a thriving community of cosmetic chemists, and these are certainly selling points. If your products are manufactured in the United States, that is good. If your products are manufactured in Europe, even better. If your products are manufactured in Japan, eureka!

So, what have we learned today? We learned that your skincare packaging should include an ingredient list, lest the consumer suspect that your products contain eye of newt or worse – silicones. We learned that if your product is meant to be rinsed off, it should say that somewhere on the bottle. Lastly, we learned that you can charge more for a skin cream manufactured in France than a skin cream made in Flint, Michigan. Man, that place just can’t get a break.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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