Packaging Guide: How to create the perfect cosmetic packaging for your brand

When buying their beauty products, billions of men and women are bombarded with many choices. Hundreds of brands tempt them with the supposedly best products for skin, hair and body. In this seemingly endless sea of possibilities, one factor in particular has a significant influence on the purchase decision: the packaging. Because it is usually the first thing the customer sees. And as in life, first impressions count!

The ideal cosmetics packaging attracts the customer’s attention, reflects initial product characteristics, and informs him or her about the ingredients contained.

But finding the right packaging for your own product is not that easy. After all, in addition to appearance, a whole range of other factors play an important role, such as ideal protection of the product or transportability. And the issue of sustainability is also becoming increasingly important to consumers.

In this guide, we will show you how to approach the topic of cosmetic packaging the right way, how to save real money when developing your packaging, and how to find a suitable cosmetic packaging manufacturer for your project.

Why is cosmetics packaging so important?

First of all, the most important question: Why should you deal comprehensively with the topic of cosmetics packaging in the first place?

The packaging is usually the first point of contact between your customer and your product – and this is where rigorous sorting out already takes place on the customer side. Since the customer can choose between many options, but usually cannot test every product offered, a pre-selection is made based on superficial product characteristics.

But the packaging serves far more than just as “customer bait”; it must also meet many other requirements.

Basically, cosmetic product packaging fulfills three elementary tasks:

  1. Protect the product
  2. Provide information
  3. Encourage purchase

1. Protect the product from outside influence & damage

First and foremost, the packaging of a cosmetic/skincare product must do one thing: protect the contents. Environmental influences can have serious consequences for the shelf life or effect of the product.

Intense sunlight, high or low temperatures and unsuitable humidity can fundamentally change the properties of your product. Therefore, you need a packaging that ideally protects your goods from any negative external influences.

Furthermore, you should also consider some logistic challenges already at the beginning of the packaging conception. Your product should be well secured for transport and thus well prepared for the one or two potholes it may encounter on its way to the final destination.

In addition, warehousing also plays an important role. Here, too, it should be noted that the products must be ideally protected in their storage environment so that they survive warehousing well. So stacking and shifting of goods should ideally not bother your product.

Since storing products costs quite a bit of money and warehousing costs are usually calculated based on the square meters used, the available space in your warehouse should be utilized as much as possible. This means that product packaging should be sufficient, but not unnecessarily large.

2. Inform about the product and the manufacturer

In addition to protecting the product, the packaging of your cosmetics serves another important purpose. Your customer must be able to find out all the important product features and information before buying. The information that must be included on your packaging is regulated by law. 

In the EU, for example, the following information is mandatory on cosmetics packaging:

  • The company name
  • The company address
  • The MHD (best before date)
  • A list of the ingredients
  • The intended use
  • Any warnings/cautions
  • The batch number
  • The country of origin (for imported goods)

Attention: There is no uniform international regulation for product labels. Therefore, inform yourself comprehensively about local regulations and/or seek advice from packaging experts before you put your product into circulation!

3. Attract the attention of customers and encourage them to buy

Ultimately, your product packaging also serves an important marketing purpose. It serves to draw attention to your product and thus differentiate it from your competitors’ offerings.

Once the customer has become aware of your product and is now taking a closer look at it, the packaging should whet his appetite for the contents. The product promise or the added value, such as firmer skin or healthier hair, must already be marketed strongly with the help of the packaging.

And of course, your cosmetics packaging should emphasize the high quality of your product – after all, a premium product needs premium packaging. Consequently, the haptics, the type and quality of the imprint, and the surface structure should increase the anticipation of your product.

If you have successfully convinced a customer to buy, this can even trigger a “chain reaction”. If your product appears in so-called “unboxing” videos, is posted on social networks or the cosmetics packaging is used as decoration (e.g. in the bathroom), friends or followers of the first buyer often also become aware of your product – and thus potentially new customers.

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What skin care packaging is there?

Now that it has become clear how important the right packaging is for cosmetic products, let’s turn our attention specifically to the question of what cosmetic packaging is actually available to choose from.

First of all, the most important thing: the packaging of a product can be compared to a Russian matryoshka doll. Each package consists of at least two, but usually three or more nested levels.

The first level is the container into which your product is filled. This means the container that is in direct contact with your product.

The second level is the packaging box. This contains your already filled product, e.g. your perfume bottle or cream jar.

The third level is the product box, which contains the box with your product. This, as we will see, is enormously important, especially in online retail.

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Packaging level 1: The Container 

As already mentioned, the choice of suitable product packaging is not just about the design of the box in which the product is packed. The conception of a coherent cosmetic packaging already starts with the choice of the container.

The container

When it comes to the vessel body, there are six basic options available to you:

  1. Jars
  2. Bottles or vials
  3. Tubes
  4. Bags/sachets
  5. Ampoules
  6. Powder compacts

Jars are mostly used for (high-quality) creams or masks.

Bottles and vials, on the other hand, are particularly suitable for very liquid, not overly creamy products such as perfume, aftershave or facial tonic. In combination with a pump cap, however, more solid cosmetic products can also be filled into vials.

Tubes are usually used for products that are used frequently and in large quantities. These include body lotions, shampoos and shower gels, and hand creams.

Pouches or sachets are somewhat more specialized. They are usually used when small quantities of a product are to be filled, as is the case, for example, with hygiene products for guests in the hotel industry. In addition, small pouches are often used for promotional purposes, for example in magazines in the form of booklet inserts or as leaflets. Products in the trade that are usually sold in sachets also include face masks, bath salts or disposable hair treatments.

Just like sachets, ampoules are also not as much a part of “mainstream” skin care packaging as, say, vials or tubes. Ampoules are popular for products that are not used daily or only over a short period of time and only in small amounts. These include, for example, hyaluronic serum, vitamin “boosters” or eye drops.

The sixth and last basic container type is the powder compact. Powder compacts are especially popular in the makeup industry. As the name suggests, they are suitable for powdery products, i.e. blush, eye shadow, highlighter – or powder.

In addition to these six elementary product containers, there are of course also cosmetics packaging for products that are only applied to specific areas, such as lipstick tubes.

A flexible and experienced cosmetic packaging manufacturer like Seismografics can also accommodate special requests regarding the design of the product container.

Closure Caps 

Not only do you have several great choices to pick from when choosing a container, but the closure of the container also represents an important decision.

Common types of closures include

  • Spray heads
  • Pump heads
  • Pipettes
  • Screw caps
  • Hinged lids

A spray head is primarily suitable for very liquid products that are to be atomized evenly and over a large area. These include, for example, perfumes, deodorants, refreshing sprays or make-up priming or fixing sprays.

Pump heads, on the other hand, are more suitable for viscous products such as creams, lotions or soaps. Foamy products, such as shower foam or cleansing foam, are also usually fitted with a pump head.

Pipettes are frequently used especially when the product must be precisely dosed and only a small amount is needed during use. This is often the case, for example, with facial serums, make-up primers or liquid highlighters.

Screw caps are usually used to close (cream) jars and in combination with an applicator, such as a brush or paintbrush. These include products such as mascara, eyebrow gels, nail polish or lip gloss.

The last of the five elementary closure types for cosmetics packaging is the hinged lid. This is screwed or plugged onto the container and has a flap on the lid that can be easily opened and closed with a simple flick of the wrist. This lid is often found on shampoo and shower gel bottles or hand sanitizer gels.


Once you have decided on a suitable container and closure, there is still the question of the right material. Here, too, there are almost endless possibilities, but the most common materials in the trade are:

  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Aluminum
  • Wood

Still the most commonly used packaging material is plastic. Why it is so popular is obvious: plastic is cheap, light, changeable and robust. It can be used for almost any product and shaped in any way.

It should be noted, however, that customers of very high-value products often expect them to be sold in glass or at least glass-polymer containers. In addition, the topic of “sustainable packaging” is also becoming increasingly important for cosmetic products, so that there is a growing consumer base that largely rejects plastic packaging for ethical reasons.

Glass, as just mentioned, is particularly suitable for high-priced products and products marketed in the premium or “eco” segment. These include, for example, perfumes, aftershave or fine facial creams. A distinction must be made here between white and amber glass. Customers often associate brown glass with the terms “nature,” “organic” and “sustainable,” while white glass is “cleaner” and appears more luxurious.

Often, a product container consists of several materials, such as a jar made of glass and a lid made of plastic or wood.

Aluminum is also a popular packaging material. In particular, viscous, balm-like products, such as lip care creams or beard care products, are often sold in aluminum jars. In addition, products that are under high pressure, such as deodorant, shaving foam or hair spray, are usually available in aluminum bottles.

In addition to these three “basic” materials, packaging made of wood or bamboo is also being used more and more frequently as part of the sustainability movement.

It is important to weigh up all the advantages and disadvantages before deciding on a material. Glass is more noble and environmentally friendly, but it is also heavier and more fragile than plastic, for example. This usually means higher transport and storage costs. Think carefully about which material suits the character of your product. If you sell organic aloe vera liquid soap from sustainable cultivation, an amber glass bottle is more suitable for your product than a hard plastic bottle.

Thanks to decades of successful work for various cosmetic brands, Seismografics can advise you on the right packaging material and work with you on the packaging concept from A-Z.

Packaging level 2: The Product Box

Once you have decided on a container including closure, the next step is to select a suitable product box.

This must appeal to the customer on an emotional level and also provide at least the legally required information.

There are almost no limits when it comes to design. A professional cosmetics packaging manufacturer such as Seismografics is also able to implement individual shapes and folding techniques.

However, here is a brief overview of the basic box types that are available “off the shelf”:

  • Folding boxes
  • Sliding boxes
  • Slip lid boxes
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Pillow boxes
  • Magnetic boxes
  • Hinged lid boxes
  • Coffrets/Schatoule boxes

The names are largely self-explanatory for these types of box packaging. However, if you would like to learn more about the boxes in detail, please feel free to view and compare them on our product page.

Packaging level 3: The Product Box / Shipping Boxes

Product boxes are very important, especially in e-commerce. This is because the product box or shipping box is the packaging level with which the customer first comes into contact when placing an online order.

The positioning of the brand or product line should already be clearly communicated here and the customer’s anticipation of the product should be increased. If the customer has a great unboxing experience, he or she will be in a positive mood towards the product and the brand right from the start.

Planning cosmetics packaging – It all depends on the right partner!

One thing is now clear: Developing the concept for a skin care packaging is no easy task. It is a complex procedure that requires some foresight, know-how and experience.

For this reason, it is highly advisable to turn to a competent packaging service provider like Seismografics right from the start and work with them to create a sensible, cost-effective and aesthetic packaging concept.

Sustainable packaging for cosmetics – environmental friendliness as a selling point

An important point that plays a role at all packaging levels is the issue of sustainability. When it comes to purchasing behavior, the trend towards more environmental protection and sustainability is clearly evident – and not just among young people.

This is exactly what you can take advantage of!

If you focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable packaging for your cosmetics, you can communicate environmental and the associated sense of responsibility as ethical core values of your brand and products.

Especially if your product is positioned as eco-friendly, organic and/or natural, the packaging needs to be in line with that positioning.

If you now think of dull, brown cardboard boxes when you think of sustainable packaging, you’re barking up the wrong tree. On the contrary: sustainability and aesthetics are perfectly compatible.

Seismografics specializes in appealing, sustainable packaging for cosmetics manufacturers and offers a huge selection of premium solutions.

Simply order our “Ecovaganza” sample box without obligation and see for yourself. This contains examples of a wide variety of packaging materials and printing techniques that allow you to experience sustainable, high-quality packaging solutions.

How to develop the perfect cosmetics/skin care packaging for your product

So now it’s clear what matters in (sustainable) cosmetics packaging and what you need to pay attention to.

But how do you get from the product to the packaging that the end customer will ultimately hold in his hands?

This process basically consists of a few steps or questions that you need to ask yourself:

1. study preferences of the target group

  • Why do our customers buy?
  • What is important to our customers? What do they pay attention to?
  • Where do our customers buy?

2. determine packaging levels

  • Which packaging levels do we need?
  • How does our product reach the customer?

3. find the right type of container

  • What is the best way to protect our product?
  • Which container is suitable for our product consistency?
  • What is suitable for the (regular) use of our product?

4. choose closure

  • How should the product come out of the container?
  • Which closure makes it easier for the customer to use?
  • Which closure is suitable for our product consistency?

5. analyze competition

  • What are the others doing?
  • Who are the strongest competitors and why?
  • What can we do better?

6. select material

  • What material is suitable for the nature of our product?
  • Which material is well received by our target group?

7. select design & printing method

  • What colors and shapes suit our positioning?
  • Which font goes down well with our customers?
  • Which print emphasizes the value of our product?

8. coordination of the packaging levels

  • How do all levels fit together coherently?
  • Which dimensions does which product level need?

So, as you can see, you will be confronted with numerous challenges and questions when designing and developing suitable product packaging. In order not to run the risk of unnecessarily burning money on an ultimately useless cosmetic packaging, you need a precise plan of how the individual packaging levels are to be designed and coordinated with each other.

This is where you should definitely rely on the expertise of an experienced cosmetics packaging manufacturer. We will show you how to find the perfect service provider for your project in the next section.

Choosing the perfect cosmetic packaging manufacturer

Trying to develop product packaging for your own product without expert help is extremely risky. Because so many factors, layers and interrelationships must be considered, be sure to work with an outside packaging service provider.

A second or third opinion from experienced packaging specialists also reduces the risk of making unfavorable “tunnel vision” decisions.

But beware: there are serious quality differences between the various packaging service providers!

So before you decide on a partner, be sure to check whether it meets the following requirements:

Industry experience

Since there are usually some special features to consider with skin care products, you should choose a manufacturer who already has experience with packaging cosmetics.

Based on their experience with similar projects, they will know exactly what to look for in your product as well.

So make sure that you don’t become a guinea pig for an inexperienced packaging company and rather choose a company that already knows exactly what is important.

Full-service range of products and services

A packaging service provider ideally offers its customers a full-service package. This means that the company can be with you every step of the way – from the initial idea, to filling, to the moment your customer holds the product in their hands.

Getting all the services you need from a single source minimizes the risk of costly (communication) errors that often happen when the project has to be coordinated and agreed with various service providers.


Flexibility is another important quality feature. A good packaging manufacturer is able to respond to individual design requests and make your design something special.

After all, your product packaging should stand out and not be lost as an 08/15 product in a sea of competing products.

Highest quality standards

This point goes without saying, but there are significant differences in quality between different packaging manufacturers.

So it’s best to ask for product samples from the various companies before you decide on a manufacturer.

This will give you a good feel for the quality of the materials, the inks and the printing technique.

Seismografics – The packaging service provider with 360° service

A service provider that meets all the requirements of a modern packaging company is Seismografics.

Seismografics offers its customers a true full-service spectrum, because here you can take advantage of all services from a single source: from the conceptual design of a holistic packaging concept to high-end print finishing and customized fulfillment solutions.

With decades of industry experience and dozens of successful product launches in the cosmetics sector, Seismografics is your reliable and competent partner for your business. If desired, Seismografics can even advise you on the formulation of your planned cosmetic product.

Whether for stationary or online trade – Seismografics has suitable solution concepts for all conceivable sales channels.


The packaging of your cosmetic product is a key factor in determining whether a customer becomes aware of your product and whether a purchase decision is made. In addition, the demand for sustainable product packaging is increasing and thus requires innovative design and material solutions.

To successfully navigate the complex “packaging jungle” and find the cosmetic packaging for your product that perfectly matches your branding and buyer preferences, trust an experienced packaging manufacturer like Seismografics.

Contact us now for a free, no-obligation initial consultation!

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