Product Packaging in the Cosmetic Industry

Posted on May 28, 2020 | Updated on February 17, 2021

Have you ever wondered what aspects of product packaging make a consumer want to pick up one product over another? Store shelves are crowded, so grabbing consumers’ attention isn’t always an easy task — especially if you’re trying to sell a new product versus an established one.

The global beauty and cosmetic market is worth $500 billion and continues to grow. Therefore, it is a highly saturated marketplace with brands vying for the attention of consumers. To grab attention, your product packaging both has to make sense for the product and be attractive and eye-catching.

If you’re a designer tasked with creating product packaging design for a cosmetic product, you’ll need to achieve a delicate balance between expectation and surprise that drives sales. The best way to learn this is to look at nine different innovative cosmetic packaging examples and study what these brands are doing right.

1. Eco-Friendly Packaging

Many people who are interested in protecting the environment are choosing only eco-friendly products. In one report, researchers found that 73% of consumers would change shopping habits to protect the environment. Choosing eco-friendly packaging is a smart move to both gain this business and reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

One example of a beauty product with eco-friendly packaging is Lush Lip Service lip balm. Many of Lush’s lip balms come in small tins, which can later be recycled or upcycled for other things. This practice reduces waste and allows the company to present products that are friendly to Mother Nature.

2. Single-Serve Packaging

People are so busy these days. They are often on the run, going to work, taking the kids to sports practice and meeting up with family and friends. Individually sized products can really come in handy with a busy lifestyle. Enter packaging that meets this need by providing single sizes of cosmetic and beauty products.

Many skin care lines offer trial-sized kits so people can take the product on a test drive and make sure it works for their skin type. Companies typically offer sets of products in similar sizes, all packaged in a starter box. Clinique is one brand that offers this option with their Discover Clinique packages. Everything comes in a clear beauty bag that features the Clinique logo on a small tag. A lot goes into designing a set such as this, because all the products must fit perfectly into the package.

3. Unique Shapes

Sometimes, companies choose to stand out with a uniquely shaped product without much outside packaging at all. Perhaps the design work goes into the display container in this type of product. At other times, the focus will be on a simple cardboard backing with a clear layout and clear plastic to show off the product itself.

One example of this type of product and a similar packaging style is EOS lip balms. The container has a round shape, which makes it stand out from similar lip balms. The product packaging designers have kept the focus more on the overall design of the product.

4. A Touch of Whimsy

Some brands simply lend themselves to a whimsical, unique design. Try to think outside the box for these types of packaging needs. Can you make the packaging look like something other than a package? What information do you still need to include for the consumer?

One example of a whimsical packaging design is the Apothecary brand — a line of soaps for men and women. The packaging looks like a book, complete with an attached bookmark/closure. Even the lettering looks like a book title and spine of a book. It’s distinctive and memorable.

5. Bright, Bold Colors

There have been several creative designs for makeup, likely because this is a large part of the market sector. Makeup sales grew by about 5.25% in 2019. Designers are focusing more on showing bold, bright colors to set a mood, rather than using beautiful women to market these products.

Put yourself in the shoes of the typical consumer. They approach the makeup counter at a store, such as Ulta or Sephora, and see hundreds of choices in eye color alone. How will they ever decide? Where should they even start? Suddenly, your natural palette kit draws their eye because of its metallic glint with a splash of hot pink. When it comes to packaging, remember that color matters. It can set the mood, provide vital information and bring people joy.

Smashbox is known for their innovative packaging designs. They use resin packaging and neon colors or other elements that will catch the consumer’s eye. Because the company knew stores might stack their products, they made the resin boxes stackable, but kept the lids of individual colors clear so consumers can see the contents.

6. Beauty and Function

Cosmetic industry packaging designers aren’t afraid to use beautiful and elegant designs to attract customers. High-end products call for high-end design. Using jeweled or metallic tones can attract customers looking for the highest quality available. These colors are a good fit for everything from perfume to skin care to makeup. At the same time, these products need to be functional enough that the consumer is not frustrated trying to open the product.

One example of beautiful and functional product design is Golbary’s packaging, which includes a transparent clutch with matching gold accents. Note how the makeup bag and the products match one another, giving the entire package an elegant feel.

7. Luxury and Durability

When you create a high-end beauty product and you want the packaging to convey the idea of luxury, you probably also want to present an image of steadiness and durability. In these cases, you might use hardier materials in your packaging design, such as metal, glass or wood. Perfumes and colognes, in particular, seem well-suited to this type of design.

Take a look at Gucci’s Guilty fragrance. The limited-edition product is packaged in a platinum-toned bottle, which makes it look as extravagant as it feels. Yet, at the same time, the metal lends an air of timelessness to the product. The outside packaging is simple, elegant and to the point so as not to detract from the overall product design.

8. Geometric Designs

If you want an air of modern flair to your beauty product packaging, look no further than geometric shapes. Create a package with interlocking parts or add images of triangles and rectangles for a contemporary feel.

If you want to appeal to the younger generations, in particular, you’ll need something fresh and hip. On the other hand, if your products are for middle-aged women, you may want a more traditional design. Knowing your target audience helps you create the perfect packaging to attract them.

Remember, your product sits on the shelf among thousands of other choices. Anything you can do to make your packaging stand out from the crowd gives you an added edge.

Tarte Cosmetics uses both a beautiful metallic color for their eye color case along with some brightly colored triangles. The combination draws both a more traditional audience looking for something new and the younger generations. For your product packaging, add geometric shapes to designs you’ve already researched with your audience. You may want to test the effect with some consumer panels to see what draws the most attention.

9. Focus on Ingredients

With beauty products, the ingredients are often vital to consumer interest. No one wants to put chemicals on their skin or hair. Focusing on how natural your product is through your package design can make or break sales in the stores.

A consumer who wants natural ingredients will gravitate to packages that have images of green plants, fruit and oils. While you can create a look that leaves those elements out, why would you want to? You can use a well-placed visual to increase your product’s visibility with those trying to live greener lives.

Matrix Biolage does an excellent job of designing a bottle shaped a bit different than all the other rounded containers on the market. It also infuses the bottle with images of bamboo and flower petals. The colors of the natural ingredients are bright and vivid, drawing attention.

The shape of the bottle is almost like an elongated raindrop. The top is narrow, widening near the bottom. When designing beauty product packaging, you must stand out from the other similar products in your category. You should also think through the way the product displays. Shelf space is at a premium in most stores, so for hair care, stacking items behind one another makes sense. Cosmetic products are often displayed flat, so you’ll want something to catch attention from the top.

How to Design Cosmetic Product Packaging

The cosmetic industry is always growing, so the packaging designs for this sector are always changing. Because most of the products in this industry are geared toward beauty, the appearance of the packaging will always be of vital importance.

About The Author

The Designerly staff is committed to providing well-researched and ongoing learning resources. We're dedicated to educating you on key design concepts and showcasing strategic marketing plans to help grow your business.


  1. islapoppy on August 15, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    The cosmetic industry is always growing, so the packaging designs for this sector are always changing. Because most of the products in this industry are geared toward beauty, the appearance of the packaging will always be of vital importance. Great Article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Eleanor on August 16, 2018 at 8:34 am

      Completely agree! I’m interested in seeing where cosmetic packaging will go in the coming year. Thanks for reading!

  2. Isla on September 7, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    This is a great information. Product packaging plays a vital role especially in businesses. Product packaging must look good, be memorable, be easy to open, protect your product, and be the right size. Your blog is very informative.

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    Whenever we have a look at cosmetic industry it always glowing. Nice article thanks for posting & will waiting for your next one.

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