Up close and personal

7 December 2018

The growing UK beauty and personal-care market was worth more than £15 billion in 2017. To differentiate themselves in this glamorous and crowded sector, brands have to go beyond being aesthetically pleasing because consumers now expect the ‘whole package’. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to a range of beauty brands about how they are meeting market demands.

Beauty products across all price points are expected to be effective, but now consumers demand that they are equally appealing and efficacious. People are savvy about what they put on their skin, with ingredients, packaging and the products themselves coming under increasing scrutiny – and rightly so. No brand deserves an easy ride, particularly when it comes to the highly competitive beauty sector.

The beauty of packaging

Take Japanese skincare company Yu-Be: its reputation as an ‘only available in Japan’ brand has been a valuable element in its packaging and growing popularity globally. For many years, the company’s famous multipurpose, vitamin-enriched skin cream was a special gift purchased by travellers visiting Japan; so when a Japanese-US businessman decided to import it, he had the determination to ensure that the brand remained exclusive, keeping its iconic status alive.

Yu-Be sales and marketing director Matthew Graham says, “Yu-Be celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017, and our famous Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream is one of Japan’s longest and bestselling skin products. In order to convey a sense of Japanese history and product quality, we have been careful to balance a very clean, vintageapothecary type of look while keeping certain Japanese elements, like the Japanese language symbols in the logo, as well as using the original Yu-Be orange colour that can be seen throughout the product line.”

Graham then discusses how the surge in popularity for Asian beauty products has bolstered Yu-Be’s success. “The recent interest in Korean products, as well as the ongoing interest in other Asian beauty products, especially for skin and hair, gives us a great opportunity to educate shoppers about our long history in Japan, and our high-quality and effective products.

“We will continue to develop new, quality skincare products in Japan and bring them to market as we always have. In January 2018, we launched the Yu-Be Advanced Formula Pure Hydration Cream, which is made without any camphor extract or paraben preservatives. The packaging will be very similar to the original; however, we will be using green for the colour scheme instead of the original orange, so customers can distinguish the two different creams from each other.”

Another pioneering skincare brand, Alpha-H, uses its packaging to represent the ‘simplicity, understated elegance and sustainability’ of the product within. It provides professional products to beauty salons and skin clinics, and also has a retail offering; the company’s range includes supersized and deluxe minis.

“We need to ensure that our packaging protects our powerful active ingredients, such as glycolic acid, while also securing the potency of our most delicate ingredients, including vitamins, antioxidants, and flower and fruit acids,” explains Tom Ogden, European business manager at Alpha-H. “Our ethlylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) tubes are also UV-coated, providing excellent barrier protection to oxygen and humidity to preserve the active ingredients inside. Our EVOH tubes and high-density polyethylene bottles are recyclable.”

The new Alpha-H Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream is a great example of ‘responsible, functional luxury’, with its unique and precise application through a cool-touch metallic applicator. Ogden notes that “sustainability and packaging are major areas in the beauty sector that are undergoing change. People are supporting green and Earth-friendly brands, and products that have a minimal impact on the environment. Brands are, therefore, becoming more socially responsible with their formulations, manufacturing and packaging. Our packaging is clean, minimal and functional, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our footprint on planet Earth, without being overpackaged or overhyped.”

Affordable luxury

The demand for feel-good products in the beauty sector is high across all price points, with the expectation that efficacy comes as standard. For leading UK-based colour-cosmetics manufacturer Pascalle Cosmetics, its ability to develop and manufacture a wide range of contract-fill and private-label cosmetics puts it at the apex of quality and affordability.

“We pride ourselves on having 30 years’ plus experience in cosmetic design and manufacturing. We work with international retailers and independent brands, offering full project management to design, develop and create cosmetics ranges that are manufactured here at our factory in Stoke on Trent,” states Emma Dodd, business development manager. “Pascalle also owns six cosmetics brands that are available to purchase globally, including our entry price point Miss Beauty London collection to our mid and premium ranges MeMeMe and Kubiss,” she adds.

The MeMeMe brand offers high-end premium formulations that create ‘gorgeous and distinctive cosmetics at an affordable price’. Dodd continues, “Our passion at MeMeMe lies within creating gorgeous, feminine and spirited cosmetics for our customers. We are a celebration of individualism, believing that the best in beauty and design should be affordable, and adored in every girl’s handbag. Mixing the themes of mythology, romance and the bohemian spirit, MeMeMe is a brand that prides itself on the quality of its formulations and unique approach.”

Packaging plays an important role in establishing its identity. “MeMeMe features black and cream-themed highend componentry, and the MeMeMe signature pattern and cherub feature heavily on the packaging as well. Many items in the range are presented in cardboard packaging to create a unique look and feel,” affirms Dodd. She then concentrates on trends and how the beauty brand is meeting them, saying, “We are seeing trends across cardboard palettes, and are developing contour and highlight palettes in card palettes that feature spot UV to respond to the trend, which complements our existing card lipstick case, eye palettes and blush boxes.”

Beauty revolution

There is one fresh beauty brand that is breaking the mould: Beauty Pie was founded by well-known business pioneer Marcia Kilgore – who is deemed as “beauty royalty” by the Guardian’s Sali Hughes – and is rapidly gaining evangelical fans due to its innovative buyers’ club. The premise is clear, says a Beauty Pie spokesperson who adds, “At Beauty Pie, our mission is to bring our members the world’s best beauty products at a totally transparent factory cost. No mumbo-jumbo. No middlemen. No mark-ups.”

That complete transparency is clearly represented on Beauty Pie’s website: a £20 lipstick costs just £2.24 to members, with £1.61 of that accounting for the product and packaging. Its dynamic black and white packaging retains the distinctive look that makes luxury beauty brands so appealing, while making the company luxurious and affordable.

“We’re a team of beauty product obsessives who have worked in the beauty industry for aeons. We’re working to make our packaging as ecologically conscious as possible. Too much cosmetic packaging ends up in a landfill, and the more complex the componentry, the less easily it can be broken down for recycling. We don’t use over-the-top fancy caps, metal cladding or rigid plastic jars, and we’ve chosen plantbased inks and recyclable board for our cartons,” explains the spokesperson.

Innovations in beauty packaging show that it pays to think outside the box. Consumers are increasingly demanding that what they put on their face is kind to the world around them; from the ingredients used to how packaging tells the brand’s story, skincare and beauty products must go way beyond just being effective.

Hygiene on the go

Kruidvat Solait Facial Treatment Serum delivers moisturisation and cooling for sunparched skin. The cardboard box contains seven 2ml glass ampoules of serum, giving a premium feel to this private-label brand. The convenient minis can be used at any time for instant relief.

Little Dome Hollywood Star toothpaste comes in a rigid plastic ball with pump dispenser. It is visually striking compared with the usual tubes, there is no screw cap to lose, and the pump ensures it is mess-free and dispenses the correct amount.

Schick Hydro silk refill razor blades are offered in a multipack unit with a hook for hanging in the bathroom. Rather than a rigid plastic compartment box, the perforated container means individual blades can be torn off for use on the go, and the heatsealed, flexible-film cover protects the razors’ moisturising strips.

Waterless Gillette Venus is a premium disposable razor sold in single packs. There is a lubricating soft gel built into the squeezy bottle handle, which is dispensed onto the skin from a sponge pad. The small, handy pack is made of firm plastic casing with a board backing card for total visibility.

The new cream from Pacific Shaving is unusual as it comes in a resealable, flexible pouch. Each pouch holds 40 water-soluble mini pods, more typically used in laundry detergents, to control dosing, save the mess of foams and oils, and to allow small amounts to be carried around with no canister or bottle needed.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores is an example of creative primary and secondary packaging working together. The outer packaging is a cardboard box with an image of the standard tube at the front and cut-out holes at the back. Inside, there is a blister pack of four tear-off pods, each with 5ml of the face mask, which protrude out of the holes. Showing off the pods adds intrigue for the shopper, and the blister pack, with its sealed tear-off plastic film, keeps the product fresh.

Inclusive beauty

Sleek Lifeproof Foundation is packaged in a standard plastic squeezy tube with a twist-off lid at the base. Its design is simple and the product is visible through the transparent section. The neutral black, white and grey colours of the tube remove any suggestion of gender. This marries with the brand’s campaign against gender bias – offering the same product to all people and not labelling it as ‘for men’ or using pink tones for women.

Making the current trend of facial tissue masks applicable to men has been achieved subtly, highlighting the use of soothing botanicals for shaven skin, and M Skin Care’s Men’s Facial Sheet Mask for post-shave cooling does just that. The pastel blue hue with stark typography doesn’t appear to be aggressively ‘for men’ but is delicate and calming to match the product.

Preserve Triple Razors are reusable handles with two blade cartridges in a carry case. The key aspect being that the razor handle itself is rigid plastic from recycled yogurt pots, while the PET, rigid display clam case is made from 100% postconsumer waste. The paper information leaflet encourages recycling and is printed with soy inks. It is branded for men and women, which is rare in this sector, and is BPA-free and not tested on animals.

Jecca Correct and Conceal Palette is unisex and comes in an elegant, neutral design. The pack is intended for use by transgender individuals but uses sleek, simple colours and designs in its packaging to help it appeal to any person wanting to wear concealer as part of their daily make-up routine or to cover blemishes.

Alpha-H’s packaging emphasises the elegance of its products and protects premium ingredients.
Beauty Pie ensures that its packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Yu-Be’s packaging pays homage to its Japanese roots and its exclusivity in the country.

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