The use of compact packaging within cosmetics has been a staple format for decades. Being able to house a multitude of make-up products such as, foundations, powders, eyeshadows and eyebrow filling palettes, the popularity of this format has been favoured due to the ease of use, the clean application of the cosmetic with minimal clean-up, and the convenience of the compact, which can easily be transported for on-the-go use.

Although the basis of the package still utilises the traditional format, the industry has gone a step further to cement compacts as a vital product line by not only showcasing and containing the product safely, but also by being aesthetically pleasing.

Speciality containers: creating multi-functional formats

Combining formats and technologies within cosmetic packaging is something that has been steadily rising as Mylan Nguyen, packaging analyst at Euromonitor International explains. “Speciality cosmetics containers, which include compact packaging for cosmetics, represent 41% of overall beauty packaging, at 3.4 billion units, and is expected to continue to see rise, at an average 3% between 2016 and 2020.”

To capitalise on this growth, other less conventional products have also started to use the compact format. For instance, eyebrow filling products were mainly produced in pencil formats or pomades, however Albéa Group has created a unique eyebrow filling compact which focuses on functionality. Launched in autumn 2016, the range called Trilogy is a compact that is marketed as an eyebrow filling product containing three colour palettes and houses a three-in-one applicator brush that locks securely into place by aligning it into the three ridges in the centre of the compact. “The applicators are ergonomic allowing users to easily change applicator as tips can be changed by just rotating the tool between two fingers” explains Cecile Tuil, vice-president of communications at Albéa Group.

Design methods: meeting consumer demands

To ensure compact packaging stands out amongst the competition, design methods have to meet consumer demands. One of the largest demands from customers is product customisation. “In an increasingly digital cosmetic market, brands have to be faster to market than ever while providing uniqueness to consumers. That’s why Albéa presents two new, highly customisable compact ranges and a new printing technology – supporting all its global, regional and local customers by offering flexibility through speed-to-market to launch products faster and shorter lead times for limited editions” says Tuil.

In September 2016, Albéa introduced their Quartz and Onyx compacts – a range of square and round compacts which have a sleek design and infinite customisation options such as lacquering, varnishing, tampo-printing, silkscreen, hot stamping, film transfer and metallisation. The endless variations are made possible through their new technology – Digital Printing. Demonstrated for the first time at Luxe Pack Monaco 2016, the new decoration technique allows greater agility. “This technology is new and emerging. In comparison to the traditional printing/decoration technologies that are usually used to decorate make up products, our technology enables us to print directly onto the object” explains Cecile Ghesquiere, decoration process expert at Albéa Cosmetic Rigid Packaging.

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“The end result is a photo-like effect and you cannot reach this quality with the other traditional decoration technologies. Today this technology is used on flat surfaces but it can also work on slightly convex or slightly concave surfaces. Tomorrow the challenge will be to print a whole range of make up products with this technology. This emerging technology offers unlimited decoration possibilities and enables an easier time-to market for our customers who are looking to make very small series and tailored products or tailored to individual requirements” she continues.

Aside from the new Digital Printing technology, the group uses other decoration techniques to achieve different objectives. For instance, when designing compacts for premium brands factors such as texture are considered to be crucial. Tactile elements provide the end-user with an enhanced experience as they engage more closely with the package due to the sensory appeal. The company apply techniques such as surface treatments which can be achieved through mold engraving, soft touch spraying through a polyurethane coating or mold surface finishes by electro-erosion, chemical or laser etching to provide the package with a matt or structured surface.

Unique concepts: agile mechanism systems

When Albéa was commissioned to create a unique concept for Guerlain’s Parure Gold Compact Foundation, the team ensured that the package was not only visually stunning and functional, but that it also featured a seamless opening system.

Guerlain opted to use Albéa’s patented ‘Reveal’ opening mechanism. As you open the case in one easy movement, the pioneering system presents the consumer with a wide-angle mirror, the Gold Radiance Powder Foundation and a large sponge. The ‘Reveal’ system is a sliding mechanism that is activated as the case opens, drawing the pan backwards to reveal the sponge so that the customer can access the applicator without needing to lift the pan.

The sleek lacquered case is enhanced with metallic gold edges and a lid with the signature Guerlain stamp on it which matches the shape of the hand to provide a good grip. In addition to the opening system, another noteworthy feature is the magnetic closure system, which adds to the feeling of delicacy when you close the compact.

Albéa also has a proprietary closing technology called ‘Attraction’ which was developed by their research and development team to deliver a gentle and smooth closing system for compacts. The mechanism’s innovation lies in the fully plastic, pin-less hinge, which does away with the need for magnets to close the compact. With no opening button, ‘Attraction’ is more streamlined and offers more design possibilities.

“Attraction reproduces the gentle feel of magnet closure systems without their additional cost. At a price that is barely higher than a conventional hinge, Attraction increases the feeling of luxury when closing the compact,” explains Charlotte Wastyn, lips and compacts product manager at Albéa.

As convenience, product safety and aesthetically pleasing designs take centre stage, the compact landscape has unprecedented potential. As technology evolves and consumer demands for package value increases, manufacturers and suppliers can successfully capitalise on this compact growth.