by Dr Tiina Meder
As a cosmetic manufacturer I am fully aware that my perfect packaging is very different from what many skincare buyers are looking for. You know what? In this case, I really don’t care.
- First of all, I need my products to keep. For this, skincare must have absolutely no contact with air or user’s fingers or pretty-looking (but grossly unhygienic) mini spatulas.
- I need the packaging to fit my skincare and to be compatible with my formulations for years to come.
- I need my packaging to be of high quality and work without fail. Press a pump, and you’ll get sufficient amount of cream or serum, and there’s no need to unscrew anything and scoop stuff out.
- I want my skincare to be used up entirely! It’s too good to let even 1 ml of it go to waste. Obviously, if a customer buys 50 ml of cream they expect to use up 50 ml they paid for, without having to extract the last of it from an unyielding bottle or tube by entirely unreasonable effort.
- Of course, the packaging must display all necessary information about the product according to relevant legislation.
- Personally, I want it to be eco-friendly too. We have polluted the planet enough, and I would love to see the oceans and forests clean.
These are all reasonable expectations, aren’t they? Nevertheless they make the choice of packaging extremely limited.
There are 2 ways to protect the product from contact with environment: disposable packaging and airless pump bottles, which use a non-pressurised vacuum to disperse product with the press of a pump. We’re using both: single-dose disposable packaging for professional skincare, masks and re-sealable tubes for Vita-Long Oil, and airless pump bottles for the rest of home skincare range. So, no pretty glass jars and frosted vials with droppers would do for Meder Beauty Science skincare. No impractical luxury.
To make sure there is absolutely no compatibility conflict between a product and its packaging, we use the most neutral polymers there are. We managed to find bottles made of recyclable polymers, which by the way are more expensive than non-recyclable ones, even though in my mind it should be the other way around — to encourage manufacturers to use more eco-friendly packaging.
After a long trial period, we settled on bottles produced by a large German company. They are pricey, but it’s worth it. You’d be surprised how much spoilage can be found in some companies’ supplies. Cheaper manufacturers can have up to 2–3 defective bottles out of 10! I have seen some sellers advise their customers to simply remove the top and use a defective airless bottle as a regular one. But what’s the point then? Is this to put out the innovative front while also being cheap? To please marketing department? I’d rather pay more for my bottles, to be honest. We discard 1–2 bottles in 10,000.
Another advantage of airless pumps is their incredible efficiency.
When the pump stops dispersing your Meder Beauty Science product, there is less than 0.2 ml of it left in the bottle. We fill our bottles with 5% extra, so when you buy 50 ml you get 52.5 ml and you use 52.3 ml. Now, this is the math that I like. In my years of work in beauty industry I got thoroughly fed up with tubes and jars that had to be cut and scraped and sown in half to get sometimes up to 30% of remaining product from the inside!
All our plastic bottles are class 5PP, easily recyclable at any point.
Putting all relevant information on the packaging can be a bit of a problem, though, I’ll admit as much.
We strive to use as little secondary packaging as possible
Only when we can’t find any other way do we use boxes. Beauty industry uses way too much paper and cardboard to make the products look attractive on the shelf. But if a customer discards the box right after purchasing the product, well then, the box is unnecessary. It’s a waste of a perfectly good tree, a waste of chemicals used to whitewash and colour the paper, a waste of people’s labour and added pollution that the world could do without. This is why all our bottles are recyclable.
However, cosmetic legislation gets more restrictive every year. The packaging must include all kinds of information: the name of the product and what it is for, the complete list of ingredients, shelf life, instructions for use, barcode, safety warnings (Avoid eye area! Rinse after use!). Then of course it has to be recognisable, so we need to leave some space for logo and company name. The smaller the bottle, the harder this task. 100 ml bottles are large enough (just!) to contain all this copy, but with 30 ml bottles we had to resort to using boxes, because the customer must still be able to read all these without a magnifying lens.
All our boxes are recyclable and we plan on introducing the option of ordering cardboard-free packaging where possible.
Do our customers appreciate our efforts? I must say, our choice of packaging somewhat narrows our target audience, but I don’t consider it a bad thing. People who understand our choices are generally rational, open-minded, rather less susceptible to emotional manipulation and easily ignore the predominant opinions if necessary. I would call them free thinkers. But our concept of skincare and our formulations are unconventional, too, so this initial filter, the attitude towards our packaging, actually helps us find our own customers. They may be few, but they are ours and we love them.
Same is true for our professional segment. Some beauty establishments pick their partner brands by the look of the packaging. They want the products to look lovely on their shiny shelves at the reception area. This is their choice and their business, and we won’t be working with them. Such clinics generally don’t have expert staff to appreciate our formulations, choice of active ingredients and our protocols. Their approach is different, and we’re not a part of that. I’ve heard some clinics’ managers say, — All our brands have pastel light packaging, Meder’s red is not going to look nice on the same shelf. In such cases, I am always more than happy to say to my staff: leave them be. We are not looking for a designer bureau, we seek aesthetic professionals who wish to provide effective treatments to their patients expecting objective results.