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Right Product, Wrong Package?

By: Michelle Calvarese, PhD
Posted: January 2, 2014, from the January 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 5

What to avoid:

  • A vitamin C or retinol product in a clear container;
  • Thinner serums in a pump—it may be difficult to control dosage or may dispense too
    quickly; and
  • Thicker serums with a dropper dispenser—they may coat the dropper and make dispensing messy. If the serum is oil-based, it may also coat the threads of the container, which compromises a tight closure.


Creams also can contain active ingredients that need to be protected, but they generally do not contain as many as a serum. Creams vary in consistency. The consistency of the product should determine whether it is packaged in a pump, tube or jar. If a cream contains several active ingredients, light and air should be kept to a minimum as in the case of a serum. Airless pumps can be used if the cream has a thinner consistency, and tubes can be used for thicker creams.

Airless jars are now becoming more popular for thicker creams to minimize air exposure, as well as bacteria transferred from fingers. Airless jars use the same technology as an airless pump and dispense a measured amount of cream by pressing on an inner piece of plastic that covers the cream. The container for creams also tends to help define the brand more so than other product categories. In other words, it can give the perception of a luxury spa brand or a more clinical brand. Because creams can take so many forms, functionality and protection should be considered, but a good client experience should be the packaging focus.

What to look for:

  • Opaque or dark bottles or tubes for creams with ingredients prone to oxidation; and
  • Airless jars for creams with higher concentrations of ingredients prone to oxidation.

What to avoid:

  • Jars with a small opening—this can make it difficult for clients to reach the product, particularly if they have long fingernails.

Packaging trends