Recent historical round-type container, North America.
A cosmetic container is a fully enclosed object used to contain, store, and transport cosmetics. Cosmetics or cosmetic products are substances intended to enhance or preserve the human body’s physical appearance or scent.
Cosmetic containers are a deeper topic of cosmetic packaging, relating to ISO 22715. According to ISO, cosmetic containers are primary packaging. The container houses the actual product, while the outermost package is considered secondary packaging. These containers play important roles in both marketing and protecting the product.
- 1 Description
- 2 Purposes
- 3 Standards and regulations
- 4 Environmental Aspects
- 5 History
- 5.1 Ancient Egypt
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
The standard document ISO 22715 for cosmetics packaging is set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It includes a set of specifications dealing with packaging and labelling. In many scenarios national regulations can be more restrictive than international standards. Requirements may differ for certain primary or secondary packaging.
The main purpose of a cosmetic container is to protect the product while it is in storage or being transported. The container must be a well thought out solution that protects the product from deterioration and helps preserve its quality. It must be an attractive looking container as part of the marketing of a beauty product.
The container must also contain labels that legibly display basic information about the product and the manufacturer. These labels include contact information, ingredients, expiration dates, warnings and instructions. Labels not only identify products and their origins, they help provide consumers with the facts that cannot be confusing or misleading.
Ideally, the container is made of durable material to give the product a long shelf life. It must last even longer through consumer use. The frequent opening and closing of the container can take a toll on its condition over time. Ultimately, the container must protect the product to the degree that it remains a safe product for human consumption. In other words, the container must shield the product from dirt, dust and germs.
The aesthetics of the container are considered extremely important since cosmetic products are mainly sold on brand image. Since cosmetic products are not considered medicine or survival products, the marketing of cosmetics depends heavily on associating brand awareness with emotion. The container must convey emotions about how the product will improve one’s appearance and attitude. Many times cosmetics are repackaged and rebranded to help give them more market visibility.
Standards and regulations
In addition to cosmetic containers meeting the requirements of ISO, they must also comply with regulations set by the European Union and the United States. Cosmetics products marketed in the EU must comply with the EU-Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products. The entity that puts the product on the market, known as the “responsible person,” must prepare a product safety report for the EU. Manufacturers must notify the EU Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) when they plan on putting products on the market. Some of the main EU requirements include identifying colorants and nanomaterials and disclosing serious undesirable effects (SUE) to the EU.
The main issues to remember about labels on cosmetic containers is that they provide safety guidance, including instructions for use and proper disposal. In the United States, companies must comply with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Although the FDA does exercise authority over the cosmetic industry, it does not allocate sufficient resources to constantly monitor the industry. ISO defines an ingredient as a material that makes up the final product and not necessarily raw materials used in the production of the product. While the FDA does not have strict requirements for ingredients, they must still be listed on the primary container or secondary package.
Main article: sustainable packaging
The materials used for cosmetic containers are of concern for both protective and sustainable reasons. The container must protect the product from environmental elements and it must also move in the direction of eco-friendly solutions. In other words, the more the container can be recycled, the better for both the environment and cost efficiency. Some of the factors that affect container durability include how the product substance responds to usage, chemical composition and biology. It is essential that the container is able to withstand mold and mildew, as well as contaminants.
The container must be made of materials resistant to hot or cold temperatures. It must also protect the product from ultraviolet rays, which can potentially damage the product. The container also cannot absorb product substances. Traditionally, plastic material or glass have been used to house cosmetics. Aluminum has become a popular type of container due to its lightweight yet sturdy quality, flexibility, durability and recyclability. A key factor in what type of material can be used for containers is how compatible the material is with the product.
Plastic packaging materials are controversially discussed because of their polluting effects in particular to the marine environment. In 2014, a scientific study estimates the amount of floating plastics in the world’s oceans to 5 trillion pieces with an accumulated weight of 250,000 tons.
19th century tin by Desjardin Metal Packaging
A cosmetic container, cosmetic box, or cosmetic vessel is found in the historical records, both as an artifact, as relief items in some cultures, and are sometimes referenced in historical or archaeological literature. They are sometimes created in specific styles, shapes, or motifs.
The named ‘cosmetic vessel’ in Ancient Greece is the pyxis. In Ancient Egypt artifacts of hieroglyphically inscribed kohl tubes are found; also kohl vessels, and kohl spoons, which were formed in stylized shapes relevant to Egyptian ideology, including specific hieroglyphs.
The use of the cosmetic vessel may extend to trinket items, car-keys, toiletry accessories, for example a nail clipper; as a non-toiletry storage container, it becomes an ‘all-purpose’ decorated, special-use vessel.
Containers are known from many societies, ancient and modern. The Native Americans of the Americas made small containers woven from basketry materials, including pine needles.
In Ancient Egypt toiletry items began in the Predynastic Period with ivory cosmetic articles; also bone, stone, or pottery. Ivory combs, and kohl spoons were among the first, with many shapes; common themes for shapes became the ankh symbol, ducks, lotus flowers, etc. In the time of the Predynastic and Old Kingdom, bowls were also mechanically drilled, including miniature sizes, and were used in life and also included as grave goods. The bowls were either a type of unguent jar, or a toiletry “kohl cosmetic vessel”. The desert sun or Nile floodwaters during inundation produced a need for facial-eye protection, using ‘eyepaint’ or eyeliner, when working in the flooded lands; theoretically it was also used by males. The creation of predynastic cosmetic palettes with their eyepaint ‘mixing circle’, may have been the start of the lineage of the kohl cosmetic artifacts. The famed Narmer Palette, which scholars believe to commemorate the unification of upper and lower Egypt, is believed to be such a cosmetic article, perhaps even for the cosmetics of the king.
Kohl tube, Ancient Egypt with hieroglyph inscription
Egyptian kohl container & statuette