November 18, 2018

Cosmetic packaging

Nail polish in glass bottle with dispenser built into cap.
Lipstick in plastic disperser package

The term cosmetic packaging is used for cosmetic containers (primary packaging) and secondary packaging of fragrances and cosmetic products.[1][2] Cosmetic products are substances intended for human cleansing, beautifying and promoting an enhanced appearance without altering the body’s structure or functions.[3]

Cosmetic packaging is standardized by an international norm set by the International Organization for Standardization and regulated by national or regional regulations such as those issued by the EU or the FDA. Marketers and manufacturers of cosmetic products must be compliant to these regulations to be able to market their cosmetic products in the corresponding areas of jurisdiction.[4]


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Purpose of cosmetic packaging
    • 2.1 Protection
    • 2.2 Creation of brand awareness
    • 2.3 Labelling
      • 2.3.1 Information accuracy
      • 2.3.2 Avoidance of misleading information
      • 2.3.3 Listing of ingredients
    • 2.4 Packaging in multiple layers
  • 3 FDA and EU regulations
  • 4 ISO-Standard
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


The term cosmetic packaging includes primary and the secondary packaging. Primary packaging, also called cosmetic container, is housing the cosmetic product. It is in direct contact with the cosmetic product. Secondary packaging is the outer wrapping of one or several cosmetic containers. An important difference between primary and secondary packaging is that any information that is necessary to clarify the safety of the product must appear on the primary package. Otherwise, much of the required information can appear on just the secondary packaging.
The cosmetic container shall carry the name of the distributor, the ingredients, define storage, nominal content, product identification (e.g., batch number), warning notices and directions for use.
The secondary packaging shall in addition carry the address of the distributor and information on the cosmetic’s mode of action. The secondary packaging does not need to carry any product identification notice.
In cases where the cosmetic product is only wrapped by one single container, this container needs to carry all the information.[5]

Purpose of cosmetic packaging[edit]

There are multiple reasons why care must be put into cosmetic containers. Not only must they protect the product, they need to provide conveniences for vendors and ultimately consumers.


The main purpose of a container is to store the product so that it is not degraded through storage, shipping and handling.[1] Degradation and damage can be caused by various causes. These causes can be categorized into biological, chemical, thermal causes, damage caused by radiation and damage caused by human interaction, by electric sources or by pressure.[5]

In addition to protecting the product, packaging also play a big role marketing cosmetic products. While product quality is a major factor in the product’s success, its packaging must be attractive since that’s the essence of beauty marketing. Package design must capture the imagination and be associated with enhancing appearance. One of the keys to attractive packaging is artistic use of colors. Most relevant for the marketer is the outer secondary packaging. However, there are cosmetics which are distributed in one single cosmetic container.[1]

Creation of brand awareness[edit]

Cosmetic packages must not only convey beauty, they must equate to brand awareness. Since the package is what the consumer initially sees, it is very influential in shaping perceptions about the product. Part of building brand awareness for a cosmetic product is associating it with emotion. Since it’s not a survival product it’s marketed to appeal to the desire to enhance appearance. The packaging must stimulate this emotion.[1]


Labels tell consumers what they need to know about the product, as far as how to use it and where it comes from. Companies must list the ingredients and the function of the product, especially when it is unclear. The label must contain contact information of the entity responsible for putting the product on the market. Labels also provide product tracking information.

The label must be easy to read, particularly for a customer where the product is being displayed. Certain compositions, such as perfumes, can be listed as one ingredient. Secondary packages are what the consumer sees as the outermost package. Primary packages are within the secondary package. Certain information can appear just on secondary packages. The most important information, particularly if the product is prone to misuse, must be displayed on both the primary and secondary packaging.[2][6]

Information accuracy[edit]

One of the most important aspects of regulations on labelling is that the information is accurate. Although the FDA does not have the resources to inspect all cosmetic products on the market, it can issue penalties for various violations involving packaging and labelling. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure that its product is safe for public consumption.[1]

Avoidance of misleading information[edit]

None of the information, including name and address, may be misleading. Words can be abbreviated only if it is clear what they represent. All text must be printed clearly on the packaging. Smaller packages in which text is too difficult to read, should include tags with legible text.[1][2]

Listing of ingredients[edit]

Ingredients must be listed in a certain order with priority given to ingredients that represent 1% or more of the volume. These ingredients must be listed in descending order, based on weight. This group of ingredients is then followed by those that represent 1% or less of the product and listed in any order. Colorants may also be listed in any order.[1][2]

Packaging in multiple layers[edit]

Many times cosmetic products are packaged in multiple layers. Whenever it is difficult to detect for the consumer, the number of units should be listed on the outer package, which should contain details about how to use the product and warnings on what to do if it is misused. It is essential that the product is protected from environmental elements such as mould and bacteria.

The packaging must be sufficient enough to protect the mechanical, thermal, biological and chemical properties of the product. It should also be strong enough to withstand human tampering and radiation damage.[2]

FDA and EU regulations[edit]

The FDA overseas cosmetic packaging but does not test products. It leaves testing for safety up to manufacturers. It still provides regulations and can issue recalls when a product is associated with safety hazards. While the FDA does not have many restrictions on ingredients for cosmetic products, it does require that certain chemicals and colorants be listed.[5][7]

As far as EU regulations regarding packaging, manufacturers must be compliant with EC No. 1223/2009. One of these requirements involves the manufacturer issuing a safety report before putting the product on the market. The manufacturer must also disclose any serious undesirable effects (SUE) to the EU. Marketers are required to list nano-materials.
The EU’s definition of “ingredients” does not include raw or technical materials used in production that do not end up in the final product. In some cases when durability is an issue, the manufacturer must list an expiration date after the product has been opened. The words “best used before” are common for identifying the product expiration date.[8][9][10]


Standard ISO 22715 provides specifications for the packaging and labeling of all cosmetic products that are sold or distributed at no charge; i.e. free samples. National regulations dictate what products are to be regarded as cosmetics. While ISO 22715 is not legally binding, national regulations regarding cosmetic products can be even stricter than those laid out in ISO 22715. The link between standards and regulations is that a standard often represents the common denominator of national law, as the standardization committee consists of members of most countries.[4]


  • ^ a b c d e f g Cosper, Alex. “Purposes of Cosmetic Packaging”. Retrieved 2 November cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//”)no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  • ^ a b c d e Cosper, Alex. “Cosmetic packaging compliant to ISO 22715”. Desjardin. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)”. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ a b Turner, Dawn M. “Is the Standard ISO 22715 on Cosmetic Packaging legally binding?”. Desjardin. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ a b c Cosper, Alex. “What you should know when packaging cosmetics compliant to FDA regulations”. Desjardin. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ “Understanding the label”. Cosmetics Europe Association. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  • ^ “Cosmetics & U.S. Law”. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ “REGULATION (EC) No 1223/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products”. THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ Cosper, Alex. “What you should know when packaging cosmetics compliant to EU regulations”. Desjardin. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  • ^ “Understanding the Cosmetics Regulation”. Cosmetics Europe Association. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  • External links[edit]

    • www.
    • 22715:2006


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