How To Design Cosmetics Packaging That Sells, Step By Step (March 2023) (2023)

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The lifestyle industry is booming. Thanks in large part to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, everyone seems to be living their best lives. Many lifestyle brands aim to jump on the bandwagon and capture the attention of legions of consumers.

One such lifestyle space that stands out among others is the beauty industry.

Cosmetics have always been a staple for women everywhere.They are used almost universally and are kept close and within reach at all times. From purses and backpacks to bathroom cabinets and office desk drawers, beauty products have always been a ubiquitous part of everyday life.

It was a lucrative industry, albeit a fairly simple one.

Today, however, the cosmetics business is expanding into new horizons.

First, it's not just for women anymore. Many men subscribe to the mantra that looking attractive and feeling attractive go hand in hand.

Next, cosmetics lines don't just involve lipstick, eyeliner and the like. Yes, makeup is still at the heart of the beauty industry,but the industry is now as much about personal care and hygiene as it is about beauty., with hundreds of products in all segments.

Consider this abbreviated list of what is classified as beauty products or cosmetics:

  • Creams, powders, masks, dyes for eyes, skin and mouth
  • Soaps, shower gels, scrubs, or any other cleansers to use on the body
  • Shampoos, conditioners, hair lotions, oils, dyes or bleaches
  • Lotions for hydration, sun protection or skin tanning
  • Nail polishes, colors and lotions.
  • Deodorants, antiperspirants, body sprays, perfumes or other hygienic or aromatic body care
  • Toothpaste, mouthwash, tooth bleach or whitener, or other oral care products
  • Even baby care products such as powders, ointments, creams and the like can be considered cosmetics.

So why the history class?

If you're reading this, it means one of two things: A)currently owns or manages a cosmetics brandand are curious about how to stand out in an incredibly crowded market; B)you are thinking of going into the cosmetics businessand are curious about how to stand out in an incredibly crowded market.

The actual product you sell always remains the most important factor in getting consumers to buy and stay loyal to your brand.However, it attracts them with its cosmetic packaging.

That's right, packaging.

Consumers look for brands to hang on to.Brands with which they identify and understand their needs.They want products that are reliable, affordable, and bring them joy and value. They also want brands that are consistent in both their mission and message. Ultimately, they want a brand they can trust.

The right packaging goes a long way towards attracting the consumer's attention and inviting them to join you on your brand journey. After all, before trying your product, the first thing the customer notices is how the product is packaged.

If it's packaged right, they'll grab it off the shelf and look forward to trying it out for themselves.

If it's poorly packaged, they discard it in favor of a product they like more.

Which of course raises the questions,How do you design great cosmetic packaging?let's dive

First steps to cosmetic packaging design

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Before getting into the details of designing your brand's cosmetic packaging, there are a few basics you need to sort out: How do you define your brand? Who does your brand attract? How will consumers buy your product?

By answering these three questions, you'll have a better path to the type of packaging you'll need to be most successful.

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Define the personality of your cosmetics brand

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It's a simple task, right? Define who you are and what you stand for.

For some it is. For others, this may be the most demanding exercise of the entire project. Regardless of where you are, we suggest starting with the product or products you plan to sell and going from there.

Is makeup strictly feminine? Hair products? A skin care line? A combination of different cosmetics?

Ultimately, what you sell lays the groundwork for better defining your brand.It also informs your message and the design scheme that communicates what you stand for.

For example, if you sell high-quality cosmetics, exclusive materials and a luxurious experience are suitable. The marketing of specific products for pregnant women or baby care requires a lighter and more nutritious touch. Grooming for men requires a completely different tactic, as well as a highly health-conscious approach to personal care.

Once you've decided, the next step is figuring out what you want your brand to represent.For example, luxury products means a luxury brand. But is it a luxury with a little edge? Will it be glamorous? Affordable, like high-quality products at relatively low costs? Or would it be exclusive with aenvironmentally friendlyMentality?

Ultimately, your brand drives much of the initial packaging design, as you want your product lines to be closely linked.That doesn't mean you don't have creative freedom to distinguish your packaging, but consistency is key to building a loyal customer base.

Consideration of all of the above factors will help you create your company logo, color scheme, messaging, or other elements that give your brand a cohesive uniformity. We suggest doing this before anything else in this guide.

Whether you're a start-up, a revamped company, or an established company trying to expand its appeal, defining your brand makes the packaging design process a lot easier.

Who does your beauty brand appeal to?

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Continuing with the luxury cosmetics theme, the trade in luxury nail polishes, lotions and face creams doesn't always translate into an affluent consumer base.

Its nail polishes can attract young professionals. Their lipsticks can be the most mature shades of any brand. A lotion you sell can be surprisingly popular with athletic men and women of all ages.

Don't assume that what initially looks attractive to one demographic will not appeal to others.If established, study buying patterns to determine who buys which items. If you're just starting out, market research provides insight into buying patterns and habits so you can make informed decisions.

Having this data at hand allows you to create packaging that appeals to your core audience, while also engaging the outliers that drive your growth.

Where do consumers buy their cosmetic products?

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The final step on your pre-design to-do list considers where your cosmetics are sold.

Does your packaging need to stand out among similar products in a grocery store or large retailer? Will your products be in a specific beauty store like Ulta or Sephora? Will your products appear in a boutique or specialty store, such as a nail or hair salon? Or is your plan to sell exclusively online?

Where consumers interact with your brand has an impact on how you present your product.Packaging used in a store environment should be an eye-catcher where it sits alongside competing brands.

Also, consider the store itself. In some boutiques, you may need to pack the products together or decorate the outer cover more than you would in a drugstore.

You have a little more freedom with online shopping. From hime-commerce packagingit's less about getting noticed and more about the consumer's experience with your brand.

While it's not uncommon to produce different packaging for different outlets, make sure your branding is consistent so your customers can always identify your products.

Understanding the cosmetic industry market

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The cosmetic industry is saturated and hypercompetitiveand on a fast slope, will soon be rated at$532 billion. Before diving into the details of your packaging designs and committing to any design strategy, it's good to have a comprehensive view of the market you will be entering (or reintroducing your product line).

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Research is a critical element in this process. You should do this whether you're selling online, in-store, or both.

Choose a group of about five cosmetics companies that you think will be direct competitors of your brand. Make sure they sell products similar to yours.

We suggest that, of the brands you choose for your research, you select three direct competitors, one brand that is considered one rung above, and one brand below. These last two choices help you gauge the difference between being a premium brand and one that is seen as inferior.

Take stock of what each company does and doesn't do well, how it engages with its customers, and what gaps your brand can capitalize on. Look at your website, online stores,social media sharing, and visit any store that might sell your products.

Consider the design aesthetic they use for theircosmetic packaging boxesand whether any item or product line sells better than another.

Ultimately, your goal with your research is to find out where your brand fits in the market.The better you understand your competitors, the better chance you have of positioning your brand for long-term success.

Get inspired for your product line

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With those basic but super important first steps figured out, you can now move on to the really fun stuff.

Before you get too far into the design process, it's worth figuring out what you like, what you don't, and things in between that are worth considering.

Thinking about what your brand stands for, create moodboards or style sheets for each of your product lines using other cosmetic packaging trends (or even beyond that).

Mood boards are great for capturing general themes, styles, or things that inspire you. Style sheets (or style guides) help you define the details of how you want your specific branding or packaging to look. As we've noted, if you have individual product lines, you can create a general inspiration board and style guide for each specific line.

Search the internet, review magazines, and walk the store aisles to get an idea of ​​what works, what doesn't, and the different design styles that can benefit your brand.

Look at the colors, fonts and shapes. Pay attention to trends and look at classic design schemes and those that look smart. You'll want to focus your efforts on the former, creating a modern design that also seems to fit any era. It's also the approach that has proven most effective in attracting long-term consumers.

Add what you like or what seems to work to your mood board or individual product style sheets. Take note of bad design choices too, to avoid making your own during the design process.

Obviously, you're not trying to mimic what others are doing. However, stylesheets provide a great visual reference point for building yourproduct packaging design.

Choosing your custom cosmetic packaging containers

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The foundation of cosmetic packaging design starts with the type of packaging you will be using for your products.Based on the products you intend to sell, you will already have a starting point for your design.

Container types include bottles (glass and plastic),boxes, compacts, droppers, bottles, packets, palettes, pumps, sprayers, cans and tubes.

To some extent, there isn't much room for variation. Shampoo and conditioners almost always come in squeezable plastic bottles; the lipstick comes in lipstick tubes.

However, feel free to experiment with different variations. Yes, they should still be reasonably practical and useful. But if you think it adds to your appeal and is something consumers might respond to, it's worth a try.

In addition to the actual product container,many beauty products require additional custom packaging. A compact or lipstick tube can stand alone, protected with plain plastic wrap or aluminum foil. However, a glass perfume or essential oil bottle may require an outer box as part of the packaging presentation.

Also, many cosmetic brands sold in boutiques come with their own extra outer bag. In supermarkets or large retail stores,retail packagingcan be less personalized. Depending on where your products are sold, you'll want to know which packaging works best in which environment.

Selling your products online gives you greater packaging freedom. For such orders, you may want to consider the packaging thatimproves the consumer experience with your brand.

Once you understand your container's needs,reach packaging companieswith experience in cosmetic packaging production to help guide you step by step through the design and order process.

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Elements of good cosmetic packaging design

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Stroll down any cosmetics aisle in any store, and the endless array of colors, patterns, textures, and shapes is sure to get you over-stimulated. More than most other product segments, cosmetics and personal care packaging has a decidedly creative edge.

And that makes perfect sense.

The goal of any of these products is to make the customer look good and feel good. If you intend to convince a consumer to try your lipstick, soap or body lotion,You need to convince them that your product will take them on that happy journey..

It is also the reason why certain aesthetics emerge and are often used to create durable and timeless packaging designs that impress consumers. While the actual colors of your packaging may be determined in part by your overall branding scheme, you can incorporate different techniques specific to your product lines.while maintaining a consistent overall brand.

When looking for inspiration for your design and when you're in the midst of the design process itself, keep several essential elements in mind. You should always look for new and creative ways todifferentiate your brand packaging.

However, using a few proven strategies as a foundation helps you create a great design that represents your brand and attracts customers.


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We're sure it's no small surprise thatcolors play a very important role in cosmetic packaging design. The industry, by its very nature, lends itself to the use of a wide color palette. A handful of tried-and-true color schemes, though they appear over and over again.

  • In black and white:Individually, black and white colors will always stand out forproduct packagingregardless of industry. Black is a color of power. It portrays a sense of luxury and sophistication and timeless elegance. It's also useful for giving brands a certain harsh or melancholy tone.

White, in turn, usually represents the height of minimalism. Its rawness also portrays elegance and sophistication. When used as a base coat, it serves the dual purpose of smoothing out deeper tones and giving lighter colors better definition. When combined, black and white will always prove to be a classic and winning color scheme.

  • Pink and purple:Have you ever wondered why pink and purple are two of the most prevalent colors on cosmetic packaging? Well, pink evokes feelings of love and romance, beauty and femininity, and it brings with it a sense of calm. Purple evokes royalty, wealth and luxury. It also symbolizes extravagance, independence and even a bit of mystery.

Both colors capture the beauty industry's key staple tenants. As such, they are used over and over again. It can be difficult to distinguish your products from others trying to capture a similar vibe. If you need to use any one, it's better to do it in conjunction with other colors. You can still capture that core sense of beauty and extravagance by paving the way for your own brand.

  • Cakes:Pastels are light shades of primary and secondary colors on the color wheel. Most widely associated with Easter and the beginning of spring, pastels reflect a soft, gentle mood. They are extremely popular on cosmetic packaging as they invoke tranquility, openness, femininity and rebirth (spring).

Though you'll find them by every name under the pastel sun — mint blue, pistachio green or sea foam, plum, antique white — they're most commonly found under the light or pale monikers (light pink or pale yellow). As with pink and purple, if you can find a fresh and unique spin on these popular schemes, it can help differentiate your brand.

  • Other color schemes:The three categories above represent the most popular colors used in cosmetic packaging. There are, however, other options. Warm tones use a combination of red, yellow, orange and pink to invoke enthusiasm, energy and optimism.

Cool tones, those featuring predominantly blues, greens, purples and the like, are intended to convey a sense of relaxation or calm. Neutral or earth tones represent any shade of brown or closely related variations, from red to gold to tan. Often used in association with black, white or gray, these tones evoke nature.

While you may choose to make your brand's overall color scheme take the dominant role on your packaging, experiment with different mixes. For example, pastel lavender or light purple are often associated with relaxation. If your line features bath salts or bath bombs, it can be beneficial to include lavender as part of your packaging design, even if it's not a major part of your branding.

His main aim with color is to appeal to the consumer's senses.

Is your brand earthy or ethereal, with eco-friendly products and packaging? Or is it more urban, with the aim of attracting the public that attends gala dinners and charity balls?

Play with different combinations. Find ones that enhance your brand, appeal to your ideal customer, and build a loyal customer base.


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Just as the colors, fonts and typography (how fonts are visually represented) used on packaging convey their own feelings and emotions. not to overwhelm you,but currently there are about half a million fonts available for use.

However, choosing the right one is not as daunting as it seems.

First, there are some basic lettered tenants. Serif fonts are the most traditional font choices and convey class or a sense of being established. Sans serif is a much more modern font. It's simple and straightforward.

Handwritten or italic fonts communicate sophistication and elegance (and femininity). Bold or capital letters evoke a strong, aggressive branding (often used in men's beauty product lines).

Regardless of font and typeface, the first goal is to make sure it's easy to read. A critical factor to always consider is the type and size of packaging you plan to use when determining your text outline.

Whether you're artistic and quirky, edgy and daring, or elegant and sophisticated, choose what best represents your brand and is unique and stands out from the competition. The better you can separate yourself, the better chance you have of forging your own identity.

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Key final design elements of cosmetic packaging include patterns. And, as any visit to your nearest beauty and cosmetics store indicates, the world really is your oyster.

The prevailing design styles you see elsewhere are often showcased in cosmetics. Minimalist, geometric, Art Deco, floral, traditional, contemporary, modern, natural, abstract – these are just the basic underlying styles.Many brands combine elements to chart their own path.

What do we suggest? There's no right or wrong here: hand-drawn flowers or bold industrial geometry can be successful, depending on the brand's goals and consumer reaction.

It might sound like a broken record at this point, but the uniqueness stands out in an industry and market where many brands seem like mirror images of each other.

When you bring all these design elements together in your product packaging, you want a cohesive presentation. One that is true to its brand. It attracts your target audience and will be more attractive wherever they buy your products.

Additional information elements

Along with your brand logo, copy, and graphics or images, packaging may also require some additional elements.This is specifically to comply with FDA regulations governing cosmetics labeling.

Depending on the product, your label may need to include ingredients, expiration dates, and government warnings. While not mandatory, if your product is cruelty-free and has not been tested on animals, we suggest you indicate this on your custom packaging as well.

On your marks, ready gone

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Good. Now you're ready to start putting it all together.

Assuming you've added, removed, and modified your ideas board and style guides accordingly, you should have a good overview of where your design is going.

Unless you have an in-house team of designers at your disposal, we strongly recommend that you work with a professional designer. Not only do they do the heavy lifting of bringing your ideas to life, they also prove to be invaluable partners in refining the design before it's completed.

Some things to keep in mind during the cosmetic packaging design process:

What stands out on the front of the pack is the first thing consumers notice. Are you trying to build a brand or sell a product? The answer dictates your approach. If you're a brand, make your logo and message the focal point. If it's a product, keep the details about what makes it so great.

On the front and back of the label, make sure it answers the consumer's most immediate questions: product description, contents, who it's for, how to use it, instructions or warnings.

Also include any details that make your brand or product worthy of purchase: special ingredients that are organic and cruelty-free, specific beauty benefits, or specific altruistic benefits (“a percentage of your purchase will be donated to…”).

Whichever route you take, make sure it's clear, concise, and engaging for your ideal customer and everyone else.Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the product identifiable? Is it clear what it is for and what it does?
  • Is it clear which brand sells the product?
  • Will it stand out on a shelf? Or mix it with the competition's packaging?
  • Will this create excitement among consumers who choose it? Will it provide an experience for those who order online?

Most importantly, does the design match the vision you have for your brand and the products you sell? Be sure to create actual physical mockups of the packaging designs during the design process. This allows you and your team to experience what the consumer would do in the store orduring an unpacking.

Finally, while many of the packaging costs are derived from the actual containers, boxes, and bags, keep in mind the costs associated with your design. The more elaborate they are, the more you'll pay. Work with vendors throughout the project (designer, printer, and logistics) to ensure you get the cosmetic packaging you want at a price you can manage.

final thoughts

Let’s look at the steps that got you to this point:

  • defining your brand
  • Who does your brand attract?
  • How consumers buy your products
  • understand the market
  • Inspiration
  • Containers and packaging
  • cores
  • sources
  • patterns and designs
  • Additional information elements
  • Ready, Ready, Ready (Bringing Your Designs to Life)

The quick overview serves as a reminder of the many elements involved in your packaging design process. Not to overwhelm you, but to remind you that the whole process is interconnected.

  • If you don't have a clear idea of ​​your brand and who it appeals to, you'll struggle to create cohesive packaging.
  • If you don't create a cohesive package, you risk being overlooked or mixed up in a crowded market.
  • If your packaging is poorly marked, poorly packaged, or poorly designed, consumers won't look for your product in a store or trust anything you post or sell on your website.
  • If you can't identify the elements that inspire you, there's little chance of creating packaging or branding that inspires others to try your products.

You get the idea.

As we've noted, the cosmetics business is hypercompetitive. But it's also an industry full of opportunities to make your mark. Whether you want to carve out a niche for your brand and products or become an all-in-one beauty empire, the first impression you make is with your packaging.

Take your time and give your packaging design process the attention it deserves. Research the market, find your inspiration and visualize what your brand brings to the market that others don't. Then create packaging that conveys that message to consumers.

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They will only know how good the product is on the inside if you convince them to buy it with great packaging on the outside.

Last updated: March 1, 2023


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