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Airless Packaging in Cosmetics

Many creams in the sector are packaged in traditional jar formats, which although perfectly capable of protecting the product during transport and on shelf, are unable to prevent it from becoming compromised once the seal has been broken. With each repeated use, the product comes into contact with external contaminants, such as air, fingers and UV rays. While these elements may be essential parts of life for consumers, for cosmetics items such as moisturisers and face creams, they can be a manufacturer’s worst nightmare, causing expensive products to dry out well before consumers have finished using them.

Given the value of protecting cosmetics products from contamination, the industry’s growing interest in airless packaging should come as no surprise. Nowadays, airless jars, bottles and tubes are some of the most acceptable packaging approaches for skincare and haircare products, helping to assure both brands and their consumers that the cosmetic product will be good to the last drop.

What is airless packaging?

The Airless Packaging Association defines the technology as: “A non-pressurised, tamper-proof dispensing system combining a mechanical activated pump and a container which, after filling and airtight sealing, delivers the product with no air intake. The container is available with a soft pouch or a sliding piston.” It is not a particularly new phenomenon. In fact, the technology was first introduced on a large-scale in the mid-1980s, when toothpaste manufacturers adopted airless systems for technical and marketing purposes. But the cosmetic industry was quick to capitalise on the idea, driving further innovation in airless packaging.

Cosmetics brands have been pivotal in the proliferation of airless packaging. Many products sold in the cosmetics sector, including natural skin care creams, serums, foundations and other preservative-free formula creams are sensitive to exposure, which makes them an ideal target for a widely applicable packaging solution that counters the issue of excessive air exposure. As such airless packaging technology has been widely touted as the new future of cosmetic and beauty packaging.

Airless packaging is a common option for skin care products, since air can cause the degradation of certain active ingredients. But, the appeal of such technology is not confined to air-sensitive formulations. Brands have also begun to employ airless jars, bottles and pumps for functional benefits, even when a product’s formula doesn’t necessarily require it. Compared with traditional formats, airless packaging provides manufacturers with enhanced functionality, allowing distributors to cut down on the amount of overall packaging material used. Moreover, according to TMR, precise airless dispensing features, such as airless pumps, allow shoppers to access and use roughly 95% of the contents in a bottle, which is much higher than can be achieved with traditional pump formats.

The future of airless packaging in cosmetics

Airless packaging formats are likely to gain further ground as environmental concerns continue to influence consumer preferences and product development. For organic brands, the novelty of airless technology has neatly aligned with eco-friendly attributes in a way that sets products apart from their traditional counterparts, however, as more and more brands capitalise on the cost-efficient benefits of a format that allows for fewer preservatives and overall packaging materials, interest may grow even further.

Developments are not limited to jar formats. Since launching the techno airless glass (TAG) system in 2009, Italy-based cosmetics packaging manufacturer Lumson has been steadily pushing the boundaries of airless formats. A particularly noteworthy development for the brand was the introduction of GREEN PE, a material produced using sugarcane ethanol, an alcohol-based, renewable fuel, which Luxom has applied to its airless packaging formats. This combination, according to the company, helps to attain the goal of maintaining the technological integrity of the airless system while at the same time, being environmentally-conscious.

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