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Trends and Predictions for Cosmetics Labels & Packaging in 2023

Packaging and labelling represents a hugely important part of your cosmetics product. It’s your first line of advertising and marketing and can make the difference between a prospective customer taking a closer look or taking a pass. Cosmetics packaging is also a rapidly changing landscape, as consumer expectations and sensibilities change, and novel packaging materials and methods are introduced. Consumers want to feel good about their purchases and they want a luxury experience.

Beauty is booming. Everybody from your grandmother to the kid next door is having fun contouring, highlighting, and tinting — and cosmetic brands are reaping the benefits. The global cosmetics market is skyrocketing toward a market value of over $800 billion by 2023 and is seemingly impervious to ups and downs in the economy. For beauty brands to stake their claim in this thriving but competitive industry, they need to stand out. The product could be amazing, but if nobody notices it, it won’t sell.

Consumers can make a buying decision in just three seconds, often based on nothing more than the look of the product. Sixty-four percent of consumers will try a product simply because it catches their eye. The label is one of the most noticeable visual elements of a cosmetic product.

Labelling for the Online “Shelf”

Fewer beauty buyers are physically handling products before purchasing. Recommendations come as frequently from Instagram celebrities and YouTube reviews as they do from trusted friends. According to a Facebook study, 52 percent of cosmetic or skin care purchases are influenced by “beauty experts on social media” (beating out friends and in-store associates).

One beauty product marketer has talked about creating “an Instagram moment” with packaging that encourages consumers to take pictures. Another said, “We design for the thumbnail,” rather than the physical shelf. For label design, this means texture may be less important than appearance. Though, if you keep the texture of your label even if it’s sold online exclusively, your consumer will love it when they unpackage it. Bold colours and imagery will “pop” in online videos and photos. Elements that shine, such as metallic ink, will convey a sense of luxury to consumers who can’t touch a product before buying.

Typeface is also a critical factor. A survey of 1,000 female beauty buyers found that 40 percent of women said the most important aspect of packaging is that the name is easy to read. Brands that feature minimalistic, legible, but striking design may garner more attention online and in stores.


A 2015 study found that 46 percent of consumers would pay more for an all-natural beauty product. To strengthen an all-natural brand, cosmetics manufacturers should look to eco-friendly labels.  As we explored recently, a third of consumers around the globe choose brands based on their environmental and social impact. Among them, 53 percent look for environmentally-friendly packaging.

There are a number of ways brands can trumpet their natural and environmental bonafides via their product labels:

  • Crinkled paper can give a rustic, natural look.
  • Wood veneers or metallic embossing can make a product feel handcrafted.
  • Brands can opt for biodegradable PLA (polylactic acid)-based labels over petroleum-based plastics.
  • Brands can choose FSC-certified paper from responsibly-managed forests.

Keep in mind that the irony of cosmetic product labelling and packaging is that, although it might look environmentally friendly, genteel and delicate, it must still stand up to the harshest of environments: hot, steamy, wet bathrooms. When labels peel off, tear, or fade, it can send a subtle message about the quality of the product. Cosmetic brands must choose labels that can withstand the most rainforest-like washroom. That means considering the label material, the strength and properties of the adhesive, and the colour-fastness of the ink. An experienced label printer can help brands choose durable label elements.


Almost every consumer now carries a smartphone. This represents an opportunity for beauty brands to expand their messaging beyond their product labels. For example, high-end cosmetic maker Valmont has embedded NFC technology in its packaging. Consumers need only hold their phones near the box to learn more about the brand and proper usage of the product. QR codes can serve a similar function, as demonstrated by deodorant brand Geodo, which used the codes to share scientific information with its tech-savvy young buyers.


“Less is more” might be an overused phrase, but only because it’s on-point so much of the time. Minimalist product design and packaging tells consumers a lot about your product:

  • It conveys confidence. You know what’s inside the package is a high-quality product, and you’re willing to let the product speak for itself.
  • It conveys purity and honesty. Simple, straightforward labelling and packaging puts the emphasis on ingredients and product performance, not on a fancy box or label.
  • It projects Zenlike calm and order

In a climate where consumers are increasingly conscious of packaging waste, the use of recycled and recyclable packaging and materials will continue to be a top priority. Cosmetics Business and Beauty Makeup Supply also predict that refillable containers will gain ground as an eco-sustainable option.

Some of the benefits of using “green” packaging include:

  • It sends a message. Using recycled materials also conveys a message about your brand – that you care about reducing waste and protecting the environment.
  • It grows a customer base. Using refillable containers is a way to build brand loyalty and sell subscription services, where customers return their empty containers as a new one arrives.
  • It might save you money. Recycled packaging materials are sometimes less expensive than first-generation plastics, cardboard, and metal.

Luxury Labels and the ‘Unboxing Experience’

Well, here’s the flipside of the sustainability and minimalism discussion: Consumers also love a pretty package! UK advertising agency Springfield Solutions predicts that embellished metallic textured print and labelling will continue to wow consumers.

Here are some things to know about enhanced labelling:

  • A little goes a long way. A single word printed in gold metallic on your label conveys a sense of richness and luxury, while still staying minimal. This gorgeous gold and blue packaging from Orcé Cosmetics is a great example.
  • Consumers are tactile. There’s a whole field of study called neuromarketing, which has repeatedly shown that consumers like to touch things they buy and are drawn to pleasant-feeling textures.
  • It’s easier than ever. With digital printing advancements, effects like foil, metallics, velvet and other “luxury” textures and looks are more easily obtainable. And cardboard packaging with metallic or foil printing is still recyclable.

As cosmetics consumers do more and more of their shopping online, they miss out on the high-touch experience of a salesperson who is showing them products, offering samples, and wrapping their purchases. The substitute for this is sensory packaging that turns unboxing their purchase into an event.

Here are some ideas for creating an unboxing experiencing while still keeping things minimal and eco-friendly:

  • Use packaging that multi-tasks. Who doesn’t love a good cardboard box? Pretty, sturdy boxes look great on a dresser or nightstand, for holding cosmetics, jewellery, loose change or earbuds.
  • Make an impression with recycled materials. Foil-stamped, recycled cardboard, or recycled raffia used as packing material or ribbon can still offer the anticipation of a “big reveal” while not creating excess waste.
  • Get creative with packaging. A lot of the unboxing experience is in the novelty of unwrapping something new and clever. Consider repurposing existing packaging types (bubble bath in a milk bottle – why not?) or exploring innovative new packaging materials.

The current consumer trend towards wanting greener cosmetic products, coupled with a willingness to pay more for products they perceive as luxury – based on ingredients, proven effects, or small batch production – will continue. That means your product packaging and cosmetics labels have to answer both calls, by providing a sense of pampering while also conveying environmental responsibility. It’s a tall order, but it’s entirely doable.