Prior to launching our line, my partner and I performed market research by canvassing the downtown San Francisco area. We asked people to spend several minutes of their time answering questions about their likes and dislikes about skin care and packaging.
The vast majority felt that heavy-bottomed glass jars were a sign of luxury, and they enjoyed the feeling of dipping their fingers into the cream and spreading the product onto their skin. However, a significant number of people mentioned other important issues, including travel-friendly containers, product safety, and recyclability.
With this in mind, we went back to the drawing board with our chemist to decide what to do. As much as we wanted to follow the results we found it nearly impossible to do so while maintaining a lightweight, travel-friendly, safe, and recyclable product. Furthermore, dipping fingertips directly into the container opens the door for contamination. We would need to add more, higher strength preservatives to keep the product safe.
Glass vs. Plastic
Everything in our products from the ingredients to the package is designed to be functional and recyclable. When it comes to packaging, the most common options are glass and plastics. The plastics that we choose are generally safer and more versatile than glass. Glass is heavy and fragile, making it a less-than-ideal travel companion. Unlike glass, air-tight plastic containers can be fitted with a pump that completely shields a product from light and air. It is also cleaner; repeatedly dipping your fingers into a container can lead to contamination. This airless, contaminant-free environment prolongs shelf-life and ensures safety.
Some plastics, especially those that contain a chemical BPA have the tendency to leach hormone-like compounds. This is why we have chosen to use BPA-free plastic #5, polypropylene (PP). PP is highly resistant to leaching plastic materials into oil-base products. After careful research we found this to be great for products containing acids, alcohols, and fats. This plastic is highly durable and can be sterilized (heated); allowing it to be also used for foods, baby bottles, and medicine. We purposely selected our PP airless pump bottles to contain our SPF 30, in case you toss your sunscreen into a beach bag on a summer day or leave it in a hot car. You can rest assured that the product will remain stable and safe.
UV light can pass through glass causing products to degrade more quickly. Plastic containers protect the product against such damage. When glass is unavoidable, we use brown glass that helps to limit the amount of light that enters the containers.
Often beauty products are decorated with non-recyclable foil or metallic materials. This includes shiny labels, caps, and edges on luxury-looking jars and tubes. Recyclability is a big factor for our socially conscious brand.
Recycling in your area. You may find recycling codes etched into the bottom of most containers or sometimes find them printed on the labels, as in the case of S4 Skincare containers. Most of our containers are # 1’s and 5’s for recycling codes. If your area doesn’t allow for #5’s you can contact your closest Whole Foods or check the Preserve Gimme 5 Program and they will assist you in finding out how to recycle.
Four Points When Choosing a Container
- Safety of the client; we want to limit customer exposure to plastic by-products or decomposition of products
- Stability of the product; we don’t want the bottle to cause the product to degrade and lose effectiveness.
- Simple and safe for travel
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