Have you ever wondered what aspects of product packaging make a consumer want to pick up one product over another? Store shelves are crowded, so grabbing consumers’ attention isn’t always an easy task — especially if you’re trying to sell a new product versus an established one.

The beauty and cosmetic market was worth more than $62 billion in 2016, and continues to grow. Therefore, it is a highly saturated marketplace with brands vying for the attention of consumers. To grab attention, your product packaging both has to make sense for the product and be attractive and eye-catching.

If you’re a designer tasked with creating product packaging design for a cosmetic product, you’ll need to achieve the fine balance between expectation and surprise that drives sales. The best way to learn this is to look at seven different innovative cosmetic packaging examples and study what these brands are doing right.

1. Eco-Friendly Packaging

Many people who are interested in protecting the environment are choosing only eco-friendly products. Sales of green-friendly products in the United States alone topped $40 billion in 2012, and continue to grow. Choosing eco-friendly packaging is just a smart move to both gain this business and reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

One example of a beauty product with eco-friendly packaging is Lush Ultrabalm. Many of Lush’s lotions come in small tins, which can later be recycled or upcycled for other things. This practice reduces waste and allows the company to present products that are friendly to Mother Nature.

2. Single-Serve Packaging

People are so busy these days. They are often on the run, going to work, taking the kids to sports practice and meeting up with family and friends. Individually sized products can really come in handy with a busy lifestyle. Enter packaging that meets this need by providing single sizes of cosmetic and beauty products.

Many skin care lines offer trial-sized kits so people can take the product on a test drive and make sure it works for their skin type. Companies typically offer sets of products in similar sizes, all packaged in a starter box. Clinique is one brand that offers this option with their Discover Clinique packages. Everything comes in a box that features the Clinique logo. A lot goes into designing a set such as this, because all the products must fit perfectly into the package.

3. Unique Shapes

Sometimes, companies choose to stand out with a uniquely shaped product without much outside packaging at all. Perhaps the design work goes into the display container in this type of product. At other times, the focus will be on a simple cardboard backing with a clear layout and clear plastic to show off the product itself.

One example of this type of product and a similar packaging style is EOS lip balms. The container has a round shape, which makes it stand out from similar lip balms. The product packaging designers have kept the focus more on the overall design of the product.

4. A Touch of Whimsy

Some brands simply lend themselves to a whimsical, unique design. Try to think outside the box for these types of packaging needs. Can you make the packaging look like something other than a package? What information do you still need to include for the consumer?

One example of a whimsical packaging design is the Apothecary brand — a line of soaps for men and women. The packaging looks like a book, complete with an attached bookmark/closure. Even the lettering looks like a book title and spine of a book. It’s distinctive and memorable.

5. Bright, Bold Colors

There have been several creative designs for makeup, likely because this is a large part of the market sector. Makeup sales grew by about 8 percent in 2016, particularly in color cosmetics. Designers are focusing more on showing bold, bright colors to set a mood, rather than using beautiful women to market these products.

Smashbox is known for their innovative packaging designs. They use resin packaging and neon colors or other elements that will catch the consumer’s eye. Because the company knew stores might stack their products, they made the resin boxes stackable, but kept the lids of individual colors clear so consumers can see the contents.

6. Beauty and Function

Cosmetic industry packaging designers aren’t afraid to use beautiful and elegant designs to attract customers. High-end products call for a high-end design. Using jeweled or metallic tones can attract customers looking for the highest quality available. These colors are a good fit for everything from perfume to skin care to makeup. At the same time, these products need to be functional enough that the consumer is not frustrated trying to open the product.

One example of a beautiful and functional product design is Golbary’s packaging, which includes a transparent clutch with matching gold accents.

7. Luxury and Durability

When you create a high-end beauty product and you want the packaging to convey the idea of luxury, you probably also want to present an image of steadiness and durability. In these cases, you might use hardier materials in your packaging design, such as metal, glass or wood. Perfumes and colognes, in particular, seem well-suited to this type of design.

Take a look at Gucci’s Guilty fragrance. The limited-edition product is packaged in a platinum-toned bottle, which makes it look as extravagant as it feels. Yet, at the same time, the metal lends an air of timelessness to the product. The outside packaging is simple, elegant and to the point so as not to detract from the overall product design.


The cosmetic industry is always growing, so the packaging designs for this sector are always changing. Because most of the products in this industry are geared toward beauty, the appearance of the packaging will always be of vital importance.

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!


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