Monday, October 24, 2011

Creating products: Packaging - too many choices!

Packaging our products is more than just putting them in a pretty bottle! We have a few things to consider, such as what we're packaging in the bottle and what kind of plastic we need for specific products. Here are two posts from the past to give you some things to think about when it comes to packaging!

(Originally posted July 11, 2009) With so much to choose from, how do you choose the right bottle or jar for your products?

Consider a few things before choosing a container...

1. Cost: If you need 1 or 2 containers, then a penny here or there isn't going to make a huge difference. But if you need 100, 5 cents can change your mind very quickly. Shop around - take into consideration shipping costs and whether you need to buy caps separately - before buying.

2. Product functionality: A toner is going to leak out of your malibu or tottle bottle, and a pump bottle isn't the best choice for a thick sugar scrub.

3. Usage by humans: Consider you're going to use your product. Will you use it in a slippery shower with wet hands or leave it in a purse for days on end? How much shelf or night-side table space do you want to give up to this product? Are you going to be going back for more or will you be able to apply enough with one squirt or pump? Is there another way to apply this product?

I like to package my toner in a spray bottle. I saw this being done when I attended a "spa party" by a big company that will remain nameless. Although I wanted to scream at all the inaccuracies being spouted by the saleswoman, I thought it was a good idea, meaning I didn't have to pour toner on a cotton pad before applying. I always use too much and that's wasteful! By switching to a spray bottle, I can spritz my face and let it evaporate or use a cotton ball.

I like to package my sugar scrubs in a low profile jar. I started using them because someone gave me a few and I found it mad it easier to get into the product and get a lot of it when I was in the shower.

And I stopped packaging my foot lotion in the malibu containers because I realized I was always going back for more after the first application, but my hands were really sticky and greasy and it made getting the product out a pain in the bum. Plus the container was then really sticky and greasy. So I switched to a pump bottle - it's a little more expensive, but I can put it in a really big pump bottle, and I don't make my normal horrible mess.

4. Prettiness: This is always a factor. If I'm making my 1 litre of leave in conditioner, I'm going to choose something functional for storage. But when I give it to someone, I want to have a lovely bottle that shows off the contents. I need to apply labels, so I need something that is going to be fairly normal shaped so the labels don't warp or buckle.

The adjunct to prettiness is perception. Take these two bottles - the one on the right is a 250 ml cosmo oval bottle. The one on the left is a 500 ml Boston round. Now if you pick them up, you'll know the Boston round is heavier and larger than the other. But just sitting on a shelf, it may appear that one costs more than the other but is slightly smaller!

5. Interchangeability: When I'm buying a larger number of bottles, I consider if the caps are interchangeable with other bottles because I never know if I want a disc cap, turret, spray, or pump cap.

6. Your ingredients: Essential and fragrance oils are not going to play nice with many plastics. You've no doubt noticed this! They're fine in small quantities, but if you're making a fancy perfume or roll on that contains - say - 20% fragrance or essential oils, considering using glass instead.

7. Brand unity: If you're selling things, you might have a specific colour, size, or shape that says you!

I like the cosmo oval bottle for most applications. It's not very costly, and I like the look of it because it's nice and tall and shows off the clarity of a surfactant system nice (although it also highlights when it's not so clear!). It fits nicely in my hand when I'm using it as a spray. And I find it works well in the shower when I need to squeeze out the last drop of body wash with slippery hands! I find it easy to change the caps around when I need something different, and they store well in the giant box I use to store bottles.

I like the tottle bottle for in shower body wash or shampoo, and lotions where I won't be needing to apply more after the first dose.

Sizewise, I find I use 4 oz bottles and jars the most (although I like sugar scrubs in 8 oz containers so I can go crazy with it in the shower!) because I tend to like to change out scents and ingredients. Four ounces is a nice size for a body wash for a few weeks or for hand lotion for a few months. (And I find a 4 oz leave in conditioner is a very good size - any larger than that, and I tend to drop it regularly. But then again, I am a serious klutz!)

Here's a great post on the CPS blog - 5 packaging know-hows! A good read if you are thinking about how to package yourself for sales! I have no idea how to store bottles well. I keep them in bags and boxes and everywhere I have space. You'll want to keep them in a safe place where they won't be covered in dust and spiders (EEEEK!!!!) and you'll want to keep them handy so you can do an occasional inventory before creating something - 'cause there's nothing worse than finding out the only bottles you have on hand are tiny 2 ounces with sprays for a sugar scrub!

(Originally posted July 12, 2009) You've chosen a shape, but have you considered the composition of your bottle? We have tons of different plastics to choose from, but each has their advantage. Most of these can't be filled at over 160F, but we aren't going to be bottling anything that warm, are we?

HDPE: High density polyethylene - Good for everything, unless you're using a ton of essential oils
HDPE usually comes as a translucent, flexible bottle that is compatible with just about everything. (Look right - the frosted or the completely white bottles tend to be HDPE). Except things with a lot of essential oils. If you've ever put something high in essential oils - 1% in a lotion is just fine - you'll see it start to buckle and warp. Not a good idea. And don't put anything over 160F into this bottle! You can squeeze and drop it without creating huge dents.

When you find the white bottles that I tend to think of as storage bottles, those are HDPE as well. Great for shampoos, conditioners, and the like.

PET: Polyethylene terephthalate - Good for products containing a lot of alcohol or essential oils, as well as pretty much everything else.
You'll recognize this one from pop bottles. They work well for alcohols and essential oils. These aren't very squeezable and tend to dent from dropping or pressing. You can find PET bottles in every shape and size - Cosmo oval, Boston round, bullet (the picture to the right), and so on.

PVC: Polyvinyl chloride - Good for squeezing and good resistance to oils.
Good resistance to oils, but general more expensive. These are used a lot for shampoos and conditioners. They are squeezable, which makes them appealing for hair care products or other products when you want to get out every drop. Very good for small, sample sized bottles as well because you can squeeze it nicely. (And it uses less petroleum than the other bottles, so it may be considered slightly more environmentally friendly than the other bottles.)

LDPE: Low density polyethylene - Less chemically resistant than HDPE, good for squeezing.
These are much softer bottles and less chemically resistant than HDPE. They tend to be translucent, and are intended for squeezy applications.
Good for...when you need to get every drop out of a bottle.

Having said all of this, I still prefer using glass or aluminum bottles for something with lots of essential oils, but that's my preference.

Check out this great post at CPS Plasticology 101 for more, in-depth information on packaging!


Tara said...

Do you have a preferred packaging supplier in Canada?

Lise M Andersen said...

HI Susan
I use a pile of different container types (jars, bottles, glass, plastics, acrylic, airless etc). I find storing them in large zip-lock bags (one for each type of container), and then store the sorted, labelled bags in large plastic air-tight container-boxes that I label clearly. It may be overkill, but I am never worried that anything has been exposed when I pull it out for use and everything is always easy to find.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tara! My preferred supplier is Voyageur Soap & Candle for two reasons - they have a lovely selection and they are close to me. I find Aquarius Aroma & Soap are getting in some neat bottles! (Click here for some pictures!) I love their bell shapes, their pink and purple bottles, and the clear squat ovals. I love the bottles with the trigger misters for conditioners and anti-frizz sprays!

Keep in mind that you might find packaging from somewhere far away that's cheaper, but you have to factor in the shipping. And make sure your bottles have closures. You'd be surprised how few suppliers include the caps and pumps with the bottles!

Hi Lise! I'm starting to use the giant Ziplocs now and I'm loving them. It ensures I can see things, they're organized, and they aren't covered in dust!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan
I have always thought that HDPE is the only plastic suitable to store oils eg cleansing oil or facial oil. From your blog, it appears that I can also use PET and PVC also. Hooray!

CariotaFamily said...

Is PP plastic a consideration for oils/butters/EOs?

AG Poly Pack Pvt. Ltd. said...

The information which you have provided is very good. It is very useful who is looking for HDPE Containers Manufacturers.

Paige B said...

I really don't like PET bottles. Firstly, they feel cheap to me, second, I really don't like one-use packaging, particularly as I'm not selling, but mostly making products for myself. With HDPE or PP packages, I can clean and sterilize them with boiling water. Sometimes, you can't get something really clean (think disk caps) just in a sink of soapy water, but a little soap in a large pot simmering on the stove works wonders. I can re-use dispensing caps and know that I've gotten them good and clean. HDPE is also more flexible. PET is less expensive, but for feel, squeezability, and reusability, I would choose HDPE or PP. I also really like airless containers for moisturizers. I'm trying to get higher volume airless bottles for body butters as they seem to be able to pump high viscosity liquids.

Pierre said...

Hi Susan,

Do you have any thoughts on epoxy lining on aluminium bottles? Some of the lining on mine has come away and I wonder whether this could cause contamination.

Thank you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Pierre! Sorry, I don't know the answer to this question.