Suitable Packaging Gives Best Preservation

I’ve written a lot about packaging in the past, but I’d like to share with you a study I read recently on the value of packaging and preservation.

When we’re packaging our products, we need to think of the end user, how she will treat the product once it reaches her house or car, and how she might contaminate the product, especially those found in jars or screw top containers.

This study used poorly and well preserved products to maximize the contamination of the products. The contamination of both the unpreserved lotion and shampoo on day one found levels too numerous to count!

Next I will quote its data to show you some facts.

This study tested the contamination of shampoo with three different caps – the screw cap, the flip top, and the slit cap (or disc cap). The screw cap containers had the most contamination (29%) followed by the slit cap (21%) and the flip top (0%).

cap typecontamination
screw cap29%
slit cap / disc cap21%
flip top0%
the contamination of shampoo

The study also tested contamination of lotions with three different caps – the screw cap, the flip cap and pump. The screw cap tested very poorly (79%), the flip cap tested poorly as well (39%), and while the pump tested the lowest (10%).

cap typecontamination
screw cap79%
flip cap39%
the contamination of lotion

So what does this mean for us? It means we need to choose our packaging bottles well. Leave the screw caps for maple syrup and other cooking goodies, and go with the disc cap, flip top, or pump every time.

Again, form should follow function when it comes to caps. What are you dispensing?

Disc Cap Bottles

Disc cap bottle: Ah, the humble disc cap. It’s good for pretty much every product with its tiny opening that allows surfactants, lotions, toners, and all your other products to come out with a squish! It’s not great for thick lotions – like a foot lotion – or sugar scrubs.

empty 250ml amber plastic bottle with disc cap
  • Good for: Thin to medium lotions, surfactant mixtures, toners, serums, shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner.
  • Not good for: Thick lotions, sugar scrubs, anhydrous creams or butters.
  • Downside: Could be hard to get every drop of lotion out of the bottom.
  • Upside: Readily available, works with almost every product.
  • Verdict: A staple of your bottle collection as it will work with almost everything.

Pump Bottles

Pump bottle: You can generally find two types of pumps at the supply shop – the treatment pump and the regular pump.

The treatment pump is intended for smaller bottles and products you might want to use sparingly – serums, facial moisturizers, skin care, expensive lotions – and you’ll generally find them on bottles 4 ounces/120 ml or smaller.

While regular pump (also called lotion pump) is more match with bigerer volume packaging bottles for hair care, body wash, like 500ml, 750ml and 1 liter.

plastic double wall cosmetic bottle
treatment pump bottle
brown 800ml round PET pump bottle
lotion pump bottle

The larger pumps are great for thin and thick lotions, surfactant mixtures, and anything else you want to dose out. They work well when you might be going back for more – for instance, for foot lotion – because you don’t get the container incredibly messy! They are simply not suitable for something like a toner – something primarily made of water – because they won’t pump it out properly.

  • Good for: Lotions, creams, surfactant mixtures, hair care products.
  • Not good for: Watery creations, sugar scrubs, anhydrous butters.
  • Downside: More expensive than disc caps. Not suitable for thick scrubs.
  • Upside: Get out every last drop.
  • Verdict: Pump bottles are great, but can add up to $1.00 to the cost of a bottle.

Spray Bottles

Spray cap bottles: I do love the spray cap. It’s ideal for thin, water creations like summer or cooling sprays when you want to cover a larger area or don’t feel like rubbing something in all that well. I love it for toners and other facial products – spray on, wipe off, you’re done!

If you want to monitor your dosage of the product – leave in conditioners, for instance – it’s a great way to ensure you don’t use too much as you get a little tired pumping the spray! They’re great for products using oil or cyclomethicone bases (like perfumes or body sprays) as well.

pet plastic 60ml spray bottle
  • Good for: Water creations, like thin lotions, leave in conditioners, anti-frizz serums, perfumes, all liquid oil creations (like an after bath spray).
  • Not good for: Medium to thick lotions, sugar scrub, anhydrous butters.
  • Downside: Sprayers can be expensive. Not suitable for thick creations, like lotions.
  • Upside: It sprays!
  • Verdict: Sprayers are fantastic for products that contain at least 80% to 90% liquids.

You can use turret caps – the ones that you have to lift up – for various things, but I find them a little hard to find. I like to use those for very liquidy things like toner or thin lotions. And orifice bottles, which are suitable for dispensing essential oils or serums.

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