Airless Packaging Is a Game-Changer for Beauty Products

Cosmetic chemists and dermatologists weigh in.

Airless Packaging

Byrdie/Drunk Elephant

In 2021, we expect beauty products with nontoxic ingredients, ethical business practices, and smarter construction. Enter: airless packaging, which works to enhance the efficacy of beauty products instead of working against it like some traditional designs.

If you take a walk down the beauty aisle or a quick scroll through your feed, it's easy to get swept away by Insta-ready colorful packaging and designs. But when using products on a day-to-day basis, how it looks quickly becomes unimportant. Instead, we depend entirely on the product's construction. Thoughtful packaging design prevents the product's contents from being wasted or contaminated, ensuring we get the most out of our go-to favorites.

Airless packaging is one of the latest user-friendly design methods brands are turning to. The latest report from Global Market Outlook indicates airless packaging accounted for $4.3 billion of the market in 2017 and is expected to reach $7.7 billion by 2026. Ahead, we spoke to cosmetic chemists and leading dermatologists to learn more about airless packaging and why your routine needs it. 

Meet the Expert

  • Shuting Hu is a cosmetic scientist and founder of Acaderma.
  • Anna Guanche is a board-certified dermatologist.
  • Blair Murphy-Rose, M.D. is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist. 
  • Analise Branca is a cosmetic scientist and founder of Stubborn Cosmetics.

What is Airless Packaging? 

Airless packaging is a type of packaging or dispensing system that doesn't allow air to contact the product. It is usually seen in pump form but can be used with jars, tubes, and more. Airless technology can be utilized for a wide range of beauty products, from skincare to cosmetics. It focuses on "utilizing a property called environmental pressure, which creates a vacuum that dispenses product once the valve is activated," explains Shuting Hu, cosmetic scientist and founder of Acaderma.

Board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche explains there are three parts to airless pump bottles:

  • The base: There's a tiny hole in the bottom, which powers the vacuum effect and makes the intake of air possible.
  • The plate: Inside the bottle is a plate or a disc, where the beauty product sits.
  • The pump: A vacuum effect is created by the pumping action to extract the product. 

Benefits of Airless Packaging

Airless packaging boasts significant benefits that improve functionality and deliver added value to the consumer experience. The most powerful benefit is extended shelf life since the design "keeps unused product shielded from contact with air, so the product has a reduced risk of oxidation," shares Blair Murphy-Rose, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist. 

It even limits the chance of contamination caused by the user. "Airless packaging eliminates the interaction between the consumer and the bulk of the product, which prevents users from scooping the product with dirty fingers or forgetting to close the lid," explains Analise Branca, a cosmetic scientist and founder of Stubborn Cosmetics. Since these behaviors are eliminated, most airless packaging products offer better efficacy, stability, and fewer preservatives. 

Along with removing the risk of contamination, it also prevents evaporation, loss of fragrance, and financial waste because the construction "allows for the product to be dispensed at any angle, which allows for the consumer to use about 98% plus of the product," Branca adds. 

The Downside of Airless Packaging 

Airless packaging isn't without its issues, as it's a pricey process. "The technology used to create it is composed of many different parts like pistons, dual-chambers, plastic pouches inside a bottle or jar, which increases the production cost," Branca explains. 

Since airless technology isn't cheap, it's mainly used with products that "contain expensive active ingredients or products that are particularly prone to oxidation, like retinol-based serums, or products with plant extracts, antioxidants, and vitamins," Branca tells us. 

It also has some limitations when it comes to compatibility. While most formulas can work with an airless design, if your favorite serum is super heavy or features beads, don't expect to see it in an airless bottle. "Formulas that are too thick won't be able to move through the pump and would cause it to get clogged," Guanche notes. 

Does It Help The Environment?

The beauty industry is a massive producer of plastic and product waste, so naturally, many brands now prioritize sustainability and have adopted airless packaging. Its focus on functionality dramatically reduces the waste of products and packaging materials. "Airless packaging manufacturers started offering refillable airless packaging or one-material bottles, which allows the consumer to reuse or recycle their products," Branca says. 

The Best Airless Packaging Products

T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum $90.00

Laced with a potent blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids, this nighttime serum helps cure congestion, preps the skin for better product absorption, and leaves skin glowing. 

Mineral Ally Daily Face Defense SPF 50
Soleil Toujours Mineral Ally Daily Face Defense SPF 50 $58.00

This mineral sunscreen is about to change your perception of mineral SPF. It's completely weightless, melts into the skin, and is free of silicone and polyethylene glycols. 

+ Retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer
Kate Somerville + Retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer $98.00

If you want to wake up to fewer lines and a more even complexion, this is the moisturizer for you. It features retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and fatty acids to prevent irritation. 

Organic Certified Organic Lux Luminescent Foundation
Zuii Organic Certified Organic Lux Luminescent Foundation $49.00

Made with rose flowers, bamboo juice, and sunflower, this foundation effortlessly melts into the skin, and its lightweight and luminous finish leaves your face looking bare but better. 

Plantscription Multi-Powered Youth Serum
Origins Plantscription Multi-Powered Youth Serum $47.00

This infusion of peptides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid in this serum will boost skin radiance and soften fine lines and wrinkles with a month of use. 

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