In an era of rapid technological advancements, market growth and fragmentation, supply chain realignments and consolidation, and more, beauty's manufacturing space (turnkey, contract manufacturers, white label producers, etc.) has never been more dynamic. To keep track of emerging innovations, services and capabilities, Global Cosmetic Industry has launched an ongoing series of roundups, providing brands with inspiration and information to support future product development or strategic production decision-making.
AI-assisted Product Development
Most of the AI-related headlines in beauty have centered on consumer-facing experiences, from novel marketing to enhanced skin diagnostics for more personalized product recommendations. Yet it’s also reshaping product innovation.
Recently, packaging and turnkey manufacturer Element Beauty Group launched its Element AI service to “improve and accelerate the development process of new beauty solutions,” according to the company. The manufacturer’s designers reportedly use the platform to efficiently expedite designs, which can cut overall costs. due to the increased speed and efficiency it offers. In particular, the AI tool quickly analyzes data and generates “unique design options” that can be modified by human designers. Not only can Element AI generate textures, colors, finishes, shapes and forms for quick-to-production designs, it can generate hundreds of options for a single package “in a matter of seconds.” This volume of concepts can inspire brands, provide new perspectives on creative strategies and more, according to the company.
The increased efficiency allows for multiple prototypes to be developed quickly to facilitate A/B testing for on-shelf and online settings. It can also nimbly optimize designs based on material or sustainability specifications.
“AI is bringing the next level of expertise to improve the conception and design of packaging,” says David Pina, innovation director at Element Beauty Group. “AI will never replace human interaction, and human inputs, but it is a step further to ensuring that we will release the best products on the market.”
Troubleshooting Product Development Challenges
Univar Solutions has launched BeautyLAB to help brands overcome formulation challenges to ensure speed to market without sacrificing product quality/efficacy.
The lab-focused program features Univar Solutions' technical experts around the world who leverage partner suppliers' ingredients to boost product efficacy and quality and overcome formulation challenges.
The program also includes a website with digital content, like videos, focused on product development issues, as well as access to select concept formulations to inspire innovation.
Key areas of focus for BeautyLAB include eco-friendly, science-backed, high-performance formulas, per the company, with particular specialty in areas such as sun care (mineral or chemical), skin care (serums, creams, lotion hybrids, etc.) and hair care.
In the sun care sector, for instance, Univar Solutions has developed a video series, #sunschool, to address common challenges. The platform also offers access to concept formulas such as the Work Harder SPF 50 Sport Spray, Clear & Bright Sunscreen Stick SPF 30, Invisible Defense Silicone Sunscreen Gel In Vitro SPF 30, Protect & Play Hybrid Priming Cream SPF 25, and many more.
Packaging-forward Turnkey Beauty
Cosmopak’s new Rooted in Beauty turnkey collection features color cosmetics, skin care and body care products, some of which include Credo- and/or Sephora Clean-compliant formulas.
The color range includes a lip gloss featuring skin-friendly ingredients housed in the company’s magnetic vial for quick-release—with a pleasing, ASMR-like sound—and easy application. A clean, sheer lip oil balm is presented in Cosmopak's Ecoforward Metal Slimstick and offers light application and slight laydown of pigments.
The range’s liquid lipstick pen is housed in an airtight twist design for mess-free and precise, buildable application, while the silky vibrant liquid shadow pen imparts a high level of pearl with small reflective qualities around the eyes. The airtight pens are designed to extend the shelf life of products like liquid lipsticks, eyeshadows and concealers. The available brush tips are reportedly easy to clean, while the pen’s valve evacuates all product.
Rooted in Beauty also features a clean liquid highlighter in an Ecoforward Glass pump bottle and a clean loose setting powder in a dosage control jar. Users can twist the bottom of the jar to release a small dose of loose powder to control and minimize mess.
Also featured is an ultralight clean foundation housed in an airtight Ecoforward Refillable Dispenser. The dispenser cuts plastic waste by using refillable cartridges. Users can unlock cartridges with a twist and then dispense a small stream of product with a squeeze of the sides.
The body care range includes a nourishing peptide body butter featuring peptides to promote collagen production and boost skin elasticity. The exfoliating body scrub, meanwhile, gently removes dead skin cells for a smooth and radiant complexion. Both are packaged in jars.
The skin care range includes a clean exfoliating face mask comprising natural exfoliants and housed in a jar. The clean nourishing face oil, meanwhile, is packaged in an Ecoforward Glass push-button dropper.
Cosmopak’s accessory collection features several bags in a variety of materials and colors.
The concept products support speed to market since Cosmopak has already taken on the formulation, packaging compatibility and other key product development steps. That said, the company is able to customize concept products and accessories and work with clients on fully custom briefs.
“We are excited to launch our new turnkey collection that caters to the growing demand for clean beauty products, while not ignoring the importance of high performing formulas,” says Walter Dwyer, CEO of Cosmopak. “Our team has put a lot of thought into developing these turnkey items with skin-loving ingredients paired with high-quality, sustainable and innovative packaging. We believe this collection will be a highly relevant with our clients and drive our speed-to-market product development strategy.”
Inclusive Sun Care Innovation
Solésence has leveraged its in-house technologies to improve sun care formulations for every consumer. The company’s Beauty Drops SPF 50+ serum/cc cream features an ultra-lightweight texture that’s available in 18 shades (also available in an untinted variant). Beauty Drops are designed to offer broad-spectrum, non-nano mineral-based sun protection, antioxidant benefits and hydration. Key ingredients include allantoin, niacinamide and bisabolol.
The company’s Multi-Cultural Magic SPF 50+ medium-weight moisturizer is designed to protect against free radicals emitted by UVA, UVB, HEV (blue) light and pollution. The tinted version features its Bloom technology, which reportedly reduces as much as 77% of blue light. Its plant-based rutin reportedly boosts UV performance and free radical defense. Both the tinted and untinted variants feature Solésence’s Kleair, a high-transparency zinc oxide that defends against UV exposure and quenches free radicals. Furthermore, Multi-Cultural Magic SPF 50+ features sustainable squalane for moisturization and anti-aging benefits.
The Clean Mineral UV Shield SPF 50+ face and body moisturizer also comprises Solésence’s Kleair technology, hyaluronic acid, squalene and organic jojoba oil, while the Natural Glow Face Oil SPF 40+ serum blurs fine lines and provides UV defense, featuring Kleair, Bloom, jojoba esters for moisturization and squalane (>10%).
Finally, the Universal Glow SPF 50 eye, cheek and lip pigment, available in 10 tints, primes, blurs and seals the skin to hide wrinkles and creases. In addition to UVA- and UVB-defending ingredients, the formulation includes vitamin E. Solésence’s Lip Oil SPF 40+ also takes the makeup-skin care hybrid approach in Nude or Bold variants. The formulations include Kleair and reportedly protect the lips from at least 97% of UV radiation).
Capturing Private Brand Growth in Beauty
A recent analysis from Euromonitor found that “37% of consumers with an annual disposable income of $150,000 prioritized finding a bargaina” in beauty, pointing to increased interest private label brands. The analysis noted that inflationary pressure and rising costs of living are making private label personal care and beauty brands “a clear winner in the competition to balance consumer needs for efficacy and affordability.”
Verla International, a private label manufacturer and contract packaging and filling company operating in the beauty, personal care, body, hair, bath, fragrance and nail care sectors, is poised to tap into that growth.
Many private label categories are relatively mature, but beauty remains an outlier. Some retailers that aren’t already engaged in the sector may now be ready to dip their toes into the category. Companies that develop commodity-type SKUs in the cosmetics space can achieve sales volume and longevity in the sector.
Many retailers will opt for a strategy of entering beauty categories with high-quality luxury-level products with mid-tier prices compared to consumer brands. The key, according to Verla, is quality. While lower prices are attractive to shoppers, beauty buyers won’t accept skimping on efficacy/quality. And, in fact, if a beauty product price is set too low, shoppers may worry that a product is low-quality.
Therefore, a successful strategy requires private label brands to deliver high performance in core product lines at a low—but not too low—price to build credibility and allow retailers to expand into line extensions.
By breaking shoppers’ poor quality and performance perceptions of private label personal care and beauty, retailers can tap into substantial growth and inspire consumers to experiment and adopt store brands.
According to Verla International, astute private label developers and marketers that choose to develop proprietary brand cosmetics must partner with the right manufacturing and development to make it happen.
Tapping Hotel & Resort Amenity Growth
Marietta by Voyant Beauty, a manufacturer of premium and earth-friendly hotel and resort amenities, has been rebranded as Fluent.
Fluent works with hotel chains and independent hotel groups, offering a portfolio of brands across the luxury, salon, sustainable and niche categories. The company's hospitality amenity programs are designed to help brands reach consumers through sampling, experience and adoption with no upfront investment.
Fluent’s newest brand partners include R+Co, Harlem Perfume Co., Ourside, Osea, Kevin.Murphy, EVO, Lifetherapy, Hudson Made NY and Fresh Monster; longstanding clients include Paul Mitchell, Babor, Soapbox, Farmhouse Fresh, JR Watkins and more.
It also boasts access to Voyant Beauty's global infrastructure and innovation resources in the wake of the former Marietta's 2020 acquisition.
The rebranding is intended to strengthen supply chain and brand partner connections, boost RSPO and PCR initiatives, increase the organization's EcoVadis rating and support its ESG program, and ensure strong customer service. Fluent by Voyant Beauty reportedly has the largest dedicated manufacturing capacity in the amenity industry and will continue to provide an elevated amenity experience for hotel and resort guests worldwide.
“This is not simply a name change to Fluent," said Richard McEvoy, CEO of Voyant Beauty. "This change embodies our company’s unified vision by aligning our values, goals, and mission under a cohesive brand. It represents our commitment to evolving for the future to ensure that we meet the needs of our hotel and brand partners by offering our customers diverse and innovative solutions for the hospitality market.”
“The strategic growth we have planned for Fluent is taking a tangible form with this rebranding,” said Andy Ahonen, VP sales and general manager of Fluent by Voyant Beauty. “This symbolizes Voyant’s commitment to expanding our market presence, diversifying our offerings, our brands, and catering to a broader audience in hospitality. This marks the first step in a series of initiatives that are all designed to strengthen our commitment to be a valued partner for both existing and new customers as well as our brands.”
Hybrid Color Cosmetics
Schwan Cosmetics launched PowerUpYourPout, a refillable mechanical lip liner featuring skin-friendly ingredients, at Cosmoprof Asia 2023 in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the company’s existing eco-friendly eyeliner and lip liner pencil, TheBetterBarrel, was nominated for the 2023 Cosmopack Asia Awards in Hong Kong in the sustainability category.
The lip liner, designed to address the Asia Pacific market's transition away from single-use beauty products, features exchangeable cartridges comprising a peptide- and jojoba-oil-infused formulation that offers plumping, moisturizing, cell-generation-stimulating, defining and lip-filling makeup benefits.
The applicator, meanwhile, features a drop-shaped tip that mimics the shape of the lips for easier application of product. The tip reportedly never loses it shape to ensure precise application through the life of the product.
As noted in the November 2023 issue of Global Cosmetic Industry, in the first half of 2023, lip makeup was the fastest-growing U.S. beauty product category across the prestige and mass sectors, according to Circana. Growth has been supported by hybridized formulations.
“We understand the needs and preferences of the Asian cosmetics market, which are characterized by fast innovation, product performance with high-quality standards, and most recently, an increased demand for sustainable product offers,” said Sandra Schäfer, manager of sustainable business innovation at Schwan Cosmetics. “We offer a wide range of products that cater to these demands, from natural and clean formulations to trendy, functional, and sustainable packaging solutions. With Power Up Your Pout, we demonstrate that high-quality beauty products can be sustainable - without compromise. This is an important part of our ongoing commitment to enabling our consumers to reduce the amount of waste from cosmetics products while still feeling great about their look and achieving the latest trending styles.”
Meanwhile, TheBetterBarrel eyeliner and lip liner pencils were nominated finalists in the Cosmopack Asia Awards' sustainability category (as of press time). The barrel features a biobased materials and airtight packaging to preserve volatile ingredients.
"When considering our sustainability strategy, our long-term goal is to transition from a linear product life cycle to a closed loop," Schäfer explained. "To achieve this, we aim to prevent waste in landfills and incinerators by replacing virgin fossil plastics in our packaging with recycled and biobased materials, and developing recyclable and refillable solutions. The PowerUpYourPout lip liners align perfectly with this strategy, allowing us to integrate closed loops for our products.“
US-based Actives Specialist for Beauty
Amcol Health & Beauty Solutions (HBS) provides compounding and filling services for the beauty industry, offering custom and clinically tested stock formulations and R&D capabilities for categories such as retinol-based formulations, hydration formulations for the face and body, SPF formulations, and functional formulations such as scrubs and cleansers.
A specialist in active delivery systems that enhance topical skin care formulations, Amcol HBS is able to help brands tap growing interest in clinical, expert-backed and dermatologist brands for the mass markets, providing consumer solutions for younger-looking, clearer, firmer and more even-toned skin.
The company's in-house team works with brands to develop products that meet key specifications. Once formulas are validated via analytics and stability testing, the packaging team will ensure that components are compatible with the final formula.
As noted, many of Amcol HBS' stock formulas have been clinically tested to ensure that efficacy and sensitivity-related marketing claims can be sufficiently validated.
The company's Lafayette, LA cGMP manufacturing facility fulfills many brands' desire to have local/regionalized production to ensure supply chain stability and/or lower carbon footprints. On-site QA teams track raw materials from receipt through final product shipment, while the quality control laboratory oversees raw material and batch release testing, stability testing and storage, and production process validation.