New Spray Options for Thicker Formulas

It is well accepted that consumers value the convenience and efficacy of spray technology. Over the last several years, GCI magazine has noted the acceleration of design, taking spray packaging from the appearance of a commodity to ergonomically sophisticated containers with aesthetic panache.

What has been difficult for spray formats to do, however, is to connect with consumers beyond hair care and fragrance. Sprayable sun protection appeared close to breaking that barrier just a few years ago, when nearly every major marketer of sun protection products added a spray format. These experienced quick popularity with consumers, who gladly opted for the ease of application and the lightweight and less-mess formulas this option offered. And suppliers played their part, creating formulas and ingredients specifically for sprayable sun protection. The format, however, hit something of a wall.

Alcohol in the finished formulas, particularly when applied to faces, can be an issue of consumer concern. And health care industry insiders watching regulatory and consumer advocacy issues noted an issue less evident to those making the purchase—to be truly effective, sunscreens must be applied in quantities not readily achieved in a spray format.

Although not really the game changer that was expected, sprayable sun protection has been a catalyst for attempting spray options in other segments. In formulations, antioxidants and moisturizers became both part of the protection claim and added-value differentiators. Developments for hair care also are playing a role in opening the options for spray delivery of product. Work by Westman Associates, Inc. in 2005–06 to demonstrate the viscosity capabilities of barrier pack cans showed that spray systems could handle gel and cream formulas, specifically for hair products. Further, Emsar and others have offered sprayers for higher viscosity formulas for more than 10 years, allowing spray dispensing for hair gels and the like.

Two recent launches indicate that incorporating skin care ingredients and breaking down viscosity barriers are opening avenues for spray products beyond hair and sun care: the D2O Hydration Spray from Jane Iredale–The Skin Care Makeup and Reckitt Benckiser’s Veet brand Spray On Hair Removal Cream. These products are links in the format’s evolution, and the launch of D2O Hydration Spray was an evolutionary step in itself. Its predecessor offered hydration in less than ideal climates. As additional benefits were realized, more needs could be addressed.

“The original idea for a facial spray was rooted in my own love of hydrating my skin in dry climates and when flying,” says creator Jane Iredale. “What we realized later was that when [mineral makeups are] applied to the skin, [they look] better and better as time goes on. That’s because they are set by the skin’s natural moisture. So, to hasten the process, we would spritz after an application so that the client could see the full effect of the minerals. Then we discovered the benefits that spritzing had to the longevity of the coverage. It was an evolving process that rooted the sprays firmly into our basic system.”

In addition to hydration, D2O contains seaweed extracts to help reduce sebaceous hyper-secretion and regulate skin’s pH, and additional ingredients were added for antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Even the skin care properties of the fragrance ingredient, ylang-ylang, are part of the marketing story—touted for its balancing action on the secretion of sebum.

“Sprays used to be sold on their fragrance alone. Fragrance was the only differentiator. As more and more ingredients came onto the market with genuine benefits, then manufacturers could produce sprays with a real story,” says Iredale. “For example, we read research that indicated that green tea at 3% has a measurable effect on acne. When we were formulating products for blemish-prone skin, we added green tea at 3% to the formula. Now, the consumer can find sprays designed to help skin in many different ways.”

Thickening the Mix

Thicker formulas delivered by aerosol pumps are not new—aerosol shave creams have been available since the late 1940s. In addition, these products have incorporated basic skin care benefits, primarily moisturizing. Olay recently launched a skin care mousse, in addition to its facial cleansing mousse. These aerosols also allow other ingredients to be delivered with viscosity enhancers, though many thickeners, even at small percentages, become too viscous to be sprayed effectively. For consumers, this type of delivery is more akin to a non-aerosol pump application than to spray applications. Product is pumped onto the hands to be applied to the face and body.

Veet’s use of a spraying system for its Spray On Hair Removal Cream that applies a thin and even layer of cream is therefore interesting for what it does and for the potential that the system may have for pure skin care applications. The non-drip formula can be sprayed holding the can at various angles, and contains skin care ingredients such as mineral oil and shea butter in addition to the depilatories. The format was adopted by the brand to break down some walls between it and consumers.

“From our research with consumers, we know one of the main reasons consumers either do not try or leave the depilatory category is because they think creams are too messy,” says Tracey Caldwell, global professional relations manager, Veet. “By moving to a spray format, this addresses one of the concerns many women have in using depilatory creams. It allows for a no-touch application to deliver smooth legs. There is no sales data yet [the product launched in January 2009, after this article was written]. However, based on our consumer testing and response from retailer partners, we anticipate this will be a very successful launch.”

Interestingly, the creation was the result of a number of facets coming together to fulfill a marketing objective.

“The development process involved the close collaboration between the R&D formulators and packaging technologists to overcome the difficulties inherent with this type of development,” says Mwanza Lumumba, brand manager new products, Veet. “During the development, there were numerous modifications to both the formulation and the pack design before the optimum combination was achieved. The result was a specially developed spraying system that satisfied the required criteria and allows the product to be sprayed on in a thin, even layer quickly and easily. The spray application is fast, precise and the can will even spray the cream upside down.”

Replacing Other Options?

D2O was formulated to be extra moisturizing and is, in fact, positioned as a moisturizing alternative for oily skin. Overall, it is positioned as hydrating and plumping (“giving the face a more youthful appearance”), and consumers are buying in—though sprays don’t appear to currently be standing alone in these consumer’s regimens. “I know that consumers are actively searching for these products, but I don’t think it’s to supplant more traditional skin care,” says Iredale. “I believe they see facial sprays as a product that bridges the gap between skin care and makeup. They are easy to put in a bag, easy to apply, effectively hydrate and also give a boost to the psyche.”

“For the most part, we develop new products based on both consumer trends and specific customer needs,” says Des McEttrick, global marketing director, Emsar. The company—which developed a 360-degree pump used by Origins for its Silkening Body Spritz, a sprayable body lotion—notes ease of use and portability are factors in consumers choosing a spray delivered product, aspects that translate to nearly any personal care category.

Sprayers, according to McEttrick, are generally considered easy to use in many categories because they can dispense product in a fine mist over a desired range of area, but these factors alone are not likely to completely alter product preferences. The feel of traditionally delivered, high-quality skin care products—like the foaming action of cleansing products—is an attribute that is not necessary for efficacy, but one that consumers associate with effectiveness. It’s also an aesthetic pleasure. And though it is reasonable to assume more spray products will be added to categories in which there has not been deep penetration by the format and that these products will continue to find room in consumers’ regimens if they deliver a formula with a consistency and feel that simulates what can be delivered by pump or jar, it is also not likely that they will be the demise of other formats.

“There will probably be more spray-on skin care products in the market, but in addition to, not replacing, products applied by hand,” Caldwell concurs.

More in Packaging