When it comes to cosmetic products, what do you value the most? Form or function?
Personally, I place performance primarily. Packaging comes second; if a product isn’t good, it could have the most elegant packaging ever and not matter.
Maybelline Instant Age-Rewind Concealer, for example, is a fantastic drugstore under-eye concealer…but the applicator is silly. I don’t loathe it as much as some others do, but I do think it could have been executed better. To dispense the product, you twist the case and it clicks as it slowly advances the product up to the built-in sponge-esque puff applicator. It isn’t ideal for application, it isn’t as hygienic as many consumers would prefer, and it is difficult to get the product onto a different applicator if you want to try it that way. The product inside the tube is fantastic, though, so many of us deal with it; it is well-worth it.
That said, there are times when packaging can be a purchase-deterrent. When I choose to invest in a product, I expect greater care to be put into the packaging during the design and manufacturing process. Let’s look at three products, here.
Makeup Packaging Comparison
elf Studio Blush, $3 / Benefit Coralista, $28 / Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush, $35
- e.l.f. features simple, uncomplicated packaging. It is slim (bag-friendly!), straightforward, and features a window in the front so you can view the shade within while it is closed. There is a small mirror inside. It snaps shut.
- Benefit Coralista, and all of their face powders, comes in a box. The box appeared to be made from thin, reinforced cardboard or paper that is printed with, in Coralista’s case, pink leopard print and some other motifs – I think palm trees, but I really have no idea. This makeup packaging does not latch to close.
- Hourglass features classy, sleek packaging. On top of being aesthetically pleasing, it houses the product well, closing with a reassuring snap. If I bought one of these and it took me 20 years to finish, the packaging probably wouldn’t make me feel dated or juvenile.
e.l.f. products are not an investment, but I wanted to put this in here for comparison’s sake. $3, I’m pretty satisfied with my elf blush. I’m not someone who jumped on the, “elf is glorious!” bandwagon when it rolled around, but I am pretty happy with their blush. Yeah, they aren’t always visible all day, but for $3 reapplying doesn’t ruin my day. The makeup packaging is not ostentatious, it doesn’t take up much room in my battlestation, makeup bag, or purse. In the sad event that the product within breaks – whatever, it was $3. I’ll replace it.
Frankly, at $28, I pass over Benefit’s powders pretty quick. I’ve seen how they wind up looking in collections – the paper/cardboard attracts dirt, they get scuffed, the edges and corners of the box get bent or snubbed pretty easily. I don’t feel like the product is protected; if it fell, the lid would likely fly open, the product within would probably shatter and go everywhere. They simply do not feel sturdy. The packaging takes up a lot of space comparatively; I couldn’t stick it in an organizer with my compacts. On top of all that, I’m not really a fan of the print on their packaging – not trying to put it down, but it just isn’t for me. I own one of the (similarly packaged) Hard Candy Fox in a Box blushes – lo and behold, it didn’t protect it at all in a fall. Barely used otherwise, it looks like hell.
Although Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting blushes are definitely a splurge in my eyes, I would feel more comfortable investing $35 in one of those than $28 in a Benefit blush either for myself or as a gift for someone else. If I’m spending in that range, I want to be sure of the sturdiness of the makeup packaging…and also, at that price-point, I feel like some luxury is not out of line.
I have a Stila eyeshadow palette that is a similar thin paper/cardboard material – it makes me crazy. It has a weak magnet to help hold it closed, but it doesn’t do much. It pops open easily, the crease in the paper/cardboard that is the “hinge” feels week… as a result, this palette is rarely used – and I plan to depot it once I get my hands on a Z-Palette.
TheBalm is also a user of this paper/cardboard packaging – and I distinctly get the feel that they are trying too hard to be cheeky, almost edgy, with their packaging. Makeup should absolutely be fun, but if I buy a palette and can’t comfortably bring it to work if I need to touch up, then I don’t want it. Could you imagine? HR goes, “Yeah hey we got a report that you pulled out this, ‘Nude Dude,’ thing? That isn’t appropriate in the workplace…” or something like that. NOPE.
I can’t imagine that these are poor quality products, but the packaging turns me off from being interested enough to even swatch (let alone buy). What are your thoughts on the matter? Would you buy a mediocre product that had good packaging? A product that had shoddy packaging with the intention of immediately depotting – or would you just deal with the poor packaging?