Celebrating the subjectivity of beauty through packaging

One of the biggest and most exciting shifts to hit the beauty world is the embracing of individuality, diversity and our own personal sense of what beauty means to us. So what does this mean for packaging design?

Recently, model Emily Ratajowski wrote on instagram in response to a photo-shopped and altered image of herself: “Everyone is uniquely beautiful in their own ways. We all have insecurities about the things that make us different from a typical ideal of beauty. I hope the fashion industry will finally learn to stop trying to stifle the things that make us unique and instead begin to celebrate individuality.” And it seems that the influential brands are doing just that.

We are beginning to see the world of brand communications celebrate this sense of distinction and selfdom. Over manipulated, photo-shopped and overworked imagery has been swapped for the creation of natural, raw and unaltered images. Photographer Hedvig Jenning is being commissioned more and more by fashion and beauty brands, including & Other Stories. Her work has a visceral reality that inspires with a fresh burst of authenticity. Think also of fashion brand Girlfriend Collective, whom thrive on their brand transparency, and H&M’s recent campaign that shows real women wearing clothes how they would actually be worn in real places.

This rejuvinated appreciation of beauty brings with it a host of exciting new influencers that are championing uniqueness. Vogue magazine is championing the subjectivity of beauty through celebrating influencers such as salvia and the ‘fecal matter’ duo who create fantastically artistic extra terrestrial looks to celebrate very personal interpretations of fantasy beauty. More extreme examples like these aside, with a sense of optimism, we are seeing visual aesthetics that in the past beauty world might have been seen as a ‘flaw’ being celebrated in new and exciting ways and brands using real people with individual skills and interests modelling clothes.

So how is this shift being reflected by beauty brands and their packaging design?

Alongside the important shift towards real, subjective beauty, comes the celebration of transparent beauty brands that design a fresh honesty into their products. Lush cosmetics have continued to gain momentum through their celebration of the virtues of handmade, natural imperfection. This product truth translates to the packaging design.

 Image courtesy of Lush Cosmetics 

Image courtesy of Lush Cosmetics 

Frank Body design a fresh honesty into the packaging of their beauty products through the use of impactful tone of voice that creates the packaging look and feel as well as communicating product values and brand truth.

 Image courtesy of frank body 

Image courtesy of frank body 

We are also seeing cosmetics packaging play homage to beauty subjectivity through discarding traditional colour pallets and creating new visual codes and cues that celebrate different aesthetic worlds. For example, Bleach London’s latest cosmetic range uses tie-dyed prints, bright green colour pallets and photography of different material textures on packaging to celebrate the creative versatility of the brand. These designs used on recycled cardboard create unique and compelling packaging.

 Image courtesy of Bleach London 

Image courtesy of Bleach London 

In many ways, the ultimate in not conforming to out-dated beauty ideals means not allowing brands to dictate. As a result, we are seeing many challenger beauty brands adopting a stripped back utilitarianism through their packaging design to celebrate the un-adulterated quality of the product. The ‘Brandless’ cosmetic and personal care design leaves space for our individual personalities and makes a statement about not needing the addition of designed embellishment if the product is of high enough quality. Similarly, New Wash uses its packaging design to reinforce its message of sustainable simplicity. However, in cases such as these as well as examples like New Zealand based Ki sunscreen from Caci, simplicity is beautifully crafted and considered, with the role of typography and finish being pivotal.

 Image courtesy of Brandless 

Image courtesy of Brandless 

These are incredibly inspiring times in the ever changing world of beauty and fashion. Our new subjective appreciation of beauty, as well as our empowering celebration of the beauty of diversity, provides an exciting platform to push boundaries within beauty packaging.

Initially published in Beauty Packaging Magazine