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Cosmetic and Perfume Carton Wrapping Explained

The complete packaging process for the cosmetics and perfume industry is of extreme importance. Never before has the phrase “selling the sizzle and not the sausage” been more apt when applied to differentiation between cosmetic and perfume brands. Cosmetics and perfumes are expensive items and, in the main, it is difficult without supplying test products, to determine the quality and efficacy of the product being purchased. This is where the packaging has a job to do, from the quality of the materials, through the uniqueness of the design to the perfectness with which the product is presented.

The function of the overwrap on the carton is threefold. At the most basic level it must ensure tamper evidence to prevent the substitution of inferior product or the theft of the original. It must also prevent the contamination of the carton with dirt or dust and finally, and perhaps most importantly, it must increase the allure of the product by providing a perfect, gift wrapped, presentation.

Shrinkwrapping can be used but the quality of the finished pack is poor due to the way shrinkwrapping creates the seals. Some manufacturers use a high quality flowrap using printed film which produces an attractive presentation but does not allow the product inside to be viewed. The standard for perfume and cosmetic carton wrapping is an overwrap.

An overwrap simulates how the product would be packaged if it were to be wrapped by hand. This means that the film is sealed either underneath the carton or on the trailing edge and then on each end face a “diamond point” or “envelope” end fold is created whereby the film is folded to a point before being heat sealed.

Typically, a thick and lustrous 32 micron polypropylene film is used which helps reduce the effect of any film shrinkage when the sealing heat is applied. The end folds need to be taken to as crisp a point as possible and the seal takes place only where the tips of the folds meet. This is deliberately done so that a wrinkle free end fold is displayed that is still tamper evident yet is still easy to open. Adjustable end fold pads provide the desired sealing shape, be it a dot, bar or spot seal.

It is crucial that the spot seal is placed in exactly the correct position on the end face, where the two folds of film exactly meet. For this reason many wrapping machines offer a product indexing system whereby the carton is mechanically driven through the machine as the end folds are being made. Only two or three cartons are in the folding area at any one time and hence the correct positioning does not require a perfectly regular carton construction. If there is no independent pack transport available then perfectly constructed cartons are required to archive the same accuracy of positioning.

The “drop” of the film on the end folds is also crucial. The “drop” of the film is a measure of the crispness of the folding, which must be exactly on, and running parallel to the top and bottom faces of the end fold. The position of the lateral seal is typically on the trailing edge of the carton but the position should be able to be varied so that the desired appearance can be achieved. Many cosmetics packaging machines force the user into positioning the lateral seal in the middle of the box only.

The machine itself should impart no scratching or marking to the carton or film in any way during the wrapping process. Given the nature of some inks this can be hard to achieve but if all product contact parts have been coated with a flock or felt based surface treatment the user can be assured that the carton will be treated as gently as possible. In the cosmetics and perfume industry presentation is everything. Perception is reality. For this reason alone cosmetics packaging needs to reflect the product and that has to be as excellent as possible.

Jeremy Marden - is the business development director at Marden Edwards Limited a company that designs and manufacturers overwrapping and packaging machinery for B2B and capital goods.

Cosmetics packaged for presentation