Whether you’re a makeup wh*re or an absolute muggle, there’s no question that makeup packaging is in a league all its own.
From impossibly beautiful perfume bottles to intricately designed eyeshadow palettes and vibrant lipsticks—cosmetics products are becoming collectibles through pure audacity.
Which makes them the perfect reference for developing #killercontent and memorable branding.
So, let’s get started.
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I’m not a huge makeup user, but I think my fascination with makeup palette design started with a sponsored Youtube ad for Juvia’s Place.
Everything from their website to their packaging art is stunning—bold, beautiful colours and Africa-inspired artwork, vibrant pigmentation. It’s all pretty breathtaking.
But what struck me the most was how authentic the design felt.
Yes, plenty of the palettes are bright and colourful. But the homage to styles, prints and diverse cultural influences is tasteful, with illustrations that are legitimately beautiful in their own right.
If there’s one thing to learn from this brand it’s to go big, bold and beautiful.
In an industry where finding pigments for non-white skin tones is still a struggle and people are looking to stand out this brand has been making waves for good reason.
It hits these two pain points beautifully.
No one is immune to nostalgia’s effects, and I think Bésame Cosmetics uses that appeal to their advantage.
The whole brand is built on the idea of classical beauty and is best loved for its focus on iconic women like Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy.
(Think Hollywood starlets, vintage pinup girls and just the right amount of rouge.)
At its best, the brand has an exclusive sort of novelness. There’s something about a heavy-in-your-hand tube of lipstick in a deep red shade or an old-school cake mascara in a beautiful red and gold tin that brings out the romantic in us.
At its worst, the brand’s exclusivity and timelessness have been diluted by a few cheesy Disney-based collaborations that were less than inspiring.
(Seriously, the Mermaid Lagoon Collection was cute, but the packaging for Infinity Wars? Bleh.)
However, the main takeaway here is that people love the experience of something new and different. The packaging might have a familiar vintage feel, but their unique applicators are a coveted conversation piece for most people’s vanities.
MAC x CHRIS CHANG COLLECTION
Every time a brand collaborates with a designer, it’s an opportunity to make a splash. Cross-promotion is one of THE best ways to reach new audiences that wouldn’t typically be a part of your customer base.
After all prominent influencers and brand names already come pre-packaged with a dedicated fanbase and a stand-out aesthetic. However, I think MAC’s collab with Chris Chang works so well for an entirely different reason.
Chris Chang’s style is like everything and nothing you’ve ever seen before.
From what I can tell, the designer’s brand, Poesia, is obsessed with symbols, iconography and patterns. While it draws from a lot of familiar subjects—birds, dolls, traditional garb from all over the world—the result is very avant-garde.
Here’s why it works.
Chang’s collection is loud. You’re asked to play with some very unusual shades and colour combinations most people would probably never be caught dead in.
But it’s the possibility and playfulness that makes it so appealing. How often do you get to apply yellow lipstick and some bright blue eyeshadow with a purple undertone?
While Bésame Cosmetics are timeless and classically beautiful, this MAC collab asks you to try something for fun without worrying about who it will be attractive to.
In essence, they’re repositioning the purpose of makeup and creating a product that makes bold, unusual fashion attainable to even the shyest consumer.
NEST NEW YORK FRAGRANCES
Nest New York fragrances are easily recognizable with their 18th Century Mary Delaney Esque Botanical artwork. (Allegedly). I’m not 100% sure whether this is true or just a popular urban myth.
Either way, the vintage Victorian era botanical illustrations are clean, simple and elegant. The fact that the artwork is a back label also adds an interesting dimensional effect that is gorgeous to look at.
Perfume bottles tend to go for novelty like the EBC Princess High Heel Shoe Collection or a jewel-cut glass bottle that resembles a crystal decanter like Miss Dior.
I haven’t seen many perfume bottles utilize illustrations to highlight the fragrance’s ingredients, and I think it’s a great idea.
Perfume fragrances are infamous for being difficult to judge on the name and packaging alone. What on earth does Circus Fantasy smell like?
With eyeshadow palettes and tubes of lipstick, you’re buying a shade which is very easy to judge at face value.
But smell? That’s a little more abstract.
If you’re intimidated by the perfume counter seeing vanilla right on the bottle is a godsend. It’s clear, simple and easy to understand while still managing to be beautiful.
NUDES OF NEW YORK x MAYBELLINE
You’ve probably already seen Maybelline’s newest addition to their eyeshadow palette family on several round-up lists.
For a drug store makeup palette, Nudes of New York is elegant and minimalist, with sixteen different shades designed to complement an array of complexions.
While reviews range from very positive to somewhat skeptical, the launch has been more than successful.
It’s also the perfect example of how a brand can add value through solid design choices without being forced to sell at luxury prices.
There are no 24k gold flakes or expensive art prints to incorporate into the design. Instead, the palette works because it’s attractive, clean and practical for a wide range of makeup lovers.