Things you should know about containers for oils and oil-based cosmetics.

In some cases, oils and oily formulas are even more demanding in terms of packaging features, than acid or alkaline. Once these requirements are not met, leakage, soaking, splash and uneven dosing are inevitable.

How to pick the right oil packaging to keep it convenient and tidy

The entire thing with containers for oil-based formulas is built around two factors – packaging materialand closures

The “old but gold” classic solution – a glass vial or bottle with an orifice reducer. Glass is chemically inert and impenetrable for both water and oil, which is necessary to keep the original formula inviolate, while the reducer provides satisfactory leakage protection. That’s why about 95% of all essential oils and similar products are sold in such a container-closure tandem. That’s why about 95% of all essential oils and similar products are sold in such a container-closure tandem. The weak spot of such set, however, is inconvenient dosing. While usage of rare fluids, like alcohol solvents, is doesn’t make any trouble, oils require lots of shaking and tapping, twisting and turning the bottle, which inevitably leads to uncontrollable oil splashing all around.

What is the alternative?

First, the materials. Best packaging materials for oils and oil-based cosmetics are polypropylene (PP), glass and glass polymer (aka Glass PET, PETg). These materials do not chemically interact with the content and provide proper impenetrability, which saves the formula from both external damage and soaking through the walls of the container. By this criterion, for example, polyethylene (PE) is scratched from the list, as filled with oil PE containers end up covered with oily grease after a while. In concept, PET or aluminum can as well be used for storing oils, though, such containers are hard to find proper closures to fit to make a fully leak-tight set. So, the pool of advised packaging material for oil-based cosmetics comes down to glass, Glass Polymer and PP.

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Glass droppers are second commonest solution for oil-based formulas. In general, beauty industry uses glass droppers with two kinds of bulbs: : TPE or NBR. Most of the droppers in the market have TPE bulbs equipped, which are only compatible with water-based products. NBR (nitrile rubber) bulbs withstand temperature gradient between -30 and +90 C and are capable to assure full usability with oils. So, when considering a dropper bottle set for an oil-based formula, keep in mind, that an NBR bulb is required. In addition, for best performance and tidiness, droppers with curved tip are advised to prevent accidental drops on the hands, clothes, and other surfaces around.

Other types of closures can also be used with oils-based products, yet with certain modifications. Least common solutions are conventional or airless oil pumps. These ones, however, are so scarce, hardly accessible, and affordable, they’re not worth further consideration. A lot more solutions can be found amongst spray and trigger pumps. First of all, oil sprays and triggers are equipped with a special kind of sealers (just like dropper have different bulbs for oil and water-based formulas) and perform a different pattern of dispersion. While normal fluid pumps offer fine mist dispersion consisting of micro drops of the fluid, oils sprays can only perform something more like a swarm of rough drops, and oil trigger pumps spit out a moderate jet of drops to avoid oil dripping off the orifice of the dosing nozzle.

That’s why oil-compatible spray and trigger pumps are always either represented as a separate product category, or at least tagged with designating marks.

Finally, the golden rule of packaging – no matter the content and the container, compatibility testing is holy grail of packaging process. Even if the market is full of alike products in similar containers, in the one particular case something may go wrong. The best choice is the choice proven not by experience, but by testing.