Cosmetics throughout the years have always taken various forms – creams, oils, powders, and liquids. These formulations are typically dispensed through loosening a lid, pressing down on pumps, tapping out powders or shaking aerosol sprays. The latest demand in cosmetics is stick packaging, designed to compactly encase solid formulations through simply twisting and swiping on product.
Stick packaging has always been a staple part of beauty routines through the forms of lipsticks, deodorants and lip balms. However, stick offerings have catapulted in recent years, including stick forms of oils, serums, cleansers, blushes, highlighters and even eye creams and sun care.
In 2021 alone, over 16 billion stick packs were purchased worldwide, with a lucrative year-on-year growth estimate of 9%. The demand for stick packaging is primarily driven by its multi-functionality, concentrated formula, convenience and, most importantly, sustainability.
The multi-functionality of stick packaging
A single stick product can substitute several products in a routine. The ease of application and portability has led to multi-functioning innovations such as the NARS Cosmetics’ The Multiple.
A single shade of the product can be used as a blush, highlighter or contour. As makeup artists and beauty blogs discovered the mess-free efficiency of this product, the format began to find its way into the routines of the everyday consumer. The ease and innovation of stick packaging has led The Multiple to maintain its status as a beauty essential from the brand since its creation.
Stick packaging includes multi-functioning duo packaging innovations as well, such as the NYX Cosmetics Wonder Stick Collection. Their Wonder Stick Contour and Highlighter Stick is a dual ended stick formulation that contains a deeper cool-toned contour as well as a pearly luminescent highlight, allowing for a duo that can be used to shade and accentuate any part of the face or body.
The brand also offers their Wonder Stick Blush. The blush duo stick provides a darker shade and a lighter shade of blush. Both shades add a rosy flush, while also complementing one another to provide more dimension. The lighter shade can be used on the ‘apples’ of the cheeks, while the darker shade can be used in between the contour to provide a more seamless blend. Both shades can be mixed as well to create a custom shade.
Other multi-functioning stick packs include the infusion of makeup applicators in stick packages, including products like the Maybelline Superstay Multi-Use Foundation Stick MakeUp and the Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Cream Blush and Highlighters. Meiyume, a beauty packaging company that aims to provide beauty brands with the latest innovations and functional products, has also recently launched a Canvas Range that includes duo stick options made from 30-50% PCR (post-consumer recycled) material. The packaging design was made with the user experience in mind, allowing for quick and easy on-the-go applications.
Alongside versatile uses, stick packs also come in a variety of formulation formats including oils, serums, water-based and silicone-based products. The e.l.f Cosmetics Prep and Hydrate Balm is a water-based primer stick infused with shea butter, cocoa, aloe, and grape, which instantly hydrates the skin and preps it for makeup application.
The Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ is a dimethicone-based sunscreen stick which creates an invisible, lightweight protective veil that is water and heat resistant and is perfect for sunscreen reapplication. Meanwhile, oil-based sticks include The Axiology Malibu Magic Lip-to-Lid Balmies, a crayon stick set that is designed to hydrate and add a flush to the cheeks and lips. The crayon’s base ingredients include castor oil, hemp oil and plum oil.
These varieties of formulas, when encased in the form of solid formats, can be swiped on directly from the tube, ensuring the most hygienic and efficient skin-to-product experience.
Efficacy of solid formulations in stick packs
Stick packs have also served multifunctional purposes due to its concentrated formulations. Stick products are developed to carry solid formulations, allowing for low to no concentrations of water in the ingredients lists. This allows for key ingredients in solid formulations to be of a higher potency. In addition to concentrated formulations, the spill-proof design of a stick pack ensures that the skin is the first point of contact, further enhancing its efficacy.
As an example, the Too Cool for School’s Collagen Multi Balm Moisturizing & Firming Stick contains 30% hydrolyzed collagen, formulated to provide hydration and elasticity on any part of the face or body. The formula is described to have a prescription collagen complex of 300,000 parts per million (ppm). The collagen complex alone makes up 40% of the product’s formulation concentration. The formula’s potency and ease of use allows for the firming stick to serve as a face mask, lip balm, eye cream, neck cream, moisturizer, and treatment to target specific fine lines or dry patches.
Not only does the multifunctionality reduce products within a routine, but formulations with higher concentrations require less product usage per application. This means consumers require less product replenishments over time, reducing overall package use.
The future of sustainable packaging
The popularity for stick packaging can be attributed to the many factors discussed above. Even more so, conscious consumers and beauty brands are also looking at the sustainable aspects of this format. Rising to the demand, beauty packaging companies such as Meiyume are coming up with more ways to offer consumers and brands eco-friendly packaging options, as can be seen through their Canvas and Begin Again ranges. Both ranges integrate simple, sustainable materials such as paper, aluminium and PCR, to create trendy packaging for color cosmetics and skincare.
The Canvas range offers mono-material, slim and miniature, as well as duo options of primary packaging in paper stick form. The paper sticks are plastic-free, bio-based, and encased in a sturdy and flexible molded pulp outer cover. To further reduce waste, the line also includes secondary packaging lipstick refills.
Meanwhile, the Begin Again range provides plastic sticks, fully created from virgin recycled plastic (PCR) and recyclable polypropylene (PP). The Begin Again range’s primary packaging can be decorated using silk screen printing. Both ranges provide minimalistic stock pack designs that hold a variety of formulations, including face balms, lip balms, deodorant, skincare and solid bars.
The promising future of stick packs
The lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have led consumers to become more aware of how their actions impact the state of the world. This hyper-awareness has led over 70% of consumers to prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions.
This growing need for sustainability reflects the growth of the global stick packaging market. The Business Wire Research and Markets Report estimates that the Global Stick Packaging Market will reach $406million by 2027.  The Stick Packaging market in the U.S. was an estimated at $86.4 million USD in 2020. China, the world’s second largest economy, is forecast to reach a projected market size of $71.9 million USD by 2027. USA, Canada, Japan, China and Europe will continue to drive a 3.5% CAGR within the stick pack market.
The ease of use, as well as the environmentally friendly packaging and formulations, are what will continue to drive the global growth of the stick packaging market. As the innovations of stick packs and solid formulations advance, they will continue to be the solution that meets both the needs of the consumer and the planet.
1. Transparency Market Research: Stick Packaging Market
2. Too Cool For School: Collagen Multi Balm Moisturizing & Firming Stick
4. Business Wire: Insights on the Stick Packaging Global Market to 2027