Small, subtle, but oh-so-impactful—a gesture draws attention in packaging design.

A tilt, a wave, a look—these signs are part of the ubiquitous language we use within technology. As the cosmetics market becomes increasingly crowded, beauty brands are turning to novel, unexpected gestures, often borrowed from tech, to create packaging that beckons consumers by speaking their language.

Scrolling and swiping gestures, alongside ergonomic designs, are all emerging among these new packaging innovations, echoing the movements that consumers have become accustomed to making when they use their smartphones.

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Image courtesy of Nest Filler

Dial Dual Lip is a two-in-one solution created by packaging distribution company Nest Filler for lip products, concealers, contouring products, cream eyeshadows, or blushes. It incorporates two cream or liquid products in one stick, each delivered by scrolling a dial on either side of the component.

“A tech-inspired scrolling gesture was something we had in mind when our engineers were creating the dial function. As we use a standard computer mouse in our everyday lives, we saw the importance of using the up and down scrolling function,” says Irene Kim, project manager at Nest Filler. “When the consumer holds the component in their hand, we wanted the dial to be user-friendly.” Scrolling the dial with the thumb directs the piston up or down, controlling the amount of product released, for a precise application, Kim explains.

She notes that, for Nest Filler, these novel gestures are very important, in order to stand out in the beauty industry. Progress into a more technical world means that “the products we use daily need to match this progression.” Nest Filler recently developed a mascara wand with a dial at the top of the cap that changes the curvature of the wand, so it can either separate, lift, or curl lashes. The company’s Oxygen Fine Mist Sprayer contains an oxygen capsule that’s activated by a twisting mechanism on the bottle’s base, which means that the pump spray can function like an aerosol without emitting any harmful by-products.

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Pennelli Faro's Fless (d)Detail brush

Italian cosmetic brushes and applicators manufacturer Pennelli Faro was the winner of the Make-Up Packaging Technology award at the 2019 Cosmopack Awards held in Bologna, Italy for its Fless (d)Detail brush. Launched earlier this year, the brush is a flexible applicator for concealer that slides onto the finger so it’s wearable. Pennelli Faro notes that the brush’s ergonomic design means that it becomes like “an extension of your finger.” When the user swipes and dabs concealer onto their face, it allows for precise, detailed application.

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Glossier You Perfume Solid
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Alongside innovations by these companies, further along the product development process several beauty brands have introduced products that incorporate novel, tech-inspired gestures. They include Glossier You Perfume Solid. This fragrance balm version of the buzzed-about Glossier You fragrance is housed in a pale pink weighted metal compact, which the brand says is designed to “fit the curve of your palm and thumb,” and open and close “with an addictively flippable hinged swivel” that echoes the action of scrolling through a smartphone.

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Lilah B
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Californian brand Lilah B’s products come in chic, pebble-shaped compacts that swing open. These tactile compacts are inspired by the pebbles that founder Cheryl Yannotti Foland would pick up from Italian beaches during summer vacations. Foland says her aim in launching Lilah B was to help women “simplify their beauty routine,” with products whose packaging provides a “luxe, sensory experience”—much like the sleekest tech products.