I, for one, enjoy a product that has great packaging – a unique design element, interesting artwork, or even simple, minimalistic labels that don’t shout out for attention and rather sit there on the shelf managing to break away from the rest noiselessly . In fact, modest, vintage-style packaging has seen many takers, especially in the skincare industry. Think amber glass bottles that protect formulations from UV rays, dropper-style bottles, tin and aluminum containers and lids, plain white or yellowish labels, clear and simple typography, etc. – elements that remind you of simpler times and days gone by, of old-fashioned pharmacies.
A term often used in medieval Europe, ‘apothecary’ stood for an individual who prepared and sold medicines and potions in those old-fashioned pharmacies. These were almost always in glass jars and bottles with austere labels with very little or no designs or color on them, stacked away by the dozen on wooden shelves.
Today, we’re seeing brands recreate this no-frills style which give us a nostalgic experience. Some brands do it to drive home the message that these are long-standing formulations that have stood the test of time, or sometimes just so the consumer focuses on the quality product with very little else to distract them. Whatever be the case, on busy shelves and colorful web pages, manage these brands with understated, subtle packaging and labels to grip our attention. This makes us wonder, is the new loud quiet?
We take a look at some brands that evoke the look and feel of those old-fashioned apothecary-style bottles…
Skincare Brands With The Apothecary Aesthetic We Love
‘Finest Apothecary Skincare’ is the brand’s tag line and its packaging complements this. Established in 1851 in New York, Kiehl’s is pretty much the real deal when it comes to ‘centuries-old’ formulations, apothecary style. While the brand uses simple and mostly white or blue bottles and jars, its labels are highly descriptive usually with black typography explaining ingredients, benefits and product use. But this has worked and continues to work for the brand. The font style is reminiscent of the 1800s and evokes a sense of old-fashioned remedy, thus driving home the brand’s legacy statement – ‘since 1851’.
2. One Thing
This brand’s packaging is easily as understated as one can go. Launched in Korea in 2019, One Thing was brought out with a focus on single-ingredient formulas featuring the highest quality ingredients which are 100% pure plant-based extracts. Minimal & versatile, their products can be used on their own as toners and essences, or combined with your existing products to boost your skincare routine. The brand’s USP is that it has steered clear of unnecessary ingredients, as well as superfluous packaging and even avoided excessive branding or a brand ambassador in order to keep product costs low. Now that’s a win-win for everyone!
3. Juicy Chemistry
Closer home, set up by Megha & Pritesh Asher in 2014, this certified organic and environment-friendly, sustainable brand uses old-school looking amber and blue glass bottles, pump bottles, aluminum lids, and even brown paper-based packaging for products such as deodorants and dry shampoo. Their labels are simple and to-the-point, with a focus on the key ingredients and the JC logo. The simplistic packaging reflects and drives home the ‘clean beauty’ message the brand is sending out to its customers.
4. The Ordinary
There’s no funky packaging or tempting-looking bottles and tubs here either. The Ordinary, now a cult favorite skincare line, flaunts a clean, minimalist look that is easy on the eyes along with pricing that is easy on the pocket. Its tagline reads ‘Clinical formulations with integrity’ and the brand’s packaging gives exactly that clinical feel with the three ‘non-colours’ used – black, white, and grey. The medicinal-looking bottles and tubes provide information on ingredients present in the bottle or tube in their varying percentages. The brand’s philosophy is that skincare doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and its packaging clearly mirrors this.
Another homegrown brand, founded in 2010, Suganda recently revamped its lime green product labels to simple black and white ones on their dark- and amber-coloured bottles. Founder Bindu Amrutham created Suganda with the vision of providing skincare solutions that were effective while being undeniably gentle on the skin after both she and her son were suffering from acute skin problems. The revamped packaging reflects Suganda’s aim to provide solutions that both prevent and cure skin troubles with the potent combination of proven natural ingredients and clinical science.
6. Neal’s Yard Remedies
Easily recognizable by its iconic blue glass bottles and unpretentious labels, UK-based organic health and beauty brand Neal’s Yard Remedies arrived in India earlier this year. Its blue-colored packaging goes beyond just pretty packaging though, the blue pigment reduces sunlight and UVA rays from reaching the product. This helps to protect the delicate aromas and herbal properties of the product inside without the use of preservatives. The blue jars and pump bottles, and even the way they’re stocked on shelves in-store, give off that medieval apothecary vibe. In fact, the color of the packaging is so attractive, that product empties have also been upcycled into vases, candlestick holders, hanging lamps, and other household décor by customers.
The no-frills labels and packaging of this brand’s bottles transport us back to simpler times almost immediately. Set up in 1967 in New York by Romanian-born Badescu, a cosmetic chemist and aesthetician, the brand is known for its low-key packaging, clinical formulations, and affordable price points. Its minimalistic packaging gives off an old-fashioned pharmaceutical vibe, where its white labels have basic product information all in green, possibly to reflect the brand’s heritage of ‘simple, gentle & effective skin care’.