Why do so many cosmetics brands look the same?
The trend of minimalist design in cosmetics has become more and more prevalent and some may find themselves asking why all packaging looks the same or where did this trend come from?
What does the minimalist trend look like?
The common traits of this minimalist aesthetic is a black plain sans serif font, common ones include futura, helvetica and gill sans. Usually it's arranged into three text sections resulting in a small, medium and large. With the brand name as the medium at the top, the name of the product as the large in the middle and the small being a longer text at the bottom with more information about the product. Usually The text is on a plain white package or on a white label on a clear glass bottle. The label on a glass bottle or jar reminds me of old apothecary bottles and I think that might have been an inspiration. It's most commonly seen in brands that market themselves as natural or luxury fragrance brands, but some traits from it have been seen more widely.
So now that we know what we're talking about, where did this trend come from? Where did it start? Who is copying who? Who were early adopters and who jumped on the trend much later on? Let's find out!
So how do we find out what brand came first? It doesn't work to simply look at who was founded first because a lot of brands will change their packaging over time. A way to figure this out that I think works well is looking at brands facebook page and look at the dates on the photos of their product to find how far back they had a certain design. So looking at a range of brands with this design we can see for how long they have had this kind of look.
Where it started
The brand I can find that had this design the earliest is the Swedish brand Byredo. I can find pictures dated as far back as 2008, but they launched in 2006 and I can't find any indication that they had a different design earlier. This also seems consistent with many referencing the aesthetic being inspired by "Scandinavian Minimalism".
In 2009 Sachajuan launched and has had their minimalist design from the beginning, they offer a range of hair care products. Sachajuan along with the very clean design of Verso released in 2013 are both also from Sweden. Two other early adopters are luxury brands Rodin and Fiele Fragrances. They are both from the United States but clearly take inspiration from Scandinavia.
The trend picks up momentum
Nuori launched in early 2015, created by Danish Jasmi Bonnén, their design is especially clean and minimal. Popular brand French Girl has been around for a long time but they had a more romantic french style before their French Girl seems to have moved to Stockholm in 2015. First they changed their labels to this minimalist style and more recently they changed their bottle shapes from a more common rounded look to the sharper cylinder glass bottles. Lagom is a South Korean skincare brand but they are clearly inspired by Scandinavian Minimalism. Their name 'Lagom' is a Swedish word that many try to translate to 'not too little, not too much' which is also their tagline.
One of the most famous brands in this style is Herbivore, I earlier made a post talking about this brand. It seems like a lot of the 'natural' skincare brands might have taken their inspiration from the very successful brand Herbivore since there is an increase in specifically 'natural' brands adopting this trend in the years after.
In 2016 and 2017 this trend really takes off and spreads. These are only a few examples and there are more brands than I could fit to mention in this post.
How to stand out
I think it's easy to fall into a trap of looking at a trend and then following it too closely without adding your own touch that makes your brand distinguished. The brand Earth Harbor had an earlier design that was even more typical for this trend before landing at their current design with the script font that feels very appropriate for the brand and makes them more recognizable.
A brand that really stands out and has become very popular is Glow Recipe, it feels like they have both taken elements from the minimalist trend along with the monochrome style that has been seen both in packaging and on the runway for the last few years.
Many elements from this style can be seen on all kinds of packaging. Sans serif fonts have become much more frequently used along with more simple designs. This is true for all kinds of industries. General design trends have moved towards a more minimal and flat design style and I expect it to continue to be prevalent for a long time.
Thank you for reading!