Delivering online beauty products, beautifully: a concept in sustainable and innovative luxury packaging that brings home the thrill of the purchase.

Delivering online beauty products, beautifully: a concept in sustainable and innovative luxury packaging that brings home the thrill of the purchase.


The shift in consumer shopping habits from instore to online has seen a dramatic acceleration over recent months as a result of the pandemic and associated lockdowns that have seen the closure of retail outlets and many more of us working from home. It’s a shift that is expected to become a permanent one for 44% of consumers*, presenting retailers and brand owners with the challenge – and opportunity – of delivering their brand experience to consumers in a different way. 

As Europe's leading distributor of paper, packaging solutions and visual communication products, Antalis regularly works with printers, designers and brand owners to help them choose the best material for a job; increasingly, this is for the creation of luxury packaging that will enable them to make the transition from ‘wowing’ consumers instore to online, and in a sustainable way.  

At Antalis, we know our products inside out in terms of the applications they are suited to, their printing and finishing compatibility and capability, and their environmental credentials. We are always keen help our customers in this rapidly changing world, and learn how we can best support them. Wanting to get closer to the reality of creating new packaging in line with the changes in retail trends, we recently tasked ourselves with exactly that – how to successfully deliver a luxury packaging brief.  

From the perspective of a fictitious brand, we created a brief that addressed real-life scenarios many brands are regularly faced with, with an aim to produce packaging suited to current retail demands, ensuring an end result that would be protective, mailable and luxurious.

*Source: Retail Gazette

The brief 

Based upon the premise of a high-end start‐up cosmetics company with strong ethical and environmental values, the brief required a design solution that would give consumers an enjoyable and memorable unboxing experience in alignment with their expectations of such a brand. For the purposes of this brief, the packaging was for a set of day and night face creams, which would need to be packaged together. The pots for these creams are also environmentally friendly, having been made from Durasense, a bio-composite from StoraEnso comprising of wood and polypropylene which can be easily recycled. We settled on the branding SLP, standing for Smart Luxury Packaging, for the project. 

Target market: consumers of high quality cosmetics/skincare products purchasing online. 

Functionality: because the product would be delivered to customers as well as purchased instore, the brief required the design and production of both primary and transit packaging. 

Design: the design should reflect the brand’s quality and values. In particular, it was important to communicate the environmental ethics of the company and products to the consumer. 

Innovation: innovations in packaging design and technology should be explored to help create standout in the finished piece. 

Experiential: the finished packaging should provide more than just protection, it is a key component of the experience and, as such, the look, feel, immediate and longer-term functionality should be considered. 

Materiality: the textures and colours of the materials used should reflect and reinforce the identity and ethos of the brand. 

Sustainability: In line with the brand’s environmental ethics, the packaging design should minimise waste and the use of plastics. All chosen materials should have strong environmental credentials.  

Print techniques: as a start-up business, the quantity of units to be produced would be small, so the viable, cost-effective print choice would be digital. 

Here’s how we did it … 

The design 


The fictitious company was assigned the brand name ‘SLP’ based on the purpose of our project – Smart Luxury Packaging. 

To reflect the company’s strong environmental stance  - and in keeping with the season in which the packaging would be on display – the supporting brand artwork was inspired by nature and features leaves and soft autumnal colourings. This gives scope to update the packaging in line with the seasons, keeping it fresh and encouraging consumers to buy again rather than switching to another brand. 


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The transit box:  

This had three important functions:  

  • Protection: to ensure all contents arrive at their destination undamaged 
  • Security: to avoid drawing attention to the high value goods inside and evidencing proof that the goods inside had not been tampered with 
  • Experience: to create surprise when opened  


Design: FEFCO 0427 box style customised to fit around the inner box.
Material/print: E-flute corrugate external surface left unprinted for discretion.
Internal surface lined with 100% recycled Keaykolour Particles Sunshine, 120gsm, 4-colour printed on an HP Indigo B2 press with brand visuals and information about the brand’s environmental ethos. 

Inner display box 

To support the brand’s sustainability goals, the design team in our Smart Packaging Centre (SPC) decided to create a box that could have a secondary purpose beyond providing protection. For this project they designed an inner display box that could be used as an attractive and functional keepsake in which to store the pots. 

Design: A belly band holds the two sides of the internal box in position for retail display and during transit. Once removed, the two sides of the packaging open out to display the pots.

Material/print/finishing: Invercote Creato, 380g, 4-colour printed to both sides on an HP Indigo B2 press with heavy weight substrate kit.
High-build spot varnish used to highlight the leaf imagery.
Digitally cut on Esko Kongsberg cutting table.




FSC® certified Invercote Creato is produced by Iggesund at their mill in Sweden, which has recently been awarded Platinum for sustainability by Ecovadis. It is optimised to run through an HP Indigo with heavyweight substrate kit. It has the best grammage-to-micron ratio for a Solid Bleached Board. Due to the strength of the sustainably sourced Swedish fibres and multi-layer construction, it performs brilliantly for printing, creasing and multi-step processing. Knowing there would be considerable mechanical stress on the folded hinge area of our design, and that the box would need to remain pristine in appearance despite being opened and closed on multiple occasions, we chose this product with confidence that it would perform. In addition, the high quality of Invercote Creato gives a real feel of luxury. Learn more about Invercote

Box inserts 

To hold the pots of cream in place (during transit and subsequent display), the team designed inserts, which were to be printed in complementary tones: dark leaf outlines on a light background for the day cream and white leaf outlines onto a dark background for the night cream. 

Design: A sense of drama and luxury was created with use of a board with a metallic finish.
Material/print/finishing:Metalprint Digital, 329gsm, printed 4-colour plus white ink to enhance the metallic effect.  
Digitally cut on Esko Kongsberg cutting table.


Specifically designed for the HP Indigo 12000, Invercote Metalprint Digital promised a solution that delivered a feeling of indulgence, adding something special to the project. Printing colours and/or white inks over the metallised surface produces eye-catching metallic effects with luxurious appeal. Metalprint Digital is produced by Iggesund at their mill in Sweden which has recently been awarded Platinum for sustainability by Ecovadis. Order Metalprint


Belly band

This has three important functions: 

  • Visual: highlighting the brand through display of the logo 
  • Functional: holding the two halves of the inner box together during transit or retail display 
  • Experiential: adds a layer to the unboxing experience for the customer 


Design: Use of foiling to match the metallic of the box inserts creates a premium feel and dramatic impact upon opening the transit box.

Material/print/finishing: 100% recycled Keaykolour Particles Sunshine, 250gsm, digitally cut on Esko Kongsberg cutting table. Brand logo foiled. Band wrapped around inner box and glued.

The fantastic environmental credentials of Keaykolour Particles Sunshine, together with its natural, yet distinctive, appearance, made this an easy choice for the project. We chose to use this product within the transit packaging and also as a banding for the inner box to bring the design together. Keaykolour Particles Sunshine is 100% recycled and manufactured here in the UK, at Stoneywood mill in Scotland. In addition, the Keaykolour paper range is sold by Antalis as fully carbon balanced. Learn more about Keaykolour


To keep the presentation of the transit box as clean as possible, while ensuring it would remain sealed during transit and, importantly, be easy for the consumer to open, a security label was used to seal the box.  

Design:Brand logo on circular label.

Material/print/finishing:PCL labels on A3 backing sheet, 4-colour printed on an HP Indigo 5600.


Constructed to withstand multiple printing processes and certified and endorsed by HP, the PCL3 labels we selected promised to run trouble free through the HP Indigo 5600 machine. The labels came in the perfect size to suit the logo design and their excellent adhesion properties ensured that the transit box would remain securely closed during transit. Order PCL Labels


Within a relatively short timeframe, we have produced a luxury packaging prototype that sells a brand, and a product, keeps everything safe and secure and, ultimately, gives consumers a memorable unboxing experience that will keep them coming back for more. 

Key to the success of such a project is twofold: thoughtful design that considers every aspect of the packaging’s purpose and use, and selection of well suited, high performance materials that support a brand’s ethos, image and goals.






Digital print: opening the door to opportunity

Digital print has opened the door to a world of new possibilities for brand owners and designers, equalising the playing field for large, established brands and start-ups alike. It is the developments in the size and weight of substrates that digital print machinery is now capable of handling, and in the growth in availability of printable substrates compatible with them, that is currently presenting the most exciting opportunities in the realm of luxury packaging.  

The nature of the digital printing process means it is possible – and economically viable – to print quantities as low as one piece, enabling the production of samples as well as entirely unique pieces. Coupled with the capability of digital printing machines to print white ink and varnish, as well as use of variable data to add personalisation, it presents endless opportunity for brands of all sizes to create standout in a crowded market that is increasingly inhabiting an online space. We have used our luxury packaging piece to demonstrate these capabilities. 

Our project collaborators

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EBI Creative Printers 

EBI have been a customer of Antalis for many years. With a keen interest to trial our Metalprint Digital, this project proved the perfect opportunity.  

Tom Heath, Technical Director at EBI, explains why EBI wanted to get involved: “Creating samples is one of the most effective ways to show clients what is possible. Now that we have got a range of digital kit – both small and large format – and with the range of materials that we are able to print growing all the time, the scope of what we can produce is almost limitless. 

“It’s why we were so excited when we received details of Metalprint Digital from Antalis and why we were open to getting involved in this project. With products such as Invercote Creato, in weights as high as 380gsm, being compatible with HP Indigo presses, this project has been a great opportunity to show exactly what we are capable of.” 

Antalis Smart Packaging Centre (SPC)

The SPC, based at Antalis’ head office in Leicestershire, is where our packaging technologists help turn packaging goals into reality. They work closely with clients to generate ideas, design possible solutions and create mock-ups to show what can be achieved with the many different materials in the Antalis range. Over the last few months, we have transformed into a virtual SPC so clients can continue to take advantage of our services. 

Supporting the next generation of packaging designers

To support the next generation of designers, and to provide an injection of fresh thinking into our packaging design solutions, we offer internships for design undergraduates at the SPC. Our two current interns, Charlotte Bradford and Sarah Bennett, worked together to design the luxury packaging for this case study, designing everything from the box to the logo and brand visuals. 

Charlotte and Sarah comment: “We have learnt so much since we began our internships here, not just about packaging, but about what it’s like to work in a commercial environment. Working on this case study was a great opportunity for us to put into practice what we have learned both here and on our degree courses.” 

Antalis is also delighted to be working closely with Norwich University of the Arts to support and encourage more packaging designers of the future. The luxury packaging brief that we set ourselves will become part of the students’ course, counting towards their grading for this academic year.