Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Are your empties even empty though?

I, as much as the next person, like to get my money's worth. I also loath wastage. Combine pricey cosmetics with flawed package design and we've got ourselves a problem. Are your empties really even empty though?

Product packaging is a toughy. I'll admit, I'm very often sold on pretty packaging, pretty fonts and pretty branding. All that's fine, it's all Capitalism, baby! But where I find fault is with packaging without real concern for function or design. How often have you come to what you rightfully assumed was the end of your product, only to find that there is a treasure trove hidden inside truly unreachable places? Apply intense pressure, summon the scissors, blind scooping, anything to get the product which you paid for out and onto your skin.

Functionality is everything. But functionality of packing has to mar with the type of product and its consistency. During the #MissionEmpties Challenge, I was able to burn my way through a whole heap of products in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, I found there were usually an additional 1-4 more uses in each product at the stage I would typically qualify it as 'empty'. The trick is, accessing those final 1-4 uses and making sure the product is 'really empty'.

Piecing together some of the products I've been storming through, I've noticed a crux or two with packaging flaws. I've had to get a little inventive, and some of it is a little frustrating, but anything, anything, to make sure I get what I paid for.


I have a soft spot for products that come in jars; they have to be the easiest of the bunch. I can simply twist or pop the cap off and evaluate just how much product is left. While it is not the most convenient packaging design for some consistency types, when used correctly, it can prove to be super efficient.

As a twist cap, they are easy enough to reseal and seal securely. They are portable, but generally (not always) come in a smaller size. 
When it comes to empting out your jars, it's usually simple enough. Just scoop up what you can see and carry on as normal. However, if you're using your fingers to scoop, you'll find that they aren't always the best at gaining purchase on a product. Usually, there will be a few traces left behind which involves a lot of twisting and turning your fingers in the jar until all is recovered. Alternatively, if appropriate, you can use a cotton pad/face wipes/muslin cloth to remove and apply any remaining product.

Fussing around with the cap can usually prove a little slippery post-use. I always find I need to dry and clean my hands before I can gain purchase again. But jars, jars are good, we like jars.

The squeezable ones you can cut

Squeezable tubes are very common amongst the more liquid-based product types. Think lotions and creams, anything that doesn't have a solid enough consistency to stand on its own two feet. Squeezy tubes are brilliant as you can pick them up, access your product and pack them away without any fuss.

However, squeezy tubes renders so much product completely inaccessible. There is product hidden in corners, hidden behind lips and it never wants to budge no matter how hard you squeeze and push. Cue scissors. 
Simply snip your tubes in half and, you'll have to do a bit of excavating here, but use your fingers or a spoon, or whatever instrument you please, to dig into the open tube and access your product. You'll be amazed just how much extra is stashed away in there. 

Once the product has been come open, I am often concerned about the product become oxygenated. Some products really don't like to be left in exposed air, it can reduce their shelf-life. So, if this is the case, I'll be sure to use cling film on the two halves of my squeezable tubes to keep them as air tight as possible. 

The squeezable ones you can't cut

Not all squeezable tubes are tubes you want to cut. Sometimes, it's just plain inconvenient, stands against logic, or isn't designed in a way that can be cut open. I'm talking more specifically about any shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste bottles, I would never cut these open as it will be too messy and too difficult to control.
So, when you can't use scissors, you can use your next best asset: your thumbs. By massaging the top corners of the product down towards the lid, you can begin to force the product to the cap. Once there, you can push your thumbs into the cap, and, applying a lot of force here, squeeze out as much as you can.

While there will always be some inevitable bit of product still lurking inside your tubes, this is one of the only solutions I've found to accessing this product without scissors.


I generally only encounter pipettes will oil-type products: facial oils, oil cleansers, that type of thing. Pipettes are just tops for transporting oils and to help distribute a specified measurement. They offer a lot of control, and can help keep the packaging clean, as we all know how tough it can be to remove that pesky oil.
The most common trait with pipettes is, they just never seem to reach anywhere close to the bottom of the bottle. This means, you guessed it, you have no way of reaching those final few drops of oil. So, if you fancy, you can just turn the bottle upside down and have done with it, or you can tilt the bottle, to shift the liquid to a more accessible angle. 

Usually, not every last drop of oil can be squeezed out of the pipette. To solve this, I usually tap the pipette on the palm of my hand to remove those final drops, as squeezing the pump, usually seems to be tantamount to useless here.

Spray Caps

Mist toners are complemented entirely by the delicate and refreshing method with with you apply them: spray tops. Without a spray cap, there isn't really an alternative way to use these types of products, so they need to be designed in a way that means you can always access every last drop.
When down to the few remaining spritzes, you may have to tilt the bottle to make sure the liquid is inside the slim tube that is attached to the spray cap. A spray bottle with flawed design will have a short tube, that won't reach the bottom. If it doesn't reach the bottom, you probably won't be able to access the liquid in any sort of reasonable fashion.

So remember, tilt if needed. Other than that, you're on your own here, because part of the soothing experience with this type of product is usually in the spritz-type application.

The ones you can't see inside

Possibly the most frustrating of the lot; the products you just can't see inside. If you can't see inside your product's packaging, you can't ever be sure when you're about to run out.
This, coupled with not having a simple way to remove the remainder of the product leads to even more frustration. As I can't see inside these products, I don't know which way to tilt or manoeuvre, or which way to push and force. Some of them are completely indestructible and can't even be opened with scissors. 

Admittedly, these are generally the prettiest of all the packaged products, but I do always insist on functionality over aesthetics.

This #MissionEmpties Challenge has made me very aware of just how much product that might have escaped me. From now on I am super thorough; the product isn't empty until I have scooped, forced and cut my way to emptiness. 

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