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3D shapes and flow-through capabilities

Innovative Applicator Technology Blends Custom Form and Flow-through

Unique foams and foam-like materials provide design flexibility and smooth application for cosmetics products


Putting on makeup was once a slow, luxuriating process. Picture a consumer sitting at a plush vanity, taking her time to apply products leisurely and carefully in front of a large tri-fold mirror. These days, consumers still crave this glamorous experience and final look, but they demand it on the go. The evolution of cosmetics draws a parallel with the modernization of writing instruments. Just as a quill and ink pot have been traded for a ballpoint pen, makeup products and their applicators are becoming optimized for mobile use. Customers often apply their makeup on their commutes, creating looks using compact cosmetics while sitting on trains and buses.

Mobile application may seem convenient on the surface, but it presents many challenges for cosmetics brands that want to stay relevant. On-the-go makeup products currently on the market are fairly rudimentary in design and often lack the proper tools for precise application. As a result, they end up causing more makeup mishaps than achieving the goals of ease and speed. Many of the issues associated with these pocket products stem from applicators that lack shapes designed for precision application or uniform transfer of the product from the package to the skin.

POREX®, a manufacturer of porous polymers, is answering this need for modern cosmetics designers by offering materials with properties that make them optimal for applying makeup. These foams and foam alternatives can improve cosmetics applicators by providing a flexible, omni-directional structure through which liquid concealers, foundations, lip stains and other products can pass through evenly and easily.

A significant benefit of these new products is not obvious to the naked eye but is inherent in the material composition. With ordinary applicator foams, liquid-based cosmetics become trapped in the inner cells, causing the product to clot and the applicator to clog. This can create frustrations for customers who then need to clean applicator tips to remove product buildup and who inevitably lose valuable product in the process. This blockage also leads to uneven application, as the product is released from the foam at different speeds and viscosities. The result: blotches and lack of control.

The benefit that optimal flow-through can bring to a cosmetics product is further amplified by the ability for brands to customize the shape of these materials far beyond what they could before. Traditionally, a 3D piece of foam can only be obtained by using a machine to grind a block of foam into a smaller 3D shape. Manufacturers using this method are constrained to producing the 3D pieces one-by-one and creating a limited number of shape designs.

To bring more options to cosmetics brands, POREX has developed specialized porous materials that utilize a more continuous manufacturing process of molding 3D figures at high volumes. The result is a more complex applicator shape that can be insert-molded, and produced much more efficiently and cost-effectively. This manufacturing method presents a wave of new options for customization, with an array of unique applicator shapes at a designer’s disposal. Brands can select a shape and size tailored to their product and its application needs, diversifying their cosmetic from others on the shelf and increasing performance potential.

As cosmetics continue to cater to fast-paced lifestyles, it is critical for brands to choose materials that won’t slow their customers down. The performance of a makeup product can be tainted by an inefficient applicator, but brands can stay on the cutting-edge with applicator materials designed to elevate products and enhance the consumer experience.


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A new elastomer material called Nubiform® from POREX is designed to simplify the application of cosmetic formulations.