Technical Properties & Information

Properties of Common Cosmetic Plastics & Resins

Resins Polyester Polyester Polyvinyl Chloride Barex Polyethylene Polyethylene Polypropylene
Clarity Clear Clear Clear Clear Opaque Opaque Translucent
Rigidity/Stiffness Moderate to High Moderate to High Moderate to High High Moderate Low Moderate to High
Impact Resistance Good to Excellent Good Fair to Good Fair to Good Good to Excellent Excellent Poor to Good
Low Temp. Impact Resistance Fair to Good Poor Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good to Excellent Excellent Poor to Good
Stress Crack Resistance Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent Good to Excellent Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent
Moisture Barrier Fair to Good Fair to Good Fair Fair Good to Excellent Good Good to Excellent
Oxygen Barrier Good Good Good Excellent Poor Poor Poor
Scuff Resistance Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Very Good Very Good Very Good
Resistance to:
Acids Fair to Good Fair to Good Good to Excellent Fair to Good Fair to Very Good Fair to Very Good Fair to Good
Alcohols Good Good Good to Very Good Good Good Good Good
Alkalis Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good to Very Good Good Good to Very Good Good to Very Good Very Good
Mineral Oils Good Good Good Excellent Fair Poor to Fair Fair
Solvents Good Good Fair to Good Excellent Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Good
Heat Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Poor to Fair Good Fair Good
Cold Good Good Fair Fair Excellent Excellent Poor to Fair
Sunlight Good Good Poor to Good Poor to Good Fair Fair Fair

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

PET or PETE (or the obsolete PETP or PET-P) is of the polyester family and is used in beverage, food, and other liquid containers. PET can be semi-rigid to rigid and is very lightweight. It acts as a good barrier to alcohol (requires additional “Barrier” treatment) and solvents. It is strong, impact-resistant, and naturally colorless and transparent. 

Common uses: Soft drink bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars, products containing essential oils, some fruit juices, alcohol beverage bottles, space blankets.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is made from petroleum. HDPE has a stronger intermolecular force and tensile strength than low density polyethylene (LDPE). It is also harder and more opaque and can withstand somewhat higher temperatures: 248 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods, 230 degrees Fahrenheit continuously. 

Common uses: Milk jugs, distilled water, large vinegar bottles, grocery bags, liquid laundry and dish detergent, fabric softener, motor oil, antifreeze, bleach and lotion.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Nearly 57% of PVC is chlorine, requiring less petroleum than other plastics. PVC is biologically and chemically resistant. It is the third most widely used plastic after PET and PP. PVC is ideal for storing shampoos, oils, and other chemicals. PVC plastic bottles are durable for long periods of time and can withstand various environmental demands. 

Common uses: Chemical spray bottles, pipes, electrical wire insulation, clothing, bags, upholstery, tubing, flooring, waterbeds, pool toys, bottles.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is made from oil. Its tensile strength and density are lower, but its resilience is higher than high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It can withstand temperatures of 175 degrees Fahrenheit continuously and 203 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time. It can be translucent or opaque, is flexible, tough, an almost unbreakable. 

Common uses: dry-cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers, bread bags, squeezable containers, six pack soda can rings, food storage.

Polypropylene (PP)

PP is often used for food packaging. It’s not as tough as HDPE, but it is less brittle. PP is less flexible than LDPE, somewhat stiffer than other plastics, reasonable economical, and can be translucent, opaque, or of any color. PP has very good resistance to fatigue. PP has a melting point of 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Food containers will not melt in the dishwasher nor during industrial hot filling processes.

Common uses: Bottle caps, drinking straws, hinged containers, battery cases, dairy tubs (e.g. sour cream, cottage cheese), cereal box liners.

Polystyrene (PS)

PS is made from petroleum. Pure solid polystyrene is a colorless, hard plastic with limited flexibility. It can be cast into molds with fine detail. Polystyrene can be transparent or can be made to take on various colors. 

Common uses: Bottle caps, drinking straws, yogurt cups, clear carryout containers, vitamin bottles, fast food, spoons, knives and forks, hot cups, meat and produce trays, egg cartons, clamshell carryout food containers.


This is the catch all category of all other plastics. Many biodegradable, photo-sensitive, and plant-based plastics fit in this category. Additionally, any plastic resin type that has been developed since the original 6 resin types were established in 1988, are marked with the 7 or Other resin identification code. As such, listing common uses for these kinds of plastics is nearly impossible since their applications and characteristics are so diverse.


Packaging Materials Information

We know that it is sometimes difficult to choose between packaging materials. It’s easy to get the abbreviations and properties confused, but you still want to choose the one that’s best for your product. We hope our dictionary page helps clients to meet those goals.

ABS- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Plastic - This general purpose terpolymer is flame retardant and impact resistant. ABS was first discovered during WWII and became commercially available in the 1950’s. ABS materials can be processed by standard thermoplastic processing methods.

Acrylic- Acrylate Polymers- Also known as polyacrylates, these plastics are known for their elasticity and impact resistance. Most acrylics fall into the PMMA category and are used as an alternative to glass.

Aluminum- Aluminum is the most popular metal used in cosmetic packaging. It’s durable, easy to manufacture, and has more coloring capabilities than most other materials. Additionally, aluminum is a metal that is very easy to recycle.

AS- Acrylonitrile Styrene Plastic- This material is tough, rigid, and transparent. AS is resistant to greases, stains, and stress cracking. AS is also easy to process. See SAN for more information.

HDPE- High-density Polyethylene Plastic- This material is moisture and chemical resistant and very versatile. It’s also impact resistant, has superior tensile strength, and is FDA approved. In addition to cosmetic packaging, HDPE materials are also used in tank lining.

LDPE- Low-density Polyethylene Plastic- This plastic is most commonly used in dispensing and wash bottles. It is remarkably strong yet still flexible. Typically, LDPE materials are translucent to opaque.

PE- Polyethylene Plastic- This material is best known for its moisture resistance and low-cost production. PE is one of the most widely used plastics in the world and billions of pounds are produced each year.

PET- Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic- Also abbreviated as PETE, this material is lightweight and flexible, making it ideal for one-time usage. It’s also the most commonly recycled plastic.

PETE- Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic- See PET and PETG.

PETG- Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic- Just like PET and PETE, PETG is a lightweight, rigid plastic material. It serves as a great barrier for moisture and alcohol solvents. It is also fully recyclable.

PMMA- Polymethyl Methacrylate Plastic- PMMA has the greatest surface hardness of all thermoplastics. It’s also very resistant to weathering and UV light and is completely recyclable. PMMA is also very colorable, which affords manufacturers and buyers a lot of creativity.

PP- Polypropylene Plastic- PP materials are BPA-free and very versatile. PP has a very high melting point, making it safe for the microwave and dishwasher. Also, it is easy to add dye to, making it favorable to manufacturers.

PS- Polystyrene Plastic- PS is fairly inexpensive. It has a glassy, rigid appearance and in certain cases is noted to look like crystal. Many manufacturers add rubber or butadiene copolymer to make high impact grades of PS.

SAN- Styrene Acrylonitrile Plastic- This material is a predecessor of ABS and is rigid and transparent. SAN’s easily printable surface makes it a go-to for cosmetic jars and airless bottles, but it’s also useful in kitchenware because of its resistance to fats and oils.