Beauty experience and multisensoriality are concepts that go hand in hand. Indeed, the overall perception of cosmetics is the result of the thoughtful combination of all sensory dimensions.

As a result, the beauty industry is one of the main areas where comprehensive examination and control of the multisensory experience can greatly improve the desirability of a product by potential buyers.

The perception of color, smell and texture of cosmetics are by default the most frequently explored aspects. Several scientific studies have shown that each modality brings specific effects to the overall experience.

From noise to sound

In the field of beauty, sound has rarely been explored except to understand its intermodal correspondence with the other senses. However, it too can influence the perceived performance of cosmetics.

When thinking about a lipstick, consumers’ initial impressions are generally directed toward visual appearance and fragrance. The sound of the packaging during the closing phase is unlikely to be the first perception spontaneously imagined.

In fact, lipstick closure results from a side effect of the packaging, produced by the interaction between the design of the packaging and the act of closure. It is therefore referred to as noise. The latter, however, when specifically designed to convey functional or emotional signals, can become sound.

The study

The present work, published in Food Quality and Preference, was conducted with the aim of influencing lipstick design and more globally product design by introducing the sound dimension as an essential consideration. Thus, it is configured as a valuable support for the design of packaging sound in beauty.

The analysis exploits the combination of three approaches (physical, sensory, and cognitive) to fully understand the mental categories associated with lipstick closure sounds.

Using a set of 40 lipsticks, the investigation proposes a sequential agglomerative sorting task, enhanced with the addition of acoustic and sensory analyses, to relate sensory perception to the physical elements of the sounds.

The evaluations start with the fundamental question: is a simple sound, such as that resulting from the closing of a lipstick, perceived and can it be discriminated from the sound of another lipstick?

New evidence is thus provided to clarify the perception of sounds, with special emphasis on similarities and discrepancies across cultures.

The results show clear perceptual differences between lipstick packaging sounds, but no strong cultural divergence between France and China. The description of sound by physical and sensory measurements highlights the key role of duration and frequency in sound discrimination.


The above study underscores how crucial it is to pay attention to sounds in beauty, even when these are consequential to packaging.

By virtue of the information gathered, it was hypothesized that the experience could be improved by implementing true sound design, to “make an intention audible.” In sound design, each designed sound is constructed to represent something other than the sound itself. There are two “intentions” to be made audible: form and function.

A designed sound must have an “appropriate” form for the object it represents and must perform the function of communicating information about the consumer good in question. Making use of comprehensive sensory, physical and cognitive data, an attempt is made to anticipate both the form and function of the lipstick.

All with the ultimate goal of innovating the experience associated with this cosmetic product so that the sound is not just an accidental result of the packaging, but is transformed into an auditory element intentionally designed with a specific purpose.

Sébastien Romagny, Tevy Sault, Clément Bouchet, Laure Thiebaut, Francesca Vincenzi, David Morizet, From noise to sound: Setting the base of packaging sound design for cosmetics by physical, sensory and cognitive characterization of lipstick closing sounds, Food Quality and Preference, Volume 113, 2024, 105058, ISSN 0950-3293,