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Science of aromatherapy conveyed through color, texture, numbers

A sensory experience is the object of meticulously crafted packaging for a line of premium-quality, therapeutic-grade pre-blended essential oils introduced by 21 Drops. The brand-created by founder, owner, and chief product officer Cary Caster-was launched just over a year ago, to introduce the science behind aromatherapy to a new audience.

Hp 20061 21 Drops Group Shot
"There are a lot of stereotypes out there about aromatherapy," says Caster, a clinical aromatherapist located in Delray Beach, FL. "The real message we want people to understand is that there is a very specific science behind it. The chemicals in essential oils affect our olfactory sense, and that in turn affects the chemistry in our bodies to cause change."

21 Drops uses 100% organic or wild-crafted plant-based oils, sourced from artisan distillers around the globe. The oils have been blended into 21 different combinations to address 21 common health conditions that were determined through ethnographic studies, as well as clinical evaluations from Caster's practice. Some of the conditions include congestion, headaches, sleeplessness, digestion, and pain relief. A twenty-second blend can be custom-formulated for consumers to address their individual health concerns.

The challenge in developing packaging for the brand was to make it portable, contemporary, and approachable. According to Caster, "The idea was to draw people in enough to warrant the time to explain to them the science behind aromatherapy."

Caster, along with 21 Drops creative director Amy Rosenthal, and design firm Purpose-Built specified the packaging and designed the graphics for the line. Primary packaging consists of a 0.25-oz leak-proof, clear-glass vial with a roller-ball applicator and a silver closure embossed with the brand name. The vial is encased in a silicone sleeve that protects the oil from the sun and the vial from breakage. Both the vial and the sleeve are recyclable.

Secondary packaging is a Forest Stewardship Council-certified kraft carton, converted by Prestone Printing. Each variety is differentiated by color, which is used on the silicone sleeve as well as on the carton. Prestone used a total of 45 spot colors across the 21 SKUs to produce the desired effect of organic absorption of the ink on the paper, says Caster. Inside each carton is a printed insert with the specific batch number of the blend enclosed. The carton for each variety is also embossed with a different texture and is printed on the inside flap with its own "statement of intention" that correlates with the benefit of the oil. Inside each carton is a printed insert with the specific batch number of the blend enclosed.

For example, number 05, Headache blend, has a light blue sleeve that is printed in white with the formula name and number. The carton carries the number 05, offset-printed in light blue, along with directions for use, ingredients, and the brand name in black type. On the inside flap of the carton, the statement of intention reads, "I quiet the noise. I free my mind."

According to Caster, the choice of numbers, colors, and embossing techniques for each variety was quite purposeful. "To me, life is about creating meaning and layers of meaning," she says. "So I wanted the packaging to emulate that." Sources for inspiration for the formula numbers included a range of numerology systems, such as Tarot, astrology, Kabbalistic, and Chinese. "The colors then very easily tended to match that," she adds.

Since being introduced, 21 Drops has found its way into 60 retail locations, including high-end boutiques, pharmacies, and spas. The oils are also sold on the company's Web site, priced at $29 per bottle, and $75 for a three-bottle variety pack. "Consumers are thrilled," says Caster. "They have had tremendous results." -Anne Marie Mohan
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