Technical Properties of Common Cosmetic Plastics & Resins

ResinsPolyesterPolyesterPolyvinyl ChlorideBarexPolyethylenePolyethylenePolypropylene
Rigidity/StiffnessModerate to HighModerate to HighModerate to HighHighModerateLowModerate to High
Impact ResistanceGood to ExcellentGoodFair to GoodFair to GoodGood to ExcellentExcellentPoor to Good
Low Temp. Impact ResistanceFair to GoodPoorPoor to FairPoor to FairGood to ExcellentExcellentPoor to Good
Stress Crack ResistanceGood to ExcellentGoodGood to ExcellentGood to ExcellentGood to ExcellentGoodGood to Excellent
Moisture BarrierFair to GoodFair to GoodFairFairGood to ExcellentGoodGood to Excellent
Oxygen BarrierGoodGoodGoodExcellentPoorPoorPoor
Scuff ResistancePoor to FairPoor to FairPoor to FairPoor to FairVery GoodVery GoodVery Good
Resistance to:
AcidsFair to GoodFair to GoodGood to ExcellentFair to GoodFair to Very GoodFair to Very GoodFair to Good
AlcoholsGoodGoodGood to Very GoodGoodGoodGoodGood
AlkalisPoor to FairPoor to FairGood to Very GoodGoodGood to Very GoodGood to Very GoodVery Good
Mineral OilsGoodGoodGoodExcellentFairPoor to FairFair
SolventsGoodGoodFair to GoodExcellentPoor to FairPoor to FairPoor to Good
HeatPoor to FairPoor to FairPoor to FairPoor to FairGoodFairGood
ColdGoodGoodFairFairExcellentExcellentPoor to Fair
SunlightGoodGoodPoor to GoodPoor to GoodFairFairFair

*This information is supplied for use as a guideline only. Information may vary under certain conditions. It is the responsibility of the customer to make compatibility tests with each product application.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)PET1

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 polyethelene (HDPE)PE-HD

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)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 polyethelene (LDPE)PE-LD

LDPE is made from oil. Its tensile strength and density is 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

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

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.

For more information about packaging products, visit our dictionary page.