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Tasked with redesigning the packaging for Olay beauty creams, Kate Patterson, senior design strategist for Olay had her daughter front of mind: with cerebral palsy, she has functional use of her left hand, not her right. As Patterson notes, though, everyone will face some kind of physical impairment as they age. Arthritis alone can strip the dignity from anyone trying to open a container.

Olay hopes to relieve its customers of some of these concerns. With its new Easy Open Lids, Olay’s jar brings more independence to its customers. Side wings allow for a better grip, while larger contrasted lettering and Braille may help those with vision impairments. And those innovative designs have been open-sourced. As Hannah Nelmark, Senior Manager, Analytics & Insights, Olay notes, the goal is to encourage other companies, or 3D printer owners at home, to expand the reach of accessibility design in the consumer space.

Learn more about Olay and its new Easy Open Lid design:


Kate Patterson Senior Design Strategist, Olay

The Olay Easy Open Jar is a custom lid that was designed to attach to our current lid. It addresses the needs of our consumers with visual impairment and also some motor and dexterity issues. This project is extremely personal to me, I have a little girl who’s nine years old, and she lives with cerebral palsy. And for Nora, that affects her right side of her body pretty significantly. And so she really only has functional use of her left hand. Going into this project, you know, I’m thinking about her and others that live life with that sort of impairment, and how difficult it can be to open things and to interact with products that we take for granted. Now we all become disabled as we age, and I don’t think we think about that. So even the consumer, they might have arthritis that might be older or, you know, have any sort of issue with their hands. You know, this also impacts everyone. So while it is personal to me with my child, I think it reaches a broader audience than we realize.

Hannah Nelmark, Senior Manager, Analytics & Insights, Olay

This consumer doesn’t want to be seen different. This consumer wants to be seen, just like all of us. And this is a way to give her that independence, freedom and dignity to do their own skincare whenever they would like. We added these wings to the sides of the jars to help with consumers who have dexterity issues. we raised the cap so that they could have a better grip on it. So if you look at the normal cap versus this cap, you can see there’s an indentation versus this other cap. And then we also added things to help with consumers who have visual impairments or difficulties. So a few things that we added was this contrasted large letter words to so that consumers who can only see contrast, can see what kind of product they’re using. We also added on the top of the jar Braille and Touchstone. So not all consumers who are blind can read Braille. If they can, this says face cream in Braille. And if they cannot, this is three raised dots that we call Touchstone so that a consumer could identify this jar versus another jar that they might have, just by feeling the top of the jar. And so they know exactly that this is my facial moisturizer.


We can get really caught up wanting to make it perfect before we put it out there instead of just wanting to have progress. So one of our taglines throughout this project, and as a project team, was progress over perfection, knowing that it was going to be imperfect and wanting to get that critique and feedback from the consumer community and have criticism to make it better next time. And then to make it better the following time.


Some of these comments, were really quite emotional for people to come forward and say, ‘I’ve not been able to open my skin care jar in years.’ Thank you for giving me back my independence and my freedom. Thank you for allowing me to practice beauty just like any other woman out there. And just being able to have that impact on someone’s life, it’s something that you really can’t take away, and it’s just really powerful. And it’s very humbling for us to be able to help others with something like this.


It was really important for us to release the CAD information for consumers to download. If they have a 3d printer, they could create it at home for themselves, other companies to download that material, for it to not be proprietary to us because, you know, accessibility shouldn’t be proprietary, right? It takes from no one and gives to everyone.


We are encouraging others to follow in our suit to make beauty more accessible to all. This was about making sure that not only our products are accessible, but pushing and encouraging our competitors to also make their products more accessible. And so our product is open source, it is online, you can download it today and print your own on your 3D printer. Or we encourage other brands to also do this so that we can continue on this path towards inclusivity.

I think I’m most proud of the reaction once it launched and how it’s making a true impact in people’s life.


I’m proud that we are having this information be open sourced. I’m proud of the speed that we got this in the market. I’m proud that we knew that we were putting it out there and it was going to be imperfect and that we were doing it to get criticism and to get feedback so that we can be better next time.