Monday, February 18th, 2008

MAC Cosmetics: Guide For The Newly Addicted, Part 1

Company Back Story

MAC stands for Make-up Art Cosmetics. It was created in 1985 in Toronto, Canada by Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo, both who worked in the beauty industry. They coined the philosophy and company ideology of “All ages, all races, and all sexes.” MAC was thus privately held until Estee Lauder acquired the company in 1998. Frank Angelo passed away in 1997, and Frank Toskan left the company after Estee Lauder bought them out.

MAC Aids Fund was begun by the original creators of the brand, but has since been continued by its parent company. They utilize fundraising through the selling of products labeled Viva Glam, which include lipsticks, lipglasses, and limited edition lip palettes. 100% of the sale price of any Viva Glam product is donated directly to the MAC Aids Fund. They recently celebrated raising over $100 million for the charity.

Where to find MAC Cosmetics?

MAC Cosmetics is divided into three distinct type of stores. The company originally started as a resource for professionals and makeup artists working in the industry, so in keeping with that origination, there is a special line of products and certain stores that sell what are known as PRO products. Like other cosmetic brands, MAC also has counters that you would find in department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. Additionally, MAC has standalone stores called freestanding stores that are found in malls, and they are their own entity and only sell MAC.

MAC Cosmetics can also be purchased online in several countries. Visit, their official website, to make purchases online.

What’s the difference between the types of stores?

In terms of what you can buy, counters offer the most limited selection. Freestanding has a wider range of products, while PRO stores carry the entirety of MAC’s permanent products.

What you might not find at…

Freestanding Stores: No products marked “PRO only,” which includes lip products such as Lip Erase, PRO Lipstick shades, PRO Gloss, Lipmix; eye products such as PRO eyeshadow shades, PRO pencil shades; certain shades/formulations of foundations, powders, concealers; PRO only blush shades, blush palettes, and blush pans; multi-purpose products such as PRO only shades of cream colour bases, Paint Sticks, PRO only shades of Pigments, Chromacakes, Glitter (loose), Mixing Medium, and Airbrush makeup/supplies; and certain accessories like PRO only brush types, bags, and cases.

Counters: In addition to what you won’t find at a freestanding store: no empty palettes, pan eyeshadows, pigments, smaller range of many products (cream colour bases, brushes, etc.).

Online: Online offerings are much like freestanding stores in the range of products and types they offer, but certain products like empty palettes and eyeshadow pans will not be available.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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26 thoughts on “MAC Cosmetics: Guide For the Newly Addicted, Part 1 — About MAC, Where, What

  1. Pia

    weeeee! Thanks for this article. Couldn’t wait for the next installments.

  2. Camilla

    Great idea for the article! I just bought my 3 first MAC pigments and I’m already in love with this brand, I’ll definetely buy more as soon as i get my next pay! I bought mine thru eBay and luckily they are original, I have read the fake MAC guides you told me about before (I actually found a few and read them all) and I’ve noticed that really a lot of eyeshadows and pigments they sell there are fakes so I think it would be great if you could put here a guide like that for girls that didn’t read it yet.

  3. Tinneke

    Great idea Camilla.
    I didn’t know about the fake MAC!

  4. Interesting… thanks Christine!

  5. michelle

    so a freestanding store mac sell eyeshadow palettes?

  6. Thank you. This is a very interesting post.
    I hope you will write more about cosmetic.
    Best wishes.

  7. Denise

    I would like to know how you would be able to get access to the PRO Line and how much more expensive is it?

  8. You may want to edit this, because you CAN buy pans and palettes online now. Just a heads up as i know this was written quite a while back!

    thanks for the awesome site Christine! Wonderful reviews, looks, and information!

  9. Li Ming

    So does that mean Estee Lauder still owns MAC?

  10. CELINE

    PRO stores are also kind of Free standing stores right? Are they indicated on mac website?

    • They look just like freestanding stores, except likely to be a bit bigger and they sell different products. You can go to and tick the box “only PRO stores.”

  11. Cole

    I was able to get the 15 eyeshadow palette and a quad palette online through the US mac website.

  12. Rachel

    u can order empty palettes at

  13. Laura

    empty eyeshadow palettes and eyeshadow pans ARE sold online at mac’s website!