Toronto, Canada is the birthplace of MAC Cosmetics!
Tour of MAC Cosmetics’ Production Facilities
In April, I traveled to Toronto, Canada for a whirlwind press trip (seriously, about 24 hours in Toronto!) with MAC Cosmetics. Several beauty bloggers, including myself, were given an opportunity to tour The Esteé Lauder Companies Canadian Innovation Centre and production facility, both located in Markham, Canada.
In order to tour the facilities, we had to get decked out in oh-so-sexy safety gear, including steel-toed shoe covers, hair nets, safety googles, and lab coats—and dangling hair or jewelry is not allowed! As we traveled through the different areas in the production facility, which smelled a whole lot like vanilla, we saw lipsticks in liquid form get poured into molds, cooled, and then popped out and inserted into their tubes.
The facility still has manual lines in addition to more high-tech automated runs (which actually employ more people than I’d expect, just to watch over the machine and its output). We saw an automated line making—what seemed like—an endless supply of MAC Shy Girl Lipstick, along with a manual run of Origins’ lipsticks. In the manual line, there were employees who had to “flame” lipsticks, which is a process of fixing any minor imperfections and smoothing out the bullet as well as giving it that brand-new-lipstick-shine.
It was a very out-of-body experience to see so many machines cranking out hundreds (thousands?) of products of all types, but my favorite part was meeting the employees who ran the lines and walked us through what they do each day. It was amazing to spend a few hours getting to know the people behind the makeup, because they take as much pride producing the product as the people who create the color stories and shades.
After touring the production facilities, we headed over the Innovation Centre, which is where products are initially created. We had lunch with many of the facilities chemists (there had to been at least twenty at the table!)—the ones behind the science of makeup, really getting down to the nitty-gritty in terms of proportions, ingredients, and how each formula comes together.
For instance, to make a small test batch of eyeshadow, all of the ingredients get added to a mason jar, then blended using a regular ol’ blender (no, seriously—you’d think it would be some fancy schmancy machine, but it’s not!), poured into a small metal pan, and then they have a press to lock it in. It’s like a one-stop-shop for eyeshadow! And to think, I was using denim jeans, a quarter, and brute force to press my own eyeshadow. Once shades are approved, they go on to bigger and better machines (the real deal).
There is also the quality assurance lab, which is focused on ensuring each new batch of a shade is consistent with the original shade. They swatch in quadrants such that the original color will be in the top left and bottom right, and the new batch will be in the top right and bottom left to compare. Those wishing to work there have to take a hue test (looked like the Farnsworth-Munsell Hue Test, which you can challenge yourself with this online version) as one way to evaluate a person’s ability to see color.
It’s amazing how many people are involved from start to finish of each product and shade. I now have more much appreciation for all of the work brands and their employees must put into their products!