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Health and Beauty

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Behind the Scenes: at MAC cosmetics’ factory headquarters in, um, Markham, Ontario

We were not permitted to eat these pigments. (Image: Lia Parsley)

We recently had the opportunity to take a party bus to MAC headquarters (all the way up the 404), where, as some people may find surprising, their entire product line is manufactured in one of two factory facilities. Some may also be surprised to hear that MAC has been manufacturing its makeup on home turf (in Markham) for about three decades. We certainly didn’t know that, nor could we imagine prior to this visit that any global style brands were born next to Pacific Mall. Take a look at how the stuff we apply to our faces gets made—right in our backyard— in a gallery after the jump

On the tour of the facilities, we were challenged with colour matching (harder than it looks), lipstick perfecting (smoothing it over a hot flame, seriously) and mixing and pouring Lipglass. The most surprising part of the day was not the lack of Lady Gaga–inspired looks throughout the factory, or the fact that makeup is both a messy and sticky business, but how warmhearted and familial we found many of the employees, many of whom have worked at the MAC factory for more than 20 years. The Wonka culture was apparent everywhere we looked: safety goggles, hair nets and yellow steel-toe shoes, and the line workers spoke to us about the joys of the job and how their product ideas are actually heard, considered and sometimes implemented by a team of executives (so, no screams for help or legs locked by a ball and chain).

But what was most inspiring was perhaps the simple fact that a massive global brand was conceived here, just outside of Toronto, and that production has never jumped ship to reduce costs. We think this is something to be proud of, since we assume that almost every mover and shaker, celeb and C-lister is sporting the newest gloss, glass, lipstick or shadow from MAC. At least Dame Edna is, and she’s nothing if not an arbiter of taste.

See the slideshow »