Sunday, 29 January 2017

MAC Before Estee Lauder

So I've decided to do a post about the brand MAC and how it used to be before Estee Lauder bought it. Estee Lauder is one of the biggest beauty brands around and owns a lot of other brands including Bobbi Brown and Clinique. I've often heard people saying MAC used to be so much better as an independent brand and it's a makeup subject that has interested me for a while. I don't remember the company when it was independent as it was way before I got into makeup. MAC got bought out around the mid 90s, I was only a kid back then.

This post is not having a dig at the brand or attacking any of the staff. The staff at MAC work really hard and if the company was better independent, compared to now, it's the fault of Estee Lauder management, not the workers who work for them.

Writing this post hasn't been easy as the information pre Lauder is very scarce. People my age and younger won't remember any of this at all. I've got my info from asking on different makeup artists on Facebook who used to work for MAC back in the day. They have managed to tell me what they remember about the company. There are a few makeup forums that have some info too.

MAC Eyeshadows (current packaging)


MAC stands for Makeup Artist Cosmetics and was started by makeup artist and photographer - Frank Toskan and beauty salon owner, Frank Angelo in Toronto in 1984. They came up with a studio makeup line that would fulfill their professional needs. Back then, the two were frustrated that there was a lack of color that would shoot well with photography. The makeup was made in their kitchen and sold in their beauty salon. The first customers were models, photographers and fellow makeup artists. Then came the stylists and editors, the makeup brand just grew from there. 


Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan

The staff were professional makeup artists and over time the brand just grew. Madonna wore MAC's Russian Red lipstick on stage on her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. Russian Red is still available today, it's a proper old skool color. MAC was the first brand in history to invest in it's staff's training and education. Instead of making sales through traditional advertising, sampling and gifts with purchase, MAC relied on the integrity of it's carefully formulated product line. 

Then Estee Lauder came along and decided to purchase a percentage of MAC. In 1998, Lauder bought the remaining shares of the company and MAC was no longer an independent brand. 

Quality
So you're probably wondering what changed since it got bought by Lauder. A lot, it seems. First off is product quality. I've heard many people saying over the years the quality of the products in going down, especially with the company bringing out all these endless collections. The original price of a MAC lipstick in the 90s was $8, as soon as Estee Lauder bought the company the price went up a lot. If you are familiar with the packaging of the lippies you will know they come in bullet packaging with a plastic turn mechanism. When MAC was an independent brand the actual tubes were made out of metal and not plastic. Plus in the box packaging, the lipstick used to get wrapped in black tissue paper.

MAC still make some great products. I love their eyeshadows, blushers and lipsticks. Plus I'm a fan of their blot powder. Although I wouldn't call the products that they bring out these days pro standards any more. They seem to spend more time bringing out all of these limited editions, rather than concentrating on a good line of permanent products. It should be about quality, not quantity. This once was the case before Lauder, these endless limited editions and often gimmicky collections didn't happen.

The pigments of the colors were just insane and the original MAC brushes were so much better than they are today.

To be fair it's not just MAC that went wrong. I've heard that the quality of Bobbi Brown went downhill when Lauder bought that brand too.

MAC Lipsticks (current packaging)


MAC Pro Was Always Free
The MAC pro programme also used to be free. If you are familiar with makeup artistry you will know that MAC offers a programme for qualified makeup artists who are working in the industry. For a fee you can get a MAC Pro Card which gives you a good discount. Back in the day this used to be free. Under Estee Lauder the Pro Programme is now one you have to pay for. Although I did get told by a makeup artist on Facebook that the programme is now going to be free once more.

Staff Training
When MAC was it's own company it used to spend a lot of time giving it's staff excellent and extensive training. They also used to hire staff based on their actual talent, and not just their retail experience. The staff back then were made up of well trained artists who would happily let you play with the testers and not pressure you to buy them. Don't get me wrong, there are some very talented people at MAC, but now under the control of Lauder they seem to put sales experience before talent. Very often if you go to the MAC counters in different places you just get a high pressure sales environment. Estee Lauder seem to put more priority on sales, rather than the products itself. These days they seem to be concerned with hiring mainly sales people and not artists.

Too Much Focus On Sales And Not Artistry
Before MAC was bought, sales goals weren't a huge factor and pressure sales to customers were non existent. 

An artist back then could exercise their artistic strengths without fear of getting fired. Focus was on artistry and not pushing paper. The products were so good they would often sell themselves. MAC used to have some great artists working for them and when pushing paper became the main thing they left, with only a few staying. 

Back then the staff were hugely talented. Now it's not the same. There are some good people still working for MAC who do have talent, but I have heard and read about people finding the staff cannot do makeup properly, yet they can sell anything to anyone. A number of people have said they have been put off having makeup done at MAC because some of the staff look like clowns.

Packaging
I've mentioned above that the lipsticks used to be made of actual metal packaging rather than plastic. Did you know that the eyeshadows used to to come in durable screw top pots. 

The brushes also used to be far better quality than they are now. Today MAC brushes are still good, but back then they used to be far better. 

Animal Testing
And finally there is animal testing. MAC sadly is no longer cruelty free, thanks to Estee Lauder putting profit before ethics. The brand now sells in China. If a brand wants to sell their products there, Chinese law requires that the products are tested on animals. It's not just MAC either, but the other Lauder brands too. Pamela Anderson once was a Viva Glam Spokesperson for MAC in 2004 and she actually wrote a letter to the president of Estee Lauder - John Demsey, saying how disappointed she was. Check out her letter here.

To be fair on Estee Lauder, it's not just them as other big makeup companies are just as guilty for animal testing too. L'Oreal is another big company that owns a lot of brands including Urban Decay. A few years back Urban Decay announced they were going to sell in China. Loads of people said they would boycott the brand if they did. This led to Urban Decay changing their mind and they are still cruelty free.

So this is how MAC used to be before it got bought by Estee Lauder. From what I've been told by people who used to work for MAC back then, the company was far better. To me it seems as if Estee Lauder have killed a brand that was once amazing and changed it into something else. I don't remember the original MAC, but it sure did sound a lot better. If only I had a time machine, I could go back and check it all out. 

Death by Estee Lauder. RIP MAC x


Note: Image taken from Eating Lipsticks

58 comments:

  1. Whilst I can't talk about the make up side of things, I can say that it is common for quality to be lost when a company is bought... Which sucks, really...

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  2. I do not know much about the background of this company so it is interesting to read about it and all the changes that have occurred over the years.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this post and learned some things about the background of the MAC company that I hadn't known. I think you are quite right that Estee Lauder is way too concerned with quantity and limited editions when it should be concentrating on quality.

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    1. The company is huge and owns loads of different brands. Profit is it's main concern. If i had my own beauty brand that was popular I would not sell it to Estee Lauder, no matter how much money they would offer. I don't agree with animal testing and for sure Lauder would want to sell it in China x

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  4. Is it silly that I did not realize that Este Lauder owns MAC? It was very interesting to read about the background of both brands x

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    1. I enjoyed researching this subject. Finding the company history was easy as it's on MAC's website. Finding out what it was like before it got bought out was quite difficult x

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  5. I didn't realise MAC had changed so much since it was taken over by Estee Lauder x

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  6. I never knew that about animal testing in China!! Thanks for such an informative post.

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    1. It's quite a big issue, i will be doing a whole post on it too x

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  7. Gosh I didnt know any of this about Mac, its been a really insightful post and as a Beauty Blogger its educated me, thanks x

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  8. I don't own any MAC products and that is because they are too expensive for my budget. It's sad to read that from an animal cruelty free company they are now testing their products on poor animals....

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    1. It's all to do with greed. There are other brands that don't test on animals who seem to make a profit. L'Oreal almost sold Urban Decay products in China but stopped because of a large amount of people threatening to boycott it x

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  9. My mummy doesn't remember the original MAC either, seems a lot of changes have been made, she doesn't buy much from MAC just the odd lippy, but has always been impressed with the quality.

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    1. I've heard that the original quality of MAC was far better than it is now x

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  10. That's really sad that they test on animals, as their stuff looks great. I avoid anyone that tests on animals.

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    1. They don't like to tell you that test either x

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  11. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the original MAC and have to agree in prices going up and quality changing. It seems to be something that does happen when companies are taken over by another

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    1. I'd love to have been able to shop at MAC back in the day, if only i had a time machine. Selling to Estee Lauder was probably one of the worst things the company did x

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  12. Loved reading the post. So glad you managed to get so much info! I was a kid when MAC was an independent brand but their stand on animal testing has disappointed me a lot. I am addicted to Ruby Woo but don't want to spend my money on a brand doing animal testing when there are so many other great, ethical brands out there.

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    1. I used to be obsessed with the brand back in 2007. I still like it but i'm not as in love with it as i was back then x

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  13. I haven't tried any of their products yet but know many have been discussing the topic of their animal testing for years now.

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    1. Estee Lauder's view on animal testing is disgusting x

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    1. Estee Lauder owns quite a few companies x

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  15. It is really sad they test on animals it's one thing in this day and age that we shouldn't be doing anymore. I do buy some of their products but I don't remember how Mac used to be before they got bought out. Thanks for sharing X

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  16. I actually had no idea that Mac was owned by Estee Lauder, that's a shame that the quality doesn't seem as pro anymore x

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    1. Yeah, it seems it happens often when a company gets bought out x

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  17. Wow what a sad tale! It seems like MAC was much better off before being bought out, especially as it wasn't tested on animals :( I would like to go into that time machine with you too

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    1. If only we could jump in one. The original MAC sounded amazing x

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  18. This was a really interesting read! I didn't know anything about the history of MAC before this, makes you think more about the background to all make up brands!

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    1. Yeah i really enjoyed writing this one x

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  19. Its a shame to see so many changes although its hard to say whether these changes would have occurred without Lauder buying them anyway. xxx

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    1. I don't think they would have as the brand back then didn't put profit first. Sure it had to make money, but it did it in a way where makeup artists were first, especially when it came to hiring staff x

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  20. Interesting read but what is impossible to know is if these changes would have happened anyway, even without the buyout. Or even if the company would exist in any form today.

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    1. I don't think they would have as the brand was originally set up for makeup artists and their needs. I wish the original MAC would come back x

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  21. Awesome Post!! I kind of knew about MAC before Estee Lauder and the changes MAC faced after. However I did not know about the Law in China that products need to be tested on animals.

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    1. Yeah it's quite a big thing the animal testing. It's awful x

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  22. Very interesting, I didn't know that MAC wasn't an independent company. I guess I should research brands more!

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    1. It hasn't been independent since the 90s. Death by Estee Lauder. RIP MAC x

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  23. I didn't know much on the background of MAC, such a shame they test on animals

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    1. A lot of brands do now because of China x

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  24. I remember MAC before and yeah quality has dropped and prices have risen but their cult products are still great so I can't stray! L x

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    1. I've updated my post now as i've gotten more info about the company too. They seem to have moved away from the pro focus that the brand once was x

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  25. I found this so interesting, I didn't know much about MAC in the past, but it sounds like another brand that has gone downhill since big business became involved.

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    1. Yeah it's not great when they get bought out x

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  26. This was an interesting read. Personally I still buy Mac products from time to time and I also receive them as gifts (and still love them) but I can see down sides of getting bought by a big company.

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    1. Yeah, Estee Lauder have basically killed the brand x

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  27. Oh wow! I never new that once Este Lauder took over they made so many changes. I truly hate all these limited edition collections that they come out with that sell out in a matter of minutes, It's ridiculous.

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    1. Yeah it's stupid. If you look at other brands like Dior, Chanel and NARS, they don't bring out all of these endless collections. They only bring a few out a year. It'a about quality not quantity x

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  28. I didn't know anything of this, or that Lauder bought Bobbi Brown even. I found it really interesting, especially about the animal testing.

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    1. Most of the Estee Lauder brands test on animals x

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  29. I didn't know MAC now tested on animals. That'll put me off buying there now.

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