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Brand Profile: MAC Cosmetics


According to Mac Cosmetics’ parent company Estee Lauder, one MAC lipstick is sold somewhere in the world every four seconds around the world every four seconds.

How MAC Cosmetics began

When Frank Toskan sat down at his kitchen table with an old chemistry textbook, he had no way to know that he was about to create one of the most recognizable and polarizing cosmetic brands in history. In 1984, Toskan teamed up with partner Frank Angelo ( the pair are affectionately known in MAC cosmetics lore as “the Franks” ) to launch Make-up Art Cosmetics.  Their goal was to create a line of cosmetics for professionals that could wouldn’t break down under intense studio lighting.

Frank Angelo Co-Founder MAC Cosmetics

Frank Angelo Co-Founder MAC Cosmetics

The synergistic combo of Toskan’s artistry and Angelo’s business acumen propelled the brand forward and in 1991 the first MAC store opened in New York’s Greenwich Village. In 1994 cosmetics powerhouse Estee Lauder bought a controlling interest in the brand and went on to purchase the remaining interest in 1998.

Frank Toskan Co-Founder MAC Cosmetics

Frank Toskan Co-Founder MAC Cosmetics

Although MAC Cosmetics has developed a cult-following, it is not without detractors. Some professional makeup artists have even gone as far as to boycott the brand. There are a few reasons for these strong anti-MAC sentiments. First, some feel that by sending MAC makeup artists out into the field to work fashion shows and magazine shoots, Estee Lauder was taking jobs away from established freelance makeup artists by grossly undercutting market rates. Another issue for pro makeup artists was the changes of formulas of some of the lines products. MAC makeup  products were “watered down” for consumer tastes and became less suitable for professional makeup artists. Product gram weights and pigment loads dropped while prices remained the same, effectively raising prices for a lower quality product.

Despite many changes at the brand since the Estee Lauder buyout, two things have remained the same about MAC Cosmetics. One of these is the company’s adherence to the motto of the founders: All ages. All races. All sexes. The brand’s spokesmodels range from 91 year style icon Iris Apfel to drag superstar Rupaul.

RuPaul The First MAC Spokesmodel

RuPaul The First MAC Spokesmodel

The other, is the continued support of the MAC Aids Fund. Periodically, the brand releases additional to its “Viva Glam” product line. 100% of the sales proceed from these key items is donated to help those living with HIV and AIDS.

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