Have you ever wondered how they produce makeup? The cosmetics industry is big business, and in the USA we spend around $35 billion a year on foundation, mascara, lipstick and other cosmetics. Over the years, though, there have been some major changes made to the regulation of the makeup industry. The Food and Drug Administration now regulates how cosmetics are made, to limit the presence of toxic substances such as lead and mercury in products that are sold in the USA. How, then, is good makeup made?

Consumers expect consistency. They want to know that the last few bits of their lipstick will have the same colour and texture as the first application. They want to know that their mascara won’t run and that it will always look fresh. Makeup is precisely formulated to ensure this. The companies that make cosmetics invest in top quality equipment to ensure that they make balanced, safe and appealing products with good consistency, colour and scent, that will not spoil quickly.

The Making of Foundation

Foundation is hard to get right. Liquid foundation is the most well-known these days. It is made with oil and pigment, with some fragrance mixed in to keep it appealing. The whole product must mix and blend well so that it goes on to the skin smoothly and so that people can apply it with confidence without it looking greasy or unappealing on the skin.

To achieve this, the companies that make foundation use industrial equipment that is carefully calibrated to ensure that the makeup that is produced has a consistent texture and that it all comes out exactly the same throughout the batch. They use processes such as submicron processing to ensure that the product is always exactly right and that the constituents of the makeup are reduced in size to incredibly small pieces that are indistinguishable once it is all mixed up.

Quadro Liquids is one company that is particularly good at making top quality cosmetics. They use mixing machines that can reliably produce good foundations, by performing numerous tasks, including:

  • Hydration of thickening/suspending agents
  • The production of a stable emulsion
  • The disintegration of any solids in the mix
  • The dissolution of the powdered ingredients
  • The blending up of liquids to appropriate viscosity
  • The mixing of stabilisers, rheology modifiers or thickeners

These processes are performed in consistently reproducible, carefully controlled and hygienic conditions because the health and safety of those who use the products will be at stake.

The Making of Mascara

Mascara is another product that is hard to make, and that requires particular care and attention because the product will be applied to the eyes. In some countries, it is still legal to use coal, tar and other substances that might be toxic to achieve the jet black colour that is so popular. In the United States, manufacturers are legally required to use safer alternatives.

There are many formulas that can be used to make mascara. Usually, the formula will include water and some oil, wax or pigment, but these must be something that will not irritate the eyes. Blending oil and water is difficult, as any cook will be aware. Modern makeup manufacturers will use sophisticated techniques using a high viscosity pump to produce a stable emulsion, with a smooth mixture of water and oils, where they are uniformly dispersed within each other, being the most desirable outcome.

Other Makeup Products

Lipstick uses waxes, oils and other pigments, which are treated with antioxidants and preservatives to help stop them from becoming spoiled once they are opened. There are many pigments that are approved by the FDA. Lipstick is strictly regulated because of the potential for traces of it to be ingested. The ingredients used must be non-toxic. Companies use mixing equipment from brands such as Flux Pumps to blend together the ingredients to make something that applies smoothly, will stay on, and has a predictable and stable texture. Cochineal is one of the most popular pigments but there are many others that are in use today.