Where was it made?

On this Labour Day holiday, I thought I would examine where in the world our cosmetics are made.  It’s something that I always take note whenever I buy a product – I like to turn over the compact or box to find that fine print: made in xx / fabriqué au xx. For me personally, of the typical cosmetics producing countries, here’s how I rank them in terms of quality, from high to low: Disclaimer: this post in no way is a reflection of all qualities of products made in each country. I understand that there are high and low quality products made in every country. This is a generalized overview, and as such, there will be exceptions.

France – most notable for perfumes and skincare.  Certain brands exclusively produce in France, staying true to their origin, such as Guerlain, Chanel, and Bourjois.  I feel that these brands focus on controlling both the heritage and integrity of their products.  There are also excellent pharmacy skincare brands like Nuxe, Avene and Bioderma – luckily in Canada we have easy access to these brands!

made in France
Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush, Guerlain Meteorites Perles, Yves Rocher eyeshadow, Sisley makeup remover

Interestingly, I noticed that my Benefit Boxed Powder Blush changed from “Made in USA” (in the shade Dallas) to “Made in France” (Hervana) and 4g less product!
Benefit Boxed Powder Blush

Italy – the majority of baked products are made in Italy, from Hourglass, to MAC, and all the way to drugstore brands like Milani.  I would say Italy’s niche in cosmetics is pigment products, especially eye shadows and blushes.

made in Italy
Milani Baked Blush, Clinique Cheek Pop Blush, Body Shop Shimmer Waves, Laura Mercier Caviar Stick, Burberry Light Glow blush

I noticed that my Canadian L’Oreal Color Infallible eye shadows are made in Italy but the ones from the US are made in the USA. Huh!
L'Oreal Infallibles
Japan – similar to France, there are certain brands that manufacture their products solely in Japan to keep production in their home country; brands include Shiseido, Anna Sui (even though she’s American, her brand is primarily an Asian one), and Shu Uemura.  I find Japanese skincare, liquid liners and mascaras to be superior to others on the market.

made in Japan
Kate (by Kanebo) eye shadow, Shu Uemura eye shadow, Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio, Shu Uemura Glow On blush

Germany – is the king of pencil products.  Take a look at any of your eye or lip liners, nine times out of ten they’re made in Germany, no matter the brand.  This is part of the reason I don’t really bother buying really high end eye liners since I feel like drugstore brands perform just as well as the high end brands.  Germany also is where Kryolan (theatrical makeup) and Illamasqua powder products are made (Kryolan produces for Illamasqua).

made in Germany
Lise Watier, NYX, Lancome, Prestige eye and lip liners

Australia – there are some high quality natural skincare lines from Australia, like Antipodes, Sukin, and Jurlique.  But the current most well-known Australian brand is Becca.

made in Australia
Sukin toner, Becca and Illamasqua nail polish

UK – I don’t see this as often anymore, but primarily skincare products especially from the Body Shop.  Some Rimmel products are still made in the UK.

made in England
Steam Cream, Body Shop Vitamin E toner, Rimmel lipstick, Rimmel Apocalips

Canada – perhaps I’m biased but I think Canada has the US beat in terms of cosmetics product quality.  A lot of brands produce their foundations, eye shadows, blushes – just about anything – you name it, here in Canada.  Brands include MAC, Nars, Cargo, Bobbi Brown etc.

made in Canada
Nars eye shadow, Cargo blush, MAC blush, MAC eye shadow

USA – by far the most prolific of all the cosmetic producing countries (at least, from my point of view, since I’m in North America – this may not hold true for you if you live in, say, Australia!)  Every type of cosmetics – skincare,  haircare, foundations, colour cosmetics – and a wide range of brands and quality are produced in the US.  I think probably 90% of my nail polishes are made in the US.

made in USA
Clinique eye shadow, Estee Lauder eye shadow, theBalm Instain blush, Hard Candy eye shadow, Milani eye shadow, Nars eye shadow

I noticed that only “Made in US” items would also specify that they used “foreign” or imported parts – I’m assuming the packaging from China:

made in US with foreign parts
Physician’s Formula face powder, CoverGirl foundation, CoverGirl mascara

Poland – I began noticing “made in Poland” more recently on my makeup products, primarily from Essence and Inglot.  The quality of them are quite good!  I hope to try more products made in Poland.

made in Poland
Inglot, Essence eye shadow

South Korea – gaining wider exposure ever since the spread of BB creams, which originated from Korea.  I never thought I’d be seeing The Face Shop and Holika Holika standalone stores here in Canada.

made in Korea
Skin79 BB Cream, Etude House mascara base, Missha BB Cream

Mexico – I’ve noticed a few skincare items made in Mexico: Nivea creams and some shower gels from Yves Rocher.  I haven’t come across any colour cosmetics made in Mexico.

Hong Kong / Taiwan – I still separate out Hong Kong / Taiwan from China since their cultures are quite different, and the development of their manufacturing sophistication differ greatly.  Once, I was at Winners and was quite taken aback when I noticed some Edward Bess cosmetics were made in Taiwan! [Here’s a photo of a blush label] For such a high end brand, you’d think they would make it elsewhere?

made in Taiwan
NYX lipgloss, Sleek blush

China – while China is a powerhouse when it comes to manufacturing electronics, textiles and plastics – I’m still cautious about cosmetics made there (especially lip / face products that are liquid in nature).  Made in China is sometimes “disguised” as “Made in PRC” which stands for People’s Republic of China. Generally, I would say that less expensive brands like Wet n Wild, NYX, e.l.f., NYC and Sleek produce their products in China.  And I would say that probably 95% of the packaging for most cosmetics are imported from China and the contents are made elsewhere; I have no issues with that.  Ultimately, I just don’t have a high level of trust when it comes to cosmetics or skincare made in China. I find it telling that companies will state on the product that it is “Designed in [a country with higher perceived quality], made in China”:

made in China
Revolution blush palette, e.l.f. loose powder, Wet n Wild bronzer, Revlon eye shadow

Some interesting countries of origin that I’ve noticed from my stash:
• Illamasqua nail polishes made in Australia
• Smashbox Blush Rush made in China
• MAC Cleansing Oil made in Japan
• Guerlain brush made in Mauritius (I had to look this country up, it’s an island nation in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar)
• Body Shop Colour Crush Nail Polish made in France
• Vichy Mineral Powder Foundation made in Spain
• Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation made in Thailand
• Rimmel Scandaleyes Eye Shadow Pencil made in France
Avanti 2000 hairdryer made in Italy (It was a real selling feature when the person was selling it to me.  It is a good hairdryer, although I didn’t know if Italian made hair appliances are really suprior.) 😛

Do you take notice of where your cosmetics are made?  Anything interesting you’ve noticed?

64 thoughts on “Where was it made?

    1. I’ve noticed a lot made in Italy lately too, but I think it could be because of the popularity of baked products at the moment. I’m seeing more and more made in China too – I hope that means the quality will improve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah! A lot of my blushers and eyeshadows are made in Italy! Really interesting! Also I also see a lot of my pencil products are made in Germany too like you said! I don’t think I’ve seen much made in China but that I think I will be looking from now on! Pretty interesting stuff!

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  1. This is a huge oversight for me for any cosmetic I’ve purchased. I immediately looked what I currently use on a regular basis after reading this. Surprised to see most of the NYX items I have are made in PRC. The interesting ones for me were one of the foundations I use (Clinique Even Better, made in Belgium) and my setting powder (Rimmel Stay Matte, made in England).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post, I never really looked into my products and the origin from which is was made. If it works for me and is cruelty free than it is good enough for me. But now you intrigued me to start reading into my products more 🙂 Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very interesting post! I just recently started paying attention to which countries make the products I use. I did notice that many high-end brands like Laura Geller are made in Europe, while low-end brands like Wet-n-Wild are made in China. Perhaps that is what makes the prices lower? It’s just interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do like the read the backs of everything like on my shampoo and moisturisers but never made so much attention to where things are actually from.
    I’ll probably start paying more attention now.
    And funny thing is – I haven’t heard much about the brand Becca at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also like to look at where the products I buy are made (esp cosmetics/skincare and clothing/accessories). Germany is the best for pencils and sharpeners – and not just the makeup type, too! Staedtler pencils, sharpeners and erasers ❤

    It does irk me when pricier brands are manufactured in China, though (Smashbox, really?). And then you have lower-priced Yves Rocher having a lot of their makeup made in their own country, France.

    I never knew some NARS and Bobbi Brown were made in Canada, though. I wonder if there's a connection with MAC being mostly made in Canada, at all? BB is owned by Estee Lauder, like MAC…but NARS is Shiseido, isn't it?

    Fascinating stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I happen to know the place where they manufacture stuff for MAC, Bobbi Brown etc. 😉 I got connections! :In my fantasy world I would go work there but ugh in reality they pay crap and it’s far to commute! That facility also made stuff for Maybelline, Laura Mercier, Lancome, etc.

      Yes Nars is owned by Shiseido but I think that was fairly recent? (I just did a google search and it was in 2000… so it’s fairly recently relative to the brand’s history, if you care to read: http://www.shiseidogroup.com/company/past/history/)

      I ALMOST wanted to chuck the Smashbox blushers out after I noticed they were made in China. NOT cool, man. Their profit margin must be amazing! (scammers) But I do have to admit the quality is great on those blushes. I agree – I’m always so impressed that YR stuff are still made in France and are like $3. How do the economics work?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Re: makeup factory — Oh that is cool! LOL! Too bad it doesn’t sound like it’s fun to work there.

        Aw, don’t toss the Smashbox! I have to say, I have always liked the stuff of theirs that I’ve tried. Granted, it’s not a whole lot. I have liked some of their blush, eyeshadow and lip stuff. It’s annoying that it’s made in China and priced mid+, though.I was interested in one of their foundations recently, but saw it was $60 or something. :O

        I’d love to check out the factory where the YR nail polish is made! Wonder what other brands are made there….

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  6. This is such a cool post! I didn’t know BB creams originated in Korea, that’s pretty neat. And I didn’t know Cargo was a Canadian brand either! I haven’t tried anything from them but I’ll have to since your country produces “better” quality 😉 Haha! As for ELF and WNW… I’ve been debating the made in China bit for awhile… on the one hand, I love them and they are so cheap! But on the other… God only knows what’s in them… LOVEEEEEED this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Canada > US. 😛
      Hmm yeah I’m not sure how to reconcile the “made in China” and animal testing discussion – I only recently started seeing lots of endorsement for Wet n Wild and e.l.f. regarding no animal testing – but yet they’re made in China? I just don’t know.
      Glad you enjoyed this post Kaily – I aim to please… YOU, just you. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, dork. So I actually already looked that up. Products can be made in China with no animal testing, but they cannot be SOLD in China without animal testing. Both ELF and WNW are made but not sold in China and are not tested on animals so they are cruelty free… which is one concern… the other is I still don’t know WTF is in them! I read somewhere not to buy makeup online that is from China because it has high amount of Lead and other things in it… Ehhh IDK.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah I heard about made in vs sold in China… Just sketchy. So yay for fluffy bunnies but let’s absorb a whole bunch of who knows what. I’m the last person to talk though as my personal philosophy about animal testing is not solidified and I love lead. 😁

          Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really awesome post! I can’t imagine how long you take for this research, I’ve learned a lot!!
    Many global brands are manufacturing their products in several countries, because of the speciality and the cost as you mentioned, and also because of the difference of cosmetic regulation 🙂
    Now I will check about it every time I go to the store :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, it took me a while to review everything, but I do make notes every time I notice something interesting in the “made in” fine print like the Guerlain brush for instance.
      I really love skincare from France and Japan – I think a lot has to do with their source ingredients, they’re a lot more refined than elsewhere. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I just think it’s interesting to take note – sometimes where it’s made influences my purchasing decision ie if it’s made in a lower quality country but they’re charging a lot of money, I don’t feel it’s as worth it! Conversely, if it’s very inexpensive but made in France for instance, then I feel it’s well worth the money!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, comprehensive list! Yup, I must say, I have very similar feelings on this topic. I recently spotted the Stila duo lip/cheek trio set are made in China. Shocker, because the ones that they sell individually 32g are made in USA. Such a shame, the miniatures are so cute. I returned everything. I just can’t bare to test out lip products that are made in CHina.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the trick with those “value” sets and palettes – they’re cheaper because they’re made in cheaper countries. I do wonder if the brands weigh the pros and cons of damaging their brand image when they make these decisions. Or, do most people not notice or care about where their products are made?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I care and so do you. I am not even a beauty blogger. We can’t be alone in this. It is the pressure of higher margins for the beauty houses, I suppose? I mean, even those collaboration projects are made in China at times, check Becca x Jacklyn eye pallette for example. I guess as a consumer we need to be more aware.

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  9. I agree. I also avoid made in China food which is ironic because I’m Chinese. Estée Lauder brands (mac, Bobbi brown, etc) tend to have a fair Canadian representation because they have a few plants around Toronto and Mac was Canadian before they were bought

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m from Toronto and I know about the facilities around here that produce MAC, Bobbi Brown etc. I once fantasized about working at one of those places. 😆 There are places in Quebec too.

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    1. I’m glad you found this useful! I’ve made a habit to always check. 🙂 I’m often surprised at how some inexpensive brands like Essence or Kiko are made in Italy and some expensive brands make their products in China!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I subscribe to Topbox and notice I’m receiving more often now
    makeup made in China.

    I have also seen in gift shops toiletries eg soap, lotion with European looking name and packaging but made in China.

    I got a GWP purchase from Ulta and when I got home saw that all the makeup items made in China.

    I’m more careful about checking labels now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve noticed a huge surge of cosmetics made in China lately too. Maybe their quality will improve as they get more sophisticated in manufacturing – who knows. I really dislike the practice of having limited edition or holiday collections or gwp for higher-end companies made in China – their quality is never on par with the regular line. I feel it dilutes the brand’s value and integrity.

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  11. Hello, great post! I learned a lot and had concerns about where the skincare items and cosmetics were actually being manufactured. Of course it matters, but we are never really schooled on how to buy cosmetics and what to look for. I agree with the comments about the special edition type pallets that outsource to China and then their product is not on par with the regular item, like the eye shadows. It’s just poor business practice and definitely hurts their integrity as a company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! 🙂 I just wished that more people would pay attention. I’m not saying ALL makeup / skincare made in China are bad, but just be aware of the cost vs selling price difference. I agree, the more they release cheaper limited edition items, the less people will trust their brand.

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  12. What a great and informative post! I am delighted to find someone who is just as obsessed as I am about knowing where the product was made. I agree with everything you wrote especially the part about not trusting products that come from China. I noticed years ago that all pencil liners were made in Germany and I too tend to buy lower priced products when it comes to pencils as I figure it’s all from the same factory. I also read somewhere that there are a handful of factories in Italy that produce makeup for either high or low end products. So companies such as Charlotte Tilbury and Giorgio Armani are likely from the same factory and it makes me wonder if they use the same formulas. Also, because the stores look so similar and they’re all from Italy, I wonder if Kiko, Mina (3ina) and Wycon are made in the same factory. Mina is supposedly Spanish but virtually everything in the store apart from the pencils are made in Italy. Might it be worth writing a post about which factories produce what?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to find another person who is as passionate about this topic! 😀
      I would not be surprised that the same Italian factories manufacture a wide range of price points – at the end of the day, they may throw in some fragrance in the formula, but it’s all about the packaging and the branding! I’ve heard of Mina and have been curious about it. The challenge for me is that I don’t have insider information because I don’t work in the beauty industry so it would be just speculation. I used to read this blog which is written by someone who used to work in the beauty industry: http://beautyandthebullshit.com/
      She has a lot of insight about the manufacturing and technical aspects.

      Like

  13. Hi, I’m so pleased to find that I’m not alone in caring about where my cosmetics are made! I always, ALWAYS, check before purchasing and if something is made in China then I don’t buy it. I just don’t trust cosmetics made in China to be free of contaminants, rogue ingredients, you name it. There have been too many horror stories from China about contaminated manufacturing, remember the baby milk scandal from several years ago? I gave up using Ren products a few years ago when I discovered that minis they were producing to give away with magazines had been made in PRC and not here in England. The fact they were making their products here had been a major selling point for me and I felt betrayed by them when they did this. I wrote them a strongly worded letter telling them they had lost my custom because of it and haven’t purchased anything from them since. Just to let you know that quite a few Clinique skincare items I buy are made here in the UK and lots of Estee Lauder items are made in Belgium.

    Thanks for your very informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I remember the baby formula contamination! Yikes.
      I think people are very careful about what they ingest but they don’t consider that a lot of beauty products (especially those that go on the eyes and lips) get absorbed into the body. Good to know that Clinique and Estee Lauder are made in UK and Belgium!
      I’m glad you found this post useful. 🙂

      Like

  14. Japanese skincare is still the best and made in taiwan cosmetics /skincare is good too.

    However, those made in China…hah…stay away from them…they lack integrity!

    Cosmestic products ftom Italy should be of better quality compared to those from USA and UK…. That’s my discovery.

    South Korean cosmetics and skincare range contain mimeral oil as one of their top ingredients…and their products are costly too…i also stay away from theirs!

    Thanks for sharing those valuable information and findings…..enjoy reading them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t tried much made in Taiwan but I’m definitely going to look into them!

      I do agree that in general Italian makeup are better than US / UK. I think their production facilities are just more sophisticated.

      Korean beauty items that I’ve tried so far have been good. Mineral oil isn’t a “bad” ingredient per se – I tolerate it well but I know some people don’t. The main issue I see with mineral oil is that it’s an inexpensive ingredient and companies are charging a lot of money for their products!

      Like

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