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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Mexico – I’ve noticed a few skincare items made in Mexico: Nivea creams and some shower gels from Yves Rocher. I haven’t yet 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?
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. I do have issues with high-end brands producing in China and still charging exorbitant prices!
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”, like these labels:
Some interesting countries of origin that I’ve noticed from my stash:
• Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation made in Thailand
• 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
• Illamasqua nail polishes made in Australia
• Vichy Mineral Powder Foundation made in Spain
• 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?