The Making of Makeup: How is it Done?

Do you ever wonder how makeup is actually made? Cosmetics are big business. North America alone spends about $35 billion every year on lipstick, foundation, mascara, and the rest. It is clearly evident that the art of artifice does sell.

The former popularity of mercury and lead used in makeup products show why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA plays at least some role in the regulation of the purity and safety of cosmetics. Today, manufacturers use ingredients determined to be safe for human contact.

The only question is what constitutes the right makeup. Consumers expect consistency for starters. For instance, the last few swipes of a lipstick tube should ideally look as the first few did. Consumers obviously consider several factors when they choose makeup. Will it last? Will it resist running? Will it keep looking fresh or wipe off everything in sight?

Manufacturers of cosmetics have spent years developing carefully guarded formulations to achieve such lofty goals. They have also invested in manufacturing equipment that’s up to the task of producing very safe and well-blended cosmetics with the right scents, colours, stability and mix of ingredients.

How is Foundation Made?

Let’s start with the foundation. While you can find dry, mineral-based versions of the foundation, the most familiar variety is probably liquid foundation. Manufacturers start with pigments and oils, and perhaps some fragrance that must be mixed thoroughly to blend all the ingredients.

The blending aspect of the equation is where the proper industrial equipment is needed. To achieve a consistent, smooth texture, colour, and other characteristics, it is important for all the ingredients to undergo a kind of mixing that’s impossible to achieve using a blender or any other household appliance or tool. Indeed, some of the products today can only be made using advanced submicron processing. It is a process through which constituents are reduced in size to very small particles.

Depending on the final product, manufacturers of cosmetics rely on advanced mixing equipment such as an electric barrel pump that’s capable of undertaking challenging tasks, which include:

  • Producing stable emulsions
  • Hydration of suspending and thickening agents
  • Dissolution of powders
  • Disintegration of solids
  • Mixing of thickeners, stabilisers, and rheology modifiers
  • Blending of liquids of varying viscosities

Not just that, but all of the processes should happen under controlled, completely hygienic, and consistently reproducible conditions. After all, health and safety are at stake, and the regulatory bodies such as the FDA are paying attention.

How is Mascara Made?

To enhance the dramatic look of eyes, mascara is used for adding colour, length, definition, and thickening to eyelashes. The most popular colour is jet black. Potential toxic substances such as tar and coal are used for this purpose in some countries. Manufacturers here rely on a safer alternative, which is carbon black. To achieve brown or other colours, pigments such as iron oxide or other minerals are typically added.

Different formulas and methods exist, but for making mascara, many manufacturers of cosmetics first create an emulsion that consists of water and various waxes, oils, and pigments. Mascara is used around the eyes, which means that it should not contain any irritants or contaminants. Blending water and oil is challenging, to say the least. To achieve stable emulsions, cosmetic manufacturers today use advanced mixing technologies – smooth mixtures that contain very small particles of water and oils, with one being dispersed uniformly within the other.

Other Makeup Items

Popular makeup items, such as lipstick, are created through similar processes – using different oils, waxes, pigments, and preservatives or antioxidants – to prevent spoilage of the final product. Numerous FDA-approved pigments are typically used, ranging from carmine (a deep red that comes from cochineal insects), the old standby, to plant-based annatto, to FD&C Red Number 40, to metallic oxides, etc. Lipstick can be ingested, which is why special attention should always be paid to ingredient safety.

Numerous companies such as Flux Pumps typically supply industry-leading industrial mixing equipment to the leading cosmeceutical and cosmetics manufacturers in the world today.

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