The History of Mac Cosmetics

Updated April 17, 2017

Make-up Art Cosmetics Inc., more commonly known as MAC Cosmetics, is a popular high-end personal care brand that markets to women. In fact, it is so popular and prestigious in the celebrity world that it has been mentioned in pop songs, such as "Unpretty" by TLC. The MAC brand is exclusively sold in department stores and on the Web. You will not find it at discount outlets or drug stores.


Two Canadians, a hair salon chain owner and a make-up artist, named Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan, respectively, started MAC in Toronto in 1984. They wanted to create cosmetic products that could better withstand the rigorous wear required to withstand photo shoots, such as the heat from bright lighting. Toskan was the idea man in the company. Before he partnered with Angelo, he spent hours experimenting with formulas with the help of chemist Victor Casale, who was also his brother-in-law. He formed a business relationship with Angelo since he was a skilled entrepreneur.

Hitting the Streets

MAC cosmetics were originally marketed to people in the high fashion industry. Since the owners already had connections in the field, they spread the idea of MAC through their networks. The quality and durability of the cosmetics soon gave the company the clout it needed on the celebrity scene. This led to endorsements from the likes of Pamela Anderson, Boy George, Debbie Harry and other big '80s stars. This publicity led to rapid growth.

MAC Stores

MAC opened its first stateside store in 1991 in New York City's trendy Greenwich Village neighbourhood. It opened its first European store in Paris in 1996. MAC also has a presence in several more European countries as well as in China. In addition to MAC stores, the company signed distribution deals with several department stores in the U.S. and Canada, including Nordstrom's and Macy's.


In 1994, the two Franks sold controlling interest of MAC to Estee Lauder, another prominent cosmetics company. Estee Lauder later took over the company completely in 1998. Frank Angelo passed away in 1997 and Frank Toskan quit MAC to devote his time to an AIDS charity. Estee Lauder kept the MAC name and continued some of the original owners' philanthropic work, such as the MAC AIDS Fund, which get its money from the sale of MAC's Viva Glam line. MAC is also dedicated to cruelty free products and recycling.


Although MAC is now available to the average consumer, the company maintains its focus on professional make-up artists. Through its MAC PRO program it offers professionals a 40 per cent discount. Other professionals in the industry, such as models and costume designers get 30 per cent off. Heavy users of the make-up can also get extra perks.

Further Expansion

The MAC brand continues to grow, and the line now consists of literally hundreds of products. New MAC stores continue to be opened worldwide and the brand's reputation of quality remains intact.

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