How’d you get your job in the cosmetic industry? With M. at MAC Cosmetics

A friend who works in the Research and Development team at MAC Cosmetics was kind enough to speak to me about her experience working at the company. 

I think her story is a great example of what hard work, putting yourself out there, quick learning, and dedication can achieve! 


What was your education and work background before your current job?

Honours Science Degree – B.Sc at the University of Waterloo

Did you want to work in the cosmetic industry?

I love lipstick and all, but never ever once imagined myself working for MAC Cosmetics. I was initially looking into healthcare.

How long have you been employed in the cosmetic industry?

Almost a year full-time!

What is your role at MAC?

I am a Lab Technician for the Outside Vendor group at the Canadian Innovation Centre. I deal with third parties to launch products through MAC.

What did you do yesterday at work?

I am working on launching shade extensions of existing products. There are many tests that the products must go through before it launches, therefore I observe stability of various products while keeping a record of results and any issues that arise.

What sort of projects do you work on?

As I am just under a year with Estee Lauder (which, by the way, owns MAC), I am currently assigned to shade extensions which must be released within deadlines. Fragrance changes, fading opportunities, new colours – all must be re-tested. After more experience, I hope to take on new products that have never launched before.

Do you see yourself moving around in the company? What sort of position would you like to be in, if not this one?

Currently my position has given me a lot of knowledge about the world of cosmetics at MAC. I am also taking the initiative to learn as much as I can  – attending vendor meetings (effects of new raw materials), and attending workshops to improve personal skills like public speaking, time management, and more! I am definitely interested in the Product Development or Marketing side of this fascinating industry.

Besides your own job, what other interesting jobs do you see within the company?

Marketing is something that intrigues me, just because there are so many aspects to it. To be a successful global company like Estee Lauder, making consumers of the over 15+ brands it owns is tough – but a challenge I would like to be a part of (well to start off at least…with MAC).  As a millennial, it’s easy to see the power of social media and what factors really influence consumers to purchase a product.

Biggest perk of working at MAC?


Just joking (not really).

Employees are given an appreciation bag of goodies, but more than the physical items, I would say working in the small R&D Lab has given me more exposure and opportunities than I had imagined. I am surrounding with chemists who have been with the company for 10+ years, launched magnificent products for MAC, and are still working for months to develop the next best thing – being in the presence of that itself is a treat for me.

What would you suggest to someone who’s currently an undergrad who wants to work in the cosmetic industry? How did you find out about the job you have now?

How did I get here? I worked production for 3 months one summer – no interest in the cosmetic world I just needed some cash. A year later I was finishing my finals of my last semester at University when my ex-supervisor emailed me about a cleaning position at the R&D Lab. I had told her when I left to give me a heads up if any lab position opened up, this definitely was not the one I had envisioned – I took it.

My number one advice for many post grads is to let go of their ego and get ready to do the dirty work first. I worked out of the cleaning position, as a chemist had seen potential and became an assistant. After 2 months, a chemist handed me a job posting that I did not have access to at the time. With zero experience I was hesitant to apply, but I did it. I interviewed for the Lab Tech position with no experience, but a lot to promise if I had gotten it. The smallest life choices can get you somewhere you never expected.

You’ve mentioned you came in from a non-chemistry degree, how do you think this has helped you adapt to your current role?

I would like to become a Chemist in the future, but I have yet a lot to learn about formulating. Sometimes opportunities are thrown at you when you least expect it, that’s the time to take charge and make it work with extra time if needed. As long as you know the basics of Chemistry, the rest will be taught by senior mentors and experience. There are new things I am learning every day, and that’s the beauty of it all.  

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