The Manufacturing Process of Cosmetics

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A cosmetic is an item, such as eyeshadow or lipstick, that is applied to the body in order to alter a person's appearance. It is usually applied to the face. The manufacturing process varies according to the particular cosmetic, but some of the rules and regulations associated with manufacture are universal.

Rules and Regulations

Cosmetics may include a wide variety of ingredients, except for chloroform, excessive amounts of mercury and hexachlorophene (both of which are strictly regulated), cattle material prohibited by the FDA and colors not approved by the FDA. The FDA has the right to inspect cosmetic manufacturing facilities for violations.


Mascara can be manufactured in one of two different ways: with water (emulsion) and without water (anhydrous). In the emulsion process, thickeners are combined with water to create a creamy base. Waxes and emulsifiers are blended and heated, pigments are added and the mixture is combined with the creamy base. In the anhydrous process, all ingredients are blended together in a tank and heated.


The process for manufacturing lipstick requires that the ingredients be melted and mixed in three separate solutions: solvents, oils, and waxes and fats. After the mixtures are blended, some manufacturers use a vacuum to remove any trapped air. The molten lipstick is poured into molds, which are then refrigerated.

Nail Polish

Nail polish consists of a pigment suspended in a solvent. The pigment is finely ground before being added to the solvent. The nail polish is then cooled, and other materials such as perfumes and moisturizers are added.

Fun Fact

Both lipsticks and nail polishes commonly contain micas (reflective minerals) and "pearl," a substance made from fish scales and skin (carefully cleaned, of course).