Aspiring makeup artists are drawn to work at MAC stores because of the company's originality and unique philosophy. Looks that appear on the official MAC Instagram account are bold and colorful, closer to works of art than to everyday makeup. For someone just starting out in the makeup industry, the company seems to be everything a new artists can dream of: practical experience combined with an environment that encourages them to experiment with their own, unique style.
If reports from former employees are to be believed, that expectation is far from reality.
Makeup artists go through a tough interview only to find that once hired, they're barely able to work at all, much less try out new styles and learn from industry pros. Practices central to MAC Cosmetics in the past, like keeping their products cruelty-free, are being slowly phased out in favor of increasing profit margins. Read on to see what MAC employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Would you want to work there?
16 The Customers Ask For Miracles
When you work at a MAC counter, not everyone coming in has a realistic idea of what your makeup skills can do for them. One former MAC artist reports that a customer came into the store, pointed at her and asked for the exact same makeup that she was wearing.
The MAC artist took the products she was wearing and applied them to her customer, who immediately got angry because she did not look exactly like the artist!
Other customers come in demanding a foundation that completely hides a face full of freckles, or a shade of lipstick that is only sold online, and complain to management when the employee can't comply with the impossible request. People want to look like the models in the MAC ads, but for the average person that's just not in the cards.
15 Promoting A Limited Edition Line Can Hurt Your Customer Rating
Almost every Friday and Saturday, MAC stores will host an event to promote a new limited edition product line. And when you're the employee responsible for overseeing or even just assisting in the promo event, you can't recommend any other makeup products to your customers. To make things worse, there's rarely enough product to meet demand. When the Selena line of lipstick came out MAC fans placed so many pre-orders that there wasn't anything left on the actual launch day! Forum threads popped up all over the major makeup subreddits with customers complaining that they couldn't even buy one tube of the highly promoted lipstick. And it's the employees on the floor stuck dealing with the fallout.
14 Your Coworkers Could Be Stealing Work From Independent Makeup Artists
On glassdoor.ca, former MAC employees reveal that their coworkers would often pass off looks to their regular customers as their own when they had actually plagiarized from Instagram makeup artist.
It's difficult to prove that someone in the makeup world stole someone else's look.
There's so much variation in the human face that an identical makeup job could appear completely different on two separate people. This is why the makeup artist community values properly attributing a look, especially when it's being marketed to the public. There's no way to prove that an idea was stolen, so makeup artists need to trust one another if they're going to keep posting their work in the public domain. We hope MAC finds a way to crack down on employees who steal looks from independent artists.
13 There Are Rigid Sales Goals But No Commissions
At first, the idea of being compensated adequately for your work without having to worry about commissions sounds great. You can focus on doing your best with each customer without pushing products that aren't right for them, and work on improving your own technique as you help each new consult find their best look. But according to former MAC employees on indeed.com, instead of making a commission on each product you sell, you have a sales goal that you have to reach in order to keep your job. Many makeup artists joined MAC because, given the rigorous interview process and the philosophy promoted by the company, they assumed that artistry was valued over sales. Employees from the early 2000s say that this was the case, but that over time, retail became more ingrained in the company's procedures.
12 The Lighting Is Terrible For Actually Doing Makeup
Multiple former MAC makeup artists reported anonymously on reddit, glassdoor.ca and indeed.com that the lighting in the store is not bright enough for proper makeup application. Some stores allow their makeup artists to give consultations in front of a mirror with special lighting, but most of the time,
a MAC counter employee will find themselves trying to match a customer's foundation to their skin tone in poor quality light.
MAC customers report that their makeup artists would have them step outside the door into natural sunlight so they could complete the consultation! Fluorescent lighting doesn't do anyone good, but the filters the MAC store is putting on them are preventing their employees from seeing well enough to to their jobs.
11 You Can't Do Anything About A Racist Customer
If you're want to meet your sales goals at MAC, you're going to have to make an effort to please every customer who comes through the door. Unfortunately, this means that you'll be catering to people who make rude or even outright racist comments. One former employee of MAC reports that a coworker had her customer request another makeup artist specifically because she looked "Mexican." This woman couldn't even complain! Instead, she had to find a makeup artist with blonde hair to do a consultation with the customer who made the racist comment. We get that the customer is always right but come on, we're pretty sure you can get kicked out of a store for that kind of racism in this day and age.
10 You'll Be Doing Makeup On People With Bad Hygiene
Doing a makeup consultation means getting up close and personal with your client, so you'd better hope that they've taken a shower that day.
One former MAC employee says that she had a customer who came in every three days with a botched and infected eyebrow tattoo.
Not only were the eyebrows faded, they were also infected - her brows were flakey and scaly all around the tattooed area. Can you imagine keeping a straight face while applying brow liner on someone like that? The former employee says that to add insult to injury, the eyebrow-challenged customer never actually bought anything. Can't MAC give that makeup artist a medal or something?
9 MAC Does Animal Testing On Cosmetics Now
Until China changed their cosmetics and drug safety standards, MAC cosmetics was a completely cruelty-free company. Now that cosmetics must undergo animal testing before they can enter the Chinese market, MAC has begun testing their products on animals. None of the products sold outside of China have been tested on animals, but that doesn't change the fact that MAC has gone from being completely cruelty-free to engaging in full-on animal testing. Many former employees were upset to find out that they were working at a company that tested its products on animals. Often, they were interested in working at MAC because they remembered it being cruelty-free when they were younger and felt uncomfortable once they found out that this policy had been quietly overturned.
8 You'll Have To Compromise Your Art To Meet Sales Goals
MAC has a reputation for allowing their makeup artists freedom in their personal appearance and their approach to consultations. They have a history of promoting bold styles of makeup and treating the practice as a form of art - which is why so many aspiring makeup artists flock to MAC stores. However,
MAC artists soon find that it's impossible to give their full attention to each customer who comes in for a consultation, especially because they can't risk letting a customer leave a consult without buying product.
Yearly job cuts target employees who have trouble meeting their sales goals. If an artist, no matter how talented, wants to keep working at MAC, he or she has to make sales.
7 Promotions Are Hard To Get...
Starting out at a MAC counter as a freelance makeup consultant or artist means that it's going to be almost impossible to get promoted to a management position, no matter how many hours you put in or how long you've been with the company. Former employees posted on Reddit, Glassdoor and Indeed about how they enjoyed working at MAC but eventually had to quit because they couldn't advance past an entry-level position. MAC doesn't usually give employee bonuses to their makeup artists, either, so no matter how much work a freelancer put in, it was unlikely that he or she would receive a reward. The general consensus among former MAC employees is that a MAC store is not the place to start a career.
6 But Demotions Are Almost A Guarantee
MAC has rigid sales goals for each individual employee. There aren't many rewards for exceeding your sales goal, but there are tons of penalties for not moving enough MAC products. Failing to sell enough makeup can lead to an employee's hours being cut.
At the end of each year, employees with low sales get laid off.
It's a constant hustle to make the grade. Complaints both by former employees and current customers indicate a slow decline in the quality of service at MAC counters. No wonder: with the constant threat of layoffs and lowered hours hanging over your head, it has to be hard to keep your mind on the job.
5 You May Be A Real Makeup Artist, But Your Coworkers Might Not Know What They're Doing
A makeup artist applying to work at a MAC counter used to go through a rigorous interview where he or she had to create several looks on the spot using a selection of products chosen by the interviewer. People who went through the process report that it was completely nerve-wracking, but given MAC's reputation for excellence, entirely expected. More recently, however, the focus has shifted from quality to quantity of sales. Now, according to Glassdoor, less than half of interviews are conducted in person.
Many current employees, especially at Macy's MAC counters, are hired after an online interview.
You might sweat through the in-person interview that tests your makeup skills on the spot, but your coworker is likely to have been hired after submitting photos online.
4 You're Bound To Be Overbooked
One complaint that we've been seeing from former MAC employees is that there are not enough staff to serve all the customers. On weekends and during special events, one MAC counter workers reports not being able to move through the store because the crowds were so bad. Forget doing a good job on a consult in those circumstances; you're lucky to make it through the day. What makes it worse is that MAC mainly hires part-time employees who report that their hours get cut constantly. A new hire rarely has enough time in their first few weeks to figure out how the store works before being thrown into a crowded event where they and another coworker are the only two people fielding ten different customer queries.
3 At An "Event" You Can Only Use One Brand, Even If It's Not Right For The Client
MAC stores often host major events on the weekends, designed to promote new makeup lines to their devoted customers. Unfortunately, if a customer comes in asking for a look that isn't included in the event, they're out of luck. MAC artists have specific sales goals for each event and they have to get their clients to buy the promoted products.
This can lead to disaster when the foundation, bronzer and blush offered at an event is only suited to a certain skin tone
. Former MAC employees on Reddit and Indeed expressed frustration that they had to market unsuitable foundation creams to their customers during events. Promoting a new makeup line every week brings in cash, but it hurts the regular clientele - and employee performance.
2 If You're Hired As An "On-Call" You Could Wait Years For A Shift
The entry-level position at a MAC store is a freelance contract where the employee is "on call." This means that he or she is waiting for the store manager to call them in on a busy day to help make sales and do consultations. One former MAC employee was on call for two and a half years but never actually got called in! She ended up defecting to Sephora, because there she at least got to work (and be paid for) well-defined hours. Being a freelance contractor on call also means that you're not going to get any benefits. On-call employees usually end up having to take another job to make ends meet, but they still need to be able to drop everything the second MAC calls.
1 At The End Of The Day, It's Not That Special, And It's Just Another Job In Retail
Makeup artists may envision a job at a MAC counter as a career-making opportunity, but in reality, it's a lot closer to working at a department store than the company would care to admit. Between the lack of mobility, high-maintenance customers and emphasis on meeting rigid sales goals, it's hard to see where someone new to the makeup industry could advance their career at a MAC store.
The reputation they've been building over the years continues to draw new, talented job applicants, but if they keep failing to live up to expectations, it's likely that the quality of their employees will deteriorate (some say it already has.)
Will MAC change their practices? Or will they continue to pursue profits at the expense of their core philosophy?
Sources: reddit.com, indeed.com, maccosmetics.ca, thetempest.co, glassdoor.ca, makeupobsessives.com