Pencil Pornication

Gurlz, if you are reading this blog because you seriously want to be smarter consumers and save money on cosmetics, read on.

However, if you are perfectly happy with how things are with the cosmetic world that having the right brand name is not only fun but helps your "self worth" and is therefore worth paying more for - then I suggest you skip this post of mine as it will break your heart.

Still here?
Good.  Happy that you stayed.

So ... I would like you to please take a look at your lip and eye pencils.
I do not care if they are cheap drugstore brands or the most expensive luxury brands out there.

Read where they are "Made In".

If I may guess, most will be made in Germany, some in France and some in Italy.

Know why?
I am sure the more observant of you (Caitlyn, Vozni:-) speaking of- Caitlyn, where are you? I miss you!) may have already their suspicions but I will confirm it here.
Ok, here is the deal-
Your make up brand, i do not care if it is Chanel, Boots, Coty, Avon, Body Shop, Beauty Godezzilla... whatever - do not manufacture their own pencils.  They all buy from the same suppliers.
There are about 3 major supplier of pencils worldwide.  And most brands buy the pencils from them. 
So can you get the same pencil that say, what Chanel has in another brand?
The answer- is yes.
The manufacturer does not give exclusive rights of a particular product to one brand.  So the very same product you find in Chanel can perhaps be found in the cheapest drugstore brand.  We just change the decor and the brand name.
But are all pencils made by the same supplier created equal?  
No, not all pencils created by the same manufacturer are equal.
Suppliers propose different textures and it is up to the brands to choose which texture and color they want.
Is a more expensive pencil better then?
No, deciding by brand name or price is no assurance that you are geting better quality.
SO how can you now know which pencil is better than the other if it is not a question of brand?
I will tell you soon.   
I am a biatch, aint i?
But the more important question- do brands manufacture anything at all?  
Take a guess. 


  1. oh, wow! i had NO idea (obviously) about this! and here i thought i needed to get a pencil from urban decay or some other brand because they were "better." safe to say, i won't be bothering anymore :)

    thanks so much!

  2. THANK YOU!!!

    I had a woman literally chase me out of her house while I was doing her makeup because I was using a "no name" pencil instead of her favourite brands.
    I had done my homework years ago and I'm happy to have a supplier that gets me my German-made cosmetics. I catch flak for not supporting American brands, but...

    I wish everyone could read you blog.

  3. You are the best biatch ever!
    I was kind of guessing but I love that you are revealing this! I will be here waiting for your next posts then.
    Also...onto the same subject I Illamasqua the same as Kryolan? Isn't the same guy(s) that developed the same thing but targeted to a more sophisticated "mass"?

  4. Ahhh such a great post!

    Will be watching out for the upcoming post so you can reveal all to us ;)

    You're a star!

    Fee x

  5. Awesome post!!! but Booooo for making us wait!!! I also <3 saving $$$. Does this idea apply to all cosmetics? It would be awesome to have a list of the diff manufacturers and companies who buy from them, though it would be quite the arduous task for you!


  6. I love you Rowena! This saves me a lot!

    For the last questions, I think brands do make some products but buy most from manufacturers, am I right?

  7. I love this! I had my suspicions about this but glad that it has been confirmed - I don't buy into high-end brands because I can't afford to and id rather by pretty much the same product for more than half the price!!
    I linked this post on my blog because I think people are so hazed by brand names — its time they knew the truth!
    Thank you for enlightening us all!
    keep up the good work!
    Sam xx

  8. Hi Dani! You are welcome!
    But some products are better than others, it is just not because of the brand. To explain it takes some time on my side but i will, soon!

  9. Hi Glietzkrieg!
    Noooo she didn't! That is not nice. But now, you know the better. For the brands that you have asked, look where it is made in. I have not worked with any US suppliers but perhaps they have good offerings too.

    But one thing i can assure you- brands do not make their own pencils.

  10. Hi mercedes-
    Who's your biatch? haha!
    Oopsie, i got confused, it is you who asked for the 2 brands and not Glietzkrieg.Well, first look at where both are made. Then watch out for my next post on how to distinguish products for their features and not for their brand. Big work on my part that one.

  11. Hello Fee-
    Thank you and thank you for featuring me in your blog- i am honored!

  12. Hi Vonzi!
    Well, I still am a marketing biatch, lest you forget! Hard to unlearn tricks of the trade sometimes.
    No, not possible to list which products are the same. Supplier will not give me that data because the brands will sort of- kill them. Not unless suppliers are reassured by consumer support will I have the clout to get that kind of info. Well, we can try- if i get to have so much supporters here, that can be a reason to convince them otherwise, though it is not a sure shot- it is worth a try.

  13. Hi Cathy Lee! Lurv you too!
    Really happy for this.
    This revelation sort of puts me in the cosmetic insider blacklist- now, i have to resort to my acting career for my livelihood- heehee!
    Re your answer- hmmm... it is wrong.:-)

  14. Hi Sam-
    This is great! Thank you for featuring me in your blog!
    Great incentive for me to blog more. And welcome you are my 250th follower! yey!

  15. Thx Rowena for your answer. though I was wrong :( . I really look forward for the smart consumer tips!

    I only know that some brands are in fact manufactured by other bigger brands like Nars is made by Shiseido and RMK is by Kose. I'm rather curious that how can they keep their secrets from these bigger brands? For me, I prefer the texture of Nars eyeshadows rather than Shiseido's, so I suppose the brand will have certain demand in formulation, right?

    And I just learned one thing, Mitsubishi Pencil of Japan, has been making OEM eyeliners for other brands for some twenty years. So it is the same case that the pencil manufacturers in Germany making pencils for cosmetics companies?

  16. Hi Cathy Lee-

    Oh, i forgot you are from that side of the world. In fact Japan's case is very different from the rest of the world.
    For one, Japan has its own set of regulations which serves partly to make it tougher for foreign companies to fulfill and thus, makes for an advantage for Japanese companies.
    In Japan you have a handful of manufacturers who really invest in research and manufacturing- top of mind- Shiseido, Kanebo, Pola, Naris, Kao... Of course each of these will have subbrands. How we differentiate product for each is the call of marketing (mainly- with consultation with other departments and approval of the council of course).
    Another country which has great skin care products is Korea. AMAZING!

  17. I'm so happy that you post more frequently now, I only now realize how much I've missed our blog while you were on your road trip.
    I'm dying to hear all your tips on choosing the right eye pencil, because even after trying a lot of them, I still don't feel as if I've found the right one just yet. I had to buy really expensive make-up for school (I'm becoming a beautician, how awesome is that ^^) and even that 'professional' eye pencil still just doesn't feel right. So I'm really looking forward to reading what you have to say about it.

    Oh and by the way, the moving to Dordrecht went really well, thank you! Unpacking is a bitch, but still. I'm working my way through the boxes and stuff and I'm hoping to get there soon.(like real soon; like... Tonight or so)


  18. Hi. My name is Grace, and I am a beauty junkie. I have spent a happy couple of hours reading your post archives today.

    Your blog sets out the reasons why I've been becoming increasingly disillusioned with the big brands in the beauty industry. Remember back when Bobbi Brown wrote that if you were buying make-up more than once a month it wasn't really healthy? How many collections does that brand put out now?

    Anyway, so thanks.

  19. I was once told by an Italian drugstore cosmetics company that there are actually very few factories in the world for ANY type of makeup (that was pre-China phenomenon thoug, but still) - is it true?

    Other than that I haven't introduced myself yet, I think, I'm Mariella, confessed beauty addict and blogger. Being a marketer myself I do know a lot of the things you explain on here, but well, cosmetics are fun anyway and I sometimes enjoy being fooled :-))

  20. Hi Veerle!
    Learning to be a beautician is great! Mariah Carey's pays her makeup artist 12k$/day and you will earn more than i used to earn a year if ever they ask you to promote a makeup line (it sucks for me, but heck, whoever said life is fair).
    Beautiful day in Brussels, hope you have same luck in Dordrecht!

  21. Hi Grace! Welcome to the blog! And really happy you are liking it.
    How true, we make up brands are becoming more and more avaricious- it is insane!

  22. Hi Mariella!
    That is so true! I will try to write about them one by one here. And hope you drop in a comment every once and again of your experience.

    Though I know how to distort facts to make consumers buy more, you guys are more passionate about products than i am, and will be always ahead of me on hands on experience (being in make up so long got me so jaded:-(

    Love being fooled as well, but what i save now in make up - goes to clothes. Ah! When will we ever win:-)

  23. So theres 3 manufacturers of pencils? but do they stock pencils at different levels and prices? say like Chanel may buy the dearer pencils but Rimmel will buy the cheaper ones?

    Hope that makes sense Rowena! haha. I can be a little dim sometimes.


  24. I'm not sure it's my ambition to promote a make-up line however what they pay sounds great, haha.
    It wasn't such a beautiful day here; well: sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy. But I had to clean our appartment today so I couldn't enjoy the beautiful moments. I'm glad you enjoyed your day though!


  25. Hi,

    I just stumbled across your blog today and sent the linkto everyone I know using various variations of of 'I TOLD YOU SO" and "I KNEW IT" as the message subject headings. Could you please do a post on expiration dates, because everytime someone tells me my eyeshadow, lipstick and NAIL POLIS (YES NAIL POLIsH) should go bye bye after a year; I am sehr skeptisch. I'm sorry if you already have sub par blog searching skills.
    Merci from Montrea,

  26. Hi Jo!

    No, in fact there are more than 3 pencil manufacturers but these 3 are the major ones.
    Yes, pencil manufacturers have different types and prices of pencils but no- not because the brand is dug store means that its quality is less than luxury brand. haha- you have to wait for my next post!

  27. Hi Veerle!
    Oh, I didn't enjoy the beautiful day- in fact i slept through most of it! We just established a poker night here prior so woke up at 3pm!
    I will be posting something for makeup artists soon btw... perhaps next week.

  28. Hello Steph-
    Why welcome and thank you!!!
    Gawd it feels good to say I told you so, one of the things i miss about having a boyfriend- heehee!
    No, you do not have to throw them after a year! In fact i have powders here that i had since puberty.

  29. Thanks to Grace London's blog for helping us find your blog. I can't wait to read your follow ups on this topic and to go back and read older posts. Fascinating reading.

  30. Sleeping in until 3PM is also a way of enjoying a beautiful day; it's just what you make of it ;-)
    And yay for makeup artists-posts! Me likes a lot :-)


  31. Hi Marcia!
    Yes- Grace put in a very nice article on this blog and I am really so thankful! thanks Grace!
    Look forward to your comments and be happy to take in any suggestions, requests.

  32. Hey Veerle-
    I know but i felt guilty! haha, posting soon!

  33. Ah, I really missed your blog and your writings :) *slides over a big cup of coffee*

    "But the more important question- do brands manufacture anything at all? Take a guess."

    Hm :) I'm gonna say, the smaller ones, yes, in possibly two ways:

    they buy (for example, when speaking of eyeshadows) their colors and mineral powders and pigments from the few big companies, then leave some untouched, maybe give them new names, but take some others and mix them together, a little blue there, a bit iridescence there, a scoop of glitter there - voilĂ , new color, "custom made" ;)

    small companies who buy only the important "raw" ingredients and then make their own stuff out of those. Like, when you are a baking company, you always need flour, eggs, sugar and those basic ingredients, which you buy from the big companies. (or from the neighbors next door if you are eco-friendly *g*)

    Then you add your personal touch, the blueberries from your own garden, the applesauce recipe from your grannie, that kind of thing. I think some companies personalize their stuff quite much and really try to be different ... or soap companies, when they create their own special goat milk soaps with their own spices and herbs and stamps on it ^^.
    And some are lazy and just re-sell.

    I remember when "mad minerals" and "the she space" both came up with exactly the same gel-eyeliners (and the same names ;))
    Didn't like the stuff though. Took me ages to remove it from my lashline. Also dried out soon, although I kept the lid as tightly shut as possible :(

    About pencils, is that the same as "kohl"? Like a kind of waxy eyeliner in pencil form, not liquid, but not totally solid? Like crayons somehow, only a bit softer? *g*

    I found my HG there some years ago, it's an automatic black kohl-liner in a black plastic-case from the German brand "essence".
    I am from Germany, so I don't have a problem getting many German pencils or kohls *gg* but most of them smeared or smudged, were too soft or too hard or disappeared through the day or after a few hours.

    Essence is a cheap brand - actually the cheapest I can think of right now - and aims for a consumer group of schoolgirls from, let's say, 10 to 16.
    Lots of glitter, lots of bold colors, every month a limited edition, sometimes twice.

    Their eyeshadows are rubbish imho, even with eyeshadow-base they have almost no color-pay-off and fade almost instantly and crease and everything. Their nailpolish is horrible and chips on me within minutes ;)
    But - their mascara I have been using for like 5 years and the automatic black liner pencil is the best I've ever seen.

    It's really black, it's soft and creamy, I can make a smoky-eye-look, and it still stays where it is supposed to stay. It is almost waterproof, but can be cleaned away easily with a normal standard cleansing tissue.

    And I loooove their lipglosses :) well, most of them. Not the volumizing ones, they burn. And some are flakey. But most of them are really lovely.

    Essence has a sister company called Catrice, which aims for the girls of about 20-40, a lot less glitter, lots of nude colors, more creamy lipstick than glossy lipgloss *g* but their eyepencils are by far not as good as those from Essence *shrugs* search me why.

    Their "parent company" is Cosmoty, I think.

    Still, not one pressed eyeshadow I have tried so far was as intense and colorful and had the staying-power than the mineral eyeshadows (in their form as a loose powder), no matter from which brand. Might be the same anyway *giggles*

    I really like Pure Luxe, though. Very nice color range, very fast shipping, samples for a dollar and in nice jars, too ... I'm a fan ^^ I also loved trying out smaller companies like archetypecosmetics or .... honestly I can't remember the others *ponders* *shrugs* it was fun, the colors were mostly different and I really love it when they have cool or funny names ;)

  34. your blog told me my comment was too long *g* here is the second part:

    GemZ: "expiration dates, because everytime someone tells me my eyeshadow, lipstick and NAIL POLIS (YES NAIL POLIsH) should go bye bye after a year; I am sehr skeptisch."

    you are sehr skeptisch? *gg*
    well you should be.
    Nail polish has no expiration date whatsoever and will quite possibly survive you and your daughters and their kittens. Might need some polish thinner (or pure toluene) after a few years or decades, because the bottles are not completely air-tight and so the solvent sneakily disappears, but no, no expiration date there. Even completely dried up polish, solid as a stone, can be revived with toluene or any other nail polish thinner ;)

    Eyeshadows should be good as long as there is nothing growing out of them, so it's better to use brushes (and clean them once in a while ^^) instead of those sponge applictors. Mineral eyeshadows should be good for many many years when they are dry inside their jar.

    Now for lipsticks - I hold in my hands a lipstick from "cover girl" in "seashell pink" which I have bought over 20 years ago and no joking. And it is still good, it smells good, it is creamy, it is the same pink color. Dunno what chemicals are in there, but they sure are working.

    As for lipglosses, I'm not sure. I've thrown away one occasionally when it smelled funny or felt burning on my lips. I'm also not sure when they are doing that disintegrating-thing, you know, when there is a clear part at the top and the creamy colorful part at the bottom ... if they are fine again after a good shake-up, I dunno, I haven't tried that yet.

    On one hand, you have a lot of bacteria on your lips and the lipgloss-applicator collects them when applying the gloss - on the other hand there might be chemicals in the gloss that kill bacteria, I don't know.

    We should ask Rowena ;))

    OMG that IS long, LOL ! well ... that shows how much I missed your blog, rowena ;))

  35. Haha- Caitlyn, you should guest blog here really!

    On brands manufacturing their own- i believe we better tackle that by product type and so as not to diminish the impact of the upcoming blogs, i am afraid ii will have to keep you hanging. ;-)

    On expiration dates- yes you are right. It is dang sneaky to suggest throwing something after a year. Smells fishy innit? Because it is!

  36. Hi Rowena.

    I feel like I am late in finding your blog but I found you through a comment mentioned on one of Gossmakeupartist utube upload videos. He has had a few videos looking at dupes and warning us of the danger of cosmetic marketing and to all intents and purposes is doing a great job. Though I do think a lot of subscribers (not all) listen because he is easy on the eye (the feckless women we are). You however inform on a grander scale. I have been searching for someone out there who can validate my frustrations when I see cosmetics products promoted by left right and centre in such a non shameless way and admittedly I was suckered in. I soon opened my eyes though. Now I have found your blog and back read through your postings I am definitely hook on the reality and of the style in which you dispense your invaluable opinion. Thank you so so much. I can't wait for your next posting.

  37. Hi Chelly1M!

    No, i do not think you are late at all- I just started my blog about 7 months ago and about 3 months of that I was on vacation- so my blog is just a little baby biatch.
    Yes, i saw the Goss makeup artist- that's a sensible one. (from one video i saw). What I do not understand is this increasing discontent for a certain Michelle Phan- oh i lurv to gossip! Spill, spill!

    Will try to post soon and toying with the idea of a spoof on the story of cosmetics.
    Oh and btw- welcome to the blog and thank you for your comment!

  38. Hi, I just found your blog and LOVE it. I am a makeup junkie. Someone told me that about the pencils years ago, and, I generally buy cheap (but find them to be good) although I do sometimes get the high end ones in kits, gifts, freebies, etc., and hey find them good too. Anyway, I can't wait to learn more.

  39. FYI, nail polish has only a few manufacturers as well!

  40. I've tried to go through the drugstore pencils, czech mostly looking for my fav. made in Germany pencil in just that perfect brown that my 25$ pencil is (I only own 2 pencils) ... naughta sigh, i bet i could find it in Germany lol ... shackled by my own "special shade" bs lol!

  41. update: I think I found my match !!! yay! Thx your post showed me the way!

  42. Hi Rowena,

    This has been an amazing revelation! But at the same time I do feel a bit sheepish for being fooled for so long... ^^

    Just in case you're still curious - the increasing dislike of Michelle Phan stems from her blatant unprofessionalism. Concerned fans have discovered she was lying about the fact that her own skincare line had FDA approval, when in fact it had not and had been causing a disproportionate amount of bad reactions for consumers. She then proceeded to sell the line and no longer has anything to do with it.

    Also I just find her laughable; she markets herself as a keen supporter of charities, and during an interview as part of a key charity feature, she couldn't name a single charity and mumbled something about donating to 'school' and 'hungry people'.

  43. Hi Rowena, just found your blog by googleing it after reading a comment by a reader on the nouveaucheap blog..i was curious about what she wrote..and here i am reading with very and intense interest all your past post..
    It is so laughable how you describe the french and cosmetics because it is kinda true (am french btw,but living abroad for quite some time).
    And, i have Always and will Always H@te the L'ucifer brand...they're evil, harsh on skin etc...and i bloody H@@@te all their stupid ads..
    Anyway, thumbs up for sharing the behind doors of the BS of cosmetics...


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