Back to Mac —What to Know About This Amazing Program

For those of you who recycle, you probably look at many of the items around your house and wonder if you can recycle those objects as well. When it comes to makeup and cosmetics, the packaging really can add up when you replenish your stock. Several makeup companies provide incentives for you to recycle your makeup packaging, and Mac cosmetics is no different. The ask you to recycle your old Mac products through their Back to Mac program. Keep reading to learn how the program works and what you can receive in return.

An Intro to Mac Cosmetics

Mac cosmetics started with makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo. They were frustrated that the makeup on their models did not photograph well, so they decided to make their own cosmetics. They started by creating the products in their kitchen and selling them to their clients and models from the salon. As their popularity grew, they finally decided to name the brand Mac in 1984 and sold it in a department store in Toronto. 

Since then, Mac cosmetics has taken over the world of makeup, offering makeup products that customers love. Because of their popularity and success, they wanted to give back to those in need. In 1994, they focused their charitable donations to fund research on HIV and AIDS and help those diagnosed with it. They also realized that it would help the environment if their customers recycled their empty and expired makeup packaging. In order to help their company and customers be more environmentally friendly, Mac created their Back to Mac program.

The Back to Mac Program

The Back to Mac program helps customers to lower their carbon footprint and enjoy high quality makeup at the same time. Not to mention, it helps Mac save money and resources. The program requires you to give back the primary packing in return for a free gift from Mac. There are two parts of the Back to Mac program: Back to Mac and Back to Mac Expanded.

  • Back to Mac: You do not have to be a Mac Select member to qualify for participation in this program. All you have to do is gather the primary packaging for the makeup product (you need six in total) and return them to Mac. You can do this either by taking them to your nearest Mac store or you can return them online. Keep in mind that you have to have six items in order for it to work. If you take three items into the store, it will only count as one. If you do return them online, you fill out which items you are sending back, pick out your free gift, and send the package to the address provided.
  • Back to Mac Expanded: This program is specifically for those of you who are Mac Select members. In order to participate, you have to return your items at your local store. The best part is that you do not have to take in six products at a time. You can take the packaging in as you empty them, and the system at your store will keep track of the number. Once you bring in the sixth item, you can pick out your free gift. 

Items You Can and Can't Exchange

As stated previously, you can only return the primary packaging for your makeup to the Back to Mac program. This means that it is only the packaging that directly encases the makeup. Mac will not accept the cardboard or any other packaging that encases the primary packaging. When filling out the online form to return your packaging, they give you the following items that you can successfully return.

  • Blush compact
  • Cream color base
  • Empty skincare bottle
  • Eyeshadow pot
  • Foundation bottle
  • Foundation tube
  • Lipglass tube
  • Lipstick tube
  • Liquid liner tube
  • Mascara tube
  • Paint tube
  • Pigment
  • Powder compact
  • Quad compact
  • Trio compact

These are the kinds of packaging that you can return in order to participate in the Back to Mac program. The product does not even need to be empty. If the makeup is expired or you no longer like the product, you can return it as well. This provides Mac with valuable resources that keep them from having to make more unnecessary plastic packaging.

You cannot return the following items:

  • Sharpening pencils
  • False lashes
  • Lash curlers,
  • Makeup brushes
  • Eyeshadow refills
  • Samples
  • Applicators
  • Tweezers
  • Sharpeners
  • Sponges 
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What You Receive in Return

When you choose your free gift after returning six makeup products, the part of the program that you are participating in determines what you can choose from. If you are participating in the base plan, you can choose a free Mac lipstick. You can only choose a lipstick that has the black and silver packaging, which are the standard shades. You cannot choose from any holiday collections, special collections, or the Viva Glam shades. This is because the first two are limited edition shades. Viva Glam lipsticks are part of a social initiative by Mac, so you have to purchase it in order to have it. (The proceeds earned on Viva Glam lipsticks go to the Mac AIDS fund.) You can only choose from the standard shades.

If you are participating in Back to Mac Expanded, your free gift options are a bit broader. You can choose between a lipstick, lipglass, or single eyeshadow. You still cannot choose from any special collections or Viva Glam lipsticks.

It is also important to note that you cannot return or exchange your free lipstick. Because the product is free, you do not get to make money off of the product. Once the product is billed, it is yours, so make sure you choose your shade carefully. Also, when returning your products in-store, you cannot give back more than 18 items at a time. Essentially, this means that you can only receive three free products in one day.

Why You Should Recycle Your Old Makeup

Some people may look at the Back to Mac program and think that it is not worth participating in. You have to go through quite a bit of makeup in order to participate in the program. We realize that not everyone uses a lot of makeup, but there are some people who do. This program allows them to dispose of their plastic, glass, and metal waste in a responsible way. People throw out tons of plastic every day, and Mac wants to at least cut back the amount of plastic they use. This makes the makeup industry more responsible and resourceful. Besides, even if it takes you a long time to go through makeup products, you can have a free gift every year or so just for recycling. That sounds like a good deal to us!


The Back to Mac program is a great initiative to help their customers recycle their old makeup products. In return for recycling, you receive a free Mac lipstick! If you and your friends shop for makeup at Mac, spread the word to them so they can stop wasting perfectly good packaging and take it back to the store. This is another way that you can live an eco-friendly lifestyle that helps both you and your favorite makeup company.

Image Source: Mac Cosmetics

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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