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Happy Face: Pandora's Makeup Box is Worth Smiling About

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Pandora's Makeup Box

A new Canadian line of colour cosmetics aims to make a beauty impression with cheerful eco-responsible packaging, a wearable palette of hues and high-pigment formulas.

"I wanted it to be a happy line," says Pandora's Makeup Box creator Susan Kirsch, a busy makeup artist and owner of Kirsch Cosmetic Studio in mid-town Toronto. "Why does makeup packaging have to be black?"

waste not, want not

As well as cute packaging, reducing potential waste was a key concern for Susan. Recyclable lipstick and gloss boxes have a plastic-free cutout window through which to see product shades. Durable magnetized cardboard palettes are designed to outlast the pans of powder so they can be refilled and reused.

The cardboard itself is composed of recycled materials and printed with soy ink, which is less environmentally stressful than regular ink and facilitates easier recycling. And rather than enclose the compacts in boxes or shrinkwrap for shipping, Susan went for snug-fit removeable and recyclable cardboard bands.

Susan also considers waste at a manufacturing level. "I chose to work with a small lab so I could produce smaller batches of makeup," she says. "I wanted to reduce the chances of product sitting around on shelves until they expire."

custom colours for women of every colour

When it came to creating her makeup shades, Susan, who has 25 years of experience as a makeup artist, took her diverse clientele into account. Her Rose Bronze bronzing powder ($26), for instance, has blue undertones to keep it from appearing orange on women with olive skintones. Misty Pink is her looks-good-on-everyone rosy blush ($18); Pout is a softer shade for women who prefer a subtle flush. "St. Tropez is the shade for someone who loves pink cheeks," she says.

A blush-pink lipstick ($16) called Sweet is appropriate for her young Bat Mitzvah clients; bolder shades such as Beautiful, Flushed and So Real are designed for more mature women. XOXO, a peachy-pink gloss ($16), is for women who usually can't wear pink because the natural undertone in their lips is too blue. Great is her only sheer gloss, a transparent red for women too shy for bold red lips. And a gloss called Caio, which Susan admits looks strange in the tube, apparently looks great on Asian faces because it works with the acidity in their skin. "I have acidity issues myself -- some colours turn really pink on my lips," she says. "I wear a peach-gold lipstick called Sexy with a gloss called Soft, a flattering nude shade I can also wear by itself."

size matters

Value was another important concern. Each disk of powder eye shadow or blush contains 4 grams, a generous amount for $18 each, or $14 each when composing an eye-and-cheek Pandora's Box palette (the empty palette is $10). "I used the same pan size for shadow and blush to make it easy to mix and match in the same compact," says Susan (below, left). And the highly pigmented formulas mean the makeup wears well, and overall lasts the client a long time: she needs only a little to achieve a compliments-please finish.

Pandora's Makeup Box is available at Murale and via (which ships to the US). A version of this story appeared in today's Metro News.

Susan Kirsch and model Amber