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How Deciem makes beauty products, from start to finish, in a downtown warehouse

By Jean Grant| Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani
How Deciem makes beauty products, from start to finish, in a downtown warehouse

Deciem develops, produces and packages beauty and skincare products for seven in house brands in one exceptionally chic Corktown factory. The Toronto company, which was launched in 2013, has sold over $100 million in products and opened offices in London, Hoboken and Melbourne, and recently sold a proprietary hair growth serum to a British e-commerce company for around $20 million. The sale has allowed the company to expand their brick-and-mortar operations: they recently opened a Queen West flagship store and a Cabbagetown location, with plans for at least four more Toronto stores where beauty devotees can grab luxe items from their many lines.

Like, for instance, the recently released Sanskrit Saponins, a high-end, plant-based cleansing balm. We followed the cleanser, step-by-step, from its inception in the lab to a retail-ready product. Here’s what the process looks like.

At Deciem’s Cabbagetown facility, visitors are greeted by a lounge with a table decorated in artfully arranged empty packaging. The brand moved into the building last October:

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The first-floor workspace is where staff tackle corporate stuff like social media and business development:

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But here’s where the magic happens: in a state-of-the-art laboratory behind the office, where a team of scientists are constantly dreaming up new products:

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A product can go from this lab to store shelves in just a few months:

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These bottles are ready for testing. The company is 100 per cent cruelty free, so staff occasionally take home mini bottles to try out themselves (the worst that’s happened is a strong—read: too dark—reaction to a self-tanner):

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There are also two incubators for seeing how the products hold up in extreme heat (so your hand cream won’t be ruined if you leave it in the sun for a few hours):

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After it has been refined, tested and determined to be safe and effective for shoppers, the product’s individual ingredients—which for Sanskrit Saponins includes water, glycerin, and soapnut and acacia fruit extract—are gathered:

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The factory has three mixing machines for products (the largest can hold 500 kilograms):

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This is what Sanskrit Saponins looks like during the mixing process (the finished product has more of an orange tint). It’s spun around in the mixing machine for two-and-a-half hours to make sure the ingredients are fully settled:

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After, it’s transferred to a large barrel, where it’s stored until packaging:

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When the packaging station is ready for the product, it’s fed into a machine that can pump out 25 to 40 tubes per minute:

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And just like that, out comes a bottle of Sanskrit Saponins:

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Next, the product is labelled and packaged by hand:

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And stuffed into a box to be sent to retailers (this one holds about sixty tubes):

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The finished product sells for $29:

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