The story of the Hollywood makeup pioneer Max Factor

He is the man who changed the faces of the world by revolutionizing the makeup industry. Today Max Factor is one of the many affordable brands that fill supermarket shelves. However, the twentieth century and the golden age of Hollywood were marked.

Born in Russia in 1872 (present-day Poland), Maximilian Faktorovich is passionate about visual art. He starts working as a wig stylist and learns composing for comedians. His talent noticed that he was hired by the imperial theaters and even worked with Tsar Nicholas II. However, the rise of anti-Semitism prompted Max Factor, his wife Esther and their children to immigrate to the United States in 1904. But while in St. Louis (Missouri), the businessman sees fate haunting his family: his wife dies and he quickly divorces his second wife. He finally falls in love with his neighbor, Jenny Cook, whom he married before moving to Los Angeles in 1908. Then the City of Angels is in full development: the film industry, from new groups, begins to migrate west. It was then that Hollywood was born.

© Neil Bayliss / Alami

The beginnings of make-up

In the past, the make-up used on film actors was the same as that painted on comedians in theater: called greasepaint, the thick, volatile fabric is suitable for theatre. But after the cameras photographed them up close, under the heat of the lights, the mines seemed inhumane. Max Factor, who sells homemade cosmetics and wigs in her Los Angeles store, is considering a solution. In 1914, Supreme Grispaint was invented, a type of lightweight, long-wearing foundation in a tube. Instant success! Actors and actresses queue in front of his shop to get their makeup done before filming. Innovative and innovative Max Factor imagines the concept of Color Harmony, which offers collections of shades adapted to different skin, hair and iris tones. The sentence that suits everyone is finished. Having become a star himself, Max Factor created the looks of the most famous actresses of his time: Ava Gardner, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Rita Hayworth.

With the admiration of the gorgeous actresses on screen, women want to appear like themselves. That’s because at the beginning of the 20th century, hard-line American society did not allow respectable women to have their faces painted. Max Factor created the Society MakeUp cosmetic line, which was intended first for artists, and then for the general public. This is the first time that makeup products have been marketed outside the film industry.

traditional talent

In 1938, Max Factor died and his son, Francis, took over the reins of the company. After inheriting his father’s colleges, he invented Max Factor Jr. Now many innovative cosmetics, such as long-wearing lipstick, foundation or mascara with a built-in applicator. Junior and his brother sold the family business in the 1970s. It changed hands several times and even pulled out of the US market between 2009 and 2016. But talent and innovation never left the family: Max Factor’s grandchildren founded the brand Smashbox in 1990, specializing in perfect skin.

Max Factor key dates

1914: The make-up used by the film actors is not suitable for the shooting conditions. Beautician Max Factor created the Ultra Grease Polish, which was an instant hit thanks to its innovative texture.

1935: The appearance of colors in the cinema created many challenges, among which were strange multi-colored light effects on the faces of the actors. Then imagine Max Factor Pan-Cake, the first true studio and daily foundation that prevents shine.

2022: In addition to long-wearing cosmetics, notably with the launch of the legendary Tru-Color lipstick, invented in 1940, Max Factor launched the modern version Lipfinity in 2000. This brand is a must-have, and is still marketed even today.

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