Max Factor

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When I was younger, I never thought Max Factor was a real person. I always assumed "Max" was the key "factor" in the success of the cosmetics line. Moving to LA changed all that, as I started to see his name on hospital wings and buildings around town. Recently, I did a little poking around and learned the following:
Mr. Factor was actually born Max Faktor, in Lodz , Poland (same city my grandmother was from!) in 1877. He first worked for the Royal Ballet in Russia, applying makeup to dancers before immigrating to the United States in 1904. A familiar success story, he arrived at Ellis Island with a few bucks to his name and slowly created an empire.

After brief stints owning his own perfume and cosmetic stores, good ol' Max had the responsibility of "making up" the faces of the brightest starlets during Hollywood's early years (Katharine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis), and is said to have coined the word "makeup." As more common folk wanted the same look he was painting on the stars, Max launched his first cosmetics line and then went on to invent lip gloss in 1930.

He's also credited with creating the first modern foundation (Pan-cake) in 1937, as well as inventing the eyebrow pencil (though I'm a bit suspect of that last claim as Egyptians were penciling their eyes some, oh, I don't know, 3000 years earlier!) Still, Max was a pretty innovative guy and certainly changed the retail makeup industry in a big way. I don't think the cosmetic line is what it once was, but then again, I don't look for it much in stores. Ladies: am I wrong about that? Anyone still buy/use the stuff?

July 5, 2007 - 12:58am
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