• Susie Wilson

ICONIC LOOKSIn the 20th century, Mr Max Factor transformed starlets into Hollywood icons.


Max Factor is born in Lodz, Russia (now part of Poland) on 5th August. He begins his journey to define glamour through the decades, with his own hair and beauty goods shop in Razan, Russia.


When Max Factor sees a motion picture for the first time, he declares the heavy stage greasepaint to be "terrifying!” As a solution, he creates the first make-up for film, Flexible Greasepaint, to make actors appear more human.


Max Factor introduces the Colour Harmony principle of make-up. A term still used today, make-up shades were coordinated to complement a women’s natural complexion, eye, and hair colouring.


Max Factor invents the word make-up and introduces Society Make-up to the general public; enabling women to emulate the looks of their favourite movie stars.

1928 - APRIL

Lip Pomade, later called lip gloss, is created by Max Factor to provide a glamorous, glossy appearance to movie actresses' lips on film.

1928 - JUNE

Jean Harlow becomes a "platinum blonde", kick starting a coiffure craze. To help solve the Colour Harmony problems created by Jean’s light hair colour, Max Factor develops several new make-up shades.


Max Factor builds a Beauty Calibrator to measure the dimensions of a person's facial structure to within 1/100th of an inch. This helps him determine how to use shading to create "the perfect face". He claims he never found perfection!


Pan-Cake Make-up is developed to meet the unique make-up requirements of Technicolor film, as without corrective make-up to provide a natural complexion; actors' faces appeared brick red or blue. When actresses started taking large quantities of Pan-Cake home with them for their personal use, Max Factor realised that his new make-up looked wonderful both on and off camera, so later introduced Pan-Cake to the general retail trade.


Max Factor dies at the age of 66. The family decides his name should live on so his son, Francis takes on the name Max Factor, Jr. He had his father's gift as a creative make-up artist so this is a natural step.


Tru-Color lipstick is developed by Max Factor, Jr. The lipstick offered a high degree of indelibility, and maintained its true color without irritating the skin. This is tested by the Kissing Machine, which replaces human kissers, and applied pressure to artificially kissing lips covered with lipstick, to measure how much pressure and kissing the lipstick could withstand and still remain on the lips.


Pan-Stik make-up was introduced by Max Factor after years of testing in the Hollywood laboratories. Tests included covering models' legs with Pan-Stik and siting them in the sun to observe how the color changed. PanStik was a cream-based make-up in stick form that was designed to be applied "as easily as lipstick", in less than 20 seconds.


Creme Puff Make-up is introduced, the first all-in-one blend of creamy make-up base and powder. Applied with a puff, Creme Puff was applied like powder, but stayed on like cream, and had a smoother look than either.


Erace was introduced to the general public. Originally intended to hide blemishes, lines and shadows from the camera, Erace was the first concealer offered to the retail trade.


Hi-Fi fluid make-up was introduced to the retail trade as a result of research the Max Factor Company had done for color television. Designed to do for colour what high-fidelity technology did for sound, the Hi-Fi range featured bright colours for cheeks, lips and eyes and was created for a ‘glowing’ look.


Max Factor unveils the Mascara Wand, the first mascara to be applied with a wand from a tube, rather than a picking up the colour from a cake with a brush.


Max Factor Museum opens in former Max Factor Hollywood Make-up Studio at 1666 N. Highland Ave.




The original “blonde bombshell” mixed girlish elegance with sensual glamour for a look that forever rewrote the rulebook on sex appeal.Known as the “smiling vamp”, actress Jean Harlow’s magnetic sex appeal and girlish elegance helped to her become one of Hollywood’s most infamous icons.Her look mixed the flirty femininity of the 1920s with the full-on glamour of the 1930s. It paired youthful skin and wide eyes with artfully emphasised lips and her trademark platinum blonde hair.

Jean Harlow’s early career was slow to take off, but she soon blossomed into a household name when she was transformed into the "Blonde Bombshell” – a phrase invented when Mr Max Factor lightened her hair to a platinum shade.Max Factor also created Jean’s signature doll-like make-up style of fresh skin, fine brows, flirty elongated lashes and a heavily defined Cupid’s bow. The look combined with Jean’s strong screen presence to make her one of the greatest movie stars of all time and an eternal beauty icon.Jean’s look is repeatedly reinvented and referenced by today’s make-up artists, designers, musicians and actresses, for the ultimate in coquettish glamour.


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Hollywood’s ultimate screen siren combined an independent spirit with a smouldering and glamorous look that set the Golden Age movie world on fire.With her magnetic gaze, independent spirit and smouldering sensuality, the actress Ava Gardner set fire to the world of film in the 1940s and 1950s.Flawless skin, sculpted cheekbones, arching brows, striking eyes, top-heavy lashes and bold lips – her look epitomised the vibrancy and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age.


Ava came from humble beginnings as the youngest of a large hard-luck farming family. But her Hollywood transformation saw her celebrated as the world’s ultimate screen siren, admired by men and aspired to by women.Ava’s striking signature look was designed by Mr Max Factor in the 1940s. It was a glamour statement of sultry eyes (enhancing their unusual green colour), strong lips and lustrous brunette curls.Ava Gardner was widely described as one of the most beautiful women of the era. She led the way for strong, bold women around the world, with her hugely successful career and appearance.Today, Ava Gardner's graceful look is repeatedly reinvented as the epitome of classic glamour with a confident and independent edge.