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Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

There's a story in The New Yorker about the life of Max Factor, the make-up maven whose tale is told in a new book. The article, written by, um, John Updike, details Factor's beginnings as a Polish Jewish fugitive in 1904 Russia, on to his arrival in California and breakthroughs in movie cosmetics. As film changed — from black and white to Orthochromatic to Technicolor — Factor changed the chemistry and formula of his make-up, and eventually actresses started stealing it from the set.The company sold to the public and to Hollywood; it supplied the copper-green makeup that Margaret Hamilton wore as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz as well as Tru-Color, "the world's first perfect lipstick… non-drying but indelible." Max died in 1938, but his son Frank changed his name to Max, so the business transition was seamless. Unlike some other make-up artists, Max Factor was never painted as an effeminate type, the new book points out: "Photographs of Factor show him simultaneously as makeup artist, chemist, and father figure." Some great old Max Factor ads, below.

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Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Max Factor's "Crushed Rose" lipstick, 1955. Is he going to kiss her or give her mouth to mouth?

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Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Max Factor's "Tru-Color Lipstick," featuring Evelyn Keyes, 1942. Never, ever heard of a "brownette" before. Interesting.

Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

"Max Factor Hollywood" lipstick, featuring Susan Hayward, 1947. Glamour changes! Clear red, blue red, rose red! Love the gold lipstick tube.

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Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Max Factor's "California Sun" lipstick, 1960. Pastels make me feel queasy, maybe because of Pepto-Bismol.

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Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Max Factor's "Pink 'n Orange" lipstick, 1958. "Got designs on a man? Then this is for you!"

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Illustration for article titled Max Factor: The Man Behind The Makeup

Max Factor's "Pan-Cake," featuring Maguerite Chapman, 1946. Sold, on the jaunty angle of her hat alone. Makeup And Make-Believe [The New Yorker] Face Value (Slide Show) [The New Yorker]

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DISCUSSION

mehblahpfft
MehBlahPfft

@urbanspelunker: Once you go lipstick you will never go back. I am a very happy lipstick wearer. I have two shades "Alive" by Face, Stockholm and "Tibetan Poppy" by... some company. Anyway, ANYONE can wear lipstick, but few women think they can, so people are always super-impressed when they think YOU can pull it off because they automatically assume they can't.