Max Factor – father of modern make-up
Max Factor is often called the father of modern make-up. He was an American businessman of Jewish origin, who came from the Russian Empire.
Maximilian Abramovich Faktorowicz (his real name) was born on September 15, 1872 in Lodz, Poland, near the Russian border. He was one of ten children. At the age of eight Max was placed in an apprenticeship to a pharmacist. At the age of nine he became an apprentice to wig manufacturer, at thirteen – a pupil of the famous Berlin hairdresser. At the age of fourteen he moved to Moscow and joined the Bolshoi Theatre as an assistant of make-up artist.
Max opened his own shop in a suburb of Moscow, selling hand-made cosmetics. “Health and beauty products” became an important business for him. Soon Max became the official cosmetic expert for members of the Russian court, the Imperial Grand Opera and the Ballet.
In 1904, Max and his family moved to the United States. Max Faktorowicz was now Max Factor, the name given to him at Ellis Island by immigration officials. In 1914, Max Factor created a make-up specifically for movie actors. False eyelashes, liquid powder, waterproof makeup, mascara in a familiar package for us, compact powder were created specifically for the movie screen, for a particular film, and often even for individual actors. For example, Max Factor has developed a special line of cosmetics for the actress Jean Harlow, whom he ‘made’ the world’s first platinum blonde.
He created images of the great actresses of the time – Greta Garbo with her compelling eyes, Twiggy with her pink lips, even men, including Charlie Chaplin, preferred his make-up.
Max Factor died on August 30, 1938 in Beverly Hills.
After his death, Frank Factor took the name Max Factor, Jr., and expanded the still private cosmetics firm. During World War II, Max Factor developed make-up shades for use by the US Marine Corps in camouflaging faces.
There is Max Factor’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.