Business legends: Max Factor, emigrant from Russian Empire

Max Factor is one of the most popular cosmetic brands in the world. Not many people know, however, that the brand name appeared after its founder - an American perfumer of Polish descent, Max Factor. His sons continued their father's business after his death. On August 18, Max Factor's eldest son, Frank, would have turned 109 years.

Max Factor, Sr. (Maksymilian Faktorowicz) was born on August 5, 1877, near the Polish town of Lodz (it was the territory of the Russian Empire back then). At age 14 he was working as a hairdresser, a make-up artist and a costume designer at an opera theater, which Nicholas II would often visit.  Max Factor's name soon became famous among the Russian aristocracy. Max worked as a specialist in cosmetics in imperial theaters and even at the royal court.

Max Factor opened his first cosmetics store in Ryazan, Russia. In 1904, he and his family emigrated to America, where he also opened a small perfume and cosmetics shop in St. Louis. In 1908, after his wife's death, Max moved to Los Angeles, where the center of the world's film industry - Hollywood - was forming. Factor continued his business in Hollywood successfully: his cosmetics enjoyed stable demand and actors and actresses would often consult Max Factor about make-up.

The first invention, for which Max Factor became famous, was the creation of drops on the eyes in 1914. He came up with the idea to melt black wax to apply it on the tips of eye lashes. Afterwards, Max created a new make-up specifically for movies: his cream would be applied in a thin layer and remain moist on the skin.

Max Factor makeup would be used by such celebrities as Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton and others. Max Factor was becoming more and more successful  in professional circles of the film industry.

In 1918, he put forward the idea of ​​"color harmony." He suggested choosing  cosmetics to match the color of the eyes, hair and skin to create the best effect.

Requirements to makeup changed with the appearance of color cinematography. In 1928, the Factors started improving their color cosmetics.

For his contribution to the development of world cinematography, Max Factor received an "Oscar" from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts. Soon, almost all Hollywood stars started using Max Factor cosmetics. Among his regular "clients" were Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Clara Bowe, Betty Grable ... At the same time, Max Factor cosmetic products were available not only to film actresses, but also to common  women. Interestingly, it was Max Factor, who invented the pale pink lipstick, the masking pencil, the liquid foundation cream and the round mascara brush.

In 1935, the Factors expanded their business by opening a luxurious salon called Max Factor Makeup Studio in Hollywood. One of the curiosities of the studio was the device known as "beauty calibrator", invented by Max Factor and other beauticians. The device would be put on the head to measure the parameters of the face.

Another innovative product that Max Factor invented was pressed makeup for color films. The product was available in round tins, for which it was nicknamed pancake. Unlike other cosmetics, the makeup did not have a reflecting effect, would be applied on skin smoothly and was available in all colors.

Max Factor died in 1938, leaving the legacy of a giant cosmetics empire to his children. In 1946, his son  Francis, who had changed his name to Max Factor Jr., patented the formula of a new makeup product for television, the work on which was started in 1932. The Factor sons also invented indelible makeup for  filming in the water, the waterproof mascara and the body paint.

In 1991, Max Factor Limited became part of Procter & Gamble. However, the Max Factor brand is still popular. Seventy percent of Russian women admit that they have used Max Factor cosmetic products at least once.  Max Factor remains the official supplier of decorative cosmetics for Hollywood to this day.

Margarita Troitsyna.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov