It’s really different to see it in color.
You don’t see Max Factor makeup much in stores these days, but growing up the brand was a drugstore staple for many women. The company was started in 1909 by Polish immigrant and former wigmaker, Maksymilian Faktorowicz, AKA Max Factor. Factor’s Los Angeles career started out making up the faces of movie stars with thick grease paints.
As color film was introduced he designed increasingly lighter and more realistic looking foundations that would read correctly on camera. But, in the 1930s he expanded to give more women the chance to wear makeup- not just actresses. Though he died in 1938, he had time to record some very interesting tutorials for posterity. Now, one of these films has been digitally colorized for a really stunning effect.
What’s clear from the video is just how luminescent the foundation he applied was. In my youth I was obsessed with Pan-Stik and Pan-cake makeup because I knew they were favorites of Old Hollywood stars. I can attest to the shiny nature of that foundation- long before the “dewy” looks of today were hip.
Max Factor was a true innovator and that continued with his son at the helm of the company as well. They were the first brand to manufacture lip gloss, clear mascara, stick foundation, waterproof makeup, transfer-resistant lipstick, enamel nail polish, and many other products that were completely unique at the time.
They also aimed to give ordinary women a sense of how to use their products and how to use makeup to be flattering. In this video Factor is making up a model in the style of Claudette Colbert, star of screen and the highest paid Paramount actress of 1936.
Her thin eyebrows and over-lined lips were staple beauty trends of the era and she had them along with distinctive rounded cheeks. Colbert was also a spokesperson for the Max Factor brand. Using the art of contouring, Factor also gives the model more apple-like cheeks and enhances various parts of the model’s face- just as he did for early movie stars.
Watch the master at work in realistic color in the video below.