September 15, 1877 - August 30, 1938
Max Factor (born Maximillian Factorovich) was a Russian and American businessman, founder of the cosmetics giant Max Factor & Company.
Max Factor – the father of modern cosmetics
Maximillian Factorovich was born in Zdunska-Volya, now Poland and then – pat of the Russian empire. The boy grew up in a family with 8 siblings, and had to work since early childhood – in particular, sell sweets in a theater, where he peeked into the world of art, help in a drug store and in a cosmetics salon.
At the age of 14 he came to Moscow and found a place in the Bolshoi Theater as a makeup helper. These experiences were decisive in his future path.
Having finished his mandatory military service in 1895, opened his own store selling creams and powder, perfumes and wigs of his own making! But, having a keen eye, he did more than his competitors – he consulted clients on how they could make their advantages more pronounced.
It was this ability that played a key role in his sudden rise to fame: once he served a theater troupe that would later play in front of the Tsar, so several weeks later his name was known in the highest circles of the empire!
In 1904, with anti-semitic sentiments rising in Russia, Max Factor took his wife and two kids and left for America.
In 1908 he already had his own cosmetics salon not far from the Dream Factory, on Hollywood Boulevard - in an extremely fortunate place, thanks to which soon he was known to all the Hollywood actresses, and not just as a cosmetologist, but as a stylist as well!
For example, it was Factor who turned Gene Harlow into the first ever "platinum blonde". When she became a superstar, thousands of women all over the world started imitating her look, and Factor released a separate line of makeup specifically for that look.
Factor's services were used not only by actresses, but actors as well, including Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton
Notably, it was him who, in 1920, made "makeup" an accepted term – before, this had been considered a vulgar term.
In addition, Factor experimented a lot, creating a replacement for theatric makeup, unsuitable for filming because of its layers' being too thick. That was why Hollywood directors started turning to him for help. In 1925 his company was contracted for 600 gallons of dark-olive makeup for "Ben Hur", to make actors look darker. And the following year he created first ever waterproof film makeup for the shooting of "Mare Nostrum".
He also invented the "beauty micrometer" – a device to measure face proportions and suggests measures to hide imperfections.
During the 20s and 30s, Max Factor and his sons started their own production, expanded a network of shops all across the US, and expanded to Europe – soon the brand became an international one.
Due to his strong connection with the film community Max Factor was able to use celebrity endorsements in advertising its products. In return for a nominal payment of US$1 to the actress the advertising would also promote the star’s latest film.
In 1938 Mr. Factor was traveling in Europe on business with his son Davis when during a stopover in Paris he received a note demanding money in exchange for his life. An attempt was made by the police using a decoy to capture the extortionist but no one turned up at the agreed drop-off point to collect the money. Factor was so shaken by the threat that he returned at the behest of a local doctor to America, where upon arrival he took to his bed nd died the same year at the age of 65.
After Max Factor's death in 1938, Frank Factor took the name Max Factor, Jr., and expanded the still private cosmetics firm.
The genius of cosmetics and make-up, who personally created a whole new industry and had a great influence on the development of Hollywood, Max Factor is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Basten, Fred. Max Factor: The Man who Changed the Face of the World. Arcade Publishing, New York: 2011