Max Factor (or "Faktor") was born in Lode, Poland, in or around 1877. Unlike the birth date and birth place of his half-brother (Jacob, later known as John, also known as "Jake the Barber"), which were meticulously detailed in a federal court case, Max is simply known to have been born in Lodz, near the Russian border.
Max Factor moved his family to the United States in 1904. Prior to this date he had a business in Russia selling was involved in doing makeup and selling hand-made rouges, creams, fragrances and wigs. It is said that his clientele included members of the Russian court, the Royal Ballet and the Imperial Grand Opera.
Max, the eighth of ten children, was apprenticed at the age of eight to a dentist-pharmacist and/or a wig maker. Wigs became an important business for him and pharmacists of the day were also known to have dabbled in what, today, we would call "health and beauty" products.
In 1904, the Max Factor moved his family to the United States. From New York and Ellis Island, where "Faktor" became "Factor", The Factors moved on to St. Louis where he obtained a concession at the St. Louis World's Fair selling perfume, makeup and hair goods.
Factor's makeup attracted the attention of the theatrical community and his reputation spread. Around 1908 he moved his family to Los Angeles and set up shop near the new Hollywood film community. In addition to his own line of products, Factor became West Coast distributor for two established lines of theatrical makeup.
Wigs and hair products continued to be an important part of his business. He rented (expensive!) wigs to movie companies who would give roles to his sons ... so they could keep an eye on the wigs to make sure they didn't disappear! Hollywood glamor photographer, Peter Gowland, recalls that his mother was among the women who sold their hair to Max Factor for his wigs.
Max Factor developed a do-it-yourself wig fitting chart so that customers could order wigs by mail and be sure of getting a correct fit.
But makeup was the product with which Max Factor is most closely associated. Inventive by nature and with a background in compounding, Max Factor developed breakthrough Hollywood makeup products. His thinner grease paint replaced the older, thicker grease paint and gave actresses a more natural look. Eventually twelve shades were available.
During the 1920's with the help of his son, Frank, Max Factor began to offer his products to women outside the world of Hollywood. The company's lines consisted of wigs, false eyelashes (another Max Factor innovation), eyebrow pencils, lip gloss, pancake makeup and perfume.
The company continued to innovate, being the first to develop makeup suitable for the new color films. In 1937, the year before Max died, a patent was obtained for the Max Factor "Pan-Cake Makeup". (The "pan" because it was originally sold in a small pan.) In 1938, the year of Max Factor's death, the new makeup made its appearance in Hollywood films.
The cosmetic firm Max Factor was founded in 1909 by Max Factor, Sr., a Polish make-up artist for the Russian royal ballet who emigrated to the United States in 1904. Max Factor is presently a brand of Procter & Gamble Co. who purchased the company in 1991.
In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the glory years of Hollywood, Max Factor became intimately associated with the world of movie make-up. He created the first makeup for the movies in 1914, and coined the term "makeup", based on the verb, "to make up" (one's face).
Jean Harlow, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, and virtually all of the major movie actresses were regular customers of the Max Factor beauty salon, located near Hollywood Boulevard. His name appeared on many movie credits, and Factor himself appeared in some cameos.
Many of Max's celebrity clients also appeared in full-color magazine ads to promote his cosmetics, so the brand name Max Factor soon became world-renowned.
Max Factor is credited with many cosmetic innovations, including Pan-Cake makeup, the mascara wand, and concealer.
Even today, 2006, Max Factor's television adverts cross-promote the latest blockbusters in which their make-up is used.
Convicted rapist Andrew Luster is an heir to the Max Factor fortune.
Max Factor is credited with many cosmetic innovations. Some of his innovations were the first motion picture makeup in 1914, Lip Gloss in 1930, Pan-Cake Makeup, forerunner of all modern cake makeups in 1937, Pan-Stik Makeup in 1948, Erace, the original cover-up cosmetic in 1954, and the first "waterproof" makeup in 1971.