Who made up make up?

We’ve all used the term ‘make up’, but have you ever wondered where the rather clumsy nickname for cosmetics originates?

Well, you may be surprised to hear that the answer is Max Factor. During the 1920s, Jewish-Polish businesman, chemist and cosmetician Maximilian Faktorowicz (otherwise known as Max Factor) designed the trademark “cupid’s bow”; a popular lipstick style sported by movie stars Clara Bow, Theda Bara and Mae Murray.

However, rather than it being the result of creative genius, the cupid’s bow actually came about due to a movie lighting problem. According to academic research, hot studio lamps caused lip pomade to run on set, and consequently, Max Factor used greasepaint foundation to cover the natural outlines of actresses’ mouths. He then placed thumbprints of lipstick at the centre of the actresses’ lips.

Max Factor subsequently capitalized on the popularity of this accidental trend by releasing a line of cosmetics which he appropriately referred to as ‘make up,’ and thereby the term was coined!

Clara Bow (image: laurelcanyon.org)
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One Comment

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  1. “Maximilian Faktorowicz (otherwise known as Max Factor)” — WOW I never suspected that was someone’s name. Totally best name ever.

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