If you’re old enough to remember the TV shows Fraggle Rock or Salute Your Shorts, or play computer games like Oregon Trail, or you’re just a makeup junkie like me, then you probably remember Max Factor. In fact, you probably owned a lipstick, liner, or mascara from the iconic makeup brand, and if you grew up doing ballet or performing in your high school’s plays, then you definitely remember their Pan-Cake Foundation, a product that looked like a pressed powder but when you mixed it with water, you had a creamy base akin to spackle.
Max Factor, one of the world’s pioneering cosmetics companies, was started in 1909 by a Polish-born cosmetician of the same name. An innovator in the truest sense of the word, Factor is said to have invented many of the product categories we still use today—including foundation—and played a major role in dictating beauty trends among celebrities of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. (He took Jean Harlow platinum and created Clara Bow’s red heart-shaped lips). But in 2006, the brand was pulled from U.S. shelves, leaving many fans—including me—devastated until now. Max Factor is making a return to the States with a limited selection of top products (a liner, mascara, and two lipsticks) chosen by makeup artist and global creative design director for the company, Pat McGrath. We chatted with McGrath to get the what, why, and how behind this major beauty news.
How did you decide what products to bring back?“Max Factor is about makeup artistry, innovation, and bringing modern glamour to every woman. I wanted to create a collection of essentials that give a fresh take on classic glamour.”
What makes these products standouts?“There are so many beauty products available today, and it’s not always easy to find the right ones. This collection lets you be as creative as you want and experiment with styles without overcomplicating it. Each product was selected specifically to give you a modern look with a classic twist—cat eye with a nude or rose lip. Masterpiece High Precision Liquid Eyeliner is a liquid liner, but it has the control of a pencil. The Masterpiece Max Mascara has a really cool iFX brush with microchannels between each bristle to deliver more mascara to each lash. And the Max Factor Lipstick actually makes lips more moisturized every time you use it.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Max Factor on the shelves. What can American women (especially millennials who may not be familiar with the line) expect from the brand?“Max Factor is a brand that has always been passionate about makeup artistry. It was the first makeup for film-industry professionals. Max Factor, the founder, didn’t just create makeup—he invented the word. He changed the way makeup was done and made it the first professional brand real women could use. That’s in the spirit of the brand today—to create makeup that is modern, glamorous, and innovative for every woman to use.”
With so many makeup brands available these days, why bring back Max Factor back to the U.S.?“Max Factor is the original glamour brand, the first to bring professional makeup to everyone, and today Max Factor is all over the world. With the rise of social media, beauty vloggers and Instagrammers, inspiration comes from anywhere. And with this renewed interest in makeup artistry, plus the tons of fans demanding the brand’s return to the U.S., Max Factor decided it was the right time to bring back a limited-edition collection.”
Starting today, Max Factor will be available at drugstore.com, amazon.com, walgreens.com, and target.com.