Pierre's Costumes

Did you know how pancake makeup was created?

Max Factor was a real person.


For those of you who don’t know the history, Max Factor was not just a brand, but an actual person.  One fact that I love, is that Max Factor invented pancake makeup in 1914.  I have also heard that Ben Nye (of the professional makeup brand), was involved in this development too, but I cold not find and proof of this anywhere.  It may just be company propaganda (especially since Ben Nye was born in 1907).  Here is some information on pancake makeup:


The first commercially available foundation was Max Factor’s Pan-Cake. Originally developed for use in film, actresses were so taken with the results that Max Factor was overwhelmed with demand for the product for their personal use. The breakthrough in his formula was the first “foundation and powder in one”; traditionally, an actor was made up with an oil/emollient-based make-up, which was then set with powder to reduce the reflection and ensure it would not fade or smudge.


Pan-Cake used talc — rather than oil or wax — as the base, and, applied directly to the skin with a wet sponge, it offered enough coverage (it could be layered without caking on the skin) to eliminate the need for a foundation underneath. This was considered significantly more lightweight and natural-looking on the skin than the standard method, hence the keenness of people to wear the item in public. Although foundation make-up was widely available and used within the film industry, the use of cosmetics in general was still somewhat disreputable, and no one had tried to market foundation (although lipstick, blush and nail polish were popular for daily use) as an everyday item.


Factor had the product patented in 1937, and, in spite of the economic turmoil of the era, Pan-Cake became one of the most successful cosmetic launches of all time. By 1940, it was estimated that one in three North American women owned and wore Pan-Cake.  As of February 2009, Procter and Gamble, the brand’s current owner, confirmed the original formula Factor developed and used himself is still sold today.

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