Every woman, whether she chooses to acknowledge it or not, has an innate desire to be desired. Even the staunchest of feminists want to be accepted by other feminists. It goes without saying that we, as human beings, don’t enjoy being disliked and we go to any measure to make ourselves more readily acceptable to others. For women, one of the easiest ways to improve confidence and self-image is makeup.
Ancient Egyptians used copper and lead ores in some of the most primitive forms of makeup, and in many cultures there are reports of women crushing berries to dye their lips, using burnt matches as eyeliners, and using leeches to drain their blood to make their complexions appear more pale. Even the highly poisonous element mercury was a popular cosmetic in ancient Rome and Egypt. Most of these practices are obviously not safe. In some cultures, the use of cosmetics to enhance one’s appearance was limited only to the upper class.
During the Middle Ages, the Church began looking down on the use of cosmetics in all but the upper classes, probably because it nurtured vanity, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In the 1800s, Queen Victoria publicly denounced makeup, calling it “vulgar,” and declared use of it acceptable only by actors.However, after the turn of the century and the roaring twenties, makeup had become commonplace by the middle of the twentieth century. Discovering the marketplace for cosmetics, a few still well-known names emerged – Max Factor and Estée Lauder, just to name a two.
Max Factor was born Maximilian Factorowicz in what is now Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) in 1877 and began creating his own makeup, fragrances, and wigs to sell out of a shop. Factorowicz became well known when a traveling troupe wore some of his fragrances to a performance for Russian nobility. The royal family soon named him the cosmetic expert for themselves and the Imperial Russian Grand Opera.
In 1904, Factorowicz and his family migrated to the United States. After changing his last name to Factor, he began selling his cosmetics at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. The family again moved in 1908, this time to Los Angeles, which allowed Factor to get a start in Hollywood.