Max Factor and the Beauty Calibrator

Cabinet Magazine profiles the a polish immigrant who revolutionized Hollywood makeup in the 1920s. Pictured above is the "Beauty calibrator", a nightmarish machine he invented to measure your face and determine what sort of makeup you needed. [Cabinet Magazine via Metafilter]

But even with the most expert application, greasepaint was a crude medium. It was stiff and dense, and tended to aggravate skin conditions that then required more greasepaint. There was no solution for the seams that were visible along the hairline and collar, and, as the name suggests, the substance was nearly impossible to wash off. Most vexing of all, greasepaint remained perfectly intact only when the face was slack. A lifted eyebrow or a smile caused the makeup to craze with hairline cracks. Though imperceptible to a distant theater audience, the defect was catastrophic on film. Silent-film comedians were the first fans of a new “flexible” greasepaint introduced in 1914 by a small wig and cosmetic shop in Los Angeles.

Start the discussion at bbs.boingboing.net