top of page

Max Factor Studio

Hollywood queens trusted their faces to the makeup king, Max Factor.

From his Highland Avenue studio, the brilliant beautician transformed starlets into style icons: Lucille Ball’s false eyelashes and red curls, Jean Harlow’s platinum blond, Joan Crawford’s overdrawn “hunter’s bow,” and Clara Bow’s heart-shaped lips.

Factor, a Polish immigrant, made a name for himself when he developed Flexible Greasepaint, the first makeup specially for film, in 1914.

As the motion picture industry boomed, so did his business—exponentially with the release of Society, a celeb-worthy cosmetic line of powders, creams, and lipsticks marketed to the everyday woman.

In 1928, the company purchased a 40,000-square-foot building just south of Hollywood Boulevard as its manufacturing hub, anchored by an opulent Louis XVI showroom.

Following the Great Depression, Max Factor Studio expanded further, as the four-story building and adjacent parking garage were reimagined as a Hollywood Regency-style glam headquarters.

“The Jewel Box of the Cosmetics World” features street-to-roof fluted pilasters, curved display windows, metal ornaments, and a marble entryway that welcomed glamorous guests into an oval reception room flanked by four distinct makeup salons.

One for each of the Max Factor “types,” the rooms were painted in respective complementary colors: Blondes Only (two-tone blue), Brunettes Only (dusty pink), Redheads Only (green), and Brownettes Only (peach and beige).

In the research laboratory, Factor tinkered with inventions, such as the Beauty Calibrator, which measured facial structure to create “the perfect face” with makeup.

On the ground floor, there was also a salon, which quickly became the Hollywood hotspot, as movie stars and society ladies flocked for beauty and hairdressing sessions.The adjoining one-story “Pink Powder Puff” earned its nickname as Max Factor’s powder plant.

After six decades, the flagship got a makeover of its own: Restored to its original grandeur and reopened as the Hollywood Museum in 2003.

Today, the popular destination is home to the most extensive collection of film and TV memorabilia: 10,000 artifacts, costumes, props, set pieces, photographs, even personal items like Elvis’ robe and Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce.

After a year-long closure due to Covid, Hollywood Museum (as well as Mel’s Drive-In) returned Aug. 4, 2022—and with several new exhibits, including the first-ever Back to the Future trilogy retrospective.


bottom of page