Max Factor has always pioneered the way in cosmetics and skin care from the days when it was the "House of Hollywood" in the 30's and 40's. Today, although no longer strongly associated with the silver screen, Max Factor is still very much to the fore in terms of new ideas bringing color and magic into the lives of all women.
Eve Gardiner started her working life against a background of world financial crises which promoted many women of similar genteel backgrounds to go out and ear their living. She recollects her father opening his newspaper one morning at he breakfast table and realizing in an instant that he was penniless. Like so many other, his security had been wiped out overnight in the Wall Street Crash of 1925. At a stroke, his substantial investments were worthless, so Eve and her family had to leave their comfortable home and embark on a life in vary different circumstances. Without a second thought, Eve went to work in a privately owned beauty and hairdressing salon in Brook Street, a fashionable area of London, and developed an already awakening awareness in beauty. But after four years an event occurred which was to changer her life -- she learned that Max Factor was coming to town. This cause much excitement, for Max Factor was already legendary in the world of makeup wizardry and was regarded as one of the most glamorous cosmetic companies. Eve went along to the newly opened premises in Bond Street and applied for a job, she was promptly offered one, for the Max Factor team recognized that she had the Max Factor look and reminded them of the American girls in Hollywood.
To Eve, the Max Factor beauty salon was a revelation. For the first time ever in the UK, women were being made up in front of huge theatrically lit mirrors and the techniques being used were those of the film makers, with as many steps in makeup application as on the glamorous Hollywood sets. But countrywide makeup in general was still very primitive by today's standards: "Most women only fluffed powder onto their face with a huge swan down powder puff", recollects Eve. "They literally bumped it on their nose and then dusted round their face smothering even their eyebrows and eyelashes in powder. Most women didn't use eyebrow pencils, mascara or eye shadow so the effect was very blank and pale.
However, the more adventurous women of the time, Eve remembers, greased their eyelids with vaseline and if they wore mascara use a cake mascara (wands were unheard of) plus a little rouge which came in the form of a block of concentrated color in a cardboard box which looked very sever if not carefully applied. Eye shadow was very scarce and only available in gray, even when obtainable, and few women wore lipstick. But Eve does remember her mother wearing pink or white lip salves which she kept in a little drawer in her dressing table and an aunt who was considered very avant garde, painting her lips in a very crimson lip color in Clara Bow Fashion. So the look of the 20's was either for no color or for terrifically artificial color. Eve also remembers the first nail polish coming out in 1928 which was a dark crimson color to match the Clara Bow Lipstick and this was applied with a block and then buffers with a chamois leather buffer. "Women use to sit for hours buffing their nails till they gleamed and shone. I don't think any of us would have that patience today".
Before the Max Factor salon opening, professional make-ups were also very primitive, with just a sweep pf powder on the face and then perhaps a touch of eye brow pencil and a little rouge to complete the effect. But the method of application was even more surprising! After a facial, women used to lie on a couch and the make-up artist proceeded to apply the makeup upside down without even looking into a mirror. "The results were hardly flattering or accurate applied in this way," Eve laughs.
The Max Factor salon set great store by the fact that they never let their customers purchase color cosmetic products alone00 they had to buy skincare items as well--perhaps a cleanser, toner and a nourishing cream (moisturizer hadn't been invented yet). On top of the skin care line, in the late 20's early 30's, Max Factor also had powder foundation (a Hollywood product) which was a delicately tinted base either flesh colored or a deep olive. However, the product didn't have enormous color value--perhaps only as much as a tinted moisturizer today.
Eve recollects the method that the Max Factor makeup artist used to create a very precise look. "We dotted the powder foundation all over the face until we had a perfect blend. Then using the techniques popularized by the studios we pressed powder very firmly and methodically all over the face until you had a perfect, flawless-looking makeup. Of course you didn't have the range of colors available then in the way of eye make-up. We only had four shades of eye shadow--gray, brown, blue and green, and only two colors of eyebrow pencil-- brown and brownish/black plus two colors of mascara, one shade of rouge and four shades of lipstick".
Eve loved working in the salon during the early days especially when she was called on to the make up women for the Royal Courts at Buckingham Palace. The ladies who were to dress in their glittering evening gowns and four yard long trains in the evening used to book their day appointment in the Max Factor salon to be made-up quite theatrically in away which would look stunning under the strong lights and the regal settings of the huge state rooms. For this the Max Factor make-up artist brought out a cheek shade for special effects-- a strong petunia color which proved particularly popular.
But day and evening make-ups weren't the only skills Eve acquired in the early days. She also learned stage, film and TV make-up as well as camouflage make-up which was all part of a day's work.
Sadly, disaster struck with the onset of the Second World War when the salon closed immediately. Eve was conscripted and worked throughout the war on aircraft engines and only returned to work after VE day in 1945. After just a few weeks holiday she was back in the salon and not long after that, after the opening of new premises in Bond Street she became head of the salon in the late 40's.
This was the time when the great revolution in make-up started, just before the war, Max Factor brought out one of the products which would go down in the history of make-up-- Pan Cake. Eve, in fact, still uses the product herself today-- finding it preferable to modern day foundation. Pan-Stik was launched just after the war in 1947 and this was followed by Erace and Crème Puff.) Crème Puff is apparently one of the biggest selling cosmetic products in history.) Both Pan Cake and Pan Stik were launched in the studios to coincide with the rise of color film which required a more natural-looking make-up.
Max Factor has always been amongst the few at the forefront of cosmetic development and Eve believes that periods of innovation can be concisely seen in the context of the decades.
"The 30's were the Pan era-- Panchromatic and Pan Cake and then Pan Stik a little later in the early 40's. In the 50's there was Crème Puff which caused such a stir that jewelers in Bond Street ceased to sell gold powder cases. People simply began to stop using loose powder for they switched to Crème Puff. So then Asprey, Cartier and all the main jewelers started to make gold cases for Crème Puff and Cartier made a whole range costing from 4 to 700 pounds which in those days was a lot of money. Lady Docker bought Grace Kelly one as a wedding gift and rumor had it that the Queen used one too!"
But perhaps the biggest skincare revolution came in the 50's with the onset of moisturizer as a concept. Factor launched a range called Secret Key which was the very first skincare line in the world which was totally moisturized. This was then replaced by a more sophisticated range in the 70's Gaminess.
"In the 1950's, Factor came out with Hi-fi makeup as a result of TV. Hi-fi was the first ever range of really cool beige colors no make up houses had ever produced these shades before. Hi-fi actually stood for high fidelity color and revolutionized foundation which up until this time had only been creamy peach or conversely very dark.
However, the greatest event in the history of makeup arguably came at the end of the 50's with a whole burst of eye color which transformed the contemporary color palette. "Prior to 1959 we only had four shades of eye color plus brown and brownish black pencils and cake mascara. But suddenly we came out with about 12 new products and countless new shades long sticks of gorgeous colors, powder and cream eye shadows, mascara sticks (brushes came later), eye brow pencils with refills and false eyelashes for day wear. We also came out with an eye care cream for use under the eyes and eye make-up remover pads".
Perhaps Eve's greatest thrill of Max Factor's development is the time when she helped to create a new product which would go on to become a standard line in all cosmetic companies portfolio. After the revolution in eye make-up, models started to wear black PanCake which Max Factor had made especially for the commando landings in the first world war. The product was only available in little greaseproof envelopes and the commandos just spat on it to smear and black out the face. However, the model of the 50's latched on to it to make up their eyes.
Fenwicks, the high fashion store in Bond Street then noted for its avant garde approach to make-up, pestered Max Factor to stock the product and eventually they got a huge supply. Douglas Young, one of Max Factor's top make-up artist, got together with Eve and together they carved out a block of the black Pancake, put it into an empty eye shadow box and sent it to Hollywood as an idea for the first ever cake eyeliner. Max Factor improved the formulation by making it smoother and easier to apply and then marketed it.
"But it's the 60's which are perhaps my favorite period of development," comments Eve, "For we were all really swinging and make-up was for fun. Girls started pasting out their lips with Erase so they looked lighter than their already pale faces. And of course there were huge bouffant of hair, mini skirts and people looked revolutionary. We came out with a line of lipstick called the Young Pretenders for the products were only pretending to be lipstick, they were so pale, and we had all sorts of smudgy things for the eyes. Some models wore three pairs of eyelashes and the lids looked very heavy and weighed down. Make-up in the 60's became stylized after the natural, fresh looks of the 50's.
Moving on, it seems the main feature of the 70's was the return to nature with fruits and vegetables making their appearances in all sorts of products; skincare lines from Max Factor which followed this theme included Avocado and Lemon skin Toner. But skin care in the 70's also saw the rise of hypo-allergenic ranges and Max Factor were among the first with the launch of Perfect Touch and then Swedish Formula-- the latter which is still popular today.
Brining the market up to date, Eve sees the 80's as being a period of consolidation and experimentation with Factor having a greater portfolio of product ranges and exciting colors than ever before. Although the Max Factor beauty salon is now closed; Eve is still the company's beauty advisor and at 72, just as active and as glamorous as ever. She now works on variety of projects including charity work which Mac Factor helps to sponsor. She has recently put together a cassette called "A Touch of Beauty" which details her makeup lessons expressed in a way that the blind can follow and learn to put their own make up on by just listening and following Eve's advice. Max Factor underwrote the publication costs for the cassette and have always encouraged Eve in the work she had done for the blind over the years.
Looking back over the decades, Eve admits that one of the most fascinating aspects of her career has been her work with the starts to whom she regularly gave advice, she was for a long time the makeup artist to the legendary beauty Vivien Leigh, and helped to create the marvelous character make-ups the actress portrayed in film and on stage. Eve has also been involved on the other side of the beauty fence--beauty contests, the most important of which -- Miss World-- Max Factor have often involved with over the years. With quite a remarkable career behind her and certainly many years ahead, Eve's fiftieth anniversary with the company spans quite a breathless half century of achievement.