Born Maksymilian Faktorowicz in Lodz, Poland, in 1877, Max Factor began his career as an apprentice to a wig maker, but by the age of 20, was running his own makeup store. He traveled to the US in 1902 to attend the Saint Louis World's Fair, and never looked back. From his page at bio.com:
He began selling hair goods, imported cosmetics and stage greasepaints to local stage actors in St. Louis.
As his local fame spread, actors from the emerging film industry also came to Max for make-up advice. Thus, the motion picture industry, then beginning in Hollywood, beckoned. He settled in Los Angeles with his family in 1909 and got a job with the Pantages Theatre.
By 1914, he was perfecting make up for the movies. He had improvised a new alternative to dye greasepaint, which he thought looked dreadful and 'terrifying' on the screen.
He formed flexible greasepaint, which was the first make up created for film. It helped make actresses look more natural in close up. His most notable clients were Mary Pickford, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland, all of whom became regular visitors at his salons.
Before Max Factor, few women wore cosmetics, but when he introduced non-theatrical cosmetics in 1927, that changed. Credited as the father of modern makeup, Factor was responsible for inventing many cosmetics as we know them and is still an inspiration today.
The Max Factor cosmetic company was eventually purchased by Revlon, and then Proctor and Gamble.