MAX Factor Says “Peace out, America…”

Published in: News

MAX Factor says goodbye to the US market

Procter & Gamble Co. is pulling the plug on the iconic MAX Factor brand early next year, discontinuing US distribution to better focus on the growing CoverGirl line.


End of an era

There would be no makeup without MAX — that is to say he coined the term “makeup,” based on the verb, “to make up” (one’s face).

The company pioneered contemporary cosmetics back in the golden years of film and TV, *inventing* lip gloss in 1930, introducing Liquid Nail Enamel in 1934 (a predecessor of today’s nail enamels), inventing cake makeup in 1937 (called Pan-Cake), Tru-Color Lipstick in 1940 (the first smudge-proof lipstick), the first concealer in 1954 (called Erace), the first waterproof makeup in 1971 and even introduced the principles of Color Harmony, which held that “certain combinations of a woman’s complexion, hair and eye coloring were most effectively complemented by specific makeup shades.”

Wow, right?

Factor dominated Hollywood makeup artistry back in the 1920s-1930s, decorating virtually all of Hollywood’s leading ladies — Jean Harlow, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland. His name appeared on film credits galore.

But time marched on; competition got tougher; the pace of innovation at MAX Factor slowed. The ’90s and early 2000s weren’t kind to the brand in America, and the company lost relevance and market share over time.

Today, the lion’s share of the brand’s $1.2 billion in annual sales comes from international markets like Russia and the UK.

Overseas sales will continue, but if you hail from US shores, it may be time to stock up.


Bittersweet goodbye

I remember wearing their Pan Cake makeup in high school… A girl named Stella sat next to me in class and always looked so elegant applying it from the pan.

And I also remember being really broke in college and finding their 2000 Calorie Mascara at the drugstore. It was one of just a handful of decent drugstore mascaras at the time.

Ah, the memories…

Do you have any stories about the MAX Factor brand? Are you sad or glad to see them go?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 77 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Cathryn says:

    My mom always used to wear their makeup, and at 25 I still wear their mascara. I was just falling in love with their High Impact line, too! Sadness. 🙁

  2. Dao says:

    My mom and my aunts used to wear the stick foundation from MF in the 80s. It’s upsetting to see a makeup line goes kaput, although I’m not a fan of MF. I guess most products of MF and CG are really similar so one has to go.

    Dao´s last blog post..Beauty Literature: Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin

  3. Katherine says:

    I had a feeling they will go out of business!
    because their products were not so great!

  4. Glosslizard says:

    Aw nuts, I really like their Lash Perfection mascaras, and I wanted to try the new gel lipsticks! I kept waiting for a sale to stock up, but I guess I’d better get what I want now!

    Other than the mascaras, I wasn’t really a huge fan of the line, but it’s always sad to see an iconic name give up the ghost! 🙁

    • Karen says:

      Hi Glosslizard,

      I know! I thought that with their foray into brighter colors that they were going to make a comeback. I guess it just wasn’t happening on our shores.

  5. To be honest I never liked their product or packaging. It always seemed very out of date and uninteresting. I don’t know anyone who has ever worn Max Factor either, so this doesn’t surprise me!

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Vampy Varnish Poll

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vampy Varnish,

      It’s a very 80s/early 90s brand to me. They did a revamp with some new brighter color products but I guess it didn’t stick.

  6. Jessica says:

    I am sad to see them go because Max Factor is the history of makeup and he created soo many things! My mom always wore 2000 calorie mascara growing up and I have had a few tubes myself! I bought there new mascara and a hot red lipstick not that long ago too–and like it! I also loved MaxFactor on the tv show BLUSH (I was obsessed!) and even that and Gisele couldn’t give them a boost to last? Hmmm…Although it is an iconic line they never seemed to really compete with other drugstore brands, it seemed like they gave up until BLUSH came along. It is sad because as a makeup junkie we want millions of makeup brands to choose from and especially one that gifted us with makeup in the first place!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica,

      LOL, I was obsessed with Blush, too. The host drove me a little nuts but there were some interesting characters. I’d love to hang out with Maxi some day. 🙂

  7. TUPRNUT says:

    Sad! I love their mascaras – especially the 2000 Calorie & Volume Couture. 🙁

  8. Shiny says:

    Max Factor was the first makeup I ever owned… and I really did like it. I was always a little bummed that it wasn’t available in my neck of the woods for the last few years… as for CG, I’m sorry but their packaging may not be out of date, but it just comes off as cheap.

  9. Kate says:

    Yes, I’m sad to see them go. It is a nice quality, moderately priced line. I love their eye shadow shades.

  10. Joanna says:

    Boy am I glad I live in the UK! MaxFactor are huge over here and I absolutely adore their stuff. I use their blush, their foundation (in the summer – they don’t go pale enough for my winter skin) and most importantly their mascara. Their mascara has long been a favourite of mine, I adore it!

    In related beauty news…I got a free *full size* clinique high impact curling mascara in the post today for filling in a survey a month ago! And there was a benefit BAD GAL mascara free with a magazine here for only two pounds. So I’m up two mascaras for next to nothing. I love give-aways.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna,

      GIRL! You will love that Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara. It’s amazing…

      I’ve been wearing Bad Gal but it smudges on me, boo. Let me know if it works for you, though!

    • Geniece says:

      Hey Joanna! Can you help me buy Max Factor Whipped Creme Shimmering Bronze make-up? Also, what are some webstes in the UK where I can purchase it?
      Thanks! Geniece

  11. Tekoa says:

    I’m afraid I’ve never experienced Max Factor. It seems to be absent in Canada, or at least the Albertan part of it. I feel sad a company with such a lofty history will be gone.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tekoa,

      Me too. It’s sad to see an icon go.

      In completely unrelated cat news, Tabs has suddenly developed an extensive vocabulary. He’s not usually much of a talker, but as of late he’s been really chatty in the morning… grumbling, meowing and mewling when he first comes in the morning.

  12. rasilla says:

    I used to think what Tekoa thought, not seeing the Max Factor around as much…but its usually there, just with a very non-outstanding display, which is why we tend to skim over it.
    So personally I have never tried it, but it does seem a tad sad that they are pulling out, from the US of all places…

    rasilla´s last blog post..June 1: $0.05 + 13%Tax?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rasilla,

      If you ever get the chance the mascaras are worth a look. Maybe try 2000 Calorie if you can get your hands on it on sale… it’s cheap but works well.

  13. Chris says:

    I still use it – very dependable mascaras and the Panstick foundation rocks for covering blemishes and bad skin. Better than high end stick foundations imho.
    Also, the powder foundation is a good balance of coverage but not cakey.
    I think they went wrong with the color parts of line – no pigment in the e/s and constantly changing the lip line.
    Too bad because they hired great support – Pat McGrath was the consultant at one time.

  14. EV says:

    This is so sad, although not altogether surprising. I’ve never really been impressed with most of the line, to be honest, and it seems like L’Oreal’s HiP line has done the same thing but better for the last few years.

    That being said, have you tried Max Factor’s new(ish) Vivid Impact lipsticks? They’re *amazing*, easily $20 lipstick quality. There is a purple-fuschia and an orange-red that are to die for.

  15. Amanda says:

    oh, that’s sad! I’ve never used Max Factor, but it does sadden me from the history perspective. But alas the Factor legacy will live on in the form of Smashbox!

  16. Nicole15 says:

    My mom swears by their Lipfinity long-lasting lipsticks. They beat out Cover Girl Outlast in her book. I love MAX mascaras & have really been liking their newly released Vivid Impact lipsticks.

    But with every discontinuation usually comes a major clearance sale….so hopefully we can stuck up on some of our faves for great prices before they’re gone forever!!!

  17. tatiana says:

    2000 Calorie mascara changed my life.

  18. Rachel says:

    I’ve always wanted to try 2000 calorie. The name sounds so indulgent. It is sad indeed that the brand is closing its doors. Boo 🙁

  19. Stacie says:

    I’ve never really used the brand. But I remember seeing Max Factor credited at the end of an I Love Lucy episode, and thinking that was kinda surreal.

  20. kf519 says:

    I still have a tube of this purplish color of lip gloss from Max that I’ve been carrying around for years, hoping I can find the color in another brand since they don’t carry it anymore. Sad to see Max go. 🙁

  21. meimei says:

    Awww. And to think that I just bought a stick of the Erace concealer, too.

    MF was the first makeup line that I ever tried as a teenager in the Philippines; I still have fond memories of the makeup artist who told me about his favorite MF blush: “Subtle Amber! For day, for night!”

    And while I might not be into Subtle Amber any more (though it *was* the perfect blush for morenas) and I still think that the 2000 Calorie Mascara is overrated, it looks like I’ll need to stock up on the Vivid Impact lipstick, too. Everything else, I can take or leave. 🙁

    meimei´s last blog post..Stuff Like That (Over) There: A Preview of the New Beauty Stash

  22. Louise Gray says:

    Damn!! I had better stock on Pan Stick which I love, love, love. That is a shame. I never buy Cover Girl. Boo on them. Thanks for giving us a heads up. Louise

  23. Mykeshia says:

    Can’t say that I am upset to see them go. I remember in a high school dance recital, the pan cake foundation was high suggested to be used, bc of its great staying power. I was always shutout because they never had colors for darker skintones. That pretty much turned me off to the brand.

    However I was looking forward to the high impact lipsticks.

  24. pouneh says:

    I learned about this yesterday but just as other ladies I too saw it coming. I only have their colorgenius blush but the only reason is they r not sold in Canada (I am moving there this summer) and i did not want to fall in love with something i could not find. It is very sad to c them go thu…at least they r loved in UK…I always wanted to try their stick foundation hehehe

  25. Heidi says:

    BOO!! I really like their 2000 calorie mascara. It’s cheap and works really well without drugstore price (i sound like an advertisement for CG). I better stock up on the mascaras before they run off.

  26. Kate & Zena says:

    Aw, shit. That means I have to go stock up on Ms. Behave high impact lipstick. I have fallen in love with that lipstick. It also means I have to stock up on some other items. Fudgies, fudgies, fudgies.

  27. Kristi says:

    I just found a really good nude lipstick by MAX Factor, called skinny dip from their new vivid impact line. When I hear MAX Factor, I always think of the show I Love Lucy and how pretty Lucille Ball always looked because that was the brand of makeup she wore on the show. It makes the makeup kind of nostalgic in a way knowing that they’re going to be gone soon. 🙁

  28. Jaime says:

    I’m so sad. I love the Volume Couture mascara and the High Impact lipstick.

    Karen, do you know if we’ll be able to purchase MF products online once they’re discontinued in the US? I hope so! 🙂

  29. Kelly G says:

    Gah!!! My beloved Volume Couture Mascara! This is my go-to mascara. I don’t know what I’m gonna do!! It’s cheap, doesn’t smudge, goes on very deep and dark, and gives the most defined, voluminous lashes ever. But forget I said that. Because you will be hooked. Like me. And then you will be up a creek. Like me. Crap.

  30. Barbie says:

    I am Seriously going to cry!!!!!!!!!!! I dont use alot of MAX FACTOR, but I do use their PAN Stick, its the only makeup that really works on my face and it doesnt LOOK like Im wearing makeup! Im seriously about to go to each store and buy them out of them, lol…. How Sad this really is ;(

  31. Gina G says:

    That is sad – I love the 2000 calorie mascara.

  32. Daya says:

    I haven’t really used much from Max Factor, but as someone said, from a history prospective it is sad to see the company go.

  33. Rani says:

    oh noooo! I’m going to miss 2000 calorie mascara. What a great product

  34. Nicole says:

    guess it’s time to stock up on 2000 calorie mascara.

  35. Joanna says:

    Hi Karen!

    You’re so right about the Clinique Mascara! I’d been meaning to try it after reading your reviews of it, but never got around to it… I wore it today and it is brilliant. Holds the curl really well, keeps the length all day and it didn’t flake out on me in the slightest, even in this heat! Definitely going to be a staple for me from now on, even better knowing it was free! I haven’t tried Bad Gal yet, but I’ll try it out anyway, no point letting good product go to waste!

  36. Artemisia says:

    Oh, man. I love their mascara. It is one of the few brands that I am not allergic too and that I actually like.

    Artemisia´s last blog post..Fresh Starts

  37. Tali says:

    Oh wow. I just got back from LA and am checking up on my bloggers blogs and I cant believe they are closing!!

  38. gwendifierce says:

    love their 2000 calorie mascara. 🙁 don’t use anything from cover girl, pull their plug instead. haha.

  39. Jamie says:

    sadddd. their volume couturee mascara is excellent! i’m gonna be really upset without it 🙁

  40. Shannon says:

    sad face. I Luuurved their 2000 Calorie mascara. I’d need to replace after about a month or two instead of the standard 3-month period, but at $5 that wasn’t too hard to do.

  41. ParisB says:

    I’ve only tried the 2000 calorie mascara and some of the Earth Spirit eyeshadow both of which were ok. We don’t get Max Factor here though so I can’t say I’ll miss it much. Perhaps they’ll bring back Covergirl this time 🙂

    ParisB´s last blog post..Sass Style & Substance Weekend Reading 6 June

  42. cloudburst says:

    I got a fantastic red lipstick from them years ago & my first black eyeshadow in junior high! It’s too bad, but I guess in a recession you need to focus on the more successful lines.

  43. Karen B says:

    Really? Oh, I love Max Factor. Their masterpiece mascara is awesome!

  44. Stephie says:

    So does this mean they’ll completely take the products off the shelves by the end of this year or will the remaining just be on clearance at the beginning of next?

    Hmm. Looks like I need to try out Volume Couture/2000 Calorie and those vivid impact lipsticks before they go away YIKES!

  45. Mira says:

    I used to wear the pan-foundation when I performed in highschool. It was the best for a ballerina look.

    They stopped selling it and reverted to this entirely different line. When they gor rid of the blue MF and say they were reinventing the line, I freaked and bought as much as I could on clearance. The latest MF isn’t so fab and it was overpriced compared to some great brands.

    Oh well. The strategy wasn’t to keep the product great, it was just to sell as much as they can. I guess that’s just what happens.

  46. Stef says:

    Seems like most of us agree, they made some killer mascara. I have worn Stretch for a million years (ok, 10). I haven’t work the makeup in awhile, but this is still very sad. I don’t like when ANY company goes under, let alone an iconic makeup one.

    Stef´s last blog post..we heart this summer extravaganza

  47. Carla says:

    How sad that the Max Factor brand has to go. I don’t think all is lost tho’. I’d read awhile back that Smashbox was created by the grandsons/nephews of Max Factor. So if this is true the creative genius of Max Factor is still around. Smashbox seems to be doing well!!

  48. jane says:

    Wow thats nuts…I have a feeling it will still be availible in New Zealand though…my mum uses the powder foundation and its $35 back home but $7 here in the US, I used to send her 3-4 at a time.

  49. Joan says:

    I have used Max Factors panstick for 30 years. I have always been complemented on my complexion and that is thanks to Max Factor! I have tried other makeup when I was completely out and that was all I could find at the local stores. There is nothing that even come close in comparison to coverage and a healthy look. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen….

  50. Shari says:

    I went looking for my Max Factor panstick can’t find it!! I am 41 and the only base makeup i’ve ever worn is panstick. My mother started wearing it when she was a teenager and her sisters and their daughters including my 16 yr old. Everyone has always complimented us on our porcelin skin. I don’t know what i’ll do, nothing else covers my roscea. I’m so dissapointed! Going to buy all I can before it’s gone for special occassions and pictures.

  51. cassandra says:

    i freakn love their pan-stick. i couldnt believe when i walked into the store numerous times and the shelf was wiped empty..i just dont know what i am going to do. i seriously just wanted to scream in the store.

  52. Jen says:

    I’m so sad to see Max Factor go out of business! Their mascaras were the best kind, ever! They never smudged on me like all the other brands have. Believe me, I’ve tried everything too! I wish I would have stocked up on their mascaras now. 🙁

  53. jan says:

    WHAT A BUMMER ! ! ! I have used Max Factor panstick all my adult life – – -never anything else. I love that stuff, so natural looking, covers well but never greasy. Sooo sad to see you go. I’ve looked all over town for it, none available, then learned the sad news. I’m not a happy camper here ! ! !

  54. Amanda says:

    Jan, I agree! I did the same thing. I have used the pan stick foundation forever, and I LOVED it! I have been looking for it everywhere and finally decided to google it. I am not a happy camper either to learn that it will no longer be available! I don’t know what foundation to use now that won’t be greasy or streaky. I have read a lot about their mascara on here, but never used it. The foundation was the only product that I used, and I never once paid any attention to the packaging. Any other brand suggestions for foundations that are similar would be appreciated, thanks!

  55. Nikki says:

    I am so sad to see MaxFactor go! I first tried their line when my gay brother suggested the “Pancake” makeup because they have excellent coverage and it lasts forever! I always had trouble with finding a good base because I have T-zone oily skin. This makeup was a godsend. I am so disappointed. I have been using this product for 13yrs. It’s like getting a divorce and starting all over again! LOL Perhaps we will be able to purchase their products from European websites. I know ladies, the price. But no one said beauty is cheap. LOL 😀

  56. Wendy Flay says:

    I was still in my 20’s ( I’m in my 50’s now), when I bought my first Max Factor foundation. It was in a glass bottle with a black top and was the color of pale-pink ice-cream and I fancied it smelt of almond oil and expensive perfume.
    I have never seen a color like it since that wasn’t a blusher or a lip stick. It really suited my pale complexion but then, foundations turned all shades of bloodless beige. Max Factor is an important cosmetic house, easily as important as Dior and Givenchy in France plus they are also entwined forever with Hollywood at it’s most glamorous.
    Still rather than the name limp on and risk becoming cheap and tacky, perhaps it should be allowed to slip gracefully into legend.

  57. Linda says:

    I have been using Max Factor pancake makeup since my twentys – my mother and aunts used it so I used to try it and then stuck with it – i am now 30 years older and liked the name change to MAX – still find it to have the best coverage and it lasts a long time and stays on well – the new makeups don’t hold up to this pancake – I looked for MAX around but no one has it anymore – I was luncky to get it through DRUGS.COM – does any one know if they sell it anywhere in New York – I am so sorry they will no longer be in the USA –

  58. Geniece says:

    In high school I used the pan-stick make-up but for the past 30 years or more I have always used Max Factor whipped creme make-up. Both my mother and i used the same color (Shimmering Cool Bronze) which evidently was the most popular color since some of the websites in the U.S. are selling it for an outrageous price. If anyone knows of any websites overseas where I can still purchase it please let me know. Or if anyone overseas can help me purchase it for a reasonable price please email me at

  59. Kristie says:

    I loved MaxFactor! I am extremely sad to see it go. I enjoyed the flawless look it gave my face and the colors I could find for my eyes to make them pop. I have recently found the eyeliners at the dollar store , which I was sooo excited. I have found some still at Ulta but the prices are not reasonable, well not for my budget. My friends say that they will pay for what they want and I do understand that. When I treat myself it is a blessing and I am thankful for being able to find it. My friends are jealous and I just tell them it’s all because of Max…lol.

  60. kat says:

    Their Lipfinity changed my life. Now I don’t know where to go to replace a product I’ve been using for 15 years. I have thin lips and using #180 Spiritual to line my lips made them look bigger and stayed on even all day in the ocean. Ordered 20 about 4 years ago not realizing that this make-up line was going away. How I wish I had ordered 20 cases!

  61. Zanda says:

    Just used the last of my Max Factor today!

  62. Wendy says:

    This is so sad! I’ve been using Max Factor 2000 calorie mascara for probably 20 years or more! I loved it because it made my lashes look great with little or no clumping, never smudged and most importantly came off so easy without having to “scrub” my eyes! Since not being able to find it anymore, I don’t know what to buy. Any suggestions as to something comparable? I don’t want to waste a lot of money trying to find something I like.
    ~ So sad without my Max Factor

  63. Rita says:

    I have worn Shimmering Cool Bronze for years and years. I would always buy in bulk never thinking I would never be able to get it again, but wanting never to run out. My mother rest her soul would buy my shade when she bout hers because she knew I had finally found MY shade as she had been using hers for many years also.. Rolling over in her grave now to see where we are today she would be sick. If you can afford to purchase a bottle from someone over seas for hundreds of dollars for one bottle we would all be in luck….

    Please bring Max Factor back to the states. We love our makeup also!
    March 26, 2013

  64. Anna says:

    I still own some max factor double sides eyeshadows. They’re the only thing I ever go from them. They’re perfect for under eye pop of color. I use the teal one very rarely cause I know I can’t get it once it’s out. Shame that they discontinued here. I thought the newer 08-09 products were actually starting to improve. Sigh.

  65. Lisa Copeland says:

    I miss the Max Factor Waterproof Ultralucent Shimmer Cool Bronze Foundation.
    And the Comb on Mascara they use to have. They also had a cream blush I liked.
    Miss Max Factor so much.
    AnyThing I love, they end up discontinuing it or quit making it.

  66. The Doc says:

    Try the color match for Max Factor Shimmering Bronze #345 by Mykelle Jo Beaute for $45! The original now costs about $300!! Great texture, coverage and color!

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