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The Everchanging History of Makeup in Film

This progression and innovation of makeup has been a staple in the film industry as we find more and more creative ways to entertain, encourage and inform the public through films. And one of the best ways we can analyze and track this progression and innovation is by taking a browse through the history of makeup in film.


The Beginning of the History of Movie-Makeup


As we begin to look back on the history of makeup through the years and how it has changed and improved, we must first acknowledge the trends of the time that played a significant part. The Trendiest Makeup Looks Through Different Eras goes more in-depth with this concept but it does play a part in the films we’ve seen down the years.


Max Factor played a significant role in the history of makeup and pioneered the changes and progression that lead up to the advanced techniques we see today. In the early 1900s, before Factor came up with his famous “pancake makeup”, actors would do their own makeup and really cake on the most harmful, chemically packed products available to them at the time in order to re-correct the lighting from film equipment.


Boafo beauty strives to end this process in makeup product creation with our affordable cruelty-free products, like our “Tessie” Classic brush, however, these were different times. This dilemma was clear to Factor, which encouraged him to create a pressed powder that allowed actors to cake on as much as necessary that basically removed harsh lines that were deemed unappealing to the audience. Max Factor ultimately went on to inspire individuals to use it off-screen as well as a plethora of foundations, lipsticks, eyeshadows, cheek tints.


It was this innovation within the history of makeup in film and response to a problem in the movie-makeup industry that allowed for the special effects makeup that let us create monsters, aliens, and otherwise that have entertained us for decades.


Further Developments Within the History


As the years have progressed, we have only gotten more and more creative using makeup as a tool of expression within films. For example, latex has been used to add wrinkles that age characters, rubber pieces and paint that make monsters come alive, and even prosthetics to exaggerate features.


In 1925 the Phantom of the Opera and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) were the first two movies to incorporate horror makeup. They set the tone and techniques for some of our more recent favorites with gore and horror-like themes; such as the movies X-Men, specifically Mystique with a whopping 110 piece full-body cast, Hellboy, and even television shows like Grey’s Anatomy.



The history of makeup in the film is full of constantly changing and evolving makeup techniques that have been built on for decades. With the foundation of the decades before us, there’s no telling where the history of make-up in films and television media will branch to next.


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