The Max Factor Kissing Machine
“the world’s first perfect lipstick…a lipstick that imparts a life-like red to the lips.. that is non-drying but indelible..that eliminates lipsticks lines.. and that is safe for sensitive lips.”
In 1939 Max Factor Jr (his father the original Max Factor had died in 1938) set about creating a new indelible lipstick. Although these had certainly been produced before the ingredients often irritated the skin and the colour was liable to change on application.
Never one to shy away from a challenge Max Jr. experimented – first with asking female employees to test the new formulation for consistency and irritation. He then needed to test its indelibility and requested an engaged couple to come into work half an hour earlier each morning and kiss (and kiss, and kiss). Even this wasn’t enough of a test for him and the engaged couple soon grew tired of being paid to kiss.
Again, not one to be put off Max Jr. invented The Kissing Machine – making moulds of the engaged couple’s lips. With lipstick on “her” lips and a tissue placed between the two pairs, The Kissing Machine was activated by a handle on the side and set in motion with the tissues being examined to see how many “kisses” it took to fade the lipstick under this ten pounds of pressure.
All this experimentation lead to Max Factor’s Tru-Color lipstick “the world’s first perfect lipstick…a lipstick that imparts a life-like red to the lips.. that is non-drying but indelible..that eliminates lipsticks lines.. and that is safe for sensitive lips.”
Tru-Color lipstick was launched in 1940 in six shades of red.
The Kissing Machine was on display at the Max Factor Museum in Hollywood until 1996 when the company who owned the Max Factor brand, Proctor & Gamble, sold the collection to a developer. In 2002 the collection and the building that had housed the museum was reopened as The Hollywood History Museum until that, in turned, closed down in 2007. The Kissing Machine was unsuccessfully auctioned in 2010 and eventually was sold in 2011 for $12,500. In the meantime, it also saw service as the cover art for the Red Hot Chili Peppers 2003 Greatest Hits album.