Sali Loves: Max Factor Creme Puff

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A true beauty icon turns 60


Max Factor’s Creme Puff face powder is one of the first make-up items I became aware of. As a tiny girl I would sit next to my grandmother on the bus and, as we neared our destination, watch her reach into her handbag for a gilt Stratton compact housing a pan of Creme Puff. She’d sweep the sponge over her nose and chin briskly and unfussily before clicking it shut, but just long enough for the strong, sweet baby powdery smelling particles to become airborne and scent the whole top deck.


The Creme Puff smell, unchanged in six decades, still does strange things to me. It is one of the most instantly affecting, most nostalgic of fragrances. It smells of my nan, yes, but mostly Creme Puff just smells unapologetically of make-up at a time when make-up often smells of nothing at all. It’s highly scented, glamorous, feminine, special. It’s not minimal, or pretending to be state of the art – it’s an old fashioned formula that made golden age Hollywood actresses like Ava Gardner, Vivien Leigh and Jean Harlow, appear flawless and luminous. It continues to do the job extremely well today, in its 60th year (though sadly, its nostalgia is misplaced in its caucasian-only shade range). Creme Puff is soft and creamy, with excellent coverage, and gives a matte finish without ever looking chalky. It contains light reflecting particles to mimic a smoother, clearer surface. It’s perfect with retro red lips, black flicks and falsies, but also, its full, layerable coverage makes it a great way to skip foundation on a more natural face – just brush over moisturiser and concealer. It’s a product I don’t use often, but would never pack a full kit without it because sometimes it’s exactly what a look needs, and the only thing that will do.


The Max Factor brand, founded by the man who literally invented the phrase “make up” (yes, really), is no longer sold in the States, where it first went on sale. I’d be very sad to see the same happen here. We should cherish Creme Puff, beloved elder stateswoman of make-up and unarguably one of the most iconic beauty products of all time. I’m afraid it may be a case of use it now or lose it forever.


Max Factor Creme Puff, £5.99 in golden 60th birthday packaging, out now.


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