Beauty micrometer

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The beauty micrometer, also known as the beauty calibrator, was a device designed in the early 1930s to help in the identification of the areas of a person's face which need to have their appearance reduced or enhanced by make-up.[1][2] The inventors include famed beautician Max Factor Sr.[3][4][5] A 2013 Wired article described the device as "a Clockwork Orange style device" that combines "phrenology, cosmetics and a withering pseudo-scientific analysis".[6] A photograph of Factor, using the device on actress Marjorie Reynolds featured in a 1935 article in science magazine Modern Mechanix and, when republished by The Guardian in 2013, the caption described it as being "a contraption that looks like an instrument of torture".[1][4]

Placed on and around the head and face, the beauty micrometer uses flexible metal strips which align with a person's facial features. The screws holding the strips in place allow for 325 adjustments, enabling the operator to make fine measurements with a precision of one thousandth of an inch.[1][3] The inventors stated that there are two key measurements that they looked for: the heights of the nose and forehead should be the same, and the eyes should be separated by the width of one eye. When an imperfection is identified, corrective make-up can be applied to enhance or subdue the feature.[1] The company Max Factor claims that the device helped Max Factor, Sr. to better understand the female face.[7]

The beauty micrometer was completed in 1932 and was primarily intended for use in the movie industry.[1][5] When an actor's face is shown in a very large scale their "flaws" are magnified and can become "glaring distortions", according to the Modern Mechanix article.[1] This device was intended to remedy the perceived problem, and the inventors also envisioned it being used in beauty shops.[3] However, it did not become popular and did not gain widespread usage.[8] Only one beauty micrometer is believed to exist. It is featured in a display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum and came up for auction in 2009, falling significantly short of the $10,000–$20,000 estimate.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f ""Beauty Micrometer" Analyzes Facial Flaws for Makeup", Modern Mechanix, January 1935 – via
  2. ^ Updike, John (September 1, 2008), "Makeup and Make-Believe", New Yorker, retrieved November 3, 2013
  3. ^ a b c "Machine Measures Beauty of Face", Popular Science, February 1933 – via
  4. ^ a b Andreasson, Karin (August 30, 2013), "Max Factor and his beauty-measuring mask, 1934 - a picture from the past", Guardian, retrieved November 2, 2013
  5. ^ a b Sherrow, Victoria (March 30, 2001), For Appearance' Sake: The Historical Encyclopedia of Good Looks, Beauty, and Grooming, Greenwood, p. 192, ISBN 1573562041
  6. ^ Brownlee, John (April 24, 2007), "Max Factor's Beauty Capacitor", Wired, retrieved November 2, 2013
  7. ^ The Max Factor Story – The Father of Make-Up,, retrieved November 3, 2013
  8. ^ London, Lela (September 6, 2012), Throwback Thursday – The Beauty Micrometer,, retrieved November 2, 2013
  9. ^ Beauty Calibrator {Beauty Micrometer} by Max Factor,, retrieved November 2, 2013
  10. ^ 215: The Max Factor Beauty Calibration Machine,, retrieved November 2, 2013