"The Hollywood Powder Puff War": Technicolor cosmetics in the 1930s

Kirsty Sinclair Dootson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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This essay examines the rivalry between cosmetics firms Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden in 1930s Hollywood as they competed for dominance in the field of Technicolor cosmetics. This rivalry, dubbed “the Hollywood Powder Puff War” by the press, was far from a trivial skirmish but is discussed here as the site where labor practices, racial constructions, and female identity were contested. Against a backdrop of industrial action in studio makeup departments, I argue that Factor's Technicolor cosmetics line ultimately triumphed over Arden's by reinforcing whiteness as a beauty ideal during the transition from black-and-white to color film.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-131
Number of pages25
JournalFilm History
Issue number1
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Max Factor
  • Technicolor
  • Makeup
  • Cosmetics
  • Hollywood
  • Labor history
  • Whiteness
  • Female spectatorship


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