Max Factor Pan-Cake Water Activated Make-Up

As an admirer of film’s golden age in America (the 1930s-50s), I’ve known about cake makeup for awhile, but never made an effort to find any. When Max Factor’s Pan-Cake showed up at Big Lots, I just had to try it out! This makeup has an interesting history. When technicolor came on the scene, previous makeup techniques didn’t cut it, which led to the development of other makeup types, including cake makeup!

Pan-Cake is pressed into the pan and hardly any product comes up with a quick swipe if you were to swatch this, because it is water activated. The directions state “use a damp sponge to apply.” I wish I had read THIS blurb about it instead, cited by an article from Cosmetics and Skin from the 1947 book Beauty, Glamour and Personality:

The correct application of pan-cake is very important. You can create a satin smooth skin texture, using it properly; or, if applied haphazardly, destroy the skin tone. Saturate a sponge with water and squeeze out the surplus. Rub it over the pan-cake and apply it to the face. Spread over as large an area as you can before adding more pan-cake to the sponge. In this manner you will not run the risk of getting pan-cake on to[sic] heavily.

Application with this product will definitely take some practice; I ended up using more than “damp” on my beauty sponge (a generic version of the Beauty Blender sponge) just to pick up the product. I had some trouble with application, but eventually got good, smooth coverage. The shade I have is 101 Natural 2, which was a little too light for me, so I had to warm it up with bronzer for the best result.

Swatch Comparisons

Calvin Klein Infinite Hydration -103 Toasted

Max Factor Color Genius -420 Natural No. 2

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation – 103 True Ivory

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Creme- 250 Medium Beige

Maybelline Fit Me -235 Pure Beige

Max Factor Pan-Cake 101 Natural No. 2

Maybelline Fit Me has been my go-to foundation this summer. It’s lightweight and a good color for my very slight summer tan. As you can see, the Pan-Cake makeup was difficult to swatch and doesn’t look very consistent! Here’s the full review:

Application: This takes some figuring out, and it’s probably going to take more than one time to get the best finished look. I had trouble picking up product from the pan, and later realized this was because my sponge was not wet enough. I think this would be better with a flat, round sponge than a beauty blender.

Feel: I don’t recommend this for people with dry skin; it might feel cakey when it is drying. Since I have combination skin with a T-zone that is prone to oil, I had no problems with how it felt on my skin.

Coverage: This is buildable, but with one thin layer you will definitely need concealer for problem areas.

Staying power: I wore this without primer and without my absolute must have, Urban Decay De-Slick spray, and you can call me impressed. Even without a touch up with a translucent powder, my skin looked decent and not oily or shiny.

Convenience and packaging: I don’t know why, but I love the packaging for this product. The lid twists off so it won’t fall off like Rimmel’s powder, which is nice. This would be a great makeup to travel with once you get the hang of applying it, because it isn’t a liquid that can spill everywhere.

This makeup comes with a whopping 49 grams of product, so I got a lot for the $3 I paid for it at Big Lots!

Here’s the final result of my first use of cake makeup! If it’s good enough for Judy Garland, it’s good enough for me. ;) Here’s what else I’m wearing:

Eyes: Too Faced Lashgasm mascara, Tarte Call of the Wild eyeshadow, Stila Kajal eye liner in smokey quartz, Sonia Kashuk eyebrow pencil in taupe, ELF clear mascara (used as brow gel), ELF eyelid primer, and Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser (neutralizer).

Face: Max Factor Pan-Cake, Sephora bronzer from the Argentinean duo, and Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Achiote.

Lips: Buxom lip gloss in Katie

Overall, I’m happy with the results of Max Factor Pan-Cake and look forward to using it in the winter and fall when I’m more pale. :) This product has been discontinued, but you can find it at some Big Lots stores. With the history of this product, I find it a little sad that it has been discontinued, but am happy to have caught it before it is gone forever!

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4 thoughts on “Max Factor Pan-Cake Water Activated Make-Up

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