Marilyn Monroe

Happy Birthday to my absolute favorite icon of old Hollywood glamour, Marilyn Monroe!! She would’ve been 85 today, and still fabulous I’m sure. Ask anyone I’m a huge Marilyn fan…I collect memorabilia (the good stuff) and I could just sit and look at pictures of her all day, she is so enthralling. Now, I could go on and on about Marilyn (just as much as I could about the Royal Wedding), but I won’t. Instead I thought I would just share with you guys some of Marilyn’s beauty tricks and tips that she actually used!

Now, writing a post about this is okay, and I really enjoy these little tips and tricks she used, but I know seeing is believing, so just so everything is clear and totally understandable, at the end of the post you will find a link to a YouTube video by makeup artist Kandee Johnson, who does a wonderful job showing how to re-create the classic Marilyn look.
Like any Hollywood vixen, Marilyn had an incredible makeup artist, Allen “Whitey” Snyder, who was by her side from her first 21st Century Fox screen test in 1946 until her funeral in 1962. He gave Marilyn a look that was just that…”Marilyn”…a look that no one else could ever have. And let’s face it, no one does it quite like she did. So, here’s the low down on creating a Marilyn look.

Marilyn always had absolutely flawless skin, which comes from having flawless foundation. One of the keys to flawless foundation is moisturized, hydrated skin. Before even applying a primer (which Marilyn did) make sure your skin is nice and hydrated. I like Oil of Olay’s moisturizers, but use what you prefer and what works for you.
After applying her primer base and foundation, it was all set with powder. (I like Revlon’s Colorstay).
Marilyn also frequently used a peachy shade of blush for a soft glow.

Marilyn primarily used shades of white and brown on her lids, and Kandee’s video will show you the proper technique to get a Marilyn eye, so I won’t even try going into detailed explanation, but I do want to note some interesting things that Marilyn and her Makeup Artist did to achieve her flawless look.

  • A lot of people find it interesting that Marilyn never used black liner! Usually she used a dark brown, and achieved a really rich look by first dipping a wet brush into a shadow (a color probably something like MAC’s Espresso)…her liner also had a signature angle to it, which you can see in the video.
  • White Liner–on the outside of her eye Marilyn would make a small white triangle with white liner and blend it out. Topping the liner with a white shadow really set off the contrast for what came next…
  • Wing it Out–On both the top and bottom lash lines Marilyn winged out her brown liner…with the blended white liner between the 2 winged lines it really gave the look of really defined lashes…almost like a shadow effect…very doll-like.
  • Old-Hollywood Classic–It was common back then to take a white liner and line the inner rim of the bottom lash line, and then set with a white eyeshadow. Doing this made eyes look bright and open.
  • Red Liner–yes, red liner on the eyes! On the very inner corner of your eye she would put a tiny dot of red lip liner. This subtle trick would make the whites of the eyes look even whiter and brighter, especially in photos.

Marilyn always believed she had a wide forehead and large nose, so there are some tricks she and her makeup artist used to give the illusion that they were smaller.
Using a contour shade (like MAC’s Blunt or Nars Laguna) she would contour under the cheekbone, on the temples and on the side of the forehead. She would also (which is interesting) contour a small v-shape right on the lower half of her nostrils and down the sides of her nose. Doing this would make her nose look much straighter in photos and on-screen.

Old-School Highlighting:
Back in the day Marilyn and other starlets would highlight using vaseline…on the bridge of the nose, under the brow bone, on the inner and outer corners of the eye and on the top of the cheekbones. The vaseline would catch the light and give a somewhat dewy effect. However, this is not recommended by today’s standards because it will just make your face look greasy. The camera technology back then was much different!

These are some other highlighting tricks that Marilyn used which also work great for today. You can use something like Silver Dust from MAC, or even one of their lighter mineralized skin finishes…Revlon also makes some nice skin finishes too. Basically what you do is lightly dust the highlight down the center of your nose, above the cheek bones, on the t-zone and right under the chin. This gives a really pretty sheen to almost any makeup look, and I think it’s especially pretty for the summer.

Marilyn had a signature sharp angled brown. You can have your brows shaped by a professional in a similar fashion, or use shadow to work your brows into a similar shape.
Beauty Mark & Lashes:
Everyone knows of Marilyn’s legendary beauty mark…they even have a piercing named after it. If you have one like Marilyn’s, lucky you (I have a small one, but it’s there!). If not, and you are re-creating this look for costume purposed you can simply use an eyeliner pencil to dab one on there (just make sure you place it correctly, it’s on the left, not right.
To achieve Marilyn lashes you gotta go false. A nice set of full false lashes (I like Ardell’s) will really give you that sex kitten look. You can even cut one false lash and half and apply to the outer half of your eye…this will still give you that really nice glamorous eye.

One thing that always stands out on Marilyn are her bold, luscious red lips. One trick that Marilyn would do is to take a white liner and line above her lips along the cupid’s bow, and then blend it in to create a highlight. She also lined her lips outside the natural line of her lips, with red liner of course, to make them appear that much fuller. The technicolor of the cameras back then tended to turn reds kind of orange-y, so to get a true red color, Marilyn (& Snyder) used a mix of several blue red shades. So, Marilyn’s signature red lips, even on an everday basis, were a mix of 2-3 shades!

The end result was the super bombshell that is, and always will be, Marilyn Monroe.

“I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t derserve me at my best”–Marilyn Monroe.
Here’s the link to Kandee Johnson’s video. She not only talks about all these tips and tricks but show you how to apply them to achieve a glamorous Marilyn look.


One thought on “Marilyn Monroe

  1. Tiffany says:

    Marilyn Monroe really was beauty perfection. She never looked anything short of fabulous.

    I have read in a few biographies that the Vaseline technique caused a fine down to grow on MM's face, especially on her chin and cheeks. I used to use Vaseline as a lip balm, and that info freaked me out enough to stop using it. I don't know how true it is, though.

    Awesome write up; this was a great read!

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