Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic actresses and sex symbols of the 1950s. She embodied the essence of old Hollywood glamour with her signature platinum blonde curls, red lips, and beauty mark. But what were the beauty secrets that helped Marilyn achieve her flawless look? In this blog post, we’ll explore Marilyn’s top beauty tips and routines, from her makeup must-haves to her hair care regimen.
Her Signature Makeup Look
Marilyn Monroe’s makeup look was just as famous as the actress herself. Her signature style utilized vital products that helped her achieve a bright-eyed, glowing complexion.
- Bold Red Lips
Marilyn’s makeup would only be complete with a swipe of fiery red lipstick. Her go-to shade was “Fire Down Below” by her makeup artist Allan “Whitey” Snyder. This bright orange-red looked stunning against Marilyn’s pale skin and platinum locks. To keep her lips soft, she first applied a layer of Vaseline as a moisturizing base. Then, she used a lip brush to apply the lipstick for precise application and to keep it from feathering or bleeding. She blotted with a tissue to remove excess product so it wouldn’t stick to her teeth.
- Defined Brows
While thin, arched brows were on-trend during the 1950s, Marilyn favored a bolder, more defined shape for her brows. Her makeup artist filled them slightly thicker to balance her wide eyes and strong bone structure. The key was grooming them – she tidied up strays with tweezers and a razor daily. Her brow powder shade was ash brown, which provided a soft definition while still looking natural.
- Lined Eyes
Though she wore her fair share of eyeshadow colors, the black liquid liner was another staple in Marilyn’s beauty routine. She applied it along her top lash line and the outer corners of her bottom lash line to make her eyes appear more comprehensive and more sultry. The key was keeping the liner thin – a trick she learned after one of her makeup artists applied it too thickly before an event. The thin, precise application elevated Marilyn’s eyes subtly yet impactfully.
- False Lashes
Marilyn curled her lashes and applied false lashes daily to complement her eye makeup. Though faux lashes were not typical then, they helped enhance Marilyn’s eyes for the camera. She favored lashes made of human hair, as they looked more natural. The added glamour took her eyes from regular to bombshell level.
- Dewy Skin
While some 1950s stars favored a matte complexion, Marilyn embraced her natural radiance. She applied moisturizer, primer, and foundation strategies to achieve flawless yet dewy skin. After cleansing, she massaged a mix of Pond’s Cold Cream and baby oil into her face as a hydrating mask. She’d tissue off the excess before applying foundation, then set it with a light dusting of translucent powder. The result was radiant, glowing skin that beautifully offset the richness of her eyes and lip colors.
Her Iconic Hair
In addition to her makeup, Marilyn Monroe spent hours styling her platinum blonde locks. Her hair was an integral part of her look. Here are some of the ways she maintained and styled those signature shiny strands:
- Platinum Color
Marilyn was a brunette but achieved her nearly-white blonde color through regular bleaching and toning. She touched her roots every 3-4 weeks to keep her hair a pale, icy color from root to tip. To counteract the dryness of bleach, she used olive oil hair masks and deep conditioning treatments weekly. Still, the constant processing did take a toll on her hair health over time.
- The Favorite Formula
To style her hair into those lush curls, Marilyn relied on a pomade by her stylist, “The Marilyn Formula.” This cream contained beeswax, mineral oil, and other emollients, adding shine and definition to her waves. After showering, she had her stylist curl large sections of hair around rollers to set the shape. Once dry, she brushed through the curls for a soft, touchable texture that still had bounce and volume at the roots.
- The Perfect Part
Marilyn often wore her hair parted down the middle or in a side part, both fashionable styles in the ’50s. Her natural part was on the left side, not the middle, but she would switch it up. A strategic center or side part added symmetry to her face and allowed her to play with curtained bangs or side-swept styles. Variety gave her hair more dimension.
- Regular Trims
To retain her signature length and keep her hair healthy from constant chemical processing, Marilyn got her hair trimmed every 4-6 weeks. Regular minor trims removed split ends and dryness before they could travel up the hair shaft. Proper cutting also shaped and evened out the growth of her layers and bangs.
- Sleeping Strategy
Marilyn tied a silk scarf around her head to protect her hair at night to ward off creases and breakages in her sleep. Unlike cotton pillowcases, the slippery fabric minimized friction, which can be rougher on strands. She also slept with her head on satin pillows so her curls wouldn’t get crushed.
Marilyn often adorned her hair with decorative clips, headbands, or hats for finishing touches. She knew accessorizing her hair made it more eye-catching and showstopping. A peekaboo scarf tied under her chin became one of her trademarks. Alternatively, she sometimes nodded to her more playful side with whimsical novelty hair clips. Her style icon status remains unmatched!
Her Body Care Routines
Marilyn Monroe worked hard to maintain the gorgeous hourglass figure she was famous for. Her beauty regimen went beyond makeup and hair into exercise, diet, skincare, and other body pampering practices.
- Daily Workouts
Exercise was a huge priority for Marilyn to stay camera-ready at all times. She woke up early each morning to do calisthenics and weight training with light dumbbells. She typically did leg lifts, squats, lunges, arm toning moves, and stretching for about 30-45 minutes daily. Her trainer was Natasha Lytess, an actress and mentor who traveled with Marilyn regularly until 1955. Marilyn was disciplined about her fitness routine, which kept her fit and toned.
- Clean Eating
While Marilyn indulged in treats occasionally, she tried to eat a clean, calorie-controlled diet focused on whole foods. She would start the day with oatmeal, egg whites, and fruit for breakfast. Lunch and dinner involved veggies, quality proteins like grilled chicken or fish, and healthy fats like avocado. She limited sugary desserts and alcohol, which she knew would sabotage her plan. Her clean eating habits prevented unwanted weight gain.
One unusual part of Marilyn’s routine was regular enemas to keep her digestive system running smoothly. Enemas were commonly believed to boost beauty and health in the 1950s. Marilyn had a coffee enema every few days, which involved flushing out the bowel with liquid. Though research today is inconclusive on their benefits, Marilyn felt the practice improved her well-being.
Marilyn treated herself to regular massage sessions to relieve muscle tension and stress. Massages boosted her circulation, relaxed her body, and stretched out tight spots from exercise. She sometimes had her massage therapist come to her house for convenience. Other times, she would book spa treatments before photoshoots as part of her beauty prep.
Marilyn maintained neat, polished nails with twice-weekly manicures to complement her glamorous look. She usually opted for a classic red similar to her lipstick shade. Long, almond-shaped nails accented her feminine, graceful hands. Her nail care regime involved soaking in olive oil baths and using cuticle cream to keep her cuticles pushed back for a tidy look.
- Cold Water Showers
While finishing her shower, Marilyn would turn the tap cold and rinse her body in the chilly water for an energizing jolt. The cold temperatures would increase blood circulation to the skin, giving her a rosy glow. She followed her cold shower with a hydrating moisturizer massaged into damp skin.
- Vaseline for Lips and Nails
Marilyn religiously applied Vaseline petroleum jelly to get extra soft lips and nails. She carried a small pot everywhere she went. Before bed, she heavily swabbed it onto her lips and cuticles. Upon waking, she would tissue off the excess so her makeup products went smoothly. The thick moisturizing barrier of Vaseline kept her lips kissable and her nails strong.
- Sensual Perfumes
As one of the world’s most desirable women, Marilyn selected perfumes that reflected her sexy yet approachable appeal. Her signature scents included Ambush by Dana, which has jasmine, vetiver, and sandalwood notes. She also wore Chanel No. 5, whose top notes include ylang-ylang, neroli, and rose. Marilyn applied her perfume in strategic places like her décolletage and neck so her scent would excite while never overpowering.
- Simple Skincare
Contrary to popular belief, Marilyn’s skincare routine was relatively minimal. She cleansed her face twice daily with Pond’s cold cream to dissolve makeup and grime. Additionally, she used an astringent like witch hazel to eliminate oils and tighten pores after cleansing. She never went to bed with makeup, keeping her skin fresh. While she invested time in body care, she found an effective face-cleansing regimen that required only a few minutes daily.
Her Inner Sparkle
While physical beauty certainly helped define Marilyn Monroe’s star power, it went more profound than that. Much of her appeal was her vibrant personality and passion, which radiated outward. Here are some of the intangible qualities that made Marilyn so captivating:
Marilyn became confident in her sex symbol status, learning to embrace the desire she inspired in others. She walked with her head high and shoulders back, exuding a bold sensuality the camera picked up on immediately. Though she faced insecurities at times like anyone, she channeled her inner bombshell and let it shine.
- Work Ethic
From honing her acting talents to perfecting her image, Marilyn worked incredibly hard to reach icon status. She was disciplined in exercises to strengthen her voice and body movement for more dynamic performances. She studied classics and method acting, taking extensive notes on her craft. Remodeling sessions and public appearances got fully committed effort as well.
Marilyn maintained a sense of curiosity about the world throughout her life. She was an avid reader who appreciated learning new things and connecting with interesting people. Her eagerness to grow and expand her horizons gave her charm and substance beyond her physical allure.
While Marilyn could ham it up with the best of them, she stayed true to her quirks and interests. She collected art, adored animals, studied poetry, and befriended intellectuals, artists, and leaders who inspired her. Her spirit gave her mystique.
Earlier in her career, Marilyn was often typecast and passed over for serious roles. But she studied diligently to expand her range and fought for respect. She formed her own production company to take more control over her path. Her determination drove her ever closer to stardom.
Marilyn used her celebrity to bring awareness to causes she believed in. She performed shows for American troops stationed in Korea in 1954. In 1962, she sang at a birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy. She also supported Ella Fitzgerald’s career, helping the singer book performances at prominent nightclubs. Her giving heart charmed the public.
In summary, Marilyn Monroe’s physical beauty combined with her vibrant inner qualities to create the alluring, iconic star the world fell in love with. She set trends with her platinum waves, red lips, and sultry gaze that are still emulated today. But her spirit, passion, and determination provided true star quality. Marilyn shared her glow with the world in a way no other has. For all of these reasons, she remains a beloved Hollywood legend. Her beautiful secrets and inspiring life story continue to capture our imagination today!