Vaseline, white eyeshadow and more: Marilyn Monroe’s makeup routine and the making of a Hollywood diva – fashion and trends

“Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.”

There are very few names that capture glamour quite like the diva Marilyn Monroe, known for bright blond coif, a beautiful pair of lips, ‘bedroom’ eyes, and that striking beauty mark. One of Hollywood’s most famous screen sirens, Monroe became a sex symbol and beauty icon during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She made makeup acceptable off-screen, which before this was only considered a thing for the camera or an on-stage appearance.

New York’s Makeup Museum, yet to open its doors to the public, is set to celebrate makeup and its history. It’ll create an immersive experience that presents vintage artefacts and robust educational information alongside aesthetic spaces and unique events. In preparation for the museum to start its in-person operations soon, the Makeup Museum’s debut “Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America” exhibition is being unveiled via exclusive interviews and other vignettes on their official Instagram handle.

One of the online exhibit’s first posts is the personalised skincare prescription of Marilyn Monroe dated March 17, 1959. Erno Laszlo’s chief historian and branding officer Patricia Schuffenhauer shared details about the prescription. One of the products prescribed to the actor has also been re-launched by Erno Laszlo this month to celebrate the expected opening of the Makeup Museum.

The prescription contains a morning and evening skincare routine which asked Monroe to “wash her face and neck in warm water with Active Phelityl Soap before applying a tinted toner treatment called “Normalizer Shake-It,” avoiding the area around her eyes, before blotting it off immediately.” This was to be followed by Phelitone to be applied “in tiny dots, spreading it gently over the surface” and then evenly blotting it off as well. For the final step in this routine, she was told to apply Duo-Phase Face Powder to her entire face and neck, brushing it off later.


The evening routine was to be a repeat of the morning routine, while there was a different nighttime skincare routine prescribed to the actress. The regimen also included dietary restrictions which focused on not eating any kind of nuts, chocolate, olives, oysters or clams.


The actress, known for films like Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch, How To Marry A Millionaire and others was styled by her friend and also her makeup artist Allan “Whitey” Snyder. He is said to be the man responsible for turning a somewhat plain-Jane into a beauty icon who is revered around the world even today. To help Marilyn achieve her smouldering looks, he used a few easy-to-follow hacks. Read on:

Eyes: In order to achieve a moist look for her eyes, and replace modern varieties of metallic eye shadows, Allan would simply apply a thin layer of Vaseline or coconut oil as a top layer over ordinary eye shadows. For her almond-shaped eyes on the screen, the duo split false eyelashes in two, attaching them on the outer side only.

Allan always combined several layers of eyeliner, emphasising the contours of the eyes using a black and brown eyeliner, followed by a white one for the inner and outer corners of the eyes, and finally, he would add a few red spots to make Monroe’s eyes look brighter.

He’s also said to have borrowed the white eye shadow trick from Greta Garbo to apply to his muse. He applied white eye shadow in powder form to Marilyn’s eyelids and in the inner corner, he applied a small spot of a similarly coloured eye shadow with a pearl-like texture for effect.

Foundation: Allan started Marilyn’s makeup by applying a thin layer of Vaseline before adding foundation. This helps to keep the skin moisturised and give it more radiance under the glare of studio lights.

Fuller lips: This interesting makeup hack involved no less than five different shades of makeup application. To create an illusion of depth, Allan drew on the lips using a chocolate-coloured kohl liner/eye pencil. Step two included a brick-red colour brushed in from the outer corners to the centre. A bright red pencil was used in step 3, starting at the centre and blending it with the other colours. As step 4, Allan would draw a spot in the centre of the lower lip with the help of a cream-hued highlighter and completed this procedure by applying a thick layer of balsam (a naturally occurring mixture of resin and essential oil, usually used for medicinal purposes in the present day) on top.

Her nose: Marilyn Monroe had got rhinoplasty done, but she still believed her nose was too big. To help her overcome this concern, her makeup artist would simply apply a pink blusher in a small quantity to the tip of her nose.

It’s true how makeup can completely transform your look and add a distinct characteristic to your personality. Do you know of transformational makeup stories too? Let us know on our social media handles!

Marilyn Monroe’s makeup hacks courtesy:

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