I Tried Marilyn Monroe’s Makeup Hacks, and They’re Pretty Awesome


Marilyn Monroe, even today, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful faces and characters ever captured by a lens. And though she sadly passed away in her Hollywood home in 1962, her impact is still felt, as even today her likeness is evoked at length in pop culture.

Most recently, Kim Kardashian got her hands on the world’s most expensive dress for the 2022 Met Gala – which just so happens to be the skintight, sparkly nude dress she wore while singing “happy birthday” to the former president, John F. Kennedy. Plus, a new documentary exploring the events before her fateful last night, The Marilyn Monroe Mystery: Unreleased Tapesappeared on Netflix, while a fictional biopic officially titled Blond is set to debut in the coming months, with actor Ana de Armas playing Monroe.

While a number of blonde bombshells with ruby ​​red lips were influential in the heyday of Old Hollywood (like Jayne Mansfield and Jean Harlow, to name a few), it is truly Marilyn most associated to this legendary era and its particular look. And while many of her beauty tips have been kept under wraps by her personal makeup artist, there are plenty that fans To do know her glam secrets…

I’ve rounded up some of the makeup techniques used to achieve her ready-to-go skin, sultry eyes, and beautifully contoured lips — and tried them out on myself with today’s products.

Marilyn Monroe’s dewy skin

Long before bedtime was all the rage on TikTok – Norma Jean covered her skin with a thick layer of Aquaphor or Nivea cream just before applying the glamorous look so associated with Marilyn Monroe.

Today, however, there are other ways to achieve a healthy, inside-out glow when prepping the face for makeup… So to tap into that dewy look the actor loved ( especially when filmed or photographed), I took a lot of time with the base coat for this MM inspired look.

With a freshly cleansed face, I applied a serum, a few drops of dew, and a layer of moisturizer. I then added a bit of blurring primer just all over my T-zone (I tend to get quite oily in those spots), before applying a layer of medium to full coverage foundation with a radiant finish .

Monroe rarely powdered her face, opting for an all-over glow — though I went in with a light dusting of powder in those oily areas to address my skin’s specific needs.

Seeking to achieve a heart-shaped look that would perfectly catch the light in black-and-white film, Monroe’s makeup artist Allan “Whitey” Snyder would contour her nose slightly (along the sides, with a heavier amount on the tip ), cheekbones, and jawline – without adding warmth through bronzer tints. She then layered a shade of coral-pink blush along her cheekbones, a touch on her nose, as well as in the space just above her eyebrows at her temples for that healthy youthfulness.

To finish? Amplify radiance with a rosy setting spray.

Monroe’s sensually sleepy eyes

While Marilyn’s eyes looked pretty simple in the pictures, there were plenty of techniques she and her makeup artist would use to achieve those incredibly sleepy bedroom eyes.

For starters, her eyelids were coated in a soft matte white eyeshadow. Adding depth, she went in with a taupe shadow to dramatize her crease (which would be a similar shade to what she used to contour her skin tone). Above, and especially in the inner corners, she placed a shimmering white tint to add that extra shine.

Contrary to popular belief, her wing was not penciled in black – but rather a brown hue that still provided contrast to her fair skin tone. It wasn’t very thick at all, and was carefully pulled tight against her eyelashes to the middle of her eyes.

Marilyn would always wear a half eyelash on the outer edges of her eyes, only further creating that sleepy “weighted” look. And in an effort to make it all the more dramatic (regardless of the lighting situation), she created a fake shadow just below her lashes, using a light brown eye pencil extending from her lower lash line. Finally, she added a white eyeliner pencil between the top and bottom wings to create additional contrast, also using the highlighter shade along her entire lower waterline.

Add a little mascara, top and bottom, and the eyes are complete.

How Marilyn Monroe shaped her lips

When Marilyn was dressed as herself Old Hollywood’s most glamorous – she sure made sure to adorn her lips in the juiciest ruby ​​red hue… And just like the rest of her makeup routine, it took a few steps to achieve the iconic look.

At first, her lips were lined with a darker red pencil, with the aim of making her lips look as plump and plump as possible. Once the shape was mapped, it was then entered with a dark red tint similar to the shade of the liner, concentrating the pigment on the outer edges for added depth. Next, a brighter (and lighter) red lipstick was placed in the center of her pout, similar to a subtle ombre effect. Next, Whitey would sponge her lips and begin the exact same lip liner routine, again layering the same products for a plump, plump effect. Sometimes he may even repeat the same process a third time, increasing the volume of product on his lips.

As a finishing touch, a small amount of white powder was patted in the center of her lower lip for a highlight that stayed put no matter what lighting she was in and further enhanced the look of fullness. Then a light coat of gloss coated the entire lip look for a truly perfect pout.

The results

Although very meticulous, I must admit, I felt beautiful using the makeup techniques the starlet once wore.

As a lover of dewy skin, the routine wasn’t all that different from prepping the skin that I would use with a more full coverage foundation, or say for an event or a night out. The eyes were surprisingly easy to achieve, and the shaded faux wing on the lower lash line really tricked the eye (even for those who’ve seen me in person). The lip liner and tireless layering seemed a little over the top – although I love the effect that a small amount of white shadow has on the lower lip, creating dimension and fullness.

Although some aspects of her routine look a lot like stage makeup (which makes sense to her, of course), the Old Hollywood-inspired look is surprisingly wearable, and I might look to her hacks in the future.


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