The Beauty Regime that Kept Marilyn Monroe Center Stage



Marilyn Monroe is regarded by many as the world’s first genuine sex symbol. Born in 1926, Monroe became the definitive “blonde bombshell” who would capture the hearts and minds of both men and women across the world.

An influential actress and singer, Monroe’s films raked in upwards of $200m at the box office by the time of her tragic and untimely death in 1962. Even 55 years after her passing, Monroe’s beauty and marketable nature is still on the lips of many in the entertainment business, as a beacon for rising female stars to follow.

Although Monroe struggled with the attention in her private life, battling anxiety and depression for some time, she always maintained an incredible style and sophistication which women – and definitely men – still find fascinating two generations later. Monroe has influenced popular culture in so many ways – she was a style icon, as much as a popular actress and entertainer, with the glitz and glamour that lit up the stages of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, so much so that the Vegas strip is now teeming with Marilyn Monroe impersonators. Monroe’s connection with Sin City according to Dr Mark Griffiths has seen brands capitalizing on slot machines designed on the superstar in the same way they have been modelled as tributes on deceased Vegas icons such as Elvis Presley. Monroe’s beautiful face remains one of the most easily recognisable icons and has been used in advertising campaigns worldwide for global brands from Absolut Vodka and Citroen to Mercedes-Benz and Reckitt Benckiser – the latter of which was used to market Veet hair removal cream. More than five decades after Marilyn’s passing, she’s still being used to market new seasonal clothing ranges too, such as Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall-Winter 2009/10 collection.

We were recently given a sneak peek into the actress’s famed beauty regime, with her long-time make-up artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder revealing a number of interesting make-up facts and secrets about Monroe’s beautifying while working with her and many other Hollywood stars, including Doris Day, Katharine Hepburn and Raquel Welch; all of whom relied on Snyder to maintain their Hollywood looks. Let’s take a look at the make-up and beauty skills for all seasons that placed Monroe on such a pedestal as an emblem for sexuality in the 1950s.

Monroe swore by Vaseline as the ultimate moisturizer

According to Snyder, Marilyn Monroe always insisted on wearing Vaseline – or petroleum jelly – as a primer for her foundation. She believed that Vaseline helped to keep her skin looking smooth and youthful at all times. Snyder also revealed that he would utilize Vaseline as a highlighter and accentuating Monroe’s cheekbones. According to a picture of Monroe’s exact make-up box, she also used Erno Laszlo Active Cream which gave off a wonderful floral scent to her skin.


Use five (yes, five!) different lipstick shades for lip contouring

Snyder revealed his staple contouring technique for creating a natural-looking pout. It might seem like a lot of fuss just for the lips but by contouring using five different lipstick shades – starting with darker colours in the outer corners of the lips and moving to lighter shades in the centre of the lips to create the extra dimension – it works an absolute treat!

Magic Eye: Eye pencils to elongate and add depth

As mere mortals putting on our eyeliner every day, we tend to use only black or brown eye pencils. However, Snyder confirmed that he used to use both on Monroe’s eyes to help extend her lashes and the width of her eyes too. By applying the pencil to Marilyn’s upper eyelids and waterlines, as well as the outer corner of her eye, her eyes looked fuller and bolder; in sync with her brow lines too.

Monroe’s fascination with her eyelids

Snyder revealed that Marilyn used to insist that having sleek and shiny eyelids was considered attractive and visually appealing to the opposite sex. Snyder would subsequently layer on some additional Vaseline or even some coconut oil to create the wet-look Monroe desired.

Rip up the rule book with false eyelashes

Marilyn was obsessed with maintaining a natural look by whatever means necessary. This may have appeared to look like a thankless task for Snyder when Monroe demanded longer, luscious eyelashes whilst maintaining a natural finish. Snyder eventually opted to trim a full strip of false eyelashes in half and fix them only to the outer edges of her eyelids to create fuller yet genuine results.

Aside from Monroe’s beauty regime, she also tried hard to exercise daily, particularly a routine that Marilyn herself called “bust-firming”. Monroe revealed to her 400,000+ readership of Pageant: “[It] consists of lifting five-pound weights from a spread-eagle arm position to a point directly above my head.

“I do this 15 times, slowly. I repeat the exercise another 15 times from a position with my arms above my head.”

For someone that reportedly didn’t like things to feel regimented, her beauty and exercise regime certainly didn’t seem relaxed by any stretch of the imagination! Nevertheless, it certainly helped to maintain her modelling and acting career, securing her breakthrough in 1950 after appearing in six films that year. She would go on to become a true icon of popular culture, not just in the United States but around the world, with a popularity and envy that few could match. Despite some people believing Monroe was more of a model than an actress, The American Film Institute ranked her as the sixth best female screen legend in the history of American film; quite the accolade.