Thursday, 13 October 2016

Marilyn Monroe Makeup Look

Since I was a very little girl I have always been obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. She was such a stunning woman and I can remember always admiring her because of how beautiful she was. From the age of 7 all the way up to being 17 I had a huge framed image of her and I loved it.

When I was a teenager I really started to get more inquisitive into who she was as a person and I read countless books and watched so many documentaries on her. As I’m sure many of us are aware Marilyn Monroe was a really troubled woman with many mental health issues due to early life trauma. But she hardly let the façade fall, to the world she was a bombshell and that is what she is still remembered for.

Throughout all the reading and documentaries there was one name that kept cropping up “Allan Snyder” also known as “Whitey”. Whitey was Marilyn’s makeup artist throughout the height of her career and is the man behind the signature look. They grew to be incredibly close and he even did Marilyn Monroe’s makeup at her funeral.

The makeup that Marilyn Monroe used to wear was really iconic. Whenever anybody envisions Marilyn they immediately think of red lips and these really sleepy sexy eyes. The two of them together created this signature look and then it was a staple that has been copied world over because even know it is stunning.

For a base there wasn’t any traditional primers like there is today. Underneath the foundation Marilyn would use a layer of Vaseline or Nivea. The Vaseline would give a glow to the skin and make it sheen in the light. This would then cling to the peach fuzz on Marilyn’s cheeks and give her a soft focus look on camera.

Modern day I would never advise anybody to have a base of Vaseline. It would feel sticky and unless you have super dry skin I can imagine that it would make the makeup move around. If you wanted to perfect the base in a similar way to Marilyn Monroe and have a glow to the skin, I would recommend using something like the Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow primer. This gives a sheen to the skin without being tacky or wet.

It isn’t known what Marilyn used for foundation. Marilyn and Whitey were always very tight lipped on what they used. It is known that she was a huge fan of Max Factor foundations so it could be one of them. I just go with something that is very perfecting. I would recommend the Chanel Perfection Lumier. This has lots of coverage and it is very comfortable on the skin.

Marilyn wasn’t somebody who powered the skin. She thought that the dewy look was youthful and that was always their aim when creating a look together. For me personally with my oily skin type I need a small amount of powder around my nose or I will look a mess. But, if you can avoid doing that it will give you a true Marilyn look.

Then moving onto the eyes. Everything around the eyes was light and bright, again aiming for the youthful appearance. All over the eyelid right up to the brow bone a matte white was used, Gesso by MAC would be perfect for this. Then over the top of that base colour another white was applied. This one has shimmer in it to try and trap the light and make the eyes look wider. Forgery by MAC would be ideal.
It is often believed that Marilyn wore black eyeliner along the top lash line. In fact, she actually wore a brown pencil. Teddy by MAC is a great pencil for this. Start at the inner corner of the eye and draw a line across the whole lash line and then at the far end flick it ever so slightly upwards like a cat eye. The feline flick on the end lifts the eye and opens them up.

To really open up the eyes and give them the illusion that they are larger Whitey used to take a deep shade in the crease of the eye. On a pencil brush I take a MAC shade such as Soft Brown and go really precisely into the crease. This gives the illusion of them being deep set. Once that is in the crease I use a large blending brush and just soften the lines ever so slightly.

Then curl the lashes and apply mascara. I couldn’t find anything that specified any particular mascara that she liked to use so I like to use the Lancôme Hypnose Mascara. Then to elongate the eyes and make them look more feline she would add a half strip of eyelash just on the outer portion of her eyes. This really lifts the whole area and makes it look more youthful.

Then taking the same crease colour I am take the same pencil brush and I put this along the lower lash line. The trick that Marilyn and Whitey did here was to create a reverse at eye underneath the eye. When you get to the outer corner of your eye instead of just stopping bring that line ever so slightly downwards. This gives the illusion of a shadow from the weight of the lashes.

Finally, for the eye take a white pencil and draw this in the gap between the flicks and then take this onto the waterline of the eye to make them appear whiter and larger. Another trick that they did was take the Vaseline again and tab this right on the centre of the eyelid, this would really reflect the light making them look brighter.

Marilyn Monroe’s eyebrows were very high and arched. It isn’t known what was used through them but I personally love to use the Anastasia Brow Wiz. These are really easy to use making it even easier to manipulate the shape of the brows. The arch of Marilyn’s eyebrows were very centred to her eyes and high, this made the face appear more lifted and tight.

There wasn’t contouring back then like there is today but Whitey did do subtle contours to the face to give Marilyn her desired heart shaped face. He would go under the cheekbones and along the jawline to make the lower portion of her face appear smaller than the top.  For this step I like to use the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium.

Even though in Marilyn’s early career she had a correctional nose job she still liked to contour it to make it appear even more slender. Much like today Whitey would take the same powder on a small brush and precisely apply it down the sides of the nose to slim it down.

Along with her signature red lip Marilyn also liked to wear rouge on her cheeks, the moto was the more the better. Whitey would be very liberal in applying this to the cheeks, above the brows and ever so lightly on the end of her nose to further contour it. A great colour dupe for this would be MAC Frankly Scarlett.

A highlighter of sorts was then used on the sides of the nose and on the top of the cheekbones to further enhance the heart shaped look that they always went for. This would likely have been another dose of Vaseline. An alternative to this would be the MAC Pro Emphasize Shaping Powder.

Now onto the most important feature of the whole look… the lips. It was well known that Marilyn Monroe wanted large and luscious looking lips. In order to get them looking really plumped and full they did lots of layers of lots of products.

Starting with a dark red lip liner. This would be use to define and correct the lips. All lines of the lips were very rounded and voluptuous looking. A good colour for this would be MAC lip liner in Plum.

Once the lips are well lined you need to go in with your first colour. This needs to be a deep red. This should be applied to the outer corners of the lips and close to the lip liner. Using a lip brush this should be blended into the lip liner creating a gradient.

Then in the centre of the lips apply a vivid blue red shade. Ruby Woo by MAC is the ideal shade for this. Once that is laid down apply a small amount of that initial MAC eyeshadow in Forgery to the centre of the lips to make them look shiny and as though they are catching all of the light in the room.

On top of that there would always be a gloss. Apparently, Whitey and Marilyn made this together and the secret of it died along with both of them. For this I like to take a clear gloss because then the colour underneath isn’t being changed. Once that is on, lightly blot the lips and then reapply every step for the lips again. This makes the lips really big, plumped and full.

That is, it for my Marilyn talk through, obviously, I have doctored it to be suitable for nowadays but the look will still come out the same. As normal I am going to link below to all products mentioned, even the Vaseline in case you want to give it a go!



  1. She always looked so flawless and girly! She was a real woman to look up to and I loved that she was a size 14, I wish there was more women like her now.

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