Friday, February 25, 2011

Inspiration: What Would Marilyn Do?

Marilyn Monroe Beauty

The legendary Marilyn Monroe will always be my ultimate beauty inspiration, as I'm sure she is for countless others.  Marilyn had some pretty fantastic makeup tricks up her sequined and fur-covered sleeves.  She carefully guarded most of them in the competitive atmosphere of Hollywood, but luckily for us, many of her favorite products and beauty routines are known today.  Applied Glamour is excited to present the beauty secrets of one of the most beautiful women, well, ever.

Nivea moisturizer
Marilyn kept her complexion hydrated, radiant, and protected with Nivea creme.  She stated this was her most essential beauty product in numerous interviews, and it's still available today at any drugstore.  Nivea creme is one of the best bargains you'll ever find and it works wonders on all skin types.  

Oil-based cleanser
This product isn't for everyone, but an oil based cleanser is another way to keep dry skin hydrated and moisturized.  Marilyn used Shu Uemera's, but I imagine she would have been equally enthusiastic over Lancome's Huile Doucer Deep Cleansing Oil.  It's a little more widely available.  Marilyn once said she washed her face with cleansing oil, then splashed cold water on her face fifteen times to seal her pores.

Erno Laszlo Duo-pHase face powder
Marilyn acrually didn't wear a lot of base or foundation, but she was a fan of Erno Laszlo's powder (and his other products, too).  She would alternate between layers of Erno Laszlo powder and thin layers of Erno Laszlo's Active pHetityl cream to give her complexion that famous dewy glow.

Shaped eyebrows
It's kind of unreal how the shape of your eyebrows can change the appearance of your features, and Marilyn was well aware of this.  She had her eyebrows shaped in a sharp arch, which made her forehead appear wider and balanced out her cheeks and jawline.  Go to a salon and have your eyebrows shaped professionally, at least for the first time so you're almost guaranteed a flattering look that suits you.  Maintain them on your own with a kit like this one from brow gurus Anastasia, which comes with stencils, a brush, powder, tweezers, and brow gel. 

Alluring eyes
Marilyn referred to her own eye makeup as "the Greta Garbo eye."  She used Elizabeth Arden eyeshadows and would apply a shimmery white shade from her lashline to her brow bone.  She would then use a brush to fill in her crease with a dark color, usually brown or blue but occasionally green.  

To line her eyes, Marilyn used black or brown Elizabeth Arden pencils, or Guerlain liquid eyeliner.  She lined her upper lashline from the inner corner to the outer corner taking the line slightly upward, and lined her lower lashline from her iris to the outer corner and took the line just a teeny bit downward to make her eyes look extra wide.  She would take a white eyeliner pencil to fill in the "gap" between the two lines so her eye sparkled even more. 

Finish with Shu Uemera false eyelashes (cut them in half for a more natural look) or an eyelash curler and mascara for your own Marilyn/Greta eye!

Kissable lips
Would you believe that Marilyn used up to five different shades of red lipstick at once to achieve her famous look?  She took a genuinely artistic approach to applying all her makeup, but it's perhaps most evident in her lipstick application.  First she lined her mouth with a slightly deep red lip liner.  Then she'd take a lip brush and apply at least three layers of lipstick, usually by Guerlain, Max Factor, and Elizabeth Arden.  She would wear darker shades toward the edge of her lips and lighter shades toward the center, topped off with a highlighter for extra glossy shine and fullness.  Also mixed in between the lipstick layers was her own secret wax concoction to help shade and seal in the colors.  She never revealed what it was!  It's a mystery to this day.

A nice set of brushes
In order to take such an artistic approach to makeup application, one must have the proper brushes and tools!  Another one of Marilyn's frequently quoted beauty tips was to always apply lipstick with a lip brush, but of course she used brushes for eveything else as well.  A good set of brushes can be an investment, but they'll last much longer if you clean and disinfect them regularly.                    

A signature scent
For Marilyn, this was Chanel No. 5, a fragrance as iconic and classic and she is.  She famously quipped "What do I wear to bed?  Why, Chanel No. 5, of course!"  Finding a signature fragrance can be difficult, but the best way is to actually wear the perfume before making a purchase, rather than spraying it on a card.  This takes trial and error, but the process is worth it, don't you think?



  1. I love her! I'm working on developing a line of cleansing oils and I'm so excited that she used them!

    I read somewhere recently that she had her shoes altered so that one heel was shorter than the other because it made her hips sway back and forth when she walked. The things women will do for beauty!

  2. gosh, finding a signature scent is a real ordeal for me.

    man, I would've loved to see her put on lipstick. that's way too much work for me.
    Do you think she was an example of classic beauty or unusual beauty? I've read both kinds of descriptions of her.
    super cute series, I can't wait to see who else pops up.

  3. Kylie- Can anyone use cleansing oils? How are they on oily or combination skin? I heard recently that olive oil actually helps acne because it dissolves your skin's excess oil. Crazy! Who knew?
    And yes, I've also read that she altered her shoes! Like, as much as half an inch.

    Melina- Meeee too. I have at least seven perfumes I wear regularly and they smell lovely, but none of them strike me as a "signature". Or maybe I just can't commit! I wish I could wear Chanel No. 5, but it's too...mature for me, I think.
    Yeah, I just want a single swipe of red lipstick and I'm done. I'll use primer if I'm wearing matte, but that's about as involved as it gets for me. I can't imagine all that layering.
    Ooh, great question. I never thought of that! Hmm. I can definitely see why both descriptions fit.
    I'm glad you like it!