Ever since her emergence onto the big screen in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s Marilyn Monroe has become a legend for her beauty, sex appeal and glamour. Before she rose to fame as a movie star in Hollywood she worked for a short while as a model. From her late teens to her early twenties Marilyn worked as a part time model for the Blue Bell modeling agency. Although she did not achieve international fame as a model, she was popular amongst some of the local photographers and some of her earlier photos are more famous today then when she originally created them. It was probably during this modeling period that Marilyn refined some of her skin care routines and beauty habits. For example her first husband James Dougherty who Marilyn was still married to at the time when she began her modeling career said that Marilyn sometimes washed her face four or five times a day as she hated the thought of her skin breaking out. She would still be going by her given name: Norma Jean during this time, but even then one could see that Marilyn had a certain natural beauty, that included beautiful glowing skin.
Marilyn’s beautiful complexion is hardly mentioned as one of her best or main attributes, which might be understandable considering her tragic life and her undeniable sex appeal. Still, can one really say that they have ever seen photos of Marilyn with so much as a blemish, sunburn or even having tired or wrinkled looking skin? With the exception of perhaps her last one or two photo shoots, towards the end of Marilyn’s life her skin was generally spotless and her complexion was often glowing. It may come as a surprise to some (or not) that Marilyn did have a distinct skin care routine and favoured certain products as well. Since her death, she has continued to be a favourite celebrity to use as a muse or model for selling make-up products, perfume and cosmetics. For example in 2012 (a milestone to the 50th anniversary of her death) MAC cosmetics came out with a line of make-up products to honour her look and memory. Most recently she has become the muse or face of Max Factor’s cosmetics as they celebrate their eightieth year. This company did actually have a history with Monroe during her earlier years as a new star in the Hollywood studios. Although different people have had different reactions to these commercial products and the use of her name and memory to sell products, no one can deny that Marilyn’s name and photo still catches the publics attention. To learn more of the skin care routines and favourite products of Marilyn read on…
Cleansing and protective skin care products used both by Norma Jean and Marilyn Monroe
As mentioned above, Marilyn was often a little fanatical about cleansing and washing her face. It was rumoured that she regularly washed her face with Shu Uemera cleansing oil, which is still available today(it is roughly $85 for a bottle of cleanser). Although Marilyn upgraded her skin care items after achieving stardom, there were some simple everyday products that she often relied upon throughout her career as a model and a movie star. These everyday products were affordable and accessible even to the everyday woman. The skin care products included:. Nivea face cream, Vaseline and olive oil. Nivea was a common household skin care product back in her era of the 1950’s and 60’s, and is still available in most drugstores today for a very reasonable price(roughly $10 for a 6.8 oz. jar). She also reportedly and routinely covered her skin with Vaseline, which would have left her skin looking youthful and dewy under the camera’s lights. As a skin care writer I wouldn’t suggest covering the skin in Vaseline(petrolium jelly), but the simple household ingredient of olive oil can still be considered a natural and nurturing ingredient for the skin. I personally prefer a lighter and more refined natural nut or fruit oil such as almond, jojoba or hazelnut oil, but all these natural oils will protect and nurture the skin.
Products from Dr. Erno Laszlo, dermatologist of the stars
As part of the Hollywood elite, Marilyn began using more expensive and even custom designed products especially designed for her. The products of Erno Laszlo a dermatologist from Hungary were used by Marilyn with some products even designed especially for her. Dr. Erno Laszlo had many other famous star clients including Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly and of course Marilyn Monroe. It was said that at the time of her death, many of Dr. Erno Laszlo’s products were found on Marilyn’s bedside table including: two pots of Erno Laszlo’s cream. One cream was a light controlling lotion, and the other was the regular control lotion. She also used the Active PHelityl Oil by Erno Lazlo. These products are still available today and can be purchased on line at: www.ernolaszlo.com). It costs roughly $55 for 6.8 oz. of these creams.
Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden, Revlon and other cosmetics favoured by Marilyn
Other cosmetic products that were found on Marilyn’s bedside table at the time of her death included: 3 Max Factor lipsticks in shades of red as well as some from Elizabeth Arden, and Guerlain. It was said that Marilyn’s favourite lipstick was a red lipstick named “Rouge Diabolique” that was made by Guerlain cosmetics. That particular shade of lipstick is no longer available from Guerlain, but it is reported that Kiss Kiss in Insolence de Rouge is practically the same shade. It is available at most Sephora stores for roughly $41 Canadian.
There were many products besides lipstick that Marilyn reportedly used and preferred from Elizabeth Arden. At the time of her death she had two pots of cream eye shadow on her night stand from Elizabeth Arden (Autumn Smoke and Pearly Blue). She also had several eye liners from Elizabeth Arden on her desk including one in brown and one in black. She was said to use Elizabeth Arden’s white stick eye shadow and the Pat-a-cream which she sometimes used as a powder. She also used Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream, still a popular cream amongst make-up artists today. For a selection of Elizabeth Arden’s skin care products go to her website at: www.ElizabethArden.com.
For her foundation Marilyn preferred Day Dew Make-up in Medium Ivory by Anita d’ Fogod(now known as Anita of Denmark). This foundation was also found on her nightstand at the time of her death. The company still sells and features a photo of Marilyn and her famous product on there website: www.anitaofdenmark.net. The cost for the famous foundation is roughly $34.00 for 1.2 oz. jar. There were also two bottles of nail polish from Revlon: one was “Cherries a la Mode” and the other was “Hot Coral”.
Creating Marilyn Monroe from Norma Jean
This year Max Factor is celebrating eighty years in the business. They are using Marilyn’s image as the main model to celebrate their many years. There theory or slogan is that it is largely Max Factor who was responsible for creating Marilyn Monroe’s glamorous image from the more plain Jane Norma Jean Baker. In reality there is an element of truth to this, as Max Factor’s son did work with many new Hollywood stars as they emerged onto the big screen. There was definitely an evolution for Norma Jean’s look who became Marilyn Monroe during the late forties. If you see some of Marilyn’s earliest film roles(such as Asphalt Jungle), before she really became famous you will see how the mousy brown haired girl next door became a glamorous blond bombshell and screen siren. However, Marilyn’s more glamorous image which evolved from Norma Jean was many years in the making. It is reported that Marilyn died her hair about 9 different shades of blonde before she settled on platinum. Max Factor would have played a role in changing Marilyn’s hair colour and influencing some of her make-up choices.
Make-up played a major role in the transformation of Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe. Again, if you see younger photos of Marilyn without make-up as Norma Jean, you will still see her a very pretty, but somewhat plain looking girl. Make-up did play a magic role in Marilyn’s transformation. For this she relied heavily on her long term friend and make-up artist Allan Snyder other wise known as “Whitey”. Together with Marilyn, Whitey perfected the art of Marilyn Monroe’s make-up. Her eyebrows were always characteristically arched, her blush was often a light pink or coral, and she often used white eye shadow as her base while her eyeliner was usually brown(not black as many assumed). She often wore a pair of false eye lashes topped with several coats of mascara. Marilyn’s signature lips and smile were also a work of art. Sometimes as many as five shades of red coloured lipstick was applied to her lips to achieve the right effect and then her lips were completed with a special coat of gloss. Her make-up sometimes took up to three hours to complete. Whitey was also an expert at contouring Marilyn’s nose and cheekbones to give her the perfect heart shaped face. The commitment and bond between Marilyn and Allan Snyder was quite deep and strong. Marilyn had asked him to do her make-up at her funeral if she was to die before him. In 1962, with Marilyn’s sudden death, Allan Snyder kept his promise to her.