How To Do Marilyn Monroe Makeup: Step by Step Tips
©2007 The Glam Guide. Reproduction only with express written permission.
All Marilyn images from the writer's own collection.
Marilyn Monroe's makeup has been the paragon of Glamour Girl makeup since the 1950s. While Marilyn already had a good grasp of cosmetics and glamour in her "Norma Jean" days, her look was polished by the studios, most of all through the genius of her personal makeup artist, Allan "Whitey" Snyder. He was her makeup artist throughout her career: from her first screen test at Twentieth Century Fox in 1946 to her funereal makeup in 1962.
Marilyn Makeup Step by Step:
1. Moisturize. Marilyn's skin nearly always looked flawless. Use a makeup base primer to smooth out flaws and to keep makeup looking fresh. Recommended: M·A·C Prep + Prime (SPF 50).
2. Apply a makeup base in the lightest tone suitable for your skin. Use a "film finish" makeup such as M·A·C Studio Tech or Max Factor Pan Stick Ultra-Creamy .
3. Concealer. On imperfections, dark undereyes, etc. Use a cake cover-up such as Dermablend Cover Creme as close to the color of your makeup base as possible.
4. Translucent powder. Light dusting of powder to set makeup base and concealer. Loose powder preferable.
5. Eyebrows. Use a light brown eyebrow pencil, making small feathered strokes. Blend in with eyebrow brush. Continue line to elongate brow.
6. False Eyelashes. These are available at every drugstore. If you're unused to these, practice with the $2 pairs. Marilyn always used strips, never individual lashes.
7. Eyeliner 1. Whitey Snyder always lined the inside of Marilyn's eye with a white kohl pencil — this is a trick still used by movie and stage makeup artists to make the eye appear larger and more open. Continue the line of white from the corner of the eye for about ¼inch (½cm), angling mildly upwards.
8. Eyeliner 2. Contrary to popular belief, Marilyn's eyeliner was rarely black. Most often, it was brown or dark brown. You can do this with liquid or pencil, but a cake with brush (made wet) is the best option. Do a very narrow line right at lashline top and bottom, and continue out, as seen above. The two lines must not meet, so your white line doesn't disappear and your eyes look smaller.
9. Eyeliner 3. Above the thin line of brown on the upper lid, Marilyn always had an even thinner line of gold liner. Make sure to make the thinnest of lines or it will look obvious and tacky, instead of glamorous.
10. Red Dot. With either a lip pencil or a lipstick brush (bright red), the
smallest red dot is placed in the inside corner of the eye to make the eye look brighter.
11. Eyeshadow. Marilyn's eyeshadow was very subtle. Whitey Snyder applied some light brown shadow to the crease of Marilyn's eyelid, and to the outer area below brow (1 & 2). He then added a shiny off-white to the center of the lid, brow bone, above the brow, and in the corner of the eye (3,4,5,6,7). I've exaggerated the contrasts in the picture to show you more clearly.
TIP: Before applying eyeshadow, dust a generous amount of translucent powder under the eye — that way if any shadow falls under the eye during application, you can easily brush it off.
12. Contouring. To accentuate cheekbones, jawline, and make nose seem more narrow, Whitey Snyder would apply a contouring color with a blush brush below Marilyn's cheekbones, on her temples, and around and under her jawline. This can easily be done with a good bronzer.
13. Highlighting. Apply a shimmer highlight on top of the cheekbone in a line all the way to the corner of the eye, on top of the chin, on the t-zone, and on the forehead.
14. Lips. Technicolor cameras had a tendency to turn all reds orangey, so on film, in order to get a "true red", Whitey Snyder had to use a mixture of several bluish reds. In her personal appearances and private life too, Marilyn's lipstick was a mixture of two or more shades. First, Whitey Snyder would line above Marilyn's top lip with a white pen (you can use the same as for eyes, provided you sharpen in between to prevent bacteria) — this makes the top lip appear fuller. Then, he would smudge it a bit to blend in and powder it, so the line wouldn't be obvious. Then, the lips were lined with a red pencil (notice, how the top lip is lined to come over the bottom lip. The outer edges were brushed with a darker red, the center of the mouth with a lighter red, to make lips look more voluptuous. Gloss was applied, with a thicker dollop in the center of the bottom lip. For film and photo shoots they'd use Vaseline (a trick still sometimes used in glamour photography). Finally, a bit of the same shine used for highlight was applied on the "cupid's bow".
15. Powder. A final dusting of translucent powder to set all the makeup.
16. Mascara. A coat or two of black mascara was added to the lashes (both real and false). In that era, mascara was a cake mascara — mascara has since advanced greatly and we have great ones to choose from.