Marilyn Monroe was one of the most famous sex symbols of the 1950s, and even now, after more than 50 years since her passing, she is considered a major icon in modern pop culture. Monroe was well known for her ability to seduce her audience, and her beauty is still commonly reflected upon today, in books, documentaries, movies… and blog posts.
So what was it that made her so irresistible? Well, among her naturally feminine features, Marilyn and her make-up artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder, had a few tricks up their sleeves when it came to maximising her sex-appeal…
1. Cutting false eyelashes in half.
Marilyn liked the volume and length of fake eye lashes, but she also wanted to look natural. She managed to achieve the best of both worlds by cutting fake eye lash strips in half and only applying them to the outside corners of her eyes.
This provided a slight cat-like and seductive appearance, adding extra femininity to a face that already held such strong, womanly features.
2. Adding a drop of oil for glistening eye lids.
Using either a touch of coconut oil or a dab of Vaseline, Marilyn would give herself shiny eye lids.
She believed shiny lids were sexy and would therefore draw attention to her already very engaging eyes, which would glisten under the light.
3. Using multiple shades to contour the lips.
Wanting to achieve a more plump and full appearance in her lips, Monroe and her make-up artist would apply darker reds on the outer corners and lighter shades in the middle.
This added seemingly natural dimension to her lips, which you can spot when you look closely at a picture of the star in make-up.
4. Using Greta Garbo’s eyeshadow trick.
Greta Garbo, a Swedish-American film actress that was active during the 1920s and 1930s, shared as eyeshadow trick that Monroe literally called it the “Greta Garbo eye”.
She would blend white eye shadow from her eye lids all the way up to the brow bone and into the inner corners, adding more depth and intensity to her eyes.
5. Shaping the eyebrows with peaks.
One thing Marilyn didn’t like about herself was her forehead, which she believed was too wide for her face. In an attempt to neutralise the problem that she thought she had, she would have her make-up artist apply peaks to her eye brows.
She believed that by adding a more dynamic shape to her brows, they could take up more room without being made too big, thereby seemingly reducing the size of her forehead.
6. Using vaseline as a primer and highlighter.
Marilyn believed that moisture was the essence of youth. She would use petroleum jelly as a base before applying any foundation.
Combined with her signature “peach fuzz”, she believed this would enhance her glow under the studio lighting. She also used the jelly as a highlighter, applying it to the cheekbones and brow bones for sheen.
7. Using a combination of eyeliners.
While most women choose either brown or black pencil eyeliners, Marilyn’s make-up artist, Snyder, used a combination of both on the actress. Using Elizabeth Arden’s classic eye pencils in both hues, he would apply liner to her upper eye lids and waterlines, extending the lash lines with wings to elongate.
Snyder would then sketch out a small white triangle on the outer corner of Marilyn’s eye, in between the top and lower liner wings, to make her eyes look larger. He then drew white on the waterlines and added a dot of red liner in the inner corner to make her eyes look even whiter.
8. Contouring the nose with blush.
Using blush to contour our faces may be common practice today, but, believe it or not, it was Monroe’s make-up artist Whitey who did it first.
To create an illusion of a shorter, more defined nose, he would tap a little bit of the pinky blush he used to contour her cheeks on the tip of her nose.