Marilyn Monroe, the iconic Hollywood actress renowned for her timeless beauty and charm, possessed an array of beauty secrets that contributed to her legendary allure. From her makeup routines to her skincare practices, Marilyn’s approach to beauty was both meticulous and captivating.


A landmark Christie’s auction in 1999 featured a black case containing an array of Marilyn Monroe’s makeup and beauty items. This collection provides a glimpse into the products that were integral to Marilyn’s beauty routines:

  • Three lipsticks by Max Factor.
  • Elizabeth Arden cream eyeshadows in gold-tone tubes named “Autumn Smoke” and “Pearly Blue.”
  • Elizabeth Arden “Eye Stopper” eyeliners in brown and black.
  • Leichner of London’s cream “Light Green” eyeshadow.
  • Revlon nail polish bottles in “Cherries a la Mode” and “Hot Coral,” along with a bottle of cuticle oil.
  • Eyeliner and flash eyelashes by Glorene of Hollywood.
  • Black liquid eyeliner and “Hollywood Wings.”
  • Perfumed lotion from Shisheido’s “Quintess” line.
  • Anita d’Foged “Day Dew” cream make-up and cover-up.
  • Erno Lazlo makeup.
  • Various accessories including matchbooks, paper fans, satin purses, pocket mirrors, and a bottle of smelling salts.


Marilyn’s makeup was a pivotal element of her distinctive look.

Her makeup artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder, played a vital role in crafting her iconic appearance. According to Snyder, Marilyn was well-versed in makeup tricks, from accentuating her eyes to choosing the right oils and colour bases.

Here is the technique he used for Marilyn’s iconic look.

“I can sit here and do the whole thing in my sleep. Put the base all over, lightly. The formula we used that perfectly matched her natural flesh tone was to mix a quart of Max Factor’s ‘sun tan base,’ a half cup of ‘ivory’ coloring, and an eyedropper of  ‘clown white.’ Then, highlight under her eyes. Pull the highlight out over and across the cheekbones to widen. Highlight her chin. Eyeshadow was toned, and that slow ran out to her hairline. Then the pencil on top. I’d outline her eyes very clearly with pencil, but I’d make a peak right up – say almost three-sixteenths of an inch – above the pupil of her eye, and the swing it out there and from there on out was where we put eyelashes. Also, the bottom line was shaded in with a pencil to make her eyes stand out fully and good. Her eyebrows came out to a point as far as I could get them to widen her forehead. So I’d bring them o a peak just outside the center of her eyes and then sweep down to a good-looking eyebrow. You couldn’t go out much further than that or it would look phony. Shading broke the bones underneath her cheekbone. I just brought a little line down there, a little darker shadow, so that it helped her stand out. Lipstick, we used various colors. As the industry changed, we got down to normal colors. At first, we had a hell of a time with Cinemascope – no reds photographed anything but auburn. We had to go to light pink.” – Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder

Her mastery of illusion allowed her to transform into the enchanting Marilyn adored by fans worldwide. The two worked closely since they first met in 1946, experimenting with a variety of looks before perfecting the infamous Monroe look we know so well until her death in 1962.

You can see a tutorial by Erin Parsons here


Founded by Dr Erno Laszlo, the brand’s innovative approach to skincare earned it a loyal following among celebrities and luminaries.

Marilyn’s endorsement of Erno Laszlo’s products adds a layer of prestige to their influence on her radiant complexion. Erno Laszlo offers a range of skincare solutions tailored to different needs. From cleansing and hydrating to specialised treatments, Erno Laszlo’s products were designed to elevate skincare routines to a luxurious experience.

Outlined below is Dr Lazlo’s skincare regimen from 17th March 1959, tailored specifically for Mrs Marilyn Monroe Miller.

This comprehensive plan is divided into different parts of the day, distinguishing between an “evening out for a formal occasion” and a pre-sleep routine. The prescription also includes dietary suggestions for maintaining optimal skin health, including avoiding nuts, chocolate, olives, oysters, and clams.

Commencing with the morning routine, Marilyn’s skincare began with cleansing using Erno Lazlo Active Phelityl Soap and warm water. Following this, she was instructed to apply Erno Laszlo Normaliser Shake-It, a tinted mattifying toner that has recently been re-introduced in partnership with the Makeup Museum. The application process involves shaking the bottle, soaking a piece of cotton until it’s slightly saturated, and then gently applying it across her face, excluding the delicate eye area. Any excess is to be blotted off immediately. For the eyes, Marilyn was advised to use Erno Laszlo pHelitone Eye Cream, a product that is no longer available, followed by the discontinued Duo-Phase Face Powder, evenly spread over her face and neck.

For formal occasions, Marilyn was directed to apply and gently blot the Shake-It toner before applying her eye cream to her face, including the neck and décolleté. Then, she was to blot the cream with a tissue and apply the aforementioned Duo-Phase Powder.

The evening routine, before preparing to sleep, was more intricate. It began with an oil-based cleanse, where Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Oil was applied, rinsed off, and the face gently dried with a towel. Next, the rich Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Cream was to be applied to the entire face. Subsequently, a piece of cotton was soaked, again “to the dripping point,” this time with well-shaken Erno Laszlo Controlling Lotion toner, and used to gently cleanse the skin. The face was then gently dried with a clean towel, and the Controlling Lotion was reapplied exclusively to the nose and chin areas and left to naturally dry overnight.


Marilyn’s first husband, James Dougherty, revealed that Marilyn would wash her face several times a day to maintain a flawless complexion.

Dougherty also shared that Marilyn used Vaseline to prevent her skin from drying out. This was a testament to her commitment to preserving her natural beauty and ensuring that her skin remained hydrated and supple.

Details from a March 1962 statement reveal that Marilyn’s dedication to beauty came at a cost. The statement listed her beauty expenses at a total of $2,459.43, covering an array of beauty treatments and supplies. Adjusted for inflation, this amount today would be approximately £15,580.27. This insight underscores Marilyn’s commitment to upholding her iconic image.


Marilyn Monroe’s beauty secrets comprised a fusion of makeup expertise, skincare devotion, and meticulous care. Her ability to metamorphose into an icon through carefully honed looks and routines is a testament to her abiding influence on beauty and style. The items auctioned by Christie’s and her financial statements offer glimpses into the woman behind the legend, revealing the products and investments that contributed to Marilyn’s timeless magnetism.


As we continue to celebrate Marilyn Monroe’s legacy, her beauty secrets remind us that genuine beauty transcends surface appearances—it’s about embracing and enhancing our individual traits, much as Marilyn did with grace and charm. Marilyn’s dedication to beauty serves as a muse, urging us to invest time in self-care and grooming rituals that evoke confidence and empowerment. Just as she left an indelible mark on Hollywood, Marilyn’s beauty legacy continues to captivate and inspire successive generations.