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6 Marilyn Monroe Makeup Looks: Celebrity Makeup Artist Reveals How To Re-Create Them

The techniques she used can work for you, too, using makeup you already have!

Marilyn Monroe was as famous for her makeup as she was for her movie roles and as beautiful as she was talented — and that’s why more than 50 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe Makeup looks, such as her signature red lips, winged eyeliner, platinum pin curls and glowing skin (which she achieved by slathering Vaseline under her foundation to catch the light!), are still being copied today.

Whether you just want to emulate the legendary star’s look — turns out all of her makeup techniques have anti-aging benefits — or just dress up like her for a costume party, it’s super easy to DIY. All you need is her iconic white dress, a blond wig (or buy a ready-made costume from Amazon) and some makeup that’s on-point.

With that in mind, we went to celebrity makeup pro Genn Shaughnessy, who has worked with stars like Judy Greer and Carrie Underwood, to give us a masterclass on Marilyn Monroe makeup and broke it down by technique. (Click through for rare photos of Marilyn Monroe’s early years.)

Read on for six of the screen siren’s most iconic looks, and how to achieve each one at home. 

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #1: Dramatic winged liner 

Marilyn Monroe makeup
Marilyn Monroe circa 1954Sunset Boulevard / Contributor/Getty Images

“Marilyn always sported a deep lip color, a healthy amount of blush and very rarely was she seen without liquid liner applied in a cat-eye shape,” says Shaughnessy. “Her eyes were always emphasized to look bigger and brighter and really were the focus of her entire look.”  Plus, an angled flick directs focus upward, “pulling” eyes up with it to counteract droopiness.

To do:

  1. Start by applying a thin layer of shadow primer onto a clean, dry eyelid to help the shadow stay put. You can use a concealer brush or ring finger to smooth it out, advises Shaughnessy. 
  2. Using a fluffy blending brush, apply a thin layer of a brow highlight color that is a shade or two lighter than your skin color above the crease onto the brow bone. Neutral shades of brown or taupe are a good choice. 
  3. For shadow application in the crease: tilt your head back and look down into a mirror, stretching your eyelids as much as possible so you see where your brow bone extends over your eyelid. The tip of the brush you’re using should fit inside this crease without spreading and fanning out, so it doesn’t extend past this space. Using that brush, apply an eyeshadow color darker than the eyelid color and the brow highlight, and apply it very lightly in a windshield-wiper motion from the outer corner of your eyes to almost the inner corner of your eyes, says Shaughnessy. 
  4. Next, apply a color across the eyelid that’s close to your natural skin color using an eyeshadow brush. 
  5. Underneath the eyes, apply eyeliner and smudge it out so it’s barely noticeable. You can use a pencil with a smudging brush or a liner brush with eyeshadow and smudge using the same brush.
  6. Using an angled liner brush and a gel pot liquid eyeliner, apply a line to the upper lids that starts thin at the inner corner of the eye and gets thicker at the ends, going up into a wing at the outer corner of the eyes (aka the cat-eye shape). An easy trick to get it right: Holding a spoon’s handle on the outer corner of the eye at a 45-degree angle, trace a line using the liner brush. Flip the spoon, place the bowl at the lash line, and trace the curve outward, connecting to the line. Fill in the wing’s center. Voila!
  7. Finish with several coats of defining mascara on both top and bottom lashes, ensuring that they are separated and “fanned out.” You can add in a few false lashes if you want to create extra volume. 
  8. Marilyn’s eyes were always accentuated by her amazing eyebrows, so Shaughnessy suggests brushing brows in the direction they grow using a brow brush or lash comb and applying a thin layer of brow wax or pomade to keep them in place and deepen the brow color. (Click through for the best best eye makeup products for women over 60.)

To see how to perfect Marilyn’s winged liner look, check out the below tutorial

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #2 – The Monroe glow 

Marilyn Monroe glowy makeup
Marilyn Monroe, 1954Baron / Stringer/Getty

Marilyn used what is now known as “slugging” to ensure her skin always looked like it glowed from the inside out. She reportedly applied several coats of Vaseline to her face before she put on her foundation, which would also keep her complexion looking youthful and dewy. (Click through for the best slugging products for mature skin.)

To do:

  1. Start by spot-treating with concealer. Using a concealer brush, apply a thin layer under the eye area. Pat into wherever needs the most coverage first, then blend the edges towards the rest of the face. If you have other spots on your face, such as redness or blemishes, do the same thing there. (Click through for the best undereye concealers.)
  2. Next, using a foundation brush, apply a foundation close to your skin tone to the spots of your face that need any coverage by pressing in and then brushing downward. (Click through to learn more about your skin undertone)
  3. Apply loose powder all over the face using a large powder brush to set it.
  4. Smile and pay attention to the muscle that tightens on your cheeks, advises Shaughnessy. That’s where you’ll apply your blush. You can dab on using a cream formula or use a blush brush and a powder formula to get the star’s just-came-in-from-the-cold rosy cheeks. 
  5. Next, it’s time to contour. You can create depth and dimension in the face (and really make cheeks pop for a more youthful look) using a matte finish bronzer applied under the cheekbone. To find the sweet spot, explains Shaughnessy, imagine as if you were to “draw a line from the outer corner of your mouth to the top of your ear, that’s the top of your contour line, just under the cheekbone. Then, if you were to draw a line straight down the apple of your cheek, that’s the front of your contour line. Last, if you were to draw a line straight back towards your ear, it creates almost a triangle.” Apply it using a brush and ensure it’s adequately blended and doesn’t look like a harsh line. 

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #3: The perfect pout 

Marilyn Monroe makeup lips
Marilyn Monroe, 1959Bettmann / Contributor/Getty Images

Marilyn was known to wear red lipstick, which was said to be an offering from drugstore brand Revlon called “Bachelor’s Carnation.” The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress was also a stickler for having just the right shade of red for her milky complexion and blonde tresses. 

To make thin lips appear fuller, Marilyn used a technique known as “overdrawing,” which involves using a pencil that closely matches your skin tone and then filling it in with lipstick to keep it from smudging. You can also apply a dusting of translucent powder along the edges of your lips with a powder brush to lock in color and keep it from smudging.  (Click through this story for more thin lips remedies.)

While neat borders are essential when it comes to perfectly drawn red lips, another trick that Marilyn reportedly used was a method of contouring in which she layered five different shades of red lipstick and gloss to create dimension and make her lips appear more voluminous.

Shaughnessy breaks it down for us in five simple steps with just one shade of red lipstick so we can quickly achieve this at home without the help of a Hollywood professional. 

To do:

  1. Prep is key: Lips must be completely dry with no balm or concealer. 
  2. A clean line: Opt for a dark red lip lining pencil and line as described above, lining just above and below the edges of your lips, following their natural shape. Blot with a tissue when finished. 
  3. Apply the red: Apply the color you want (Shaughnessy opts for matte and long-lasting), filling in between the lines. 
  4. Accent with a brighter pink or red in the center of the lip and blot (this helps to create dimension). 
  5. Top with a matching red or clear gloss over the entire lip for a shiny (i.e., plumping) effect. 

(Click through for more on how to recreate Marilyn Monroe lips.)

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #4: Glossy old Hollywood glam 

Marilyn Monroe wearing a white fur
Marilyn Monroe, 1953Darlene Hammond / Contributor/Getty Images

Even though she never went out without her ‘face on,” the actress knew when she had to amp up the drama for a special occasion. In this famous look with her white fur stole and evening gown, the star shined even more than usual. “She is very glossy and highlighted here,” says Shaughnessy. The key ingredient to this look besides dewy skin? Highlighter. “You can see she has a lot of highlighter on the top of her cheekbones, above her brows, on her chin and her nose,” she adds.  By placing the highlighter on these points, it not only makes skin glow, but it pulls the eye up to “lift” features.

To do:

  1. For this, Shaughnessy advises using either a powdered highlighter with a fluffy brush or a liquid or cream highlighter with a foundation brush. “You want to make sure you’re doing this in a bright light because you want to see it reflecting every time you turn your face.” 
  2. Her eyelids here don’t have a ton of eyeshadow on them, but they have a glossy finish like the rest of her face, explains the makeup pro. “To achieve this, you don’t have to apply a ton of eyeshadow, but you definitely want to apply liquid cat eyeliner and, above that, a good amount of liquid highlighter or even a clear lip gloss. 
  3. For lips, you want to avoid anything that looks too matte. “This has a wet finish, so you definitely want to apply a heavy coat of lipgloss. It could be clear or red to match the lip color,” explains Shaughnessy. 

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #5: Marilyn’s “everyday” look 

Marilyn Monroe, natural makeup
Marilyn Monroe, 1956Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/ Getty Images

Even Marilyn Monroe couldn’t look uber glamorous 24/7. “This look is very flat and matte, and there’s not a ton of shimmer and shine,” says Shaughnessy. But the more “natural” less “done” look, sheds years from the face.

To do:

  1. To pull this look off, start by applying some white shadow to your eyelids (or something that is significantly lighter than your skin color). 
  2. Follow the instructions for foundation and concealer above, and apply matte powder all over your face. 
  3. For the lips, Shaughnessy says a sheer lip color or just a lighter red or coral lipstick with just a dab of gloss will do. 

Marilyn Monroe makeup look #6: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn 

Andy Warhol's picture of Marilyn Monroe
Dia Dipasupil / Staff/Getty

Like many icons of her time, Marilyn was immortalized in one of Andy Warhol’s famous pop-art paintings. “This look would be super easy for someone to do with minimal makeup skills and very few products required,” explains Shaughnessy.  And if you’re looking for a costume, this would be one everyone would applaud!

“You would only need blue eyeshadow, a brow product, a red lip and pink face paint to mix with foundation,” she explains. “I suggest mixing the pink face paint with foundation, just so that it moves better on the skin, and you don’t get a very thick paint that will end up cracking after moving just from talking, eating or even smiling.” 

To do:

  1. Start with a foundation brush or a sponge and apply this pink mixture to the face. If you’re uncomfortable mixing, you could always go to a costume supplier near you with this picture and tell them you need pink face paint. Apply this all over the face, including a little bit on the eyes, avoiding the eyelashes. This will also serve as a base for the blue eyeshadow.
  2. Next, use a transparent foundation powder to set the pink foundation so that when you apply your contour, it doesn’t grab it in a heavy streak, and you can blend it as needed. Apply contour as previously described above, but don’t be afraid to go a little heavier on it, suggests Shaughnessy, because this look is meant to be cartoonish. 
  3. Using an eyeshadow brush, apply the blue shadow on the eyelid and above your crease extended past the sides so it looks almost like a tail.
  4. Using a liquid eyeliner and an angled brush, start in the middle of the eyelid and work your way out to the outer corner of your eye. Then, work your way towards the inner corner of the eye since the brush has less product on it, and you want it thinner there. 
  5. Apply heavy amounts of mascara on the top and bottom lashes. 
  6. Apply your red lips. This picture makes the lips look almost metallic, so have fun with this and play on it with whatever finish you want, whether metallic or glossy.  

For more Old Hollywood celebrity looks, click through these stories:

Bette Davis De-Puffed Her Eyes Using Cucumber and Vaseline

Sophia Loren’s Secret to Looking Young Comes Straight From The Summer Garden

Joan Crawford Knew Something About Keeping Her Skin Beautiful That Scientists Are Only Just Discovering

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