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This Is the Skincare Routine Marilyn Monroe Relied on for a Flawless Complexion

You can still find a ton of her favorite products.


Marilyn Monroe’s iconic beauty will always rank her among the most gorgeous ladies to ever step foot on our planet. We aren’t just talking about her enviable curves, but the fresh-faced glow that framed her stunning smile, too.

According to a resurfaced document shared by the Makeup Museum in New York City, Monroe had to work hard to maintain that flawless complexion. Long before Instagram influencers shared their 12-step routines for smooth skin, Monroe relied on the advice of Erno Laszlo, a popular dermatologist to the stars. 

The typed out instructions are dated March 17, 1959, and addressed to Marilyn Monroe Miller (she was married to playwright Arthur Miller at the time). She apparently had naturally dry skin that needed help balancing with several products and potions. Take a look at Monroe’s daily recommended regimen: 

Morning: Wash face and neck in warm water with active pHELITYL SOAP in the following manner: fill basin with warm water, wet face and neck, and rub on soap making a lather. Make a separate lather in hands and rub will into skin. Rinse thoroughly in the same soapy water and dry with towel. Apply well-shaken NORMALIZER SHAKE-IT on entire face — except around the eyes — with a large piece of cotton saturated to the dripping point. Blot off with tissues immediately. Apply pHELITONE under eyes only in tiny dots, spreading it gently over the surface. Blot off with tissues. Dab DUO-pHASE FACE POWDER amply on entire face and neck; after one minute, brush off superfluous powder with a large piece of cotton.

Morning before dressing: Follow instructions for “Morning.”

On formal occasions: After blotting off NORMALIZER SHAKE-IT, apply pHELITONE on top of it on entire face, also under eyes, on neck, and decollete. Blot off with tissues. Apply DUO-pHASE FACE POWDER.

Evening before retiring: Apply ACTIVE pHELITYL OIL on entire face, lips, and neck with a large piece of cotton saturated to the dripping point. Wash immediately oily face and neck according to instructions for “Morning.” After drying, apply ACTIVE pHELITYL CREAM on entire face, lips, neck, and decollete. Wash off cream immediately with a large piece of cotton saturated to the dripping point with well-shaken CONTROLLING LOTION — except around eyes and on lips where you shall blot cream off with tissues. Dry face and neck with towel. Reapply on nose and chin with another thoroughly saturated large piece of cotton, covering thickly and let dry on overnight.

The instructions also included a list of certain foods Monroe was told to avoid in order to keep her skin clear: “Any kind of nuts, chocolate, olives, oysters, and clams.” It all might sound fairly intense, but there’s no arguing that it seemed to work for the starlet! The Makeup Museum shared a video showing off the document, so you know it’s legit:

You can also still find plenty of the same products available from Enro Laszlo’s company. They just re-released the Shake-It Tinted Treatment ($49, Erno Laszlo) for a limited time, plus always have items like the Phelityl Cleansing Bar ($38, Erno Laszlo), Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil ($58, Erno Laszlo), Active Phelityl Intensive Cream ($88, Erno Laszlo), and Light Controlling Lotion ($68, Erno Laszlo). 

Those price tags might be making your eyes pop, but we should note that Monroe also frequently used a more budget-friendly moisturizing product: Vaseline ($4.99, Walgreens). According to her makeup artist, it works great as a primer and highlighter!

Whether you follow any of Marilyn’s beauty steps or not, it’s always fascinating to get a new look at old Hollywood.

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