In honor of 'Blonde'—here are Marilyn Monroe’s makeup secrets and how to recreate them

Adore the actress’ iconic look? Here are all of Marilyn Monroe’s makeup secrets and skincare go-tos

Marilyn Monroe, headshot, 1950
(Image credit: Getty Images / Smith Collection/Gado)

It turns out that Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe, has something major in common with TikTok—she loved a beauty hack and some of her makeup secrets are actually so on-trend right now. So, as we prepare for Ana De Armas’ hotly anticipated portrayal of the icon in Blonde, here are Marilyn Monroe’s makeup secrets and skincare holy grails that helped her achieve her timeless look.

From her iconic red lip to her sleepy eyes, in the beauty world, nothing is quite as famous as Marilyn Monroe’s signature look. For decades we’ve taken inspo from her, with the likes of Kim Kardashian even wearing Marilyn’s ‘birthday’ dress to the Met Gala.

She’s an eternal icon, whose beauty routine despite being circa 1950 is still classic—and easy to recreate. She even perfected an eyeliner hack that gives trends like the "siren eye" a run for its money. 

American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) lies smiling on a couch, circa 1955.

(Image credit: Getty Images / Archive Photos / Stringer)

So, if you’re looking to infuse your look with a bit of Hollywood glamour or perfect your Halloween costume as the blonde bombshell—here are some of her best (and worst kept) beauty secrets…

Marilyn Monroe’s makeup secrets

Marilyn Monroe’s eye makeup

Marilyn was known for her sultry, sleepy-looking eyes that always made her look effortlessly sexy on and off the screen and it turns out, they were the result of a very clever hack.

As shown in copious TikTok tutorials, Marilyn created a lash shadow effect, by using black or brown eyeliner on her lower lash line.

@marysherb (opens in new tab)

♬ original sound - Tik Toker (opens in new tab)

She would draw and angle the line out, extended from her lower lid, under her classic winged eyeliner to create a double liner look.

Then, taking a white liner she would fill in the space between the liners to make it look as though her lashes were casting a shadow. 

(opens in new tab)

Charlotte Tilbury The Classic Eyeliner in Shimmering Brown

RRP: $24/£19

This liner is perfect for recreating Marilyn's eyelash shadow look. It's soft, blendable and long-lasting so your sultry eyes will last all day. The formula also features a subtle sparkle.

This pencil liner is also one of the best eyeliners for beginners (opens in new tab) because it's easy to use and blends out if you make a mistake!


(opens in new tab)

Rimmel London Soft Khol Eyeliner in Pure White

RRP: $13.99/£3

This white liner is applied between the two wings, to create that natural, elongated effect.

This Rimmel eyeliner features a soft and blendable formula and is smudge-proof and long-wearing (up to 12 hours of wear).


Marilyn Monroe’s red lipstick

Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in circa 1952.

(Image credit: Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer)

Perhaps the look most synonymous with the Some Like It Hot actress, her red lip is a must when recreating her vibe. Interestingly though, while you might think she just had the most perfect cool-toned lippy, Vogue (opens in new tab) reports that her makeup artist would actually use five different shades of red on her lips, to make them look plumper.

The darker hues would be applied to the outer edges of her lips and lighter towards the center—which helps create the illusion of a fuller pout.

(opens in new tab)

L'Oreal Paris Make-Up Color Riche Lip Palette in Red

RRP: $8.99/£8.99

This palette features six stunning red hues of red lipstick to create Marilyn's iconic red lip.

The shades include deep burgundy to tangerine orange, plus there's a special lip brush to help you apply the product precisely and blend the shades together seamlessly.


Marilyn Monroe’s perfume

By now, it’s well-known that Marilyn's scent of choice was Chanel No.5 and while you might be about to say that that’s not necessarily a hack—the way she wore it is.

Marilyn famously revealed that she wore her perfume to bed—which if you ask us, gives serious ‘clean-girl’ vibes.

She recalled the moment in a 1960 interview with Marie Claire, which has since been used in Chanel's own marketing campaign for the scent. 

She said: "You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: ‘What do you wear to bed? A pajama top? The bottoms of the pajamas? A nightgown?’ So I said, ‘Chanel No. 5,’ because it’s the truth!” Iconic.

(opens in new tab)

CHANEL N°5 Eau de Parfum Spray

RRP: $116/ £91

This legendary fragrance features floral notes of May Rose and jasmine, with top scents of bright citrus. It's described as 'the very essence of femininity' and was Marilyn's absolute favorite perfume.

Thanks to its popularity, you can also find it in soap and body lotion form, making it the perfect perfume to layer.


Marilyn Monroe’s skincare routine 

Throughout her life, Marilyn would visit dermatologist Erno Laszlo, as she had dry skin and so would remove her red lip with a cleansing oil, so as to not strip her skin. 

She would then follow up with a cleansing soap—so double cleansing and, get this—she was also into ‘slugging’ before it was cool. Marilyn would apply vaseline all over her face, before her foundation to create that healthy, glowy skin look!

Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team and has recently earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on beauty, trends, fashion, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life. She also tests and reviews beauty and skincare products and tries out the latest TikTok hacks for My Imperfect Life.


Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.