Marilyn Monroe photographed by Gene Kornman (1953) / Marilyn Monroe photographed by a fan in NYC (1955)
One of the most iconic faces of pop culture knew precise makeup techniques: Quoting Marilyn Monroe’s makeup artist, Allan Whitey Snyder: “Marilyn had makeup tricks that no one had or knew. Most of them she didn’t learn from me. She discovered it herself”. In fact, Marilyn did her own makeup for many occasions. Photographer Sam Shaw talked about one day while she was getting ready. “I asked her: ‘Marilyn, don’t you think that this makeup is a little too much?.’'Sam, you don’t understand’, she answered: ’This make-up is for my fans, those people waiting inside the movie houses, or outside on the street waiting in the crowd at an opening. They are the people the studios won’t let close to the theatre unless they pay to get in. When I arrive there I’ll turn to wave to them and they’ll see me and won’t be disappointed. My fans want me to be glamorous. I won’t disappoint them.’
Skin: Marilyn liked her skin with a flawless finish, but yet glowy - you note in many picures that her cheeks, tip of the nose, and under brow area are glowing, she liked the effect that it gave, especially with the studio lights
Eyes: Marilyn expanded her eye crease by overdrawing it with brown eyeshadow. Her eyeliner was not too thin or huge, and it always gave the classic cat eye effect. She also drawn with brown pencil a line in the under eye area to fake a 'shadow’. She prefered individual fake lashes, applying them in a way to maintain the shape that she wanted for the eyes. She also arched her brows with eyebrow pencil.
Lips: By far, the most iconic part of Marilyn’s makeup are her lips. As you can see in her makeup free pictures, they were by far not as plump as they appeared to be. Marilyn always overdrawn her lips, (so did almost all the other female stars on that time period), but she had a especial trick - Marilyn used at least 4 different colors of red lipstick to create a 3D effect; the lighter shades on the center of her lips, and the darker ones on the edges. She applied vaseline to finalize the glossy and plump effect. Her beauty mark was not fake, in fact, you can slightly see it in the makeup free picture - but it’s not as noticeable because it was almost the same color of her skin, so she enhanced it with makeup.
“One can never wakeup in the morning, wash the face and look like Marilyn Monroe. She knew every trick on the book to compose her look” Photographer (and Marilyn’s friend) Milton Greene
Marilyn Monroe photographed by George Barris on July 13, 1962.
“…I recall the time where she - it was getting dark practically, very little light, and she was on the sand there - the beach was practically deserted, and I gave her this blanket to cover her - her legs with to try to keep warm, and she was freezing, and she said to me, “George,” she says, “George, I’m really frozen.” And I said, “Marilyn, I only have one film left in the camera. Let me just make that one picture of you and let’s call it a day, we’ll start again tomorrow.” And she says, “Okay,” and she puckered up her lips as if she’s ready to throw me a kiss and she said, “George, this is just for you.” And it was a beautiful picture. Unfortunately, it was the last picture I ever took of Marilyn.“ - photographer George Barris talking about the last photo he ever took of Marilyn, which was also her last professional photograph.