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Marilyn Monroe Makeup How-To Step By Step Tutorial

I love Marilyn Monroe’s makeup! It looks so simplistic and classy yet so complicated and well thought out!  I wanted to create this tutorial because most of the tutorials I found online did not show very many details. As you’ll see below, the makeup steps get very specific and most of what I found online just gave the usual “Pointy eyebrows, liquid liner, and red lips” step by step which doesn’t teach you very much. I guess at this point, I should also mention that I am a HUGE fan of Marilyn, some might say obsessed (who cares what they think! ha-ha) and have gathered a lot of sources through the years to refer to for makeup details. First,  Her makeup artist was Alan Whitey Snyder who is credited with coming up with Marilyn’s “look”. However, Marilyn herself had a few makeup secrets of her own, some of which are still unknown!  Here is a step by step makeup application tutorial from all of my research and secrets digging.

Marilyn Monroe Makeup

Look at all the makeup on the counter! Nice to see mine isn’t the only one cluttered ha-ha

1. Foundation

First, choose a matte foundation that matches your skin tone. This will even out the skin-tone and camouflage any spots, redness, or imperfections. Because Marilyn had dry skin, she could get away with using Vaseline on her face also. A common trick of hers was to layer VERY thin alternating layers of Vaseline and Foundation. This gave her skin a supple, glowing effect which she further enhanced with highlighting certain areas.

Second, choose a matching powder to dust over the foundation.

Marilyn Monroe used the following below (keep in mind when choosing your products that she had very dry skin):

Elizabeth Arden Pat-A-Creme

Elizabeth Arden PAT-A-CREME

Erno Laszlo Foundation

Erno Laszlo Foundation

Erno Laszlo Powder Duo-Phase

Erno Laszlo Face Powder Duo-Phase

You can still buy this at (how cool!!)

2. Contouring

Contour based on the numbered areas depicted on picture. (Though not necessarily in the numbered order ha-ha). You can click on the picture for a closer look

How to Contour Marilyn monroe

Marilyn Monroe Contouring Steps

Contouring for the nose: 

Marilyn’s nose photographed very wide, especially when she smiled. The tip of the nose was not very defined and there was no “round” tip to it..just two straight lines that started from the bridge of the nose and extended all the way to the tip of the nose. This made for a very rectangular, not very angled and contoured nose.

The first step to contouring the nose like Marilyn’s is to define a more narrow bridge that starts out wider near the eyes and gets skinnier the closer you approach the bulb of the nose.

Down the sides of the bridge, contour with a dark shade in the shape of a triangle to further darken and mask the width of the nose.

Apply Highlighter down the bridge of the nose but STOP when you reach the bulb. (you will contour that separately)

Also apply highlighter to the side nostrils in Area 2 to balance the dark shading that you’ve previously done above.

Now, the contouring of the tip of the nose is what creates this Marilyn nose. The whole aim of this technique is to create ..(where there isnt)..a round small nose with a pointed up tip (instead of the relatively large, square nose that matches the bridge).  When contouring this part, just think “CIRCLE” and “UPWARDS” tip.

The red circle is where the dark shading occurs.

The blue circle and the white coloring is where the highlighting will occur. Refer to the picture below this one for a more detailed approach to the contouring tip of the nose. But the general idea still stands, creating a round circular shape of the tip.

Nose Contouring

Above the nostrils and around the tip of the nose, apply a contouring shade that almost looks like two curved triangles (in the red) as the picture shows. Continue that shade above the bulb to create a circle. Apply highlighter in the middle so that will “raise” the circle up and give the illusion of an upwards pointing slim but round nose.  Click on the picture for a close up.

Detailed contoured of the tip of the nose

3. Highlighting

Marilyn Monroe used layers of Vaseline to to highlight certain areas. Nowadays, there’s many professional highlighting makeup options that you don’t need to resort to Vaseline. I would recommend a cream highlighter over a powder to enhance that dewy look. Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour Day cream is also a good option in place of Vaseline.  Please click on the picture for a closer look


. How to highlight like Marilyn Monroe

4. Eyebrows

Now these, the eyebrows, are my favorite part of this whole tutorial! You would be amazed at how a pair of nicely arched eyebrows can wake your whole face up, make you look like you got a full nights sleep and give you bright happy eyes! Contrary to what you might have read, Marilyn did vary her eyebrow shape every now and then…but generally stuck with the theme of “raising” the eyebrows up with a HIGH pointy or rounded tip.

Click on the pictures below for a closer look.

Eyebrow Shape 1 : With this eyebrow, the eyebrow hairs are brushed and penciled in an upwards motion with very obvious strokes.

Marilyn Monroe Eyebrows

Mariyn Monroe Eyebrows How-to

Eyebrow Shape 2: A more defined pointy tip well as thicker edges. The strokes are blended in showing a more uniform, but thick eyebrow.

Marilyn Monroe Eyebrows 2

Eyebrow Shape 3:  No obvious pencil strokes, just extremely blended in color and a much thinner curvier eyebrow

Marilyn Monroe Eyebrows 3

Eyebrow Shape 4: A basic pointy eyebrow with two connected lines, the easier one of the bunch

Marilyn Monroe Eyebrows 4

Marilyn Monroe Eyebrows 4

5. Eyes in Three Steps

Eye-shadows: A combination of brown and white/light eye-shadow

The lid was always a nude or a light it a white, blue, or peach color.

The highlighter was a light white/bone color and the crease a brown shade to contour.

Eyeliner: Usually a dark brown or black.A specific brand she used was Elizabeth Arden eye pencil in Dark Brown (from the actual Marilyn Monroe collection!) It is rarely formed into a cat-eye, but rather sloping downwards or straight out to create a “half-sleepy” eye aka. bedroom eye Elizabeth Arden Dark Brown Liner

Eyeliner how-to

Another example of the eyeliner: This way of drawing eyeliner on the bottom lashes actually gives the appearance of lowering your lashline!

Marilyn Monroe Eyeliner

Eyelashes: Marilyn cut her eyelashes in half. She would then place a half on the outer half of the eye (what’s another word for half? ha-ha) This enhanced the “sleepy eye” look and made her eye look even longer because the eyelashes extended past her outer corner.

Marilyn Monroe lashes

6. Lips

The black dotted line shows the original lip line.

To make her kips look fuller, Marilyn placed lipstick (with a lipbrush, never pencil. You get a lot more control with a brush and smoother lines) slightly above the dashed black line and extended the corners (where I’ve highlighted in red) past her natural corner to make her upper lip appear bigger than her lower. The corners of the top lip have to extend PAST the corners of the bottom lip.

The white sections are where she placed a white eyeshadow or some sort of light shimmery color to attract light.

As far as color, she used a couple (or three) different shades of red (or pinks, etc). She placed the darkest color on the outer edges of her lips, slightly past the black dotted line as I mentioned previously. And then incorporated the rest of the colors ..with the lightest color used towards the center opening of the lips…creating an ombre effect.

Marilyn Monroe Lips How-To

Some more examples:

Remember when you read that it took Marilyn 2-3 hours to do her makeup, and you wondered why the heck it took so long?! Well now you can see why! ha-ha-ha

Here is a gallery of Marilyn monroe makeup looks that I love. Some are so natural, they can definitely be worn for everyday! Contrary to popular belief, she didn’t JUST wear red ; )

Marilyn Monroe Makeup Looks 1

Marilyn Monroe Makeup Looks 1

Marilyn Monroe Makeup Looks 2


9 comments on “Marilyn Monroe Makeup How-To Step By Step Tutorial

  1. lola
    December 17, 2012

    wow this is amazingly in depth; thank you so much!

    • thesilvacollection
      December 18, 2012

      You’re welcome lola! Try it out and lemme know how it comes out..I will do the same soon and hopefully post it =)

  2. Amanda
    June 15, 2013

    You did an amazing job on this tutorial. I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks!

  3. Jess
    September 1, 2013

    Thank you so much! This is such a detailed tutorial! :3

  4. Allison
    January 8, 2014

    Thanks for your research. Really we’ll done.

  5. nprice
    March 30, 2014

    This is truly awesome I Have a 6ft wide wall of her pics in my home ageless beauty….

  6. Pingback: Tyylikkäitä linkkejä vol. 1 | Marilynin Tyyliin

  7. Liv
    January 21, 2015

    Thanks so much! This is perfect! I want to do a Marilyn Monroe look for my swing dance competition and this was the first makeup tutorial to actually help ^-^

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