Apparently her first husband, Jim Dougherty, recalled that she used to rinse her face fifteen times after every wash. Quite what this was meant to do we’re not entirely sure. Olive oil was another substance she was apparently prone to smearing over her face, and there may be some truth in that one. Long before we were sprinkling olive oil all over our salads, or using it to cook with, this expensive oil was a beauty and medicine cabinet staple for some people; good for using as a muscle rub and a cleansing agent.
It has been reported that Marilyn used ice baths to keep her skin tight and firm, an that we can believe, but the most unlikely skincare routine Marilyn was supposed to have practiced was layering Vaseline on her face, and then powder. We spoke to BB mums, who were around in the same era as the lovely Marilyn, and they don’t recall layering on the petroleum jelly to get a smooth face…
Powder, absolutely, but even back in the 1950s there were more sophisticated means of moisturising and cleansing the face.
Whether Marilyn was fan of Pond’s cold cream (£3.99, www.superdrug.com) we don’t really know, but the fabulous cleanser, that this BB girl certainly recommends, is still available today in the same form as the bombshells would have used it in. A cold cream is an emulsion of water and fats, mainly beeswax, which has a deep cleansing effect, without drying the skin. Back in the 1950s, many women still used soap to cleanse, Camay and Lux being popular brands of the day.
Marilyn however, had another skincare secret, revealed after she died, thanks to products found in her apartment – you can see the tubs on the floor by her bed in the LAPD police photograph of her bedside after she died. (Sadly, also note the pill bottles on the bedside table.)
Erno Laszlo was a Hungarian born dermatologist, who moved to New York in 1939, and set up the Erno Laszlo Institute specialising in beauty treatments and cosmetics. Marilyn was a massive fan, and you can still buy some of the products she used today.
The Active pHelityl Cream was a favourite night-cream of hers – a rich cream, for dry to slightly dry skin, extremely emollient and perfect in the winter months. Certainly not as oily as Vaseline, but it seems clear that Marilyn’s skin erred on the dry side! The cream is still available today. ($60, www.ernolaszlo.com.)
During the day, it seems she used his Duo-pHase face powder ($38), again for dry skin, and again, still available to buy today. The powder is available in loose and compact form and features sodium hyaluronate and water to continually hydrate skin. It’s also triple-milled for a silky finish.
Marilyn’s blusher came from Erno’s range as well, but the pHelitone blush she used is long gone from the range. However, the Multi pHase blusher (pictured below right, $38) is a perfect modern alternative to leave a lovely glow on your face.
It’s a wheel of different complementary colours, and like all Erno Laszlo products, it is as much skincare as it is makeup.
Whatever Marilyn’s skincare secrets really were, one thing’s absolutely certain – they worked!
Later on this week, we’ll investigate what makeup Marilyn really used to get that signature Monroe look.