The fascination around Marilyn Monroe is still alive and well today. Nearly six decades after the late icon’s death, we yearn for crumbs of information about her tragic life — and, if we can get it, a peek into the meticulous beauty routine that helped make her one of the in-demand stars of all time.
As for the latter, a physical artifact survives detailing exactly which topical products stood on Marilyn’s makeup vanity — some of which are still available for purchase today. The relic, a daily skin routine prescribed to Marilyn by Hungarian dermatologist Dr. Erno Laszlo, is set to be preserved at the Makeup Museum in New York City. The flagship exhibit was previously scheduled to open to the public this May, but has been forced to delay its grand opening indefinitely in light of the current COVID-19 health crisis. However, the museum’s founder, Doreen Bloch, provided us exclusive digital access to historical 1950s artifacts, including Marilyn Monroe’s bespoke skin-care routine.
Below, you’ll find Dr. Lazlo’s skin prescription, dated March, 17, 1959, which details precise instructions for Mrs. Marilyn Monroe Miller (yes, as in Arthur Miller, Marilyn’s husband from 1956 to 1961). It’s broken down by time of day, with further classification between an evening out for a “formal occasion” or an evening “before retiring” to bed, including recommended dietary restrictions for optimal skin health (nuts, chocolate, olives, oysters, and clams).
Starting from the top, Marilyn’s morning skin routine began with cleansing using Erno Lazlo Active Phelityl Soap and warm water. Next, she was instructed to apply the Erno Laszlo Normalizer Shake-It — a tinted mattifying toner that relaunches to market today, in honor of the brand’s partnership with the Makeup Museum — by shaking the bottle, saturating a piece of cotton “to the dripping point,” and applying it all over her face, except the delicate eye area, then blotting off immediately. For the eyes, Marilyn was to apply the Erno Laszlo pHelitone Eye Cream, which has been discontinued, followed by the likewise-discontinued Duo-Phase Face Powder over her entire face and neck.
For formal occasions, the actress was instructed to apply and blot her Shake-It toner, before applying her eye cream over her entire face, including neck and décolleté. Then, she was to blot the cream with a tissue and apply the aforementioned Duo-Phase Powder.
The evening routine before “retiring” to bed was a bit more involved. It started with an oil cleanse, applying Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Oil to the skin, rinsing it off, then drying with a towel. Next, the rich Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Cream was to be applied to the entire face, then washed off with a piece of cotton saturated (again, “to the dripping point”), this time with well-shaken Erno Laszlo Controlling Lotion toner. The skin was to be again dried with a clean towel, with the Controlling Lotion reapplied only to the nose and chin areas and left to dry fully overnight.
Fortunately, while you can’t experience the Makeup Museum and view the artifact in person just yet, you can shop Marilyn Monroe’s full routine — or close to it — courtesy of the Erno Laszlo legacy products, which are still around today.