Marilyn Monroe's EXACT Beauty Products (& Where to Get Them)
Updated: Sep 24
November 5, 2019 marks the 66th Anniversary of the premier of 'How to Marry a Millionaire', commonly regarded as one of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic roles, and one of the most iconic movies of all time.
So, in my latest creative endeavor, I decided that some day soon I want to do my makeup as closely to Marilyn Monroe as possible. So obviously, there was research to be done to find out just what she used.
But, like any legend, myths abound. So I set out to compile an authoritative, true-as-possible resource where all of the digging that I had to go through would be accessible at the fingertips of any curious makeup-minded individual. In her original makeup, we can identify a ton of products that are telling about her routines, secrets, and even personal insecurities. Here we enter phase one of the Marilyn makeup journey.
Beauty routines change. But the nice thing is, her beauty routine remained pretty consistent once she became a Hollywood starlet because of how regimented it was- and as it turns out, it was documented, just scattered all over the place. Well, not anymore. Here are pictures of the actual products that Marilyn left behind, what they are- no guesses, only definitive answers, and where you can find them now if they still exist.
This might be the single most comprehensive, detailed list of Marilyn Monroe's exact beauty products that exists on the internet. So let's get started.
When you look into Marilyn's belongings, including the pages upon pages of her skincare regimen prescribed by Erno Laszlo, it's clear to see that there's one brand she loved above all others- and lucky for us, it was so legendary that a lot of it's available even today. Marilyn swore by Laszlo's creations, to the point where he supposedly invented his Phormula 3-9 with her in mind. She loved this brand to the point where it was even found next to her nightstand on the day she died. She had a huge collection, but because I really didn't feel like listing every single formulation ever made by Laszlo, these were some of her favorites.
Active pHelityl Cream (available here).
Wella's Kolestral Hair Conditioning Cream (a slightly modernized formula is available here).
Face Powder (Duo-Phase). This one isn't made anymore.
The Hollywood Museum Makeup Case
Now on display at the Hollywood Museum in what used to be the home of Max Factor cosmetics, it's not entirely clear how the museum got their hands on this one- but presumably, after Monroe's death, it fell into the hands of her acting coach or her long-time makeup artist, and was donated from their estate.
On the desk:
Revlon Cuticle Oil (modern version available here)
Unidentified Product (supposedly Max Factor "L.S. 7-22 N.I." Ruby Red lipstick)
Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Cream (available here)
Revlon Cherries-a-la-Mode Nail Polish
Elizabeth Arden Cream Eyeshadow Stick in Autumn Smoke
One unidentified white product tube
Anita d'Foged Day Dew "Creme Makeup"/Foundation in Ivory Medium (supposedly available here)
Anita d'Foged coverup ("matching" but no specific shade named)
Bauer and Black's Cotton-Picker Cotton (available here)
Unidentified pink box
Erno Laszlo Unspecified Product (most likely her Duo-Phase Face Powder)
Elizabeth Arden Eye-Stopper Eyeliners in Brown and Black
Leichner of London Eyeshadow in Light Green
Hollywood Wings "Smoothies" (available here)
Unidentified Nail Polish (supposedly Revlon's Hot Coral)
Crown Lavender Smelling Salts (available here)
Unidentified Brush (Probably for Mascara?)
Unidentified Brand (possibly Glorene) 2 Light Brown Eyeliner Refills
Elizabeth Arden Pearly Silver Cream Eyeshadow Stick
Jan Pierre Unidentified Product
Elizabeth Arden Cream Eyeshadow Stick in Pearly Blue
L.S. 7-22 N.I. Lipstick (supposedly Max Factor's Ruby Red) (modern version available here)
L.S. 7-23 N.I. Lipstick (supposedly Max Factor's Ruby Red) (modern version available here)
Unidentified Object (would appear to be a small purse with a zipper?)
Unidentified Brand Emery Boards
Ginger Candies (available here and at some Asian grocery stores)
Glorene Mercury Supply Company Eyelashes in 'Black Screen'
Four Unidentified Brand Coin Purses
Elizabeth Arden Eyeliner Liquid
Profile Symmetry Eye Cream by Bonell Method, Inc.
The Infamous Auction Makeup Case
When it sold for $266,500 in a Christie's auction in 1999, many viewed it as the height of absurdity. But to Monroe devotees, it was a perfectly reasonable price for one of the most iconic parts of Marilyn's life: her makeup.
This one has so many people putting the wrong products with the picture. Literally even the auction houses themselves. With some due diligence, I've set that straight.
Glorene Mercury Supply Company Eyelashes
Unknown product (possibly a Perfumed Lotion Bottle by Shisheido- scent unknown)
Max Factor Hair Whitener
Helena Rubenstein Eyelash Brush
Helena Rubenstein Black Waterproof Cream Mascara
Helena Rubenstein Black Waterproof Mascara Storage Container
6 Unknown Products- no guesses here. The pictures are all too blurry to definitively get an answer. But it seems reasonable to infer that most of the components were housing lipstick by Max Factor, and the white one could be Max Factor's "Erase" product, or a white eye shadow stick.
I don't want to mistakenly label any of these, and since I don't definitively know the brands or specifications of each, I plead the fifth. Two eye or lip liners appear to be present, as well as 1-2 types of rouge, three eye shadow pots, one liquid eye liner bottle, and two plastic things. Again, I'm not guessing. I'm only giving you what I know.
I don't want to mistakenly label any of these either, and since I don't definitively know the brands or specifications of each, I plead the fifth. The blue brush would appear to be a brush for mascara application, teeth, or eyelashes, but I've been wrong before. It also appears that 5 Elizabeth Arden eye shadow sticks (3 in shade 'Pearly Blue') and a bottle of liquid eyeliner are present- but that's just an educated guess.
Unknown Product (appears to be a tiny perfume sample)
Unknown Product (would appear to be a small makeup brush- lips perhaps)
Two Unknown Tan Products (they appear to be shades from Lilly Dache's 'Starry Eyes' Eye Shadow line)
Most likely Lilly Dache's 'Starry Eyes' (the shade is mostly likely 'Lilac')
Unknown Brand of Bobby Pins (does it even matter, anyway?)
Unidentified Products (presumably hair accessories)
Glorene of Hollywood Eyeliner ("Makeup Pencil") in Light Brown
Elizabeth Arden Cream Eye Shadows in Autumn Smoke and Pearly Blue
Leichter of London Cream Eye Shadow Stick
Elizabeth Arden Eye Shadow Stick in White Lustre
Another picture showing many of the same products:
Anybody have some insight as to the mystery products and their brands?
Chanel No. 5
“You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: What do I wear to bed? So I said, ‘Chanel No. 5,’ because it’s the truth!”
If Chanel No. 5 didn't get its' own section on this list, I would probably be considered a failure by most. It's synonymous with old Hollywood glamour, and made even more famous as Ms. Monroe's signature scent. She supposedly put on five drops at a time and occasionally poured the perfume into her bath water. Although the brand has expanded its scent offerings beyond simply No. 5 Perfume, the original is still available here.
Odds and Ends
Helena Rubinstein Long Lash Waterproof Mascara (available here)
Duo Surgical Adhesive (Eyelash Glue) (modern version available here)
Jaquet Translucid Foundation
S.H. Swick 'Dark Brown' Eye Pencil
Maybelline Makeup Pencil in Light Brown (modern version available here)
The Most Iconic of All: Marilyn's Lipsticks
Max Factor's Ruby Red (modern version available here)
Coty New York Lipstick in Vibrant
Other Things We Hear She Loved
Floris Geranium Eau de Toilette (available here)
Phelityl Cleansing Bar (available here)
Vaseline (available here)
Nivea Creme (available here)
Pond's Cold Cream (modern version available here)
Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Cream (available here)
Unspecified Brand Lanolin
Unspecified Brand Olive Oil
Numerous Yardley Products (available here)
Revlon Certainly Red Lipstick (available here)
Revlon Hot Coral Lipstick (available here)
Revlon Kiss Me Coral (supposedly the orange red in Something's Got to Give- available here)
Revlon Blase Apricot Lipstick (available here)
Going into detail about each of the products and their history and connection to the icon would take another long blog post for each- so I won't do that. I've already done way too much work for something that I thought was going to be very simple- haha!
So while much of the life and death of Hollywood's original sweetheart remains a mystery, at least when it comes to her makeup, we're a lot closer to mystery solved.
Have any other Marilyn makeup images you'd like to see explored? Care to give any insight on what the unknown products might be? Email me through the contact page on my site.
HUGE thank you to: