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10 Beauty Secrets to Steal from Marilyn Monroe

Because Old Hollywood never goes out of style.

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Find your signature scent

Monroe famously claimed she slept in nothing but Chanel No. 5. You might prefer to wear your perfume fully dressed and out in public, but choose one product as your go-to fragrance. Once you embrace your scent, you’ll feel confident and put-together every time you spritz it on.

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Never skip sunscreen

“Despite its great vogue in California, I don’t think sun-tanned skin is any more attractive than white skin, or any healthier, for that matter,” Marilyn Monroe told Pageant magazine in 1952. No matter what skin color you were blessed with, don’t fight it. Embrace your natural complexion—and a bottle of sunscreen. These sunscreen myths make dermatologists cringe.

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Wash your hair less

To keep her bleach-blonde tresses from fading, Marilyn Monroe resisted washing, which would have faded the color. Between shampoo jobs, she was said to have applied baby powder on the roots of her hair, but you can substitute your daily suds with dry shampoo. Don’t miss these ways you’re showering wrong.

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Embrace your “flaws”

Marilyn Monroe had a heavy peach fuzz “beard” but refused to wax it off, according to Monroe expert Gene London. She said the fuzz gave her face a soft blue in photos, without using special lenses. Instead of seeing your features as imperfections, learn to see the beauty in their uniqueness. Here’s how to stop negative self talk.

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Mix and match lip color

Monroe used five different lipsticks and glosses to create her pouty look. Darker reds went on the outsides of her lips, lighter ones on the inside, and highlighting products on the top and bottom. Experiment with layering a couple different colors to add dimension to your lips, or create your own signature color by combining lipsticks you already have. Avoid these makeup mistakes that make you look old.

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Let your cat-eye be imprecise

Winged eyeliner sounds intimidating, but Marilyn Monroe’s cat-eye was often more sultry and smudged than the sharp, defined cat eye you might usually attempt. Use a heavy hand when lining the tops of your lids, then soften up the look for the wings. Use an angled brush to lightly flick out black eyeshadow that can blend seamlessly into the rest of your eye makeup. These bad habits make your makeup look sloppy.

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Make your brows a focal point

In contrast to her platinum-blonde curls, Marilyn’s eyebrows were dark with sharp angles. Make your eyebrows just as showstopping by filling them in with a pencil and controlling unruly hairs with an eyebrow gel or clear mascara. This is the untold story behind Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress. 

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Keep your skin hydrated

To get glowy skin, Monroe slathered on thick layers of Vaseline or Nivea Cream under her makeup before getting in front of the camera. She was also a huge fan of moisturizers, olive oil, and lanolin. Keep your skin soft, and you might find it radiant enough to skip makeup. This is the skin care advice dermatologists hate.

Make a bold hair change

Marilyn Monroe wasn’t always a blonde bombshell—she was born a brunette. She dyed her hair golden blonde when a modeling agency told her it would make her more successful. From then on, she fully embraced it, going lighter and lighter until settling on her signature “pillow case white” dye job. Don’t let someone else tell you what to do with your hair, but if you’ve been dying (no pun intended) to try a bold new color or style, go for it. You could end up with a huge surge of confidence. Learn how to get an instant confidence boost here.

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Squeeze in exercise

Marilyn Monroe started her mornings with a chest workout routine, she told Pageant. Working out as soon as you get up makes you more likely to go through with your exercise session, because if you wait until after work, you might be tempted to veg on out and watch Netflix instead. Take Marilyn’s lead and find a weight routine you can do from your bedroom so you’re less likely to snooze through it.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.