I have a hunch that if I mentioned the names of two iconic Hollywood stars from the 50s and 60s, you could immediately picture their faces and also identify one or more aspects of their makeup look that made them unforgettable.
Well, believe it or not, the makeup artists who created the iconic looks for Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn used several makeup techniques that can work especially well for those of us over 60.
(Please note: photos of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are included in the video to illustrate the techniques discussed in this article).
Makeup artist Alberto de Rossi is credited with creating the iconic doe eyes of Audrey Hepburn and was her makeup artist for 25 years. He was also the designer of Elizabeth Taylor’s dramatic eyes for Cleopatra, and was Ava Gardner’s favorite makeup artist.
Marilyn Monroe’s bold lip, defined brows, big lashes and the beauty mark on her cheek were the creation of Whitey Snyder. Snyder was Marilyn Monroe’s makeup artist throughout her entire career – from her first screen test at 20th Century Fox in 1946 to her funeral makeup in 1962.
Now I know you may be thinking, “Elise, come on, let’s be real. How can aspects of either of these looks work for us?” But hang in here with me, and I think you’ll see what a positive difference a few of these Hollywood makeup artist techniques can make for us.
First, let’s talk about skin preparation. Audrey Hepburn knew the importance of drinking lots of water. She knew that water is not only beneficial for the skin but also supports the entire body. Audrey also had a weekly detox day when she would only eat fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and water.
Whitney Snyder used to love to add a wonderful glow to Marilyn’s skin by prepping her very dry skin with Vaseline. He also used Vaseline as highlighter on her cheekbones and after her eye makeup was complete, he’d add a tiny dot of Vaseline to her eyelids to give them a glossy look.
Now I think I can safely say that rubbing Vaseline all over our face doesn’t sound very appealing to most of us. But what we can do is add some glow to our face – as Marilyn did – either by using a foundation with a glowy finish or by using a product like Elf’s Halo Glow Filter as our face primer before applying makeup or mixing some of it with our foundation. This will add some beautiful soft glow to our skin.
The thin brows of the 1920s and 1930s gave way to a more natural look in the 1940s and 1950s. Audrey’s eyes were always framed by full brows – as were Marilyn’s. Filling in our brows can make a huge difference in framing our eyes which makes them look bigger.
The eyebrows of both actresses were arched. But there’s a fine line when creating arched brows. If we create too much arch, we can look like one of the evil characters in a Walt Disney film such as the Evil Queen in Snow White. But adding just a slight arch to our brows can give the illusion of more lifted, larger eyes.
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Although the eyes of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are very different, both makeup artists used similar techniques to emphasize the beautiful eyes of these women. The technique in question is something that we can do as well to make our eyes look bigger and stand out.
Alberto di Rossi used a light color on Audrey’s eyelids and Whitey Snyder actually applied a white cream on Marilyn’s eyelids that went from her lashes all the way up to her eyebrows. So we can definitely create the look of bigger eyes by applying a light color all the way from our lashes up to our eyebrows. Or, we can make our eyes look bigger by just applying it all over our eyelid and under the arch of our brow.
The next step with the eyes is creating more depth and definition by putting a mid-tone neutral color in the eyelid crease and slightly above it. In the video I’ll mix together the two mid toned colors from the Elf “I Love You A Latte” Bite Size Eyeshadow Quad and apply it in the crease and slightly above the crease. And by the way, this is an especially good method for hooded eyes, but it works well for all of us.
Eyeliner was an essential part of the eye look for both Audrey and Marilyn. But for many of us, applying eyeliner is a bit more challenging than it used to be. There is an eyeliner application technique that makes it far easier to apply eyeliner.
In the video, I’ll take an angled eyebrow brush, rub it across a regular eyeliner and then use the brush to apply the eyeliner. What’s great about this technique is that you don’t have to apply the eyeliner perfectly because you can just use the brush to go back over the eyeliner to smooth out the line. Using the brush not only makes the eyeliner look perfect, but it also makes the eyeliner look more natural. (And if you’re interested in additional ways to make eyeliner easier to apply, check out this video.)
Marilyn also used white eyeliner in the waterline under her eyes to make her eyes look bigger. Since white is great on a movie set or for photos, but looks a little too stark in real life, it’s best to use a nude or off-white color. In the video, I’ll use my ABH Highlighting Duo Pen to do this.
Emphasizing the eyes by applying mascara was also very important. It’s said that Alberto de Rossi actually used a pin to separate each of Audrey’s eyelashes so she’d have perfectly defined eyelashes. Well, I certainly hope none of us will do that, but what we can do is use tubing mascara that is especially good for adding length to the lashes and does a great job of also separating them. I’ll use my Doll 10 Effortlash Mascara which is a tubing mascara.
Audrey’s makeup artist often had her wear light pink lipstick so her eyes could be the star of the show. But Marilyn’s lips were front and center stand out features. Her makeup artist, Whitey Snyder, is credited with the concept of lip contouring. Darker colors were applied toward the edges of the lips and lighter colors in the middle. A bit of white highlight was added to the middle of her lower lip and finally a coat of gloss completed the look.
This clever use of lipstick made her lips look fuller and her overall appearance more glamorous. Now we certainly aren’t going to do all that, but we can make our lips look fuller by applying lip liner along the outer edge of our lips rather than just on top of the lip line. Then we can add our regular lipstick to the lips and apply a touch of lighter gloss to the lips.
Marilyn loved a glowing look, so she used as little powder as possible. So I’ll add some of my Laura Mercier setting powder to my T-Zone area. And I’m also going to add another product to create some glow which I’m sure Marilyn would have absolutely loved: Hourglasses’ Ambient Light Finishing Powder. This Hourglass powder does a fabulous job of adding a beautiful subtle glow to the face.
As a child, Marilyn grew up in several foster homes and orphanages. She never had any money and owned only few possessions so she cherished the little things, including makeup. In her autobiography, she wrote:
“I stood in front of the mirror one morning and put lipstick on my lips. I had no money for clothes, but the lipstick and mascara were like my clothes. I saw that they improved my looks as much as if I had put on a real gown.”
At the age of 14 – with just a few products – Marilyn realized the power of makeup.
I thought it would be appropriate today to end with some beautiful words attributed to Audrey Hepburn. She said: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
What memories do you have of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe? What features of their makeup do you most remember? Have you tried emulating their looks?
Thank you for this article. As I am in my 60’s, makeup for me is enjoyable and it’s my time for myself. It’s therapeutic. I like how you also stated affordable alternatives to the makeup tips.
Hi, Ana–I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. And I think you really put your finger on why applying makeup can be such an enjoyable experience for many of us.
I can’t wait to try these tips. A little glam at my age will do wonders when I have to walk past a mirror!! Thanks
Hi, Patti–You’re welcome! I hope these tips will work beautifully for you and you’ll have fun trying them.
This is just way too superficial for me. As we age, less is more in terms of makeup in my opinion. If my routine takes more than 5 minutes, it’s too much.
Hi, Kim–I’m glad you have a routine that works well for you. That’s what’s important for each of us.
So enjoyed the article…Audrey is one of my very favs! Style AND heart. You made it even more interesting by adding MM.
Hi, Shaggy Maggie–
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this article. It was really fun to research and write. Audrey is one of my faves too. Nothing can quite beat her style and elegance.
Audrey and Marilyn were beautiful women. 🤩🤩
Hi, IRB–Indeed they were! And it was definitely fun ro research and learn the makeup techniques used by their makeup artists.