Modern Marilyn Monroe + In-Depth Comparisons

When I think of iconic makeup, Marilyn Monroe instantly comes to mind. Her big lashes, sleepy-sexy eyes, and huge lips have been known around the world for decades as one of the most beautiful and expertly done faces, and the look she had helped her land movie roles and become the bombshell she is known as today.

While the makeup is beautiful, it was made during a time of  black and white film and flash photography. Nowadays it seems a bit too much, so I attempted to modernize the look. I tried to create a look that would stay true to the high level of glamour and the general idea of the makeup, and combine it with the trends of today. I’ve tried to go very in depth as far as the similarities and differences, and I hope you like it!

Pretty much all of the little facts and tidbits about the older look come from Lisa Eldridges’ Marilyn Monroe tutorial, which you have to watch. She is an incredible makeup artist (the best, imho) and is such a huge inspiration to me!





Marilyn’s highlighting and contouring was done to make her face appear as more of a heart/round shape, so the contour was applied quite low and the highlight was brought all the way to the sides of her nose in order to draw attention to the middle of the face. She also highlighted down the middle of her nose, her cupid’s bow, and in the center of her forehead. Her blush was pink and was heavily applied on the apples of her cheeks and swept up to the temples.


Now the style is high cheekbones and a more elongated look, so I applied more precise contour just under the cheekbones, and highlighted just on top of my cheekbones and under the eyes. I kept the highlight down the bridge of the nose and on the cupid’s bow, but I applied it more precisely. I decided to use a more peachy blush and place it in between the highlight and contour. Here’s a diagram so that you can see what I’m talking about:




Marilyn used a bright white on her inner corner, brow bone, and along the lower waterline, she also applied a brown shadow into her socket line so that her eyes would appear deeper and more sleepy. The liner used was a dark brown pencil, which was drawn out at the ends for an elongated effect. She used a heavy set of false lashes on the outer corners, and drew on a fake shadow under her eyes, which looked like it was cast by the top lashes. There was a pink dot placed in the tear duct to make her appear more awake and healthy. Her eyebrows were strongly arched and made almost an upside-down “V” shape. They were plucked far apart and were quite rounded at the tail to enhance the rounder look they were trying to achieve.


I used a slightly more taupe-y shade to deepen my crease, and darkened it a bit more than in the classic look. The inner corner highlight is a shimmery champagne, and I applied a bit of glitter to the inner 1/3rd of my top lid. I used a skin-coloured pencil instead of a white one on my waterline to avoid a harsh look, and went for a black liquid liner instead of a brown pencil. The liner is a lot thicker and more precise than the classic look, think more 60’s. Think “wings so sharp they could kill a man.” 😉 I used a half set of lashes again, but this time they are shorter and more separated, which looks a lot less jarring than the big ones used before. I still used the shadow trick, and actually made it darker to balance out the darker liner. I skipped the red dot, again for a more subdued look. My eyebrows are straighter, closer together, and come to more of a point at the end. The arch also hits less in the middle.




Marilyn’s lip shape was much more rounded and big. She thickened her entire bottom lip, and the outer portion of her top lip. She tended to go for a brighter red overall, but everything was VERY  layered. She used a darker colour on the outside and a lighter colour on the middle of the lip to make it seem like her lips were more full and pouty, and she also applied lots of lipgloss.


I altered the lip shape a lot, keeping to my natural shape on the top lip, and on the bottom lip drawing a line that was fuller in the middle, and tapered off toward the end, creating a rounder mouth with a smaller width and a fuller middle. I skipped the layers of cherry red lipstick and gloss, and went for one shade of matte red, which is deeper and slightly more orange than Marilyn’s.


Thanks so much for reading, and I hope that you enjoyed my ridiculously in-depth looks!