As a lifelong cosmetic junkie, I decided to tackle the make-up on my own, using the famous photographic portraits of Marilyn as a reference, as well as a few tips from her personal beautician Allan "Whitey" Snyder. He was her makeup artist throughout her career, from her first screen test at 20th Century Fox in 1946 to her funereal makeup in 1962.
I was able to follow the exact beauty regime from start to finish with his step-by-step guide -- published now in it's entirity online -- on how to do the full Marilyn. Here's a breakdown of the basics and how I adapted them for my own features.
1. Moisturise. I used a Clarins makeup base primer to iron out flaws and shadows.
2. Whitey recommends a makeup base in the lightest tone suitable for your skin so I used my usual creme-to-powder foundation by Maybelline in "Beige Doree" shade.
3. Concealer. On imperfections, dark under eyes, lumps and bumps, etc. I then used a cake cover-up by Dermablend which is as close to the colour of my makeup base as possible.
4. With a big soft complexion brush I used a light dusting of translucent powder to set the makeup base and concealer. My usual Rimmel powder in "translucent" did the trick.
5. Eyebrows. I used a light brown/blonde eyebrow pencil from Clinique and made small feathered strokes, following my brow line and flared these upwards into Marilyn's distinctive sharp triangle shape. I then continued the line about half an inch beyond its natural extent to elongate the brows.
6. Eyeliner 1: Snyder always lined the inside of Marilyn's eye with a white kohl pencil. Fortunately I still had one of these from my days on the stage, but Rimmel do them too.
7. Eyeliner 2: Marilyn's eyeliner was rarely black. Most often, it was brown or dark brown. You can do this with liquid or pencil, but a cake with brush (made wet) is best. I used Mac's new gel liner which comes with an angled brush. Do a narrow line at lashline top and bottom, and continue towards the corner of the eyebrow.
8. Eyeliner 3: Above the thin line of brown on the upper lid, Marilyn always had an even thinner line of gold liner. I already had one of these, bought from a Christmas collection of metallic shades at Superdrug.
9. Eyeliner 4: With either a lip pencil or a lipstick brush (bright red), the smallest red dot is placed in the inside corner of the eye to make it look brighter.
10. Marilyn's eyeshadow was very subtle. Whitey applied some light brown shadow to the crease of the eyelid, and to the outer area below brow. He then added a shiny off-white to the center of the lid, brow bone, above the brow, and in the corner of the eye. I did the same, using a "smokey eye" palette from No7.
11. Finally, the false eye-lashes. My own trick came in very handy - - using a black lash adhesive to stick them in place. The falsies came from Boots and were actually too big for my eyes so I had to trim them to fit.
12. Contouring. To accentuate the cheekbones, jawline, and make your nose seem more narrow, Whitey would apply a contouring color with a blush brush below Marilyn's cheekbones, on her temples, and around and under her jawline. I did this using a bronzing powder.
13. Highlighting. Apply a shimmer highlight on top of the cheekbone in a line all the way to the corner of the eye, on top of the chin, on the t-zone, and on the forehead.
14. Lips. First, Whitey would line above Marilyn's top lip with a white pen to make the top lip look fuller. Then, he would blend it in and powder it. The lips were then lined with a red pencil The outer edges were brushed with a darker red and the middle of the mouth with a lighter red, to make lips more voluptuous. Gloss next, with a thicker dollop in the centre of the bottom lip.
15. Powder. A final dusting of translucent powder to set all the makeup.
16. Lastly, mascara is added to the lashes (both real and false) very carefully. In that era, mascara was a cake mascara but I prefer using One By One by Maybelline.