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Kim Novak’s Do-It-Yourself Beauty Hints

At fourteen, like most teen-agers, Kim Novak hated her own looks. Her baby-fine, white-blonde hair she regarded as the end in nothing, her lashes were even more so, and her skin looked to her like skimmed-milk.

On impulse, she decided to get herself turned into a red-head. She really couldn’t afford either the time or the money, for she was working and poor, but she took both. She headed for the nearest beauty parlor in her home city of Chicago, selected a color from a chart and turned herself over to the professional ministrations of the operator.

“They shampooed me, they dyed me, and they set me,” Kim says, “and an hour and a half later, as I came out from under the dryer, I dashed to the mirror, looking to see myself turned into a dream. What I saw was a fireman’s nightmare. The color on my hair was wild and the wave was set to my skull like plaster. My pale skin, contrasted with this beet red hairdo, looked like a ghost’s and I didn’t seem to have any eyes at all.

“I just sat down and cried and cried. They told me I’d love it when I got used to it, but I knew better and as soon as I could get hold of myself and had paid my bill, I went out and headed for the nearest swimming pool. At least, I thought, I could wash that wave right out of my hair.

“Of course it was a public swimming pool, which meant there was almost as much chlorine as water in it. So while the wave certainly did come out of my hair—most of my hair came with it. And what was left, as it dried, turned green. I nearly died of embarrassment. I slunk to the nearest department store, bought one of those stocking caps, pulled it down so you couldn’t see one spear of my hair, and in that, I sneaked home. I couldn’t go to school for a week. I snipped off my hair, day after day, concocted turbans and scarfs to wear over my head when I went out—and learned my lesson the hard way.”

Kim has never dyed her hair since. For Picnic she used a red rinse, but in private life and in all her other pictures she uses a light lavender rinse over her naturally white-gold hair.

She puts this on after her shampoos, of course. When she is not in a picture, she shampoos her hair twice a week with a shampoo oil good for naturally dry hair. When filming, she washes it every day. Because her hair is so baby-fine, she uses the lightest permanent solution, puts the curls in very loosely, doing a fresh permanent about every two months. She sets her hair in standing pin curls across the top of her head every night just after she’s had her long, lazy tub bath. They do not bother her while sleeping since she never sets the back of her hair. In the morning, she doesn’t comb or “part” it. She brushes the curls out, so that her hair has its soft, lustrous, and apparently “tousled” look. It is, as you can tell by this, nothing of the sort. It is part of Kim’s art of grooming to conceal art.

Kim cuts her own hair, too, and it is beyond her why more girls don’t follow her example. “All you need,” Kim says, “are scissors, practice and two mirrors in a very good light, one to see the front of your head, the other to check the back and sides. Jean Simmons trims her hair with manicure scissors, but personally I like to use regular barber’s trimming shears. You can order these from any beauty supply house. If you’ve never cut your hair before but want to wear it in any style except up in a braid or a chignon, I advise your taking off just a little at a time, a snip here, a snip there until you get accustomed to the shape of your head and the shape of your face. If you go at it carefully, you just about can’t do yourself harm as you find a cut best for you. It’s like taking a splinter out of your finger. If somebody else does it, they go too far and hurt you, but you soon know just how far you can go. With haircutting, even if you get a bit too much off front, back or sides, here or there, it can’t hurt much. It will soon grow in again.”

She uses lavender mascara on her eyes for day time, changing it to black mascara for evening, applying the mascara to both her upper and lower eyelashes. Notice that “for daytime” and “for evening.” Right here is another of Kim’s glamour-beauty secrets.

“I advise all girls when they possibly can to make up in daylight, and out in the sun, too, if that’s possible,” Kim says. “The object of make-up, at least if you want to attract men, is to look as though you didn’t know it existed. Of course, all modern boys know about lipstick and eyebrow pencil and all the rest of it, but if you can get them to think you are the wonderful exception who uses none of these, you are really the for-sure card in their date books. Therefore, if you put on your make-up in the sunshine and it doesn’t glare off your face, if powder doesn’t show or isn’t too light, or your lipstick too red or your mascara and eyebrow pencil too obvious, you can be sure you’ll look completely natural in a night light.”

Kim laughed, suddenly, in the midst of this beauty talk. “I have a very good reason for being almost gone on the subject of make-up looking natural,” she said. “This also goes back to my teens in Chicago.”

I doll myself up”

“The object of my silent adoration was the brother of my girl friend, and he was a sergeant with all the appeal of a uniform. So one night when I knew he was going to be home on leave, I dolled myself all up. I set my hair in a very special do. ’way up on top of my head. I poured on cold cream, scrubbed it off, put on about a ton of lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, rouge, everything and anything I could think of, including about a quart of perfume. Then in the tighest dress I owned, and wearing the highest heels, I went over to my girl friend’s house.

“I saw right away that the sergeant was noticing me, and just a little later, I realized with absolutely delirious happiness that he thought me quite old—all of seventeen. My girl friend, thinking to help me out with my crush, asked me to stay the night with her. Delightedly I accepted, and it wasn’t until I went to share her room with her, around midnight, that I realized the corner I’d got myself in. For I knew that if that boy saw me without my make-up, he’d know how young I was. So because I was as dopey as you can only be at that age, I went to bed without touching my hair or taking off any make-up. The next morning I looked horrible. The boy just laughed at the sight of me and never looked at me again.”

Her skin is naturally very dry, and California makes it more so. For this reason, while she lathers her body with soap in her bath she doesn’t use it on her face but creams her face at night, after removing her make-up with skin freshener. To keep from getting too greasy from this, she uses a mild astringent in the morning. On her body, she rubs in bath oil or a body cream, though for the sheer luxury of it her favorite bath is a fluffy milk bath rinse, in which she sometimes lolls for hours. She follows that up with a bath oil rub when she gets out. She never bathes in the morning, but bounds out of bed and does exercises.

Fingernail care

Each morning, after her exercises, Kim checks the state of her manicure and pedicure. She finds that giving herself a complete pedicure once every two weeks is sufficient—but every day or so, nonetheless, she touches up her toenails with a quick flick of filing and makes their outline neat by the use of a few drops of cuticle remover applied with cotton wrapped around an orange-wood stick. For polish, she uses the brightest red she can obtain.

Her manicure, however, is different. Because she has nervous hands, and even in a scene will restlessly pick at her fingers and chip the polish, she prefers to use colorless nail polish. This doesn’t show, fortunately, with colorless polish. But because of this habit, Kim gives herself a complete manicure once a week at least, with frequent “touch-ups” in between if she’s really snagged her nails.

When it comes to the actual process of making up, Kim uses cream or oil to clean her skin and make it glisten, and a light touch of eyebrow pencil on her brows. She sees to it that she tweezes out any stray eyebrow hairs that may come too close to her nose on either side, but otherwise she lets her brows alone as they are naturally well-shaped and slender. While she uses lavender mascara, she thinks girls should experiment, use blue or green or brown mascara if that is best for their own eye shade. Also Kim believes that you should match your make up to the color of the dress you are wearing. She advises you to don the dress for a “sunshine trial” too, when making up, even if you are wearing the dress later in evening light. “I have a friend with hazel eyes,” she says. “Sometimes they are green, sometimes they look brown, sometimes black. It depends upon the color of the dress she is wearing and it is twice as effective if she uses mascara to go with the dress shade.”

When it comes to face powder and lipstick, Kim is very, very special. “On me,” she says, “indelible lipsticks always turn blue in shade, after an hour or so on, no matter how true-red or pink they looked when I first applied them. I like real reds, or true pinks. and I’ve found for me the best thing is to mix my own. I don’t put it in a tube or lipstick case or anything like that. I find lipstick colors I like with the sunlight trial. Then I mix them with a little white greasepaint.”

She doesn’t use cheek rouge, because she likes to have only her lips and her eyes emphasized. But she is very particular about face powders.

“The shade and texture of your powder can make you look younger or older,” Kim declares. “Just as no popular girl would go around wearing, let’s say, orange all the time, so I think she shouldn’t always use the same powder shade. Different dress colors cast different highlights. If a girl has to be careful of money, I’m here to tell her she can do more with the right shade of powder and an old dress than she can with a new dress and wrong powder.”

One perfume

But again, very individually, and contrary to most girls, Kim does not believe in lots of perfumes. “Perfume stirs up memories, especially for men, since their sense of smell is subtler than ours is. I think you should be associated in a man’s mind with only one fragrance. I use Ma Griffe, which to me seems neither too heavy nor too insipid. It’s nice to have a man come into a room, sniff, and say, “My girl must be here somewhere.”

Neither does Kim wear jewelry, particularly such touches as earrings or necklaces. “I want people to look at me,” she grins, explaining that one.

When she goes out, her clothes see to it that people do look at her—but at home she goes ’way to the other extreme and trots about in slacks and shirts with the tails worn outside. “In clothes,” declares Kim, “I don’t believe in being ‘just under’ very well dressed. I want to be all or nothing at all, either very, very chic in something Jean Louis or another great designer has done for me—or just completely casual in sloppy stuff. Yet the rules for looking great in your clothes are almost entirely those I think are wisest for make up. Try on your dresses a dozen times by yourself alone. Walk around in them, sit down and stand up in them until you know exactly what they will do for you. Then when you go into a room, look as though you weren’t even remotely aware of the effect of them.” Kim laughs.

“See how simple this all is?” she asks.

And the funny thing is—it is pretty simple.



Kim Novak will soon be seen in Columbia’s Pal Joey and The Jeanne Eagels Story.



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