My Beauty Secrets—By Marilyn Monroe
It’s a rare night when I don’t get nine hours sleep, and more often ten, and I usually get a nap in during the day, too. It’s a real crazy week when I don’t wash my hair at least five times, and when I’m working, I shampoo it daily.
I once in a while drink a glass of wine, but never have anything stronger, and I never have more than one glass an evening. Spring, summer, autumn, winter, I sunbathe in the privacy of my garden—with as little on as possible.
For my breakfast I have two raw eggs beaten up in a glass of hot milk. That’s all. For lunch I have a green salad, sometimes with a little chicken shredded in it, or tongue, and a light French dressing. For dinner I have a small, rare steak or a couple of small, rare lamb chops and one green vegetable. I never eat desserts.
I get letters asking me how I keep my skin so clear, and I’m sure many of the girls who write me expect I’ll come up with some name of a miracle cream or lotion. Well, let me tell you that while cream and lotion can keep your complexion soft and smooth, they can’t hide the dullness that overeating and over-drinking, particularly of alcoholic drinks, will give your skin. And there’s nothing like your face scrubbed clean with good soap and water, the glow you can only get from plenty of rest, an easy-to-digest diet, and cleanliness, cleanliness about your face, figure, hair and clothes. I honestly know what I’m talking about.
When a man looks into your eyes, he doesn’t like looking into an over-heavy mess of mascara. and eyeshadow. On screen, I do have to make up my eyes considerably, but offscreen I use eye make-up so that it looks completely natural. Following the same principle, I use natural-colored fingernail polish, but I do use bright red toenail polish. And I use toilet water, lavishly.
Subtlety, that’s what. Men like sweet scents, I believe, but they don’t like to be so overwhelmed by a perfume that instead of thinking of you, they are thinking “What’s that she’s wearing?” Personally, I like to seek out a fragrance that isn’t too popular but which is flowerlike. It doesn’t exude from your skin until a man is very close to you. Then when it steals over him, it is still so subtle and unfamiliar that he thinks of you, maybe not being aware of the fragrance for what it is.
I think human hands are very beautiful. And I think they should gently whisper, “Hold me, hold me.” I’ll take neatly shaped nails with no ragged cuticle, and hands kept soft with lots of lotion—delicately perfumed—and a subtle shade of polish. But conversely, I think feet usually aren’t pretty, so I use a vivid polish on my toenails, so that they will look saucy. Except for walking, and standing on, what else can feet do, anyhow?
I don’t believe any girl thinks in terms of beauty care, except when she’s thinking of charming some man—or some men. Anyhow, I don’t. So why not face the fact that men love to run their fingers through your hair and keep it so that it will be a constant invitation to them to do just But if it looks as though it is so carefully set that one single touch will ruin your whole decorative scheme men will inhibit that impulse. They will also recoil, if when they do obey that impulse, they touch hair that is wiry with dust.
I am constantly amazed by the number of girls who don’t know that absolutely clean hair is the easiest to manage. Now that we have permanents within the reach of any girl’s purse, either at home or in a beauty parlor, there is simply no excuse for any straggling locks on the part of straight-haired girls. For natural curly-heads, it has always been a cinch. I suppose that old crack that our mothers’ generation used to make “I’ve just washed my hair, so I can’t do a thing with it” came from the fact that they washed it so seldom.
Why I can remember in one of the “homes” I had while growing up, that one of those ladies used to wash her hair only once in every three weeks and she really thought she was well-groomed.
I try to find a shampoo that is mild—because of my bleaching—and I dry my hair by hand, but never directly in the sun for the same reason. I dry it partly with a big Turkish towel, partly by brushing. Before it is quite dry, I rub a touch of toilet water into it. Then I set my pin curls in big loose waves.
One thing practically every actress in Hollywood possesses, and which I think is the best possible beauty possession, is a professional, standing hair dryer. I got mine second-hand from a beauty parlor, and so can you, from one in your home town. This way they cost about $65. I know that’s an awful amount of money—but it is the investment of years. You see, a beauty parlor always has to have the latest model, like a car showroom with automobiles. The “used” model you can get usually has nothing the matter with it, except that it may dry a shade slower than the newest type. But the thing is that with this sort of dryer right in your home, you can pop under it for ten minutes or so.
Then all you have to do is take the pins out of your curls, give your hair a fast two minutes of brushing, and the man of your dreams, will think your hair is that-a-way just naturally. For working girls, like me, I think this is heavenly, and for married girls, absolutely basic strategy.
The idea of putting pin curls in your hair, early morning, and walking around the rest of the day with those hairpins up under a net seems to me as dated as the “rats” our grandmothers used to wear.
I carry a very tiny, but stiff-bristled hairbrush with me wherever I go, and distinctly when no man is looking, I brush my hair during the day. I honestly think beauty “secrets” should be “secret”. I no more think you should use a lipstick, powder, deodorant, or hairbrush in public than you would take a bath in public.
You certainly don’t announce, “I took a bath this morning.” Certainly, you always do it, without thinking about it or talking about it. And I think that should be your rule on every beauty requirement. I always put a little perfumed bath oil in my tub—or when I shower, I dash on toilet water. That’s standard.
Next standard is to use a good deodorant. Third standard is to see that your legs and underarms are hair-clean. Fourth standard, for me, is to rub my legs, feet, arms and particularly elbows down with hand or body lotion, lightly scented. This way your skin never feels rough or dry. I rub. the lotion in, so that the skin absorbs it.
About once a week I rub an oil preparation into my scalp, too—I don’t make the mistake of trying to shampoo it out with scalding hot water. The hot water can undo all the good of the oil. It is a nuisance to get it out with tepid water—but it isn’t as much of a bore as staying home one night when you’d rather be out with. a handsome boy, remember!
And now I get to one of my own very special beauty secrets that’s caused a lot of conversation. I don’t wear a girdle—and though I say that’s one of my “secrets,” it certainly is no secret from the public.
I think the more completely natural your beauty appears to a man, the more he responds to it. And certainly that’s what you’re being beautiful for.
I am five feet, five and a half inches in height. My hips and bust are the same—about thirty-seven. My waist is twenty-three and a half. That isn’t thin—and I don’t want to be. It doesn’t make me look like a fashion model and I don’t want to look like a fashion model.
I personally don’t happen to like the slim look a girdle gives a girl—even though I admit it does make clothes look better. And I know almost everybody would argue with me, and tell me I’m wrong. But this just happens to be one of the things I’m stubborn about. And while I don’t say it’s right for everybody, I feel that it’s absolutely right for me.
Girdle or no, there’s always the weight problem. It’s grim, I know, as a girl who really likes to eat—but with all the chatter about special diets and special exercises, there is still only one way to get slim and stay slim—and that’s by eating less. When you begin to see that bulge- under your belt, the only exercise for you, baby, is that old, old one of shaking your head from left to right at the dinner table.
Personally, I don’t take regular “gym-type” exercise. do swim. And I do walk across the room every morning rolling a coke bottle along under the instep first of one foot and then the other. This. is a wonderful foot exercise and very strengthening to the leg muscles. Swimming I dote on for its exercise of the arm and breast muscles. Nothing equals it.
You add all this up it comes out to what I believe is the biggest beauty secret of all—which is to look every minute of the day every day—as if you didn’t have one beauty secret at all.
(You can see Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry a Millionaire”.)
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1953