Elizabeth Taylor’s Favorite Beauty Products, According to Her Former Executive Assistant

Elizabeth Taylor’s Favorite Beauty Products, According to Her Former Executive Assistant featured image
George Rinhart / Getty Images

It’s almost impossible to discuss both the beauty industry and the history of Hollywood without talking the impact of Elizabeth Taylor. Even 13-plus years after her death, the icon’s extraordinary life continues through her memorable acting and notable activism. While the British-born star may have left a legacy of glamor, friends say that, for Taylor, beauty truly came from the inside. “When Elizabeth was a girl, her mother told her she was nice-looking and had pretty eyes but made clear to her that it’s the expression behind your eyes that makes someone truly beautiful,” shares Tim Mendelson, Taylor’s former executive assistant, co-trustee of the House of Taylor and officer, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. “Although there was a time when Elizabeth was largely considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she understood that true beauty comes from within.”

Lip Service

Mendelson shares that, for lipstick, the trio of YSL, Chanel and Christian Dior took tops for Taylor. “Elizabeth preferred moist lipsticks in shades of red, pink and coral,” he says. “She stayed away from matte lipstick brands in general and did not embrace shades of nude, taupe or brown tones. She also used glosses with a sponge applicator in complementary shades to add that extra shine. She never blotted. In addition, she used a lip pencil to define the edges, but always stayed within her natural lip line and only used colors as close to the hue of her lipstick and lip gloss as possible.”

All Eyes

Taylor is known for her eyes and “mainly used Christian Dior shadow,” Mendelson says. “She had a palette with blues and violet, and another with greens and golds. She also used Shu Uemura and Mac eyeshadows.” For eyeliner, it was Clinique Cake Eye Liner in Dark Grey and, for mascara, Christian Dior. “Elizabeth dyed and shaped her eyebrows herself and she used a regular lead pencil on them as well.”

Face First

Taylor famously said the only moisturizer she used was Jergens face cream, but Mendelson recalls that “she also used Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour moisturizer ($29) and, later in life, La Mer and La Prairie brands.” For foundation, it was Gerda Spillmann Bio-Fond Cream-To-Powder Foundation (starting at $29) in Top Chic and for powder, a Japanese brand called POLA Maquifard Epanoui. “Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain it’s no longer made,” says Mendelson.



BUY NOW – $69

Steam Show

There are some iconic images of Taylor in the bath, and Mendelson says the real reason was the steam a hot bath creates. “Elizabeth took baths as opposed to showers. She got into the bath after her hair was set and her makeup was finished…she took her bath last because the steam set her makeup and was one of her beauty tricks. It also gave her a moment of peace before the storm.”

Water Way

For self-care and wellness, Taylor drank mostly water and plenty of it. “She credited drinking lots of water with keeping her alive,” Mendelson says. “She didn’t drink soda, and only rarely had coffee and tea.”

Rest Area

Sleep was also very important to Taylor. “She wasn’t one of those people who claimed they would rest when they’re dead,” recalls Mendelson. “In some ways, it as how she turned off the world and had some rare moments of privacy. Throughout her life, Elizabeth was hardly ever alone. Because of having people around her almost all the time, on occasion she closed her bedroom door and spent time all by herself when she needed to think and just be alone to work things through with no distractions.”

Time alone for Taylor was so rare that Mendelson says she had a name for it: “She called it ‘ET Time’ and was an important aspect of her own kind of self-care. When Elizabeth was younger and under contract to MGM Studios, riding horses was really her only time where she could be alone and feel completely free.”

Glam Squad

Taylor worked with some of the most legendary hairdressers of all time, but Mendelson says they typically did her hair at the studio if she was making a film, or they came to her if she was getting ready for an event, interview or photoshoot. “From the time she was a young girl making National Velvet, Sydney Gularoff, the legendary hair stylist who worked during Hollywood’s Golden Age created many of the trendsetting Elizabeth Taylor looks. From the late ’50s through the ’70s, Elizabeth’s favorite hairdresser was Alexandre de Paris, who is responsible for all those elaborate, fantastical styles filled with everything from fresh flowers to the most glittering of jewels from Elizabeth’s own historic collection.”

While Taylor was married to Senator John Warner during her Washington, D.C., she worked with Maury Hopson (Mendelson says this is also the same time frame where she was “hobnobbing with Andy Warhol in fabulous Halston creations and partying at Studio 54”). “From 1984 through the rest of Elizabeth’s life, she worked with her dear friend, José Eber, who was responsible for those huge power styles she wore into battle as she ferociously fought for the rights, care and cure for people living with HIV and AIDS.”

Scent Trail

Easily the prototype for a successful celebrity fragrance, Taylor grew up during a time when stylish women had a signature scent, Mendelson says. “It was something wonderful that they may have chosen early in their adult lives and wore throughout. A shared sensory experience when she entered a room and continued to waft once she was gone. Particularly, after Elizabeth almost died in London during the first shooting of Cleopatra in the early ’60s, her senses were heightened. Colors were more vivid, sounds clearer and her sense of smell stronger than ever.”

But a single scent wasn’t enough for Taylor. “She preferred layering different fragrances together to create something special and unique to her,” recalls Mendelson. “Therefore, when she was offered an opportunity to design a fragrance of her own, she jumped at the chance. She launched with the hugely successful Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion, and when the fragrance company approached her to do a second one, she was reluctant, having already put her heart and soul into something she could wear proudly as her own. However, the concept of Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds was so powerful and unique to her that she couldn’t resist!”

White Diamonds By Elizabeth Taylor Resized

BUY NOW – $70

Mendelson also says Taylor was meticulous about crafting the scents. “It was her artistry that I believe helped make White Diamonds the most successful celebrity fragrance of all time. She handpicked the specific fragrance notes that make up the perfumes in partnership with master perfumer Carlos Benaim. Bottled in in a beautiful egg-shaped vessel with a gorgeous pavé diamond bow for a stopper, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds is the anchor of the first celebrity fragrance empire. This move into fragrance paved the way for something that is now almost expected and commonplace for not only movie stars, but practically anyone experiencing their celebrated 15 minutes of fame.”

Inner Light

Above all, Mendelson says Taylor understood the importance of inner beauty, and truly embodied it. “Elizabeth had a strong sense of right and wrong with a heart so full of compassion, love, and forgiveness that she not only had lovely features, but she also radiated like the sun. There was nothing vain about Elizabeth and she embraced growing older—she saw it as an accomplishment and not something to hide.”

Mendelson also recalls that Taylor once said: “People are like rocks formed by the weather,” and wasn’t afraid to admit her faults. “She had no respect for the kind of beauty where people are afraid to smile too much. She also thought posing for still photographs is rather vain and hated having her picture taken. Elizabeth embraced life and everything it has to offer. She truly loved people, animals and nature. She was quick to laugh and make fun of herself—but had the utmost respect for everyone and everything good in the world.”

Related Posts

Find a Doctor

Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you

Give the Gift of Luxury

NewBeauty uses cookies for various reasons, including to analyze and improve its content and advertising. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more about how we use this data. By continuing to use this site, you agree to these policies.