From her bleach blonde hair to her signature sultry red lip, Marilyn Monroe was undoubtedly one of the first celebrity beauty icons. Though we know a lot about the actress’ wardrobe secrets and even her personal affairs, what the star was doing behind the scenes to keep her complexion in tip top shape has long been a secret. But, with the discovery of an original note written to Monroe by her dermatologist, we now know just what the legendary beauty was doing to her skin.
Our insight into Monroe’s skin-care and beauty routine comes from the discovery of a note dated March 17, 1959, from Dr. Erno Laszlo, the actress’ dermatologist. Dr. Laszlo’s instructions for Monroe are simple but precise. In the morning, Monroe was to wash her face and neck in warm water with Laszlo’s own Active Phelityl Soap—nowadays, the Phelityl Cleansing Bar ($44)—before applying the brand’s Shake-It Tinted Treatment in Neutral ($59) all over the face with a saturated cotton ball, blotting with tissues when done. Then, Laszlo instructed Monroe to apply his brand’s Phelitone to the under eyes only before blotting with tissues again. Finally Monroe applied Laszlo’s Duo-Phase Face Powder to the whole visage, wiping off excess after about a minute.
Funny enough, Monroe’s “evening before dressing” instructions simply read “follow instructions for ‘Morning'”, but, the note did include special instructions for “on formal occasions” and for “evening before retiring.” For formal occasions, Monroe was to apply the Phelitone to the entire face rather than just the under eyes. Before bed, the actress applied Active Phelityl Oil to the entire face, neck and lips, before applying an Active Phelityl Cream to the whole face and neck. She then washed off the cream and applied the Controlling Lotion to the face, avoiding the under eyes and lips.
Finally, Laszlo’s note to Monroe included a short list of foods to avoid, which included nuts, chocolate, oysters, clams and olives. From her extensive routine to her curated diet, it’s safe to say Monroe might just have been the first beauty influencer and she didn’t even know it.