As part of the artifacts displayed in the “Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America” exhibit, the Makeup Museum has revealed the actress’ prescription skincare routine, and two of the products in it are still on the market all these years later.
In a document dated March 17, 1959, and addressed to Mrs. Marilyn Monroe Miller (she was married to playwright Arthur Miller at the time), dermatologist Erno Laszlo of the eponymous beauty company wrote out detailed skincare instructions for every step of the day.
In the morning, Monroe was to wash her face and neck in warm water with Active Phelityl Soap before applying “well-shaken” Normalizer Shake-It on her face, avoiding the area around her eyes, before immediately blotting it off. Beneath her eyes, she was to apply Phelitone “in tiny dots, spreading it gently over the surface” and then blotting it off as well. For the final step, she was told to apply Duo-Phase Face Powder to her entire face and neck — and then brush it off with cotton after one minute.
In the evenings, she was to repeat the morning routine, and then, “before retiring,” a separate routine was laid out. “Formal occasions” also merited their own unique regimen.
“He personalized every prescription for all of his clients, and Marilyn Monroe was on the drier side, so you can see as we walk through the prescription that all of the products were to help hydrate her skin,” says Patricia Schuffenhauer, Erno Laszlo’s chief historian and branding officer, in a video posted by the West Village museum.
More than 61 years after Laszlo prescribed the products to Monroe, the Shake-It Tinted Treatment and the Phelityl Cleansing Bar are still available for purchase today.
The regimen also includes dietary instructions, namely not to eat any kind of nuts, chocolate, olives, oysters or clams.
In addition to her prescription, Monroe also reportedly treated her skin with tons of Vaseline and long baths.
“Marilyn Monroe had the most luminous skin I ever saw,” Oscar-nominated grande dame Renée Taylor said in November. “She came into class with Lee Strasberg one day, and I just had to ask what she did. Marilyn told me, ‘I rub my entire body down with Vaseline and then get into a three-hour hot bath every morning. It gives my skin a shiny glow.’ So I tried that. I almost drowned.”