Vintage Beauty Secrets

Often I’ve looked at Hollywood starlets from the 20s to the 60s and I’ve envied how flawless and classic they seem to be. Celebrities always seem to project a special sort of confidence, glamour, and charisma, but women like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Lucille Ball continue to mesmerize people all over the world, even today. The aura that pre-70s celebrities exuded seemed to be comprised of a sweetness, but also a sultriness; not to mention, styles from the early and mid-20th Century were always flattering, and some of the best makeup and outfit-gathering secrets have their origins around this time. Take a gander at some vintage beauty secrets, and see if anything works for you!

Organic Beauty Regimens: It’s not enough to just do your hair and makeup, keeping yourself healthy, and looking to natural “remedies” is important, too! Ingrid Bergman, who starred as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca, and  María in For Whom the Bell Tolls was an exquisite natural beauty who many women were jealous of. Her secret? She focused primarily on her “inner glow.” Bergman hardly ever wore makeup—except for when she was on set.  She took her time to exercise and often took trips to the sauna. Using essential oils, eating lots of fruit, vegetables, and fish, and drinking lots of water (and tea, too) is also beneficial to achieving that “inner glow” that was so coveted of the lovely Ingrid Bergman.

Radiant, Smooth, Supple: Skin is the largest organ in the body, and not hidden like the heart, so it’s important to keep it clear and clean since it’s subject to all the harsh conditions we expose it to, not realizing that we do so because it protects us. Do your skin a favor and pamper it! For skincare we can also turn to nature. To keep your skin soft and to prepare to preserve its youthful glow (so that you look 60 at 80) apply buttermilk all over your face daily. The lactic acid found in heaps in buttermilk is a key ingredient to many desired and pricey beauty products, as well as part of facial peels used by dermatologists. For a full-body buttermilk treatment add a cup to a hot bath. Adding half a cup of olive oil (which softens and moisturizes the skin, and is a personal beauty secret of the 1950s bombshell, Sophia Loren) and twelve drops of lavender oil can also help to soothe and pamper the skin. Regular milk can also be used as an alternative to buttermilk, although it’s not as powerful. Turning it into ice adds extra benefits, as ice being applied to the face daily (for at least five minutes) shrinks pores. If you want a natural moisturizer try honey—it also has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties! A classic that many people know about is the honey-avocado face mask. You can find many recipes and tutorials of how to make it online. Other skin-friendly products include coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, marula oil, aloe vera, and shea butter. Also, coconut oil can be used for both tanning and whitening, so it can help to achieve whatever complexion you desire for yourself. Never forget to moisturize and exfoliate, too, it can make a huge difference.

Soft, Silky, and Sweet: Coconut oil, argan oil, and olive oil aren’t only good just for skin, but splendid for the hair as well. Because skin needs oil to stay healthy, so too does the scalp to help hair grow. Coconut oil and olive oil especially are renowned for their aid in super, healthy hair growth. If you want hair-wash, the best shampoos are as follows: Pantene (my favorite is Pantene Pro-V Smooth and Sleek with Argan Oil), Head and Shoulders (they’re known for their dandruff-care, but the company also has other wonderful products. Definitely try their Smooth and Silky, or Extra Volume shampoos. I, personally, recommend Ocean Lift, or one of their products that contains almond oil—they smell luxurious. They even have Old Spice shampoo, for if you like the musky things in life), Loreal: Advanced Haircare (Nutri-Gloss is incredible because it has glyco-silk in its formula), Philosophy (Fresh Cream is ‘wow’), Organix (they have a product with coconut oil in its formula), and the classic shampoo favored by 50s people themselves (which was even mentioned on Mad Men and used by Christie Brinkley): Prell. For conditioners turn back to Organix, Pantene, and Prell for shiny, healthy hair of all types. Take care of those silky, sleek locks!

Makeup Tricks: Along with taking great care of their bodies, skin, and hair, vintage stars also had advanced makeup tips. Marilyn Monroe’s lifelong makeup artist, Allan “Whitney” Snyder, had many tricks up his sleeve—optical illusions and tips for accentuation. Snyder often contoured and highlighted Marilyn’s face to achieve the “perfect” heart-shaped look. He shaded the sides of her chin to make it appear longer, contoured her cheekbones to make them seem higher, using blush to enhance the effect, but also to give her a rosy, fresh glow (Marilyn often wore pinks and corals to give a warm, but soft radiance, instead of red). Monroe’s makeup artist would contour and highlight around her forehead to make it appear wider, but still slim. He also shaded the sides of her nose to make it appear thinner, and more delicate, highlighting down the bridge. To create an “upturned” nose look, Snyder added a little bit of blush to the tip of her nose. Marilyn was also famous for her dewy skin, deep, sultry eyes, and “perfect” lips. To achieve these things is actually not so tumultuous. For an eye-look like Marilyn’s (often nicknamed the Garbo-eye), highlight your brow bones and the inner corners of your eyes. Next shape your lid using a smoky blue color, which creates depth. Tightline your eyes (line your  upper waterline), to make your lashes look thicker, and create an angled line under your bottom lashline to create an illusion of eyelash shadows. Line your bottom waterline with white afterwards, and on both ends of the corners of your bottom waterline add red dots to accentuate the white. You may also add a bit of coconut oil or Vaseline to the upper eyelid for a glistening look, which the star herself adored. Marie Claire’s website ( also has one of Whitney’s famous eye tricks:

For quick, everyday slashes of eyeliner, most women are either brown or black pencil kinds of girls. But Snyder used a combination of both on Monroe, using Elizabeth Arden’s classic eye pencils in both hues. He applied liner to her upper lids and waterlines, extending the lash lines with wings to elongate [the eye]. But his most important trick? Sketching out a small white triangle on the outer corner of the eye, in between the top and lower liner wings, to make her eyes look bigger and wider. Additionally, he drew white on the waterlines and put a dot of red liner in the inner corner to make her eyes look even whiter.​”  

The result is beautiful, bombshell eyes. For Marilyn’s supple, fresh looking skin, add a dollop of Vaseline to the apples of your cheeks, but not too much since petroleum jelly can damage the skin if not used in moderation, but in small amounts it can help to moisturize (and remember the blush trick). Lastly, Marilyn’s artist’s luscious lip trick: Five shades of lipstick (and more highlighting and contouring). You can find a picture-by-picture tutorial on how to do this at Also keep in mind that using a darker lipstick in the middle of your top and bottom lips creates a more 3D look, and if you highlight on the cupid’s bow and create a shadow under your lip, it will give you an easy pout.   

Vintage dolls like Ginger Rogers, and American sweethearts like Elizabeth Taylor, are the envy of many girls from their times, and even today. To achieve that classic glamour and allure seems like a challenge, but truthfully it’s simple and even fun! One thing you must always remember, however, is that the mega starlets of times past didn’t just rely on makeup, organic products, and healthy bodies to look, feel, and be fabulous (although those were all vital to their performances)—Dorothy Dandridge, a famed leading lady, has said, “Sex appeal doesn’t depend entirely on physical attributes; it’s a kind of vitality and energy.” Besides, a natural glow and a brilliant confidence is just as admirable as any vintage star could come to be.

If you flaunt a natural glow and brilliant confidence then you’ve already turned the key to vintage beauty.

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