Beauty secrets and tips from Hollywood starlets

I, myself, adore the old Hollywood look of the 1930s and 1940s. But that probably does not come as a surprise. Almost every day I apply make up like they did in old Hollywood. The make up of that time interests me a great deal and I love to experiment with it while I am sitting behind my 1930s vanity table in a comfortable peignoir and the radio plays old music of those era's.

Here are a few beauty tips and secrets silver screen actresses used, to be a little more beautiful than they already were!

★ Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh is mayhaps one of the most beautiful women in the world and best known for her marvelous role as Scarlett 'O Hara in Gone with the wind. Vivien always thought of her beauty as a handicap. In her own words: "People think that if you look fairly reasonable, you can't possibly act, and as I only care about acting, I think beauty can be a great handicap." 

Vivien Leigh, however, was always worried that her bottom lip was too thin. She always drew her lipliner much lower beneath her natural lip line to create the illusion of fuller lips.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman was one of the few actresses that never wore makeup unless her work demanded it.
When Ingrid came to Hollywood, she came without a makeup case. She didn't even know what it was.
When she had to undergo screen tests, she always demanded she would do the tests first without makeup and after that one, one with makeup. Ingrid Bergman refused to let Hollywood tinker on her face and image. She refused to thin her eyebrows and she refused to change her name. Something that was very common for a new-comer in Hollywood.

Ingrid did everything Hollywood did not want her to; she ate and drank what she wanted (Ingrid was a compulsive eater) and stayed up late. Ingrid never throught that a beauty routine was necessary for her. She only used creams when they had a fascinating smell. As for excersise; that was not for Ingrid aswell. The only excersise she did was walking.

The one thing that Ingrid actually did was to shave off 1 centimeter of hair, as she thought a larger forehead would make her look more intelligent. But she kept that a secret for everyone.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe had a wide range of make up tricks which she took with her to the grave.
But ... a few are known nowadays. Marilyn always applied 5 layers of lipstick in different shades of red to create fuller lips. She applied the darker lipstick on the outer edges and the lighter shades in the middle to lend dimension, and with a highlighted cupid bow and bottom lip.

Also did she use a lot of horomone cream. A nasty side effect of that, was that Marilyn had a lot of peach fuzz on her face, which she refused to shave off. Her argument was that the peach fuzz, when it was hit by light, caused her face to have a soft glow so that they didn't have to photograph her through special lenses, lace or Vaseline like they did with so many other actresses. 

Her bosom was without any doubt a focus. Marilyn used to place marbles in her bra or she took three buttons which she sew together in her bra to get pert-nipples.

Marilyn also took freezingly cold baths to reduce the appearance of cellulite, sometimes with a drop of her favorite perfume Chanel no.5. 

Marlene Dietrich
It is rumored that Marlene Dietrich had a few of her back teeth removed so that her cheekbones appeared higher and more defined, but these are, as she said so herself aswell, false rumors. Marlene also used surgical tape to pull back her hairline to simulate a face lift.

Marlene never used mascara on her lower eye lashes as she thought that gave shadows underneath her eyes that would make her look tired.

Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard was quite insecure about her crooked nose, so she drew a thin white line down it before make up was applied. She believed that this created the illusion of a straight nose.

Usually in the evening Carole slightly lengthened her eyebrows with a blue pencil.

Rita Hayworth
Rita is famous for her beautiful auburn colored hair. And to keep that hair in lustrous condition, she would wash it with hot water, rinse it, then saturate it with oil and wrap it up in a towel for 15 minutes.
Then she'd rinse it out with hot water, a cleanser and lemon juice to get rid of any over residue.

Rita also had the longest nails of all actresses according to some reporters. Rita's favorite body parts were, as you can guess, her hands. One of her beauty secrets was rubbing cream on her cuticles.

Ginger Rogers
According to her own words, the only thing Ginger did to keep fit and in shape was dancing. However, it saddened her that it also made her underweight. Ginger had a vast routine to keep her skin in condition aswell. Ginger loved the cleanly feel of soap and water cleansing. In addition, Ginger also used a cleansing cream; a thick one and not the liquifying type. The cream was wiped off with a soft tissue. Then she saturated a pad of cotton with witch-hazel. The face and the throat were patted briskly to wake up the circulation. Ginger did this every night and followed it meticulously the following morning.

A tip from Miss Rogers about nails:
"If your nails are of various lengths, apply a deep nailpolish over the entire nail and remove just the minutest edge from the very tip. They will seem to be of the similar length and beauty".

Mae West
Mae West was an early believer of coconut oil. Not to eat it, but to spread it onto her face. She swore that that was the key to youthful skin. Mae West indeed looked younger than most of her peers decade after decade. Mae did not smoke or drink. Drinking alcohol causes tired looking eyes. 

Mae also kept a beautiful skin due to weekly colonics. She also kept that beautiful skin because of "hot baby oil applied daily by a man".

Greta Garbo
Greta's eye make up was a fine art. She applied a thin layer of petroleum jelly on her eyelids, covered with neutral skin-toned powder and blended a dark shade into the crease for a theatrical and deep set appearance. She also lined her upper eye lid with eyeliner made from a blend of petroleum and charchoal pigment.

Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow dismanded the makeup look. She never wore mascara unless when she was at work for a film. But the screen make up is much different from the personal makeup you apply. Jean, when she did not had to work, usually only wore powder and lipstick. Jean believed too much makeup is bad for women who prefer a healthy, natural complexion.

Jean never used a particular treatment for her hair. She just washed it but didn't rinse it. She shampood her hair four days a week and rubbed hot castor oil on her scalp before every shampoo.

Jean lighted her hair with potent mixture of peroxide, ammonia and Lux flakes (Old fashioned washing powder).

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford was a hardrock gum chewer in belief that it would firm her jaw and helped to drain the toxins out from under her chin. She also loved to splash her face 25 times with ice cold water after every wash. But she did more than just splashing ice cold water in her face; she also demanded that it was almost freezing on the sets on all of her pictures. She felt that this would help with her makeup and skin clarity.

Her recipe for dry hair was a masque of mayonaise. Joan also avoided sitting in soft chairs which spread the hip.

Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer detested the powdered look and thinks that, since the transparant skin is the loveliest, it ought to be either encouraged or simulated. Norma used two shades of powder. A peach shade first which she felt simulated a blush underneath a skin. Then she blends rachel or dark tan on top. Norma got quickly tanned, that's why she used a darker shade in the summer. For blondes or women who like to stay lily-white she recommends they use the same shade they prefer all year round. The blending was done with the softest of camel hair brushes and the final brush completes the toilette. This tones down shine and leaves a lovely, groomed look that looks everything but powdered.

Paulette Goddard
"Many beauty difficulties are the result of carelessness". This was the observation of Paulette Goddard.
Paulette believes that cleanliness in all beauty items is a precaution against trouble. Paulette thought that every woman should have at least two combs and brushes in order to have a clean set at all times.

Loretta Young
Loretta Young's beauty ritual when ready for bed was to sit behind her dressing table and relax the muscles of her face. She stroked her face for five minutes gently.

She also soaked her hands twice a week in hot oil; as hot as she could stand it.
Her favorite excersise was ballroom dancing and archery.


  1. Anonymous28 May, 2013

    Wonderful makeup-essay! Instructive & entertaining at the same time. Thanks!

  2. What a great post, I really like it. A lot of tips and tricks for beauty. They were so beautiful women.

  3. This was fascinating. But what an awful lot of effort for some of them to go to. I think Vivien Leigh is so beautiful.

  4. That was a fascinating read :)

  5. Anonymous29 May, 2013

    These were all excellent to read! I love the warm oil wash for hair (I use a mixture of coconut and olive oil on my hair) and I also am a big fan of cold cream followed by witch hazel. I make my own cold cream as it is so hard to get here in Australia.

    Loved this post so much!

  6. Lovely post and very interesting to read all those tips^^

  7. I really enjoyed this post - just fabulous! I thought that it was very interesting reading about all these beauties' beauty secrets. I might want to test some of these out. And Ingrid Bergman - you fabulous woman!

  8. Thank you for the lovely post - I'm going to have to try some of these tips! Also, your Spitfire post was breathtaking.

  9. Lovely post! I loved your Spitfire post also!

  10. That was a great read - really enjoyed it! The things some of these ladies did to stay looking youthful!

  11. Great balls of fire Gone with the Wind is one of the greatest movies of all time. I do not think that it would be possible in this era to become a hugely successful young actress without some form of augmentation, least of all with no makeup. Thanks for the stories.

    My Webblog:

  12. Anonymous17 June, 2013

    If you took acting away from me, I'd stop breathing.

    Ingrid Bergman

  13. Anonymous17 June, 2013

    If you took acting away from me, I'd stop breathing.

    Ingrid Bergman

  14. Good topics & articles these are so important for anyone for get an idea about beauty. This is a fantastic website, could you be interested in going through an interview concerning just how you know it? I am more enjoyed reading your description. I offer to you Natural Beauty Tips and teaching Commercial to Residential Conversion.

  15. Baazar Magazine stole this article about a year ago. Almost verbatim

  16. Anonymous08 July, 2016

    You forgot to add that Paulette Goddard had cheekbone implants, as did Claudette Colbert. I tried to find out what year those were invented because we're talking early 1930s here if not before, but I was not able to find the year that silicone cheekbone implants were invented. Maybe they even were made out of something else besides silicone back then.

    Claudette's are very prominent so easily identifiable as are Sally Field's. an easy way to tell when an older actress has cheekbone implants is that her entire face is wrinkled but cheek wrinkles stop at the silicone implants because they pull the skin taut so that skin cannot wrinkle above cheek implants. Example of those are Hillary Clinton, Florence Henderson and Cloris Leachman. look closely, and you will see that The wrinkles strangely stop to create a smooth triangle appearance where the Cheek implant was inserted! major Telltale sign and for me much more fascinating than make up. Cheekbone implants are quite possibly Hollywood's best kept secret from way back when and even the men have them of course.

  17. Do you know why Marilyn Monroe used hormone cream??? I don't understand why. Thanks!

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Anonymous27 July, 2018

    I want to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

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    blog. Is it very difficult to set up your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.

    I'm thinking about making my own but I'm not sure where to start.
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