The world’s fascination with Marilyn Monroe spans decades, and if the past year is any indication, her influence may be stronger than ever. See: Kim Kardashian’s controversial Marilyn Monroe cosplay at the 2022 Met Gala and Ana de Armas’s lead role in the upcoming Netflix biopic Blonde.
For all the ways we have tried to emulate Monroe’s effortless sex appeal, her signature beauty look has served as the constant blueprint for Hollywood glamour. Platinum blonde pin curls, red lips, and a drawn-on beauty mark have become synonymous with the 1950s screen siren, but it’s Monroe’s eye shadow look that has recently gone viral on TikTok for it’s optical illusion effect.
Monroe’s famous sleepy bedroom eyes are actually a makeup trick, using eye shadow and white eyeliner to elongate the lower lash line to help eyes appear bigger and brighter. TikTok users picked up on the beauty hack and have been re-creating the look under the hashtag #marilynmonroemakeup, which currently has more than 6 million views.
Celebrity makeup artist Clarissa Luna, who works with stars Megan Fox and Lana Condor, says that the elongated lower lash line creates the illusion of a shadow. “The Marilyn Monroe eye makeup gives an iconic, sultry effect,” she tells Glamour. “While the cat flick on top is meant to elongate the eye and give a fuller lash line, the bottom line is meant to create a shadow from the lashes, drawing the eyes down. The white liner on the waterline is meant to make the eyes look big and bright.”
This “lash shadow” is key to achieving the sleepy look. Makeup artist Hayley Kassel recently worked on a Monroe-inspired campaign for ColourPop Cosmetics and has a few tips for creating the illusion. “Try to rest your face and eyes as much as possible,” she says. “Usually, we tend to lift our brows, scrunch our foreheads, and open our eyes as wide as humanly possible when we are applying eye makeup. For this particular look, your eyes need to be as relaxed and as “sleepy” as you can make them. This will give you much more control over the correct placement of the lash shadow you are applying on the outer end of the eye.”