Old Hollywood Glamour Secrets We Can Still Use Today

Let's admit it, Hollywood thespians are running the show — both literally and metaphorically. And by the show, we mean everything from the television series we fall asleep to each night, all the way to the outfit you're wearing right now. That's right — the cute halter top you picked up last week at Express was seen on Blake Lively last month; now, it's trending and can be found on every sale rack from the East to the West Coast. Always wanted that Angelina Jolie pout? There's a million YouTube tutorials detailing exactly which products you should use to achieve the fullest, poutiest of pouts. We have more access to all of the celebrity fashion, skincare, makeup, and haircare than we even know what to do with.

Life wasn't always like this, though. There was a time in the decades before us when Hollywood was dawning like the sun — bringing with it a new day and new life to the art of cinema. Hollywood long ago was shrouded in mystery and dark secrets, but admittedly that adds to its allure even further. In fact, according to the 1995 documentary "The Hollywood Style," the idea of what truly makes a Hollywood movie, well, a Hollywood movie, was perfected in the '20s and '30s. It was said that the combination of world-class acting, sophisticated directing, and keen production all mesh together to bring us a movie that has one primary goal — for us to get so invested in the story that we forget we're watching a film.

The rise of the Max Factor era

Interestingly enough, we can get lost in the realistic drama of an old silver screen performance through the makeup techniques that were used on the performers. Because of the way cameras functioned back in those times, makeup artists had to take careful precautions and develop so-called hacks in order for these beauties to show up in black and white films in a pleasing way, per Cabinet Magazine. According to Erika Thomas, author of "Max Factor and Hollywood: A Glamorous History," makeup was a science to those who revolutionized it — namely, Max Factor, or "The Father of Modern Makeup," as noted by Arcadia Publishing.

Factor is known to have said, "You are not born glamorous. Glamour is created." With famous faces in the hands of Factor himself, like Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, and Jane Russell, women lined up to purchase Max Factor products in order to look like their favorite stars. Little did the public know, however, these A-list stunners took steps far beyond just makeup to complete their beauty regimens. It was a mixture of makeup tricks, at-home skincare tips, and camera techniques that allowed actresses like Monroe to fully blossom as queens of the big screen.

Although the era of Old Hollywood has come and gone, people today still idolize and strive for the signature looks these icons left behind. While modern day beauty has come a long way — many tips and tricks they used back then were rather dangerous — some lessons we took from them are just simply timeless. What are some ways you can incorporate a bit of Old Hollywood glamour into your 21st century beauty routine while still keeping things current?

Marilyn Monroe's eye trick

Most people around the world have likely heard of Marilyn Monroe. The impact that this old-fashioned starlet left behind following her 1962 passing is immeasurable, and though she appears — somewhat cliché-like, even — on just about every Old Hollywood list of things known to man, there's no denying there's good reason for that. Sixty years after her death, we're still hanging posters, buying memorabilia, and binging documentaries on Netflix that are often centered around the life of Norma Jeane Mortenson.

One of the most favorite and well-known hacks that Monroe's makeup artist created was a combination of four strategically placed eyeshadow shades. This trick is so well-known, in fact, that it actually went viral on TikTok for how well it works — it involves playing with shadows to make your eyes look heavier, but brighter. "The cat flick on top is meant to elongate the eye and give a fuller lash line, while the bottom line is meant to create a shadow from the lashes, drawing the eyes down," celebrity makeup artist Clarissa Luna told Glamour. She added, "The white liner on the waterline is meant to make the eyes look big and bright."

To achieve the look, you'll want to first apply white shadow all the way up to your brow bone. Then, go in with neutral shades on the lid, such as taupes and browns. Create a smoky wing, not only along your upper lash line, but your lower one as well — this is what is going to give you that notorious look that Monroe was famous for: bedroom eyes. It will create the illusion that your eyelashes are so full and voluminous that they're actually casting a shadow.

Sophia Loren's Italian olive oil

After Sophia Loren won Miss Elegance in a 1950 Italian beauty pageant, it didn't take very long for the rest of the world to recognize her unfathomable beauty, per Flashbak. At the pageant, she met film producer Carlo Ponti and the rest is history. In the years to come, Loren would become known globally as one of the most iconic and coveted women in Hollywood. Ever hear of the Sophia Loren eye? Yep, that's right — she was the original queen of the bold cat-eye winged liner look.

When Loren said, as noted by Vogue, "A woman's dress should be like a barbed wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view," she made it quite clear that showing off her skin held no place of fear inside her mind. Aside from her daring and smoky eye looks, Loren's skin has been a hot topic for decades. Her secret? Olive oil. And there's actually an interesting science behind it. The polyphenols and vitamins found in olive oil work wonders for the skin by providing moisture and locking it in — all while its antioxidants help prevent sun damage, per Olive Oil Times. Loren is known to add at least two tablespoons of olive oil to her food, use it as a moisturizer, and add a few capfuls to her bath for a luxurious soak.

Elizabeth Taylor's signature scent

Settling on a signature scent can be an intimidating decision. However, with the guidance of one Hollywood icon, many have embraced the commitment. The success of White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor over the years has hinted at the continued importance of a dynamic fragrance.

Most don't realize that Taylor's stardom in Hollywood long surpassed those of other top icons, like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, with a career lasting for over half a century. On top of that, her beauty routines were always evolving with the times. But one passion Taylor always carried with her was that for fragrance, and she shared it with the world in her personal fragrance line. Her fragrances have become some of the highest selling perfumes in history.

Taylor's granddaughter Eliza Carson tells Southern Living, "The one thing I am never without is my grandmother's perfume. Whether it's Gardenia or White Diamonds, I wear her perfume as a way of channeling an image of her strength, dedication, and compassion and simply as a reminder of her." You too can opt for one of Taylor's signature scents to channel your inner glamour icon, but if her fragrances tend to lean a little too much toward reminding you of your own grandmother, try Ysatis by Givenchy — it's thought to smell similar to White Diamonds but with bolder, more earthy notes.

Katharine Hepburn's DIY exfoliating scrub

With some of the most well-known leading lady roles in Old Hollywood, including "Little Women" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Katharine Hepburn was a force of nature. Her ferocious, independent, and outspoken-yet-sophisticated personality shot her up to mega-stardom in the 1930s. Though Hepburn was not particularly known for being a makeup queen, her natural beauty was the envy of women everywhere.

As one who did not rely on tons of makeup and beauty hacks to work the silver screen, Hepburn did rely on tips and tricks that would have her skin looking smooth, glowing, and youthful. As noted by The Health Site, Hepburn reportedly exfoliated her skin with her own DIY mixture of sugar, warm water, and lemon juice — a concoction that's actually great for your skin.

Emilie Davidson Hoyt, founder and president of Lather, shares with HuffPost that sugar can help your skin in more ways than one. "First, sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the skin," Hoyt explains. "So when you apply products with sugar or sugar derivatives, they'll actually help hydrate your skin and keep moisture within." Not only that, sugar is loaded with natural AHAs that promote skin cell turnover — this equals anti-aging.

Audrey Hepburn's skincare routine

It's a rainy Sunday in spring — you're off from work and having a self-care day. This includes the full package: DIY face masks, a cozy robe and slippers, snacks, and the fireplace roaring. It's time to choose a movie. It's hard to imagine a more feminine and bright chick-flick than the famous "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but we all know that it's not the storyline that reels us in each time — it's Audrey Hepburn.

While it's no secret that Hepburn supposedly went through some extreme beauty measures — such as using tweezers to go through each of her eyelashes when applying mascara to avoid clumping — some of her most realistic and doable beauty tricks have to do with the way she took care of her skin. "Working in the theatre, I've seen what not removing makeup well can really do to the skin, so I'm very careful about that," explained Hepburn, per British Vogue. While the actress typically washed with just soap and water, we tend to know better than that these days — using soap as a cleanser is a no-no, but you get the point of how far a clean face can go.

In fact, Hepburn's son Luca Dotti added on that, disclosing how important staying hydrated was to his mother: "She was really about drinking a lot of water and eating a lot of vegetables," he wrote in his memoir, "Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen." "It was a matter of how she was brought up." Who else is down for a trip to the grocery store?

Veronica Lake's iconic waves

Does anyone else remember when Amanda Seyfried completely stopped our hearts at the 2021 Golden Globes? Let's just talk about the hair for a minute: It's lush, bouncy, voluminous, and looks so soft we could take a nap in it. Seyfried's hairstylist Renato Campora reveals to Elle UK, "I use a barrel tong to curl and set the hair, then brush it out to loosen the curl. That way it stays full and voluminous but also fresh and natural. Avoid using too much hairspray to set the hair — you want it to look lifted but not rigid."

What many may not realize, however, is that this hairstyle is one that isn't native to 2021. You see, decades before we had Seyfried, we had Veronica Lake. Almost a mirror image to Seyfried's blonde, bouncy curls, Lake was known throughout Hollywood for her plush and dreamy golden waves. In fact, according to The Wedding Community, what made Lake's waves so special was the added peek-a-boo effect — which left one wave hiding her eye to allude to some mystery. The secret to nailing the curl over one eye look? Creating a very deep part prior to curling — which will allow the hair to naturally fall over the face.

Ginger Rogers' witch hazel

All of us have seen the iconic black and white clips of a man and woman dancing — you know, the happy-go-lucky swing and tap dancing routines where the male is clad in a nice suit while the woman's short, blonde ringlets bounce along with her every move. While we've all seen these videos, many people don't actually know what it is or where it comes from. This vibrant and lively duo just so happens to be Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire — who starred in several films together in the 1930s.

As noted by Darling's Jewlery, Rogers was known throughout Hollywood for her stunning complexion. It's been reported that Rogers used pads soaked with witch hazel as an astringent and as an anti-inflammatory for breakouts, and the good news is that this Old Hollywood secret has never faded away. In fact, according to dermatologists, witch hazel has multiple uses for the skin. While its cleansing properties make it a great skin cleanser, it can also be used to reduce stretch marks and disinfect wounds. "Thanks to its antiseptic properties, it can be used topically to cleanse and soothe minor skin irritations without over-drying or aggravating the wound," dermatologist Dendy Engelman tells Byrdie.

Jean Harlow's shampoo recipe

Jean Harlow can be thought of as the Gwen Stefani of her time — Stefani actually played Harlow in 2004's "The Aviator." Harlow was typecast as the bad girl of Old Hollywood, and was often viewed as a vamp, femme fatale, and blonde bombshell. Before Marilyn Monroe worked her way to the top, Harlow held the crown for the leading sex symbol of the 1930s. As such, Harlow's platinum blonde locks were of utmost importance for keeping up with her reputation.

According to "Hollywood Beauty: Vintage Secrets," by Laura Slater, in order to keep her regularly bleached hair in mint condition for the big screen, Harlow formulated her own DIY shampoo, which can actually still be made today. She would grate castile soap, then mix it with five cups of boiling water. After pouring the mixture in a mason jar, she would allow it to sit and cool overnight. Finally, she rubbed warm castor oil into her scalp before shampooing, as demonstrated by YouTuber Laura Jane Atelier. After trying the DIY shampoo out for herself, Atelier was pleasantly surprised with the results, noting how much shampoo she was able to make out of one bar of castile soap.

But why the castor oil? According to a study published by International Journal of Trichology, using oil as a step before shampooing can allow for many benefits, such as restoring moisture, protecting the hair follicles before shampooing, and preventing hygral fatigue.

Bette Davis' eyes

As you're cruising down the freeway, not a care in the world, one of your favorite tunes pops on the radio: "Bette Davis Eyes," by Kim Carnes. You sing along to each and every word, not quite knowing exactly what "Bette Davis Eyes" really even means. That's okay. Seeing as Davis passed away in 1989, many in this day and age might not be familiar with her films. To sum it up, Davis had big, beautiful eyes. It wasn't so much about the color, as most of her films were in black and white, but more about the size and shape that drew people in. 

Although Davis had naturally large and enticing windows to the soul, there are still ways you can replicate her look with makeup. To make your eyes appear bigger, depending on your complexion you can opt for a taupe or brown shade to fill in the crease. Except, you'll fake a crease that's higher by filling in the area above yours. To amplify the look even further, trace your waterline with a white eyeliner; this will make the whites of your eyes pop — giving you the look of the big, iconic stunning eyes Davis was blessed with.