Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo… So many legendary icons whose aura and beauty still fascinate. Behind this presence, this almost unreal brilliance, a well-oiled Hollywood machine combining aesthetic and cosmetic techniques. “The notion of glow is intrinsically linked to the film industry and to the rise of modern make-up which precisely began in Hollywood. At the time, actresses had to shine by displaying this fresh and radiant complexion which was almost aura and worked in synergy with the lighting of the studios »observes Lisa Eldridge, expert in the history of beauty and creative director of makeup at Lancôme.
Until the 1920s, when cinema began to become an industry, theater codes remained in use. The actors could assume any role by making up thick layers of make-up, the spectators saw nothing. But when cinematographic techniques were perfected, it was necessary to change the method: close-ups on faces, black and white, then technicolor no longer allowed these “hoaxes”. Thanks to cosmetic magicians like Max Factor, the golden fingers of make-up artists like the Westmore brothers or Allen Whitey Snyder, Marilyn Monroe’s official make-up artist, and a skilful dosage of lighting, the stars and their incomparable glow burst the screen.
“If we look closely, the notion of glow in beauty appealed to several key principles. And that still applies to today. There is the finesse of the skin texture, the radiance of a complexion without imperfections, without spots, explains doctor Arnaud Lambert, aesthetic doctor. To this must be added a plumped epidermis where wrinkles and fine lines are erased. The goal of all this is to obtain a face that knows how to capture the light and literally radiates. This is the key element, like in the cinema. »
The success of complexion illuminators
From the beginnings of Hollywood, we had understood this well when we noticed that studio spots offered unflattering lighting that hardened and “flattened” the features. To soften them and restore volume, everything hinged on how to sculpt the face by accentuating the light on key points. In this area, the techniques of legendary photographers like George Hurrell became a school and contributed to the glamor of a marvelously luminous face. We added some make-up tricks that offered a “glowing” effect with a brushstroke. On this subject, Lisa Eldridge tells a funny anecdote about Marlene Dietrich: “In the 1930s, the star was renowned for perfectly mastering the make-up techniques that highlighted her. So, to enhance her glow and literally sculpt her face, she applied a thin layer of silver paint to the bridge of her nose. Under the spotlight, the result was spectacular”details the make-up artist who now uses similar principles: “An even, even skin tone with highlights forms the basis of almost every look I create, especially for the red carpet or on a film set. »
But it is not only among professionals that these methods are proven. Among consumer brands, all the illuminators (the famous “highlighters”) in powder or cream, such as at Chanel or at Fenty, evoke the techniques used by Marlene Dietrich or Max Factor. And what about glosses and sticks at Dior and Gucci? Their transparent and shiny finish is furiously reminiscent of that of a product that gave an extraordinary shine to Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner: Vaseline. One thing is certain, with some labels, influence is clearly claimed. This is particularly the case of Charlotte Tilbury, nicknamed the “queen of glow”, who launched a whole range called Hollywood Flawless Filter.
But let’s not kid ourselves, it wasn’t just the magic of the studios and make-up behind the Hollywood glow. Already at the time, there were experts in aesthetics and nutrition who worked as real guru. They were called Gayelord Hauser, Erno Laszlo or Adelle Davis, Madame Lubatti. And like machines such as LPG’s WellBox S, which now works wonders on glow, we were treated to rather explosive inventions such as Dr. Ackerman’s Glamor Bonnet… The fact remains that each star had their own tailor-made treatments to be combined with sometimes restrictive diets. The raw eggs that Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo had to eat every morning bear witness to this. And those who consulted Dr. Laszlo were “fired” on the spot, if they did not follow his recommendations to the letter. Ava Gardner, they say, almost paid the price. A proper sitting in the doctor’s office narrowly saved her.
In 2022, many specialists such as doctors Barbara Sturm with her eponymous brand and Olivier Courtin with My Blend combine an interior and exterior approach, with the same spirit as at the time. But this time by adding the notion of pleasure and by offering targeted food supplements to be combined with cosmetics. And when it comes to taking care of actresses for events such as the Oscars or the Cannes Film Festival, there too the facialists provide beauty and nutrition advice.
“With festivals that stretch over several days, their skin is put to the test and they have to prepare in advance, usually a month before the big day. I often propose to do a great care every 15 days then a third the day beforeexplains Sophie Carbonari who sees Naomi Campbell or Emmanuelle Béart pass through her hands. To specific massages inspired by Japanese techniques, I suggest combining some dietary habits rich in essential fatty acids to which we can add magnesium and evening primrose oil. And for a special glow infusion, lemon with ginger and turmeric is the perfect combination”she adds.
If we look closely, the notion of glow in beauty appealed to several key principles. And that still applies to today. There is the finesse of the skin texture, the radiance of a complexion without imperfections, without spots.
Doctor Arnaud LambertCosmetic doctor
What about the general public? He too is won over by the Hollywood “glowy”. “More and more women are consulting me and talking to me about glow, it’s a term that has come into use. And thanks to new centers like that of Esthé, we have different techniques to combine to achieve this.explains Arnaud Lambert. BBL laser with Peeling or HydraFacial treatment… But requests have evolved since the Covid, patients want much more natural effects than before. And above all, their approach is part of a more global approach to feeling good, in the same way as food or sport. »
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Beauty: Hollywood, the glow factory
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