How to Get Glamorous Marilyn Monroe–Style Curls

Here's how to do it yourself

Marilyn Monroe black and white portrait

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Getty Images

The late, great Marilyn Monroe: There's no question she's an eternal style icon. From her unforgettable white halter dress in the film "The Seven Year Itch" to her big, soft curls, her image is copied time and again because it's the very definition of sexy.

Whether you want to infuse a little 1950s glam into your everyday or evening look, or you're transforming into Marilyn for a costume, her classic curls are achievable at home. This look is best on hair that's around shoulder length, but it works for hair that's a bit longer, too.

Here's everything you need, plus the step by step to channel Ms. Monroe and her glorious curls.

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Gather Your Tools

To get a soft curl a la Marilyn Monroe, the hardest part really is choosing the right tools and products. You'll need mousse, hot rollers, a brush, a comb, and hairspray, as well as a smoothing serum if you have frizzy hair.

Try these: 

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Prep Your Hair

Start with clean, wet hair. Comb out any tangles. Apply a generous amount of mousse from your roots to ends for extra body. Part your hair to one side and blow-dry, gently lifting hair from the roots with your fingers.

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Apply the Hot Rollers

Once your hair is completely dry and the rollers are hot, start rolling. If your hair is very frizzy, apply a smoothing serum first. 

Use the largest rollers through the crown of your head, and the smallest ones around the perimeter of your hair (the sections that are closest to your face and around the nape of your neck). Use medium-sized rollers through the rest of your hair.

Begin with the front of your hair where your bangs are. It's easier to roll clean sections, parted with straight lines, and combed through without tangles. Take a one- to two-inch section of hair and roll back away from your face. Work from front to back. Then do the sides of your hair, rolling the rollers downward.

Be sure that your ends are smoothly and softly tucked into the curl with no bends in the hair.

Let the rollers cool completely before removing them. Usually, this is a minimum of 20 minutes and could be up to one hour if your hair is very thick.

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Brush and Style

After the rollers are cooled and removed, brush your hair out to remove all roller marks. Using your comb, lightly backcomb your hair where necessary to add height or shape. Then spray with hairspray to hold the look. If your rollers are placed and cooled properly, this Marilyn Monroe style should fall into place very easily.

Soft, Bouncy Curls

Getting Marilyn Monroe curls at home is pretty simple. The result is a timeless, effortless look that can go from day to night. Norma Jean would be proud.