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Jackie Kennedy Onassis

Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s skincare routine has been uncovered


TextAlex Peters

We also discover that JFK had pimples on his back as a result of his four baths a day

Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a style icon – impossibly chic and forever poised with her oversized sunglasses and perfect bouffant hair. The high society debutante to Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell Hollywood persona. They represented two sides of what a modern woman looked like in the 1960s but it turns out they were both going to the same dermatologist Erno Laszlo.

A few weeks ago the Dr Erno Laszlo Institute opened up their archive to the Makeup Museum to grant them never-before-had access to Monroe’s skincare regime and now the institute has done the same for Kennedy.

The typewritten instructions detail the personalised skincare routine prescribed to Kennedy by Dr Laszlo on May 1, 1963 giving us an insight into the skin issues she was dealing with including blackheads and pimples. The letter also includes lifestyle and diet advice for her and her husband President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy’s skincare routine consisted of two daily products which are still available today: a gentle exfoliating toner Erno Laszlo Light Controlling Lotion and a pre-cleansing oil Erno Laszlo Phelityl Oil. The letter states that Kennedy is instructed to follow this regime when temperatures reach over 70 degrees Fahrenheit until the end of September. She is told to avoid heavy creams otherwise “the ‘bumps’ will never disappear, and blackheads and pimples will reappear.”

The instructions then go on to address broader topics from body care to exercise. Dr Laszlo advises Kennedy to also apply facial toner on her armpits whenever she puts it on her face and recommends she massage the Phelityl Oil into her arms and legs to keep her body well moisturised. In advice that would not be co-signed by doctors today, he encourages Kennedy to forgo her sunhat because “sun is good for her and she should not be afraid of getting brown spots, he will make them fade in the fall.” She is also encouraged to exercise by walking despite it boring her and her being afraid of getting varicose veins.

Dr Laszlo lays out a meal plan which includes two boiled eggs and “Hollywood toast” with honey tea for breakfast and champagne as “that is about the only thing she drinks.” He then gives instructions on how Kennedy can help her husband with the breakouts on his back. The president is encouraged to use the Active version of the Phelityl Oil on his back which is dry because he has to take four baths a day. After bathing he should then use the Light Controlling Lotion.

“Mrs. K said she was not sure whether he would do all this,” the note reads. “However, if it gets really bad she thinks he would, but she will speak to him anyway.”

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