A deep dive into Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ skincare and wellness routine

Archives released by The Makeup Museum and Dr. Erno Laszlo Institute show a never-before-seen look into Jackie O’s life in 1963.

Former First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is no doubt one of the most iconic wives in history. Known for her immaculate style – including those pillbox hats, headscarves and signature skirt suits – the New Yorker was the epitome of panache and class.

But as much as we knew about her penchant for culture and fashion, we knew little about her beauty routine – aside from her brunette bob, enviable eyebrows and tanned skin. Until now.

Archives released by the Dr. Erno Laszlo Institute unveiled by The Makeup Museum and shared with Refinery29 show a never-before-seen glimpse into Jackie O’s skincare routine.

The skincare consultation notes from May 1, 1963 show a transcription between herself and Dr. Erno Laszlo, the same dermatologist responsible for Marilyn Monroe’s perfect, porcelain complexion.

The artefact also includes skincare tips for her husband President John F. Kennedy and his ‘bacne’, as well as holistic tips for looking after her overall skin health – like diet and exercise.

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A personalised prescription

Dr. Laszlo prescribed Onassis a skincare routine to follow during summer – or when the temperature was over 21 degrees. She was to apply Erno Laszlo Light Controlling Lotion ($104, at Adore Beauty) to her under arms whenever she applied it to her face – perhaps he was the pioneer behind chemical exfoliants doubling as deodorants?

Then, she was told to never apply more oil or creams to her face then what was advised otherwise “the bumps will never disappear and instead, blackheads and pimples will”. A note that could suggest she had trouble with breakouts and acne.

When it came to sun protection, it’s the opposite of what we follow today with the dermatologist encouraging Onassis to get some sun. “She said she will stay out of the sun while on the Cape and always will wear a hat. Dr said not necessary because sun is good for her, and she should not be afraid of getting brown spots, he will make them fade in the fall,” it reads.

Next up is Erno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil ($89, at Adore Beauty) and was to be used as a moisturiser for her arms and legs. Nowadays the formula is used as pre-cleansing oil.

The doctor also prescribes a similar product for John F. Kennedy as a treatment to help prevent breakouts and irritation. “She was not sure whether he would do all this, however if it gets really bad she thinks he would, but she will speak to him anyway,” was her response to trying to get her husband on board a skincare routine. Something I’m sure a lot of us can relate to.

Health and wellness

Aside from topical solutions, Onassis was given a holistic prescription to look after her complexion, including to use walking as exercise. “It bores her in the first place, she can’t in Washington and is afraid of getting varicose veins,” it reads.

When it came to her diet, she usually ate two boiled eggs and ‘Hollywood’ toast with honey for breakfast, beef and cottage cheese for lunch, and meat and a watercress salad or “whatever vegetable there is” for dinner. Aside from tea and skim milk, “Champagne is the about the only thing she drinks,” which showed she didn’t stick to her eight glasses of water a day.

She was told to round out her diet by eating more seafood and drinking orange juice. Tbh, it’s a diet and exercise routine we can get behind.