Inappropriate Beauty Muse: The Manson Family's Murderous Summer of '69

I've always been intrigued by the Manson girls and their most famous victim, Sharon Tate, so I combined their looks into a single summery inspiration.

Every summer, I have a ritual. I spend a lot of time lazing around on my deck in the sun, and the first summer book I reach for is always the ultimate true-crime tome, Vince Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter.

It’s thick, heavy with its sprawling story. The cover is black, title written in bright crimson to mimic the blood the Manson killers wrote with on the walls of the Los Angeles residents they slaughtered in the summer of 1969. I read it at least once a year and always discover something new within its pages.

What a lighthearted beach read, right?

I get down with my fair share of trashy summer reads--like when I reread the entire V.C. Andrews back catalog--but I am absolutely fascinated by the Manson murders and the canon of information dedicated to them. I’ve devoured books and A&E specials about Manson’s peers, like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, but it’s Manson and his twisted Family, mostly young and female, who really captivate me.

People say the murders signaled the end of the “peace and love” ‘60s. Seven people, including gorgeous actress Sharon Tate, were slain in the two nights of murder dubbed Tate-LaBianca in court, but the Family likely killed many more.

I’ve met a lot of girls my age who are similarly intrigued by serial killers. Why is that? I certainly would never fall under the spell of some hippie guru and commit bloodthirsty murders for him, but I want to know why the Manson girls did. It’s not enough to delve into the mind of Manson, which no one could ever do since he’s become even more twisted since; I need to understand what was going on in the brains of Susan Atkins (Sadie), Patricia Krenwinkel (Katie), Squeaky, Leslie van Houten and the rest of the gang.

I’ll never know everything about the Manson girls, despite my habit of YouTube-ing of old interviews with them. And while the majority of the girls were decidedly plain and unattractive, especially in light of their heinous crimes, I’ve still managed to get a few beauty ideas from them. Think sun-baked and natural hippie girl.

Since there probably wasn’t a whole lot of makeup around Spahn Ranch, where they lived, I kept my look as basic as possible.

I started with Stila One Step Illuminate primer to even out my skin tone and give me a beatific “I’m the disciple of a psycho murderer hippie guru and I believe in his idea of a revolution called Helter Skelter” glow. I love these Stila primers; I also have the Bronze and Correct versions.

After letting the primer sink into my skin for two minutes, I used Almay's new Smart Shade CC Cream, which I like because it gives me a bit more coverage than a BB cream but still feels as lightweight. A multi-use product is key when you live in a commune!

The Manson girls spent most of their time out in the desert sun, so I went heavy on the bronzer, sweeping it across my face: cheekbones, bridge of my nose, chin, forehead. I used Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in 02. I dabbed a little bit of Stila Convertible Color in Rose high on my cheekbones for a post-murder flush.

To complete the look, I used Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper to create the illusion of thick, unplucked brows, a little bit of brown mascara and a swipe of lip gloss. I spritzed my (dirty) hair with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and twisted a few random sections with my fingers to create messy, dread-like waves and an undone, rumpled texture fit for a jailbird.

Maybe the Manson girls didn’t have access to nail polish, but I couldn’t resist doing a little something. I chose Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Million Dollar Mermaid because its orangey-gold reminded me of the California sunset.

Though I am nowhere near as perfectly gorgeous as the most famous Manson victim, Sharon Tate, I wanted to try my hand at replicating her famous “doe eyes.” I kept everything else the same, considering Sharon was a quintessential sunkissed California girl. (Malibu Barbie was probably named after a character Sharon played.)

Since I have seriously oily eyelids, I decided against using eyeliner in my creases as Sharon often did. I went for a softer version using just two shades of eyeshadow. I used a bone-colored cream shadow as my base, spreading it all over my entire eyelid.

Then, with a pointed brush, I used a dark mole-colored shadow deep in the crease of my lid, right in the socket. This was spread from the outer corner of my eye right towards the inner corner.

After the dark shadow was applied, I used a little more of the lighter bone shade just on my lid to really highlight the difference. As you can see in the photo, it almost looks like an arch of the ash brown shadow across my lid after the second coat of bone shadow was applied.

Next came black gel liner, MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, applied with a sharp angled brush across my lid and into the lashline–-no flicks at the corner. I applied it under my eye as well. A creamy black liner, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Zero, was used atop the gel and in my waterlines too.

Last came three thick coats of Lancome Hypnose mascara in black. Sharon liked to wear Vaseline on her lips, but I used some Estee Lauder Pure Color Long Lasting Lipstick in Nude Velvet for a ‘60s look.

So, am I going to hell? Who's the most inappropriate person to ever inspire one of your beauty looks?