Farrah Fawcett’s cascading golden curls, bronzed glow, and athletic radiance defined the free-spirited aesthetic of the ‘70s. Her voluminous feathery mane sparked a global frenzy, with demand so high, hairdressers even took “Farrah” hair courses to perfect the popular coif. Beyond her glossy exterior, Farrah suffered from serious setbacks, but it was her resilience in the face of insurmountable challenges that inspired legions of people to never stop fighting. We look at the secrets to Farrah’s glowing complexion, the fitness regime she swore by, her nifty DIY technique for luscious hair, and how she became a symbol of hope.

A natural beauty

Old Hollywood movie stars often underwent glamorous makeovers before debuting, but Farrah’s natural beauty shone even before she hit the bright lights of Hollywood. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, her mother recalled strangers stopping Farrah on the street, remarking that she “looked like an angel”. A small-town legend, people would drop by Farrah’s house when she was a toddler, to catch a glimpse of her doll-like beauty.

But Farrah was never vain. Her home-town friends described her as an athletic “tomboy” who rarely wore makeup and shied away from the attention. She preferred to be out in the wild, sweaty and one with nature. Growing up, Farrah enjoyed tennis, swimming, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.

Despite “never trying to solicit attention or caring about her appearance”, Farrah was voted the “most beautiful girl” all throughout her four high school years. She made history by being the first college freshman to be voted the “top 10” most beautiful women at the University of Texas in Austin. But her friends say Farrah’s popularity stemmed from her humility and kindness: treating everyone equally and defending those who were bullied.


A reluctant star

Farrah never harboured ambitions to become a Hollywood star, but fate had different plans for her. Her winning image from the college contest landed on a Hollywood publicist’s desk. He called Farrah relentlessly, persuading her to defer college and try her luck in California. After declining his offers for over a year, she finally decided to explore Hollywood during the summer of her junior year, hoping to make some extra pocket money. But as soon as Farrah landed, she instantly began booking a steady stream of jobs and never returned to college.


Her fitness regime

Farrah’s secret to her famously toned beach body? A daily exercise routine that involved 20-minute circuit of hip rolls, arm circles, and 60 sit-ups (a “must” according to Farrah). For Farrah, exercise wasn’t just a means to look good, it was a way to keep her grounded, sane, and revitalised. “I made exercise a part of my life like brushing my teeth, so I always assume most people are involved with some sort of body movement just to survive in this world,” she said.

While people attempt to decipher the secrets to her famed feathery locks, Farrah says it’s not that complicated. “Recently, I figured out that, while I do those leg lifts, I swing my head crazily, and my hair seems to fall in the right place without my trying to brush it.”

Farrah was a fan of bare skin and preferred sweaty afternoon beach dives to being prepped and primed on movie sets. She credits beach sand for being the “the greatest dead skin cleanser” and her secret to smooth skin.


She loved DIY

The famous poster of Farrah Fawcett posing in a red swimsuit became the best-selling poster of all time, selling over 20 million copies. But there was no glam squad behind the picture: Farah did her own hair and makeup. The photographer remembers she applied lemon in her hair to achieve natural highlights.

When Farrah became the face of Fabergé shampoo, she told the formulators that she liked the feeling of “squeaky clean, but not too squeaky” hair, suggesting they add vinegar in the concoction to achieve the airy look.


Farrah’s layered haircut

To replicate her voluminous locks, the magic starts with the right haircut. Farrah’s hair was layered, and the positioning of the layers is pivotal to creating the feathery look.

Farrah sported shorter layers around the face and progressively longer, wispier layers throughout the rest of her hair. Below is a vintage guide to achieve her specific haircut.


How to achieve Farrah’s curls

  • To create the famed “Farrah flip”, start with a volumising mousse for extra body.
  • Farrah’s curls are loose and soft, so opt for a large barrel curling iron. Section your hair into two-inch parts; this will prevent your curls from looking too tight.
  • Farrah’s curls begin slightly above her eyebrows, with the feathered locks styled away from her face. Taking note, position the curling iron towards the top of your hair (aim for approximately six centimetres away from the crown of your hair), and glide the curling iron in an ‘outward’ motion away from your face, so the curls ‘flip out’.
  • Repeat this process for other parts of your hair. After the curls are complete, brush your hair for a softer, tousled look.
  • Finish with a light-weight hairspray to hold the style in place.

If you’re interested in using electric rollers, follow these old-school step-by-step instructions below.


Soft, glowy makeup

Makeup in the ‘70s was minimalistic, reflecting the free spirited, bronzed beach babe visual that reigned supreme. Farrah embodied this effortless look, favouring dewy finishes, neutral eyes, sun-kissed skin, and lightly tinted lips. She dusted bronzer across the high points of her face, with a focus on her forehead. To emulate the soft-focus, natural finish Farrah adored, we recommend the Rimmel London Natural Bronzing Powder. Farrah always sported a glossy peach sheen on her cheeks. For a gorgeous faux glow to rival Farrah’s, try Stila’s convertible colour in Gerbera.

On her eyes, Farrah opted for nude and brown shades above her eyelid crease, while rotating between a selection of light blue, cream, gold, bronze, mauve, and grey eyeshadows on her eyelids. Farrah would start with a lighter shadow in the first half of crease and a deeper colour towards the outer corners. A smoky brown shadow was used to line the outer half of her bottom waterline, while a lighter shade was applied to highlight her inner corner. Bobbi Brown’s Champagne Quartz perfectly mimics that bright-eyed sparkle without being overwhelming.

While Farrah often went outside sans makeup, there was one product she couldn’t live without: lipstick. Her favourite shade of lipstick was a rosy-nude, topped with clear gloss. Farrah’s makeup artist, Patrick Foley, replicated her favourite shade, releasing the lipstick to help raise money for the Farrah Fawcett foundation.


Despite Farrah’s charmed life on the surface, behind closed doors she encountered dark chapters. Farrah’s perseverance in the face of adversity became a beacon of light to people who were struggling. She wanted people to know that they were not alone and encouraged others to seek silver linings. “Every day is a good day, just some days are better,” she said.

Farrah was blacklisted from major Hollywood productions for a few years following her departure from Charlie’s Angels, amidst costly legal disputes. One Valentine’s Day, Farrah caught her long-time partner, Ryan O’Neal, cheating on her with another woman in the bed they shared. Never one to project rage, she calmly asked what her name was and left. While they later reunited, their arguments were so bad that their son once said he would “stab himself” if they didn’t stop fighting. Trauma from his childhood later manifested in a troubled adulthood, culminating in a prison sentence he would serve while Farrah was battling cancer. Four months after Farrah was declared cancer-free, she discovered her cancer had metastasised. Filled with hope, she was determined to beat the disease, but according to her close friends, she never once asked “why me?”.

Farrah embodied the fighting, optimistic spirit until the very end. “In the face of excruciating pain and uncertainty, I never lost hope, and it never occurred to me to stop fighting – not ever,” she said.

Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot via Pinterest.

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