He makes every day your prettiest day, and every woman is looking for her prettiest day.
Oprah Winfrey about Derrick Rutledge
Two of America’s grandes dames make-up depend on beauty expert Derrick Rutledge, who has been practicing in the industry for 25 years now. Today, Rutledge is the head make-up artist of United States First Lady Michelle Obama, and also Oprah, who gets “second dibs” when he’s not working for the White House. If Rutledge is famous for having many celebrities as clients and respected for his talent, I was quite blown away by the man’s humility, his desire to achieve more and mostly live his passion to the fullest. In addition to his work as a make-up artist, Rutledge created a beauty line, OOH Lifestyle, that he’s launching soon in Canada. Being the world’s first full line featuring Naturalceuticals ™, OOH Lifestyle includes skin, make-up, body and hair care products. Since he accompanied Oprah on her tour in Montreal, we had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his parcours, his work and also some expert beauty tips. Not only he kindly answered, I also appreciated his genuine and inspiring responses. Read up the unedited interview right here:
Fati Zed :Tell me about yourself! How did your passion for beauty start, and how did you know that a career in that industry was intended for you?
Derrick Rutledge: It all started by me wanting to become an opera singer. However, my teacher told me I would never make the lead because of my weight. I decided to move on and pursue a career in the arts, something a little more behind the scenes. I was producing, directing and studying fashion photography. I loved to take pictures of beautiful women, but I felt that it wasn’t coming through properly in the film. So I started asking the models if I could do their make-up and they loved it. Now, I simply see the beauty industry as a natural fit for me. I feel very blessed to be doing what I love and to be working with such inspiring women.
F.Z : You’ve become a prominent figure in the beauty world and worked with oh so many celebrities! Who was your first celebrity? And how did it happen?
D.R: My first celebrities were Patty LaBelle, CeeCee Wyans and Chaka Khan. I met them all from my days at BET. In the early 90’s when I was working in television, I was recruited to be a make-up artist for them.
F.Z: Who did you first work with: Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey?
D.R: I first started working with Michelle Obama then with Oprah. I did Michelle’s makeup for her cover with TIME magazine and this caught Oprah’s attention. She was amazed by how I had transformed her image and called me in for an audition. Oprah was really pleased with the way I made her look and I got the part – the rest is history.
Michelle and Oprah are very good friends so luckily they don’t have a problem with sharing me! Oprah actually once said in the Washington Post, “The first lady comes first. When she doesn’t need him, I get second dibs.”
F.Z: How is it to work with the world’s most influential and inspiring female figure? How does it influence you as a person?
D.R: Working with Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey inspires me everyday to be a better person and artist. Michelle is a great example of what you can achieve with persistence. When Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” campaign to help battle childhood obesity, her work in that area helped me to overcome by own weight challenges – I’ve now lost 325 pounds! She is also a great mother, a genuinely very caring individual. What I love about Oprah is that she is so spiritual, compassionate, and confident. She’s one of my greatest mentors and has taught me so much already. Both Michelle and Oprah are some of my biggest supporters – I am so grateful to them for all they’ve done for me.
F.Z: I love how both Oprah and Michelle Obama’s skins look glowing and perfect. What is the beauty trick behind it? Can you explain the process?
D.R : Both live very healthy and active lifestyles. They drink lots of water and pay close attention to what they put into their system. Because they ingest such clean foods, it reflects outwards on to their skin. It really makes my job easier as a makeup artist because I don’t have as many facial flaws to cover up and detract from their look.
I look at each woman’s face as a canvas. The glowing look comes from gradating different colours: from dark chestnut to burnt orange to peach to apricots and yellows. By blending a variety of colours I can create depth and highlight certain features on a woman’s face.
F.Z: Any tips on how women can turn their daily look into something that can work for a night out?
D.R: A daily look can be easily transitioned into the night. Since daytime looks are usually kept light and natural, you simply have to add a little bit of a heavier shadow for the night to make your eyes appear more piercing. If you just add more liner and mascara, this can really bring your look a long way. Deeper, richer lips as well as more shimmer on the cheekbones can create a sexier look.
F.Z: What are three makeup items should no woman leave home without?
D.R: Concealer, mascara and lip gloss or lipstick.
F.Z: What is the mandatory step for a healthy and flawless skin?
D.R: Make sure you always prep your skin with moisturizer before your apply makeup. Try to buy makeup that has natural properties and nourishes your skin. A lot of makeup these days have chemicals that damage instead of protect the skin. Remember to take your makeup off every night to let your skin breathe and apply nourishing night creams to hydrate and replenish it.
F.Z: What is the faux pas most women make? How can they avoid it?
D.R : One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see women with lip gloss that bleeds into the skin. My rule is to line the lips, blend the lip-coloured pencil in with a brush, put powder on it, and then apply the gloss. This stops the gloss from bleeding outside the parameters of the lip.
F.Z : At what extent do you believe makeup boosts women’s confidence?
D.R: I find all women to be beautiful inside and out, but sometimes it takes a bit of makeup to boost their confidence. I see it in women all the time when I am making them over. It’s about defining their natural features and creating a polished, confident look.
F.Z : You’re launching your cosmetic Line OOH Lifestyle in Canada. Tell me about it! What makes it different from the other product lines?
D.R: What makes OOH Lifestyle different is that our line of products contains Naturalceuticals ™. Our approach is essentially about combining organic elements for the wellbeing and health of the human body. I work with a team of chemists and we’ve re-invented conventional hair care and beauty products by embracing nature scientifically.
F.Z : Your favourite product from this line?
D.R: My favourite products in the hair care line are Hair Milk Debut, Swag and Limelight.
F.Z: Where can Canadians buy it?
D.R: OOH Lifestyle will be available in professional salons across Canada, OOH Hair Care is the first one to come out in May. Locations are still to be determined, but you can stay tuned by visiting our website: www.oohlifestyle.com. Check out our Facebook page OOH Lifestyle or Twitter @OOHLifestyle for updates on locations and any new information coming out.
F.Z: Is it your first time in Montreal? How do you like the city so far?
D.R: This actually is my first time in Montreal – it’s a beautiful city! I am glad that Oprah’s tour has brought me here. We were actually supposed to fly out of Montreal earlier to go to Hamilton for our next show, but we decided to stay here for an extra night to explore more of what the city has to offer!