If you’re looking for expert advice on applying makeup to darker skin tones, Derrick Rutledge is the man to talk to. With more than 25 years experience as a makeup artist and a portfolio that includes Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Janet Jackson, Rutledge is well-versed in all the tips and tricks for accentuating deep skin tones. It’s this expertise that landed him his most recent gig as Oprah Winfrey’s head makeup artist—after seeing the makeup he did for Michelle Obama when she appeared on the cover of TIME in 2009, Oprah came calling.
Earlier this month Rutledge came to Canada with Oprah and I had the chance to talk to him about some of his beauty secrets. You can truly tell that he loves what he does and why—despite working with some of the most powerful women out there—he’s still so humble: “I do it for the art and the reaction I get after I make them up. Everything else came [with] my passion for it.”
And that passion is about to pay off: For the past 10 years Derrick Rutledge has been working on his own cosmetic line called Ü Lifestyle (pronounced OOH). Rutledge was tired of mixing and matching existing products to achieve the right results and thus, the idea for his own beauty collection was born. While details are still under wraps, the Ü Lifestyle makeup will include both cream and liquid foundations in a range of 24 shades. As for his beauty expertise, read on for Derrick Rutledge’s top tips for makeup for darker skin tones.
Always start with beautiful skin
One thing Derrick Rutledge excels at his ability to achieve flawless skin on women of colour. It’s evident with his work on high profile clientele such as Michelle Obama. His technique always looks dewy and natural. He achieves this by using three shades of foundation: “One light, one medium and one dark.” All of these colours are used in combination to match the different pigmentation which is found on most dark/deep skin tones. I love how he uses the lighter foundation on areas such as the chin and under the eyes to highlight areas that are usually “kissed by the sun.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Finding the right foundation shade for the first time can be difficult. Out of frustration and general lack of knowledge, most people usually get it wrong on the first try. Why? Rutledge explains: “A lot of times that colour that is on the card is very difficult to see in the package.” (I can certainly relate to that!) He is a firm believer in going to a store that can match and apply the foundation for you. If they can provide a sample as well to take home and try, that’s a bonus.