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Michelle Obama's Makeup Artist Opens Up About Her Inauguration Look

"My inspiration was one of strength and confidence," says Carl Ray.

michelle obama beauty
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Michelle Obama—fashion icon, beauty inspiration, and all-around hero to all—shone during the 2021 inauguration, thanks to her bouncy curls, gorgeous purple outfit, and chic smokey eye. To get an inside look at the former First Lady's beauty routine, look no further than her makeup artist, Carl Ray. Below, he breaks down the products he used on Obama, as well as his inspiration for her look.

MC: How was Michelle's skin prepped prior to the makeup?

CR: The former First Lady already has amazing skin and takes care of it, so it's easy and not much prep on my end. She is ready to go and I start directly with makeup application, which makes my job a lot easier!

MC: What was the inspiration for the makeup look for the inauguration?

CR: My inspiration was one of strength and confidence. Yesterday was a moment in history not only for America, but for women everywhere. I really wanted to honor that in the look I gave her, but also celebrate the day. I wanted an impactful smoky eye for the event. I was going for a dramatic glam eye that would really play well to the camera. For TV, we really need to make things a little more dramatic so her eyes shine.

washington, dc   january 20 former us president barack obama and wife michelle obama arrive for the inauguration of us president elect joe biden on the west front of the us capitol on january 20, 2021 in washington, dc during todays inauguration ceremony joe biden becomes the 46th president of the united states photo by jonathan ernst poolgetty images
PoolGetty Images

MC: How do face masks affect the makeup look you did for Michelle?

CR: The mask allowed me to get creative with this look and really play up the features that I knew were going to be visible. I really focused on making her brows, eyes, and lashes pop. For underneath the mask, I recommend a stain or matte lip so it wont smudge.

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