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Almost eight months into our new reality, it can be assumed that you are likely to have some form of zoom fatigue. It’s not that you are tired of being in touch with friends and family from all over the world at any time of the day – this is a technological marvel, and it was great! No, the problem is that in addition to the person you’re talking to, you have to stare at a slurred, digitized version of yourself all the time. Worse, what does the other person think of how you look?
Let’s say you’ve already turned on your zoom beauty filter. If you’re Michelle Obama, the next step is to call your trusted makeup artist, Carl Ray. “I wanted her to be shiny and wet,” said Ray of Michelle’s recent Zoom appearance for her non-profit, non-partisan organization When We All Vote. In front of the camera, the former first lady looked fresh and energetic, two difficult tasks that you can do with your standard camera. Do you want to steal her best tricks? Start here.
Add glow, but not too much
While Ray prepped Michelle’s skin with moisturizer and lit her cheekbones and the bridge of her nose with a highlighter (haloscope in Topaz, to be precise), he was careful not to go overboard with the glow. The harsh, bright light from computer screens soaks up excess glare easily, and nobody wants to look like a disco ball at an important presentation. After applying the foundation, Ray reached for Laura Mercier’s medium-depth translucent setting powder to set Michelle’s base in place and mattify any excess oil. “I used both a brush and a beauty blender,” Ray told ITG, the former for an all-round sweep and the latter to focus on problem areas. “After applying a light coat of paint with the brush, I dabbed on a little more powder with the beauty blender to get extra coverage where I really wanted it.” In addition to the area of the T-zone that is the most shiny, Ray added extra powder under the eyes to make baking low-maintenance. “I like it if it sits for a minute and then brushes it off,” he explained, adding that this quick trick will help keep the under eye area looking bright and clean.
Light up the eyes
It’s easy for the eyes to look washed out on camera, so Ray brought Michelle to life by highlighting her with shimmering bronze shadows. First, he put a primer over the lid that served a dual purpose: it created an even base for paint and gave the powdery shadow something sticky to hold on to. Then he grabbed a solid color from Michelle’s lash line to her natural crease – the goal here was density, not subtlety. “First I used Ethernal by Tarte, a pure gold tone,” said Ray. He then mixed a matte dark brown right over Michelle’s natural crease, giving the illusion of a bigger, more open eye. “When I was done with all the eyeshadow,” remarked Ray, “I put Lidstar in the middle of the eyelids in Cub to get a little more shimmer.”
Remember you have a face
Do you remember the three-dimensional, totally dynamic mess of features between your chin and forehead? That’s your face, and cameras (like the one in your computer or phone) tend to smooth it out. Until someone develops holograms at home, adding definition and dimension with some strategic makeup tips can help you look more like your face in front of the camera. Ray concentrated on structuring Michelle’s face by defining her eyes and brows. “I used Colorslide in Brack to line their top and bottom waterlines,” said Ray. “Then I used Pro Tip above to make a little wing.” Brows also received the dual-formula treatment: Ray started with a tinted gel to add color and shape, refined them by drawing tiny hair-like strokes with Brow Flick, and sealed the look with Anastasia’s Clear Gel to add shine. “Mascara is the last thing I do,” explained Ray, “because if a little powdered eye shadow falls on the lashes, it can actually look fuller and thicker.” After curling her lashes and covering a coat with lash slick, Ray glued Lilly Lashes’ Miami Strip lashes on Michelle’s natural lashes to pop her eyes on camera. It seems like a lot of makeup, but what in person reads as glamorous and over the top looks much more subtle on a screen – it’s a trick news anchors are used to, and now you are, too.
Finish with a pop of color
“You really don’t see Michelle in a red lip very often,” Ray said, but he chose the bold shade to not only define her lips but also add warmth and color. Since it kept Michelle’s complexion free of blush, the lipstick does the heavy lifting. (If red lipstick isn’t your thing, try mixing in some unexpected eyeliner or using rosier cheeks to get the same effect.) On Michelle, Ray used the best-selling shade, Bawse Lady from The Lip Bar, a real red, the one Reputation has been flattering to every skin tone. In collaboration with When We All Vote, the Black Women-owned brand renamed the iconic lipstick Bawse Voter for a limited time. “I applied it with a brush for precision,” explained Ray, “and then applied the MAC Burgundy Lip Liner to clean up the shape and keep everything defined.” The lipstick’s second trick allows you to find the shape of the lip more organic instead of turning your color into a hard outline. It’s also great for those who aren’t the most enduring – your lips are already there, all you have to do is sharpen them.
Photos via ITG