Ask Jeanne

Oprah’s Make-up Artist Derrick Rutledge

Jeanne Beker interviews Derrick Rutledge 2013

General talking points not transcribed:

  • Jeanne and Derrick speak about Derrick’s demeanor and how he immediately connects to people
  • His love of people, “everyone picks up on that at first meeting, I really, sincerely, love people. And that love comes out of me, it just comes out of my pores”
  • On art of communication, Derrick tells people more than just a makeup artist, also your psychiatrist, talks about the closeness between man/woman/whoever with their makeup artist and hair stylist
  • “That love of people comes through, they pick up on the fact that I’m a good listener, and one good thing is that I don’t comment. Because I learned earlier on when you start giving people advice and commenting. They don’t want to hear that. They want to be able to bounce the problems off of you. And then a lot of times they settle them themselves but they want to be able to have someone to talk to, and so I’m a very good listener”
  • Problem was internalizing problems, gained a lot of weight, now uses new way of dealing with listening to problems
  • Talks about craziest thing he’s heard, Preparation H
  • About his facial regiment
  • Coming out with products, hair care and makeup
  • Living good, real spiritual, believes whatever you put out comes back
  • Feels much better with weight loss, giving back and helping people
  • Loss of his mother L making her proud


A question about how he “relaxes them”


Jeanne: How do you really, besides just the great listening and compassionate person that you are, how do you really gain someone’s trust, how do you really make them feel so secure in your chair?


Derrick: I’m a good, besides being a good listener, and I hear this from my clients too because I’ve asked that same question to them. And they said its your trusting eyes, it’s the way you touch my face when you’re doing my make up. I can feel that love coming through the way you talk to me, the way you touch me when I’m doing their faces, They can feel that love coming through….Smelling good, because it’s important that you smell good around your clients. And the fact that there’s a trust factor there, you know I worked in this business for over twenty years and I’ve never heard someone say that I’ve gone back and told anything or any secrets that I’ve heard from any of my clients, and that’s very important because makeup artists and hair stylists there are a lot of them now. Granted when I was coming along there weren’t as many. Now everyone is a makeup artist or hair stylist, and so everyone is seeking that notoriety and so they’ll do anything it takes to get your job. And I never worry about where the next job is coming from because I know that because I have such trusting clients and because they love what I do they’re going to continuously call me back”

J: (about grand diva behavior)


D: And you are certainly right, and that happens with the best of them. But because I’m a very calm spirit, so you can come in there frazzled, you can come in there screaming and hollering, I will sit there and I will just let you go through all of that. And then after you finish I’ll still be there my same calm self and I’ll still make you up. And I work with a lot of like I said a lot of celebrities and they’ve got so much on their mind they’ve got so much they’re trying to do. So they have to take a phone call, they have to practice music, they’ve got to learn their lines, they’re watching something on TV that maybe showing that they did the night before. So all of that keeps them frazzled and keeps them constantly moving around and I just move around and do what I have to do to make sure that I do my job. And they appreciate that because I don’t complain about the fact you’re moving around too much, or I’m trying to line your eyes and you’re constantly moving your head, I just go with the flow


A question about what tips women of a certain age can use


J: How do you reassure woman that maybe the older they get the better they get?


D: That’s where a good makeup artist like me comes in. That’s why I’ve gotten so many of the legends. Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Yolanda, (can’t hear this name), Monique and the list goes on and on and because what happens is that as they grow, as they get older I’m there, I understand their face. And Also not only because of the fact that I know their faces, I can take any woman that’s mature and at least take ten years off her, and that’s because I’ve got a very good background in art, I start out being an artist where I could draw and paint. And so I understand colour. I understand how to lift the face with colour, how to lift the face with contouring, how to make the eyes appear wide apart and then lift the eyes. It’s all in knowing exactly how the face ages. And the face ages from the outer perimeter, so you have to take everything and you have to bring it up from the outer perimeter. And it’s all in… I look at the face like a canvas, and that face is my palette, my canvas and I actually can lift it with colour


J: Can women do that for themselves at all?


D: It takes practice (goes on about clients learning techniques he does on them, and know the way he does their makeup, know what they need to do to look their best)


J: What do you think the biggest mistake that women make is even as we grow older in terms of the way we deal with our makeup, our faces?


D: I think some of the problems that women face as they get older is that they don’t understand that the trends don’t always work on themselves. Like right now everything is that dewy look and shimmer powders and everything. That doesn’t work on mature women because what happens is that the shimmer actually accentuates the wrinkles. So you got to, the best to stay with more matte colours. And if you want to give that look of healthy skin or being kissed by the sun then you take a very mild shimmer powder. Hit the cheeks, the apple of the cheeks and sweep it on the cheekbone, hit the chin, hit the forehead, hit down the centre of the nose, that’ll give the impression of healthy skin. But if you start by putting shimmer powders on and shimmer foundations, than you end up looking like a big grease ball. And then it makes everything stand out, so just keeping in mind that you have to use matte colours, keeping in mind that lip-glosses don’t always work for mature skin unless you line the lips first. Reason being because what’s going to happen is the gloss is going to bleed onto the skin and then you look like you’ve been eating greasy food and its all around your face, you know knowing that you should concentrate the colour in the outer part of the eye, the darker colour, and then lift the colour up into the crease. And that helps to pull the eye up


Question about “less is more” after a certain age


J: Would you say that less is more? You know the older you get maybe pull back a bit?


D: Yes the older you get pull back. Less is more, you don’t need to…unless you’re doing a photo shoot and you’re doing it for a magazine or for some kind of fashion spread, you don’t need to apply as much makeup


A question about what it’s like working with these big “stars” like Oprah and Michelle Obama


J: What’s her biggest hang-up or her biggest insecurity in terms of her face or the way she puts it out there?


D: Well one thing about Oprah, because she is so confident and so secure in herself. You know someone whose followed her for the past 25 years, you’ve seen many a times when she’s been on television with no makeup on. And she doesn’t mind that because she’s so confident and secure in herself she doesn’t mind people to see what she looks like without makeup. I relish in the fact that because people know what she looks like with out makeup that when I come in and make her up people go oh my god she’s so beautiful. That makes me feel good cause that lets me know job well done


D: She (Michelle Obama) was very encouraging in losing my weight, she really was, because I would come in after a work out and be like I’m so sore, I’m so sore. And she said Derrick just think about the fact you’re not doing this for now, you’re doing this for ten years from now. Think about that, this is going to help extend your life. Same thing with Oprah, you know she is one person that has not made a secret that she battles with you know wanting to be, with her weight, so we encourage each other on how, what we should do to eat right and exercise and work out


Something about how he teaches women these “tricks” they can do with make-up


Any practical stuff he talks about, like the importance of brows.


D: The most important thing that I think makes Oprah really stand out, which is one thing that helps everywoman is a good foundation. You need a good foundation, you need to be able to cover any imperfections. Because it not only smoothes your skin out but also takes years off of you, makes you look younger. And then a good concealer. Cause you know someone such as Oprah who is constantly working, constantly perfecting you know making sure that her network is pushing to become the best network out there, she’s got to come up with lots of ideas so she doesn’t sleep as much cause her mind is constantly working. So a good concealer to make sure it looks like she’s gotten eight hours of sleep you know, and then good contouring, I’m a master at contouring…and then a good brow. A good brow is important because your eyes are the windows of the soul as they say and a good brow actually frames the face, you know and so you got to have a good brow, and I’m a stickler about having perfect brows even with myself. I like to have a good brow because it does frame the face, it makes your eyes really stand out. And then I was doing Oprah’s lips and she says, “Derrick I don’t know what it is but you are a master at lips, so I guess I’m a master at quite a few things but I’m good at taking two or three different colours and putting it on a lip and what it does it gives depth, I like a lip that gives a lot of depth. So I use a darker liner underneath a lighter lipstick and then a lighter colour in the centre so that the lip has roundness and depth. I’m passionate about what I do


The part about how women can go overboard with cosmetic procedures…


J: What do you say to these women who get addicted to all these procedures?


D: There’s nothing wrong with growing old gracefully, but there’s also nothing wrong with getting a little nip and tuck every now and then as long as you don’t go crazy with it. Because especially a lot of the women who are in the business, actors, actresses um singers, you know, as they get older they have to compete with the younger artists. So I don’t see that being a problem, and a little nip along the jaw line that pulls the face up. Under the eyes to remove any bags you may have. I don’t see any problem with it. The problem I see is when you go too far and you get so many you get addicted and you could have too many. Cause then you stop looking like the person that everyone else knows. And then getting too much botox, or getting it too close together where you’re constantly sitting there talking to someone and your eyes are so open that you can’t even blink, you know so I don’t have a problem with it as long as they don’t go too far

The part about the biggest lesson he learned from Oprah….


J: What would you say is the biggest lesson Oprah has personally taught you is?


D: Biggest lesson that Oprah can say has taught me is…the more you give the more you get, you receive back. And that’s been lead by the example. You know I grew up watching her, over the past 25 years so I’ve seen the things she does as far as giving people things, and that’s why she’s gained so much wealth. Because she gives so freely. Her school in South Africa, You know I’ve gone there several times and that campus is absolutely phenomenal. Her spiritual journey that she’s now on. You can have so much but then it gets to a point where you want to find out why am I here? What is my true purpose for being here. I know I’m here to help other people, and to help people to feel good about themselves, but why am I here. So these are all things that she makes me think about. She’s been a good person to lean on, just like I’ve been able to lean on people she’s been a good person to lean on because she helped me through the process of my mother. My mother passed four months ago (continues to talk about loosing mother L)