By InStyle Staff
Updated Dec 10, 2018 @ 1:00 pm
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Carl Ray
Credit: Courtesy

Sure, he's detail-oriented and incredibly passionate about makeup, but what really sets makeup artist Carl Ray apart is his unswerving loyalty. To the pro, it’s the trust he builds while spending time with his clients, like D.C.-area brides and former first lady Michelle Obama, that inspires his work.

Carl Ray
Credit: Courtesy

“You’ve got to ask questions, be attentive, get to know them, and then bring out their inner beauty,” he says. “Some of my most memorable times with Michelle Obama are when I’m doing her makeup and we’re alone; that’s when we connect on a personal level and have the chance to talk about us and life.”

Ray got his start by doing his mother’s makeup at 14 and later sharpened his instincts behind a beauty counter. Lately, he’s been traveling with his “role model and mentor” Obama on her Becoming book tour. “Carl genuinely wants to understand what makes a woman feel confident and radiant, and he builds on that,” says Obama.

Carl Ray
Credit: Getty Images

She also admires his quiet presence and keen eye, adding, “He is one of the most good-hearted people I know.” As for his tools, scroll through for the ones that never let him down...

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black
Ray is a seasoned expert at creating timeless bridal looks. “I like Stila’s liquid liner because it doesn’t budge or smudge.”

Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Palette
Ray has such a steady hand that he’s even successfully done Obama’s makeup on a turbulent airplane. “You have to be able to work under pressure and have patience, confidence, and stamina,” he says. One of the products he relies on is this versatile shadow palette.

Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in Bronzed Amber
He favors this shimmery bronze powder for a pop on the cheeks and over the center of the eyes and the Cupid’s bow.

Dior Addict Ultra Gloss in #363 Nude
"I love nude lips and gloss." To guide his shade selection, Ray usually looks at a client’s undertones or natural lip color.

Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin & Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30
Packing an array of formulas, Ray often mixes two or three shades of foundation for a client and blends his base with moisturizer for a sheer texture.