Oprah’s longtime makeup artist Derrick Rutledge has been whipping up what he calls skincare “concoctions” since he was in high school. And if you've ever met Rutledge in person, you'd know that these homemade potions work: His skin is flawless.
It wasn't always that way, though. After dealing with a severe bout of eczema, he started researching essential oils, including the best ones to combat both eczema and signs of aging, which ultimately lead to the creation of a skincare line 16 years ago—though he reserved it mostly for personal use and for his (many) celebrity clients.
Flash forward to 2020, when a spontaneous moment during a TV interview inspired Rutledge's entrepreneurial evolution. “The interviewers had read somewhere that I was 59,” he recalls. “They were shocked, and asked me to share my secret with the rest of the world.”
So he did—and that “secret” is the newly launched Aura Glow Serum from Rutledge's beauty brand, Perfecting Your Presence. It’s the same formula Rutledge created years ago (and has been using regularly since), though with new packaging and a new name. “An aura is the light that you radiate,” he explains, and thanks to a blend of plant-based ingredients—vegetable glycerin, baobab oil, grapeseed oil, moringa oil, sea buckthorn oil, tamanu oil, pumpkin seed oil, rosehip seed oil, squalane—it does impart a lit-from-within radiance. “It’s entirely pure, with no fillers or ingredients you can’t pronounce,” says Rutledge. The oil-based formula is an effective option for all skin types, delivering a hefty dose of moisture, as well as smoothing fine lines, evening tone, and giving your complexion that oh-so-coveted luminosity.
We asked Rutledge to share his top tips and tricks for using this do-it-all serum, including exactly how he uses it on his many A-list clients, Oprah included. “Everyone who sits in my chair gets some of this on their face,” he says. Keep reading and get glowing.
1. Less is more.
Because the ingredients are so concentrated, a little goes a long way. “You really don’t have to use a lot in order to reap the benefits,” says Rutledge. Two to three drops is sufficient for your entire face, though you’ll also want to apply the same amount to your neck and décolletage. “I’m always talking to people about taking care of the neck because that’s one of the areas that really shows signs of aging,” he explains.
2. Use it once a day if your skin is oily…
Yes, this serum works for all skin types, oily included. “Many people have oily skin because they’re actually not moisturizing enough, which, ironically, triggers the body to produce more oil,” explains Rutledge. That’s where the serum comes in, helping to rebalance oil production, he adds. His top tip? Apply it at night (after cleansing and toning), rather than during the day. The skin revitalizes itself at night and is better able to capitalize on all the benefits of the ingredients while you’re sleeping, he says. You’ll wake up with skin that’s soft and supple, not greasy.
3. …and twice a day if your skin is dry.
On the flip side, “those with drier skin can use this twice a day, morning and night,” advises Rutledge. Again, just a few drops on clean, toned skin will do the trick. If you feel like you need even more moisture, apply your favorite moisturizer on top to help seal everything in, he says.
4. Make sure your skin is slightly moist.
No matter whether you’re using the Aura Glow Serum in the morning or the evening or both, you’ll have the best results if you apply it onto slightly moist skin. “This thins out the formula slightly and helps it penetrate more easily,” Rutledge points out. If you’re applying it after cleansing, that leftover moisture is sufficient. Alternatively, you can moisten your fingertips before patting it into skin, he says. It’s what he does when he applies the serum to combat dryness on the go, even mid-flight.
5. You can also mix it with moisturizer—or foundation.
The serum in and of itself is fairly rich and takes a few minutes to fully absorb. That’s why one of Rutledge’s preferred ways to use it on his celeb clients (when time is of the essence) is to combine it with moisturizer for one-step skincare prep. “I just add a drop or two right into the moisturizer, and that way it doesn’t take so long to penetrate,” he says. Similarly, a few drops can be mixed with any type of cream-based foundation: “You’re getting the coverage of the foundation, but the serum helps it not look so heavy or mask-like and creates a nice glow.”
6. Make it the final step of your makeup routine.
Using the Aura Glow Serum in lieu of a highlighter is another good move, especially for older women. “High-shimmer products aren’t good for mature skin. The shimmer really accentuates pores and wrinkles,” Rutledge explains. Instead, he reaches for a tiny amount of the serum as the finishing touch. “After I’ve powdered the face and everything is set, I’ll dip a moistened sponge into a tiny drop of the serum and then pat it onto the cheekbones, the forehead, the tip of the nose, and on the chin. It makes the skin look really healthy and dewy, but without any shine or glitter,” he says.
7. Try it on your lips.
This multitasker can also take the place of lip balm. “It’s made to penetrate the skin, so it acts a great primer for the lips, giving them a healthy suppleness,” says Rutledge. Dab on a drop or two and let it soak in, then try one of the two lip looks he says are going to be big for spring and summer.
First up? Any kind of pink lipstick. “Pinks are really hot for this season, anything from pastel pinks to deeper, richer hues,” he says. The other trend is a dramatically lined lip. The key to keeping this one wearable is opting for a liner only one shade darker than the lipstick, he says, and blending it down into the lips with a brush to soften the line. Finish with lipstick and a little bit of clear gloss; the liner has the added benefit of ensuring the gloss won’t migrate outside the lip line, he adds.