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Keri Russell’s Beauty Diary: Exclusive Details on Her Smoky Look for Obama’s State Dinner

Keri Russell — queen of the flawless complexion — was positively glowing during Tuesday night’s state dinner at the White House.

The Americans actress and her on-and-off-screen beau Matthew Rhys attended the black-tie event as guests of the President and First Lady Michelle Obama (who wowed in an ivory dress designed by Brandon Maxwell).

Having selected a halter neck Stephane Rolland dress with a brilliant gold panel, as well as Ana Khouri jewelry, the star then turned to her makeup artist of nearly a decade, Tina Turnbow, to create a sultry, smoky eye with iconic inspiration: Cleopatra and legendary opera singer Maria Callas.

“I gasped at the unique, cool style and fit of her stylist Frank Fleming’s choice. The dress had a certain strength and power to it that influenced the way I approached her eye makeup: bold yet undone and modern,” Turnbow explained.

To perfect Russell’s complexion, Turnbow misted her face with Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence. She then massaged Colbet MD Illumino Face Oil into the star’s skin, and moisturized her lips with cult classic product Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment.

“Keri and I have a taste for glowing skin. My first memory was doing her makeup in the kitchen of a cute brownstone in Brooklyn, and I remember hitting it off over that — and great brows,” Turnbow says.

For an added boost of luminosity, Turnbow then applied a light layer of Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer. “Keri has a bit of a tan right now from the summer sun, so it was nice to really play that up.”

Also playing off the gold panel on Russell’s dress, Turnbow focused her attention on creating a dramatic eye. “I wanted to add a touch of metallic, but once I saw the gold earrings she was wearing, I thought using a gold eye shadow would push the look over the top, so I smudged a coppery tone on her eyes instead.”

And it turns out the pro’s own makeup also inspired the look. “Keri always says she likes the way I do my eyes, which is so flattering! I always use black on the inner rim of mine, so I started with that on her, drawing a bold line across her top lash line using Sephora Collection Long Lasting Kohl Pencil.” Turnbow then smudged the line with finger tips to create a blurred, softer edge.

For greater depth and definition, Turnbow applied a Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen at her lash line, followed by several coats of Clinique Lash Power Mascara on top and bottom lashes.

The pro also used a combo of Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil in Medium Brown, and a taupe M.A.C. Cosmetics eye shadow to blend and shape her arches into place.

While Turnbow picked out the perfect nude shade for Russell’s lips (they ultimately chose Bite Beauty Matte Pencil in Honey Berry), her hairstylist Brian Magallones swept her hair simple yet chic in a low chignon.

Says Turnbow of their get-ready vibe: “it was really upbeat. Matthew and Keri were super excited to be invited to this dinner. And we were all feeling excited for them on their Emmy nominations! But just in case a pick me up was needed, there were cappuccinos all around!”

Russell’s reaction? “She loved it,” says Turnbow. “Even though quite formal, it felt like her.” After working together for so long, the two have developed a trust Turnbow treasures. “With any inspiration photo there is always the comment to follow, ‘but make it your own,’ which is music to my ears. She truly likes what I bring to the makeup table and that makes for a great collaboration. And if there’s something we don’t like we will let each other know. [Our process] brings out the best in me, it’s rare and I’m grateful.”