Michelle Obama's Hairstylist Knew Her '70s Curls Would “Turn Heads” on Inauguration Day


When Michelle Obama showed up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Jan. 20, I fully turned into the heart eyes emoji. Her plum Sergio Hudson suit, the Stuart Weitzman boots, and oh, the curls! The former first lady’s bouncy ’70s style hair captivated me from the moment she exited the car with her husband. Luckily, Obama’s hairstylist Yene Damtew shared some of her wisdom with POPSUGAR, in case you’re eager to try out the look at home.

Damtew is the genius behind many of Obama’s gorgeous and glossy looks, including this recent inaugural beauty. After working together for more than a decade, Obama fully trusts Damtew to create occasion-appropriate styles, with very little (if any) input from the first lady. “She trusts me to pick a style that will work and I trust her to allow me some creativity,” Damtew explained.

She collaborates with fashion stylist Meredith Koop and makeup artist Carl Ray from Obama’s team to make sure the look flows seamlessly. For Inauguration Day, Damtew knew the hair needed to “stand out on its own” and withstand the elements of windy winter conditions. “I wanted to create a sleek look that would turn heads, but I also wanted a style that would sustain for several hours without me by her side for a quick touch up,” she said. “The bigger curls are easier to manipulate and hold very well.”

Damtew was kind enough to give us step-by-step insight into how she achieved Obama’s look. She started curling with a one-inch barrel iron. (“Yes, you can achieve bigger curls with a smaller barrel.”) Next, she used a “curl set to lock in the curls.” Damtew followed this up with a round brush to “create body” and soften the curls. She finished it all off with a feather comb for volume and hair spray for hold. “This is definitely a look anyone can achieve at home with a little practice and patience,” she said.

If you’re a visual learner, never fear. Damtew replicated Obama’s curls on a client on her Instagram page. Go ahead, your curling iron is just waiting for you to warm it up.

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