How to Be a Red Carpet Beauty

As a judge on “Dancing with the Stars,” Carrie Ann Inaba shrewdly assesses spins and steps. As host of TV Guide network’s red carpet coverage for Hollywood’s award shows, she chats up celebs about coiffures and couture. And on Sunday, March 7, she’ll be reporting from the most glamorous walkway of them all: the Academy Awards pre-show. Between fittings and hair appointments, Inaba shares the ticktock of how she’s getting gorgeous for the big event.


Back when I was a dancer and had to fit into tiny costumes, I’d go on really strict diets -- including fasts and liquid diets -- before a performance. Now, at 42 years old, I don’t feel the need to have a bathing suit-ready body under my dress. Still, I totally cut out chips, because the salt makes me puffy and zaps my energy, and I added more fruit and vegetables to my diet.

I always amp up my fitness regimen for the Oscars by doing double workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. One workout is always a cardio dance class called Drenched. If I’m really going for it, I’ll do back-to-back classes, which I love, but that means I’ll be toast be midafternoon. Or I’ll follow Drenched with some Pilates at home or a Wii Fit session.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ll do just one of these workouts, and on weekends I always go for a long bike ride along the beach. I’m not working out to shed pounds -- though losing an inch or two is always nice -- but for muscle tone and energy. My favorite part to work on is my back, because so many of today’s dresses are backless. I think it’s sexy and feminine if you can see the outlines of a woman’s muscles when she moves.

I think if your skin is touchable, soft and moist, that really reflects an inner beauty and health. To get ready for the Oscars, I start on that final Friday, my big grooming day. I’ll also get a spray-on tan from the pro who tans everyone for “Dancing with the Stars” and knows how to make it look natural. Up next? A relaxing pedicure for open-toed shoes. One thing I can skip is getting my brows waxed. When I was on tour with Madonna in ’93, the makeup artist pretty much plucked all of my eyebrows out for the skinny-brow look of the time, and they’ve never really grown back.

I color my hair a week before the Oscars to give the color enough time to settle in. I do a root touch-up and both highlights and lowlights: The darker tones of the lowlights balance out the highlights and give my hair weight and depth. After all, I’m Asian, so there should be dark hair in there somewhere! I’ll likely also have a trim too -- something I do every other month -- and keep it well-conditioned to add shine. I cut bangs last year, and now I’m trying to grow them out because I’m doing a lot of updos on both “Dancing with the Stars” and on the red carpet. As flattering as they may look, you’re very limited in what you can do when you have bangs.

The Day of
My team and I gather at a Hollywood hotel in the late morning. It takes me two hours to get into hair and makeup and get dressed, and we go live from the red carpet at 3 p.m.

I start my preparation with a full breakfast at about 10 a.m., which includes two scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, some hash browns, grapefruit juice and coffee. You can’t be in a hunger cloud on the red carpet; my brain needs to be working at full capacity. I’ll also work out for 30 minutes, doing some jumping jacks to get my energy going and a little Pilates and stretching. I have an inversion board, so I’ll hang upside down for a few minutes to get the blood circulating to my head. 

Then I’m ready to hit the red carpet and start my celebrity interviews.