In the beginning of my career at the Christian Dior counter, I used to read about celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff. Mesmerized by her work, it was the first real time I ever thought about pursuing celebrity makeup as a career. Pati’s aesthetic was fresh, daring, innovative and exciting. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that our paths would cross— but as luck would have it, I eventually came to assist her for two wonderful years!
The first time I assisted Pati was for a Disney campaign starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, shot by the talented Annie Leibovitz. I could barely contain my excitement, as Pati and I hit it off right away! She was a wealth of knowledge, and I felt incredibly lucky to be with such an open and caring soul, who was not afraid to show me the ins and outs of the business.
Pati continues to be one of the top players in Hollywood. I’m happy to call her a friend, mentor and a special light in my life. Continue reading as I pick her brain to find out her best kept secrets of the trade!
How long have you been doing makeup?
At ten years old I distinctly remember sitting in front of my mother’s makeup table thinking, I want to do “this” when I grow up. It was not a known career back then, so I had to figure out how. In school I always did my friends and classmates makeup at any occasion possible, so I was always practicing. As soon as I graduated high school, I moved to NYC and got my first paying job as a makeup artist— selling cosmetics at a department store (I went straight for the top: Bergdorf Goodman and YSL counter). That said, I’ve been doing makeup for a long time, over 28 years professionally.
What inspired you to become a professional makeup artist?
I was always mesmerized by the colors, textures and packaging. I also loved the transformative powers of makeup. The thing that inspires me the most, is that makeup helps boosts one’s spirit and confidence. There is nothing more satisfying than watching someone look in the mirror and smile at the beauty they see within themselves. My ability to help someone accept their beauty is my driving force.
Who were some of your mentors?
I learned quite quickly that if I wanted to work in the fashion industry, I needed to assist. I was very fortunate to meet Francois Nars and become his full time assistant in the early 90’s. I owe everything I know to Francois. He was an amazing teacher and mentor. I also assisted Stephane Marais and Linda Cantello on fashion shows in Europe. I learned a lot about the theatrical aspects of makeup in fashion from them.
Tell us the highlight(s) of your career?
Getting booked on the Vanity Fair Hollywood cover with Annie Liebovitz when I decided to make the move to Los Angeles was a big one. It was affirmation I was making the right move. Assisting Francois Nars and working with the original supermodels was exciting and priceless. Shooting campaigns for Dior with Charlize Theron have been really amazing.
What were some setbacks in the beginning of your career?
Some of the setbacks early on was getting too chummy with clients, (in general, some clients have turned into my greatest of friends) and expecting to get the same treatment as them. Also known as, “too big for my britches syndrome.” I also partied a lot, and that was a turnoff to many. Other setbacks were expecting an agency or agent to make miracles happen. Agents can do a lot, but we [as makeup artists] need to be in control of our careers.
Who has been a dream come true as far as clients go?
Charlize Theron has opened so many doors for me. I’ve gotten covers I wouldn’t have gotten without her loyalty, as well as campaigns. She really takes care of her team and I am so grateful; and in turn, [I] will always make sure I can take care of her. I’m about to shoot my first film with her. I’m very excited to step into that world. Another dream client is Miley Cyrus. I’ve known Miley since she was 14, and have watched her grow into one of the most amazing women. She brings out a very colorful creativity in me, and she is such a great example of tolerance, compassion and seeing equality in all.
In your opinion, which celebrity looks best when they’re not on the red carpet? And why?
I know many will disagree with me, but I think Kim Kardashian is her most beautiful with no makeup or hardly any on at all! Her skin is gorgeous, her features are so well defined, and there is a softness that is so beautiful.
Can you name one tool that you never leave home without?
Troy Surratt eyelash curler. 99% of women look better with a lifted lash, and this one is the best in my opinion.
As a makeup artist you don’t normally need to buy products; is there any item you just had to have recently?
I’m trying to get a hold of a Madina Milano highlighter that Pat McGrath says is the best. And if Pat says so, I need it! Thankfully, my family will be in Milan next month so I need to send them on a mission to get me a bunch!
Can you name a few products in your own make up bag?
Lancome – Miracle Cushion Compact Foundation
Chantecaille Le Camouflage – Stylo
La Prarie – Honey Glow Cream Blush
Nars – Dual Intensity Blush in Fervor; Mascara
Troy Surratt – Eyelash Curler
Lancome – Black Coffee Eyeliner Pencil
Pati Dubroff – Perfect Palette
Burts Bees – Tinted Lip Balm in Forest Flower
Fresh – Sugar Shine Lip Treatment in Nude
By Terry – Baume De Rose in Toffee Cream
What’s the best beauty tip you’ve ever received?
Francois taught me that if you do makeup in natural light it will look good in any environment. I will do anything to get to a window to do a client’s or my own makeup. Another tip is that makeup should never conceal the person, it should reveal their best qualities. It is for this that I am extremely frustrated with this drag queen style contouring trend…
What makeup trend are looking forward to the most this summer?
Summertime is when it’s the most fun to break out the brights. I’m loving splashes of bright even neon colors on the lid or lips. I am also obsessed with touches of glitter. I love these glitter liners from Urban Decay that I will put on a bare eye for a little surprise of light.
What’s your top skincare product must have?
Lotion P50w from Biologique Recherche is my daily go to. I also love the Black Rose mask from Sisley. I am very loyal to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Cleanser. I also go through tons of Kiehl’s Creme de Corps for the body.
You’re at the top of your game and you have a family, is it possible to have it all?
I think it is possible to have it all if you are clear that having it all means sacrifice in some areas. I miss certain events in my daughter’s life and I don’t get to see my friends nearly enough…
How do you do it?!
If it were not for my husband and his willingness to support me by being the full time parent, I would not be able to travel and say yes to all I do in the work arena. I also make sure that when I’m not working, I am fully present for my family. I also make sure to take care of my body so that I can take on all the opportunities that come my way.
What are your tips on balancing yourself, both inside and out?
I have a very strong connection to my spiritual path, this keeps me grounded in what is real. I sleep a lot— going to bed super early, and waking early. I make sure to exercise daily. My workouts are crucial for keeping me strong and sane, as well as feeling good in clothes. I love to eat, but know when to reel in any overindulgence or it will lead to illness. I get regular intravenous vitamin infusions. And most importantly, I am GRATEFUL and aware of how BLESSED I am.
Any advice for young people today to make it in this business?
Be ready to work hard. Be organized and meticulously clean. Be willing to say yes to favors and freebies, but trust your gut and never let yourself get taken advantage of. Do not photoshop the work you put on social media— be true and flawless in your application. Don’t expect too much too soon, it’s better to grow in skill and confidence so you are ready when the big opportunities come your way. Be humble and develop your own style, don’t copy someone else’s. Have fun and be POSITIVE. There is something for everyone in makeup and many ways to make it a career!
Social Media Links:
Instagram + Twitter: @patidubroff
Facebook Page: @patidubroff
(images via patti dubroff & forwardartists)