Pati dubroff
Photograph courtesy of Winners

Celebrity Makeup Artist Pati Dubroff on Finding Inspiration, Fall Trends and her Favourite Products

We caught up with Pati whilst she was on a whirlwind trip to Toronto this month

When we meet Pati Dubroff at Toronto’s Le Germain hotel, we realize just how lucky we are to snag a moment of her time on her trip to the Canadian city. In town for a total of 24 hours, Pati jetted in for her work with Winners, and sat with us to chat about the top trends for fall, the importance of good lighting, her top products and whether or not she’d launch her own line. Here are the highlights from our conversation:

On working with her clients to achieve a certain beauty look

“For something like the Venice Film Festival with Laura [Dern], the stylist sent me a picture of the dress and I was very much in a conversation via text message with her and with Laura to talk about what I was thinking. I’ll send images so everyone is on board. Because talking about things cannot really relate the message as well as an image can. It’s totally collaborative and then I need to also be prepared to change in the moment because you might think it’s going to work in your head but once it’s on [you see that it doesn’t]. There is no one way. I try to see images of the dress and try to understand what the event is. I’ll ask a bunch of questions like ‘Who is the crowd?’ ‘What’s the environment?’ Because you don’t want someone to have some really strong edgy makeup and they’re sitting with a bunch of older refined people. You have to be appropriate in all ways.”

On finding inspiration

“I try not to look at Instagram too much. I mean, it sounds kind of corny but I am a nature girl. I look at these flowers and I think it would be so pretty to put that pop of orange next to that colour. I look at things like that. Or when I am travelling or I am on vacation, I’ll take pictures of nature things, like rocks. I was in Italy and there was this incredible orange moss that was growing on a rock. It was bright orange and it had a gray, green kind of rock base with the pops of orange moss. I don’t even know if it was moss, I don’t know what would you call it. And I took a bunch of pictures of that and that was the colour story for one of Margot’s looks in the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood press stuff. I look at art, too, but I feel nature is more accessible.”

On Margot Robbie’s yellow eye 

“I did a yellow eye on Margot two years ago and I still feel like we are seeing yellow and I know that when I did that, people were a little surprised, you know? ‘Cause it was not really [a done thing].  I am happy that Margot was bold enough to experiment and where that leads for the average woman is [to show her] you can experiment. It’s as easy as you put it on and you take it off and with experimentation it doesn’t have to be expensive either.”

On not retouching images

“There is nothing wrong with seeing beautiful skin. It doesn’t need to look like a mask and I think that the FaceTuning and all of that is just doing such a disservice to the person who is doing it to themselves because then their expectation of what they should look like is so unrealistic. I know, for me, if I take a picture of myself and I smooth it out, of course I like the way I look. I look like I looked 10 years ago but that’s not how I really look like. So why would I try to fool myself, fool others, who am I fooling? All I am doing is setting myself up to be disappointed when I look in the mirror. When it comes to photographing myself or photographing someone else, instead of relying on FaceTuning to get it right, I’m going to find good lighting. You know? Find a good place with beautiful light and that makes all the difference.”

On overrated beauty products 

“Contour palettes, or unicorn glow. But there is a place for that. A contour palette, I often use as an eyeshadow palette but if I use it to put stripes on my face it wouldn’t fit my aesthetic. To give the eye shape, it’s perfect. A unicorn palette if you use it all over you can look a little alien, but used delicately with little dots and spots of highlights is really beautiful. So I think that anything can be overrated if it’s not used well. And anything can be underrated if it’s not used well.”

On developing her own line

“I had something at one point. It had my name on it and that was great. And then there was a point where I was developing something that was a more luxury brand with my name on it and that one didn’t come to fruition because I realized just how hard it was and how expensive it was and I want to sleep at night. And my friends that are brand owners tell me very often, don’t do it. I have heard that so many times. It’s just so much harder than you could even imagine. When I was developing this higher end brand, I was pretty naive thinking this will be pretty easy. And then as I got into it I was like, oh no, no, no! This is a full time job and I love doing makeup, so I don’t want to give up doing makeup. But that all said, if the right opportunity presented with the right team – because I can’t walk in thinking I can do this myself, I need a team – if that team appeared and you know we created something, that would be interesting. But I want to know that I can sleep at night and that I can still do makeup.”

On her go-to products

“Rollers, stones, sheets masks – because I spend more time prepping someone’s skin than actual makeup sometimes. A great moisturizer and a great primer, a great eyelash curler is important, and then after that it’s all fun. It’s all the prep stuff. If those things aren’t there, then the makeup will go on and the skin won’t look as radiant. I want the skin to look radiant. Oh and a great lip balm! So important. I mix it up. I like a Weleda Skin Food. That one is great.”

On the question she gets asked the most

“How do I get the right eyebrow, or how do I fill in my eyebrows with the right colour? That one comes in a lot because I feel that people don’t understand if they are supposed to pick their hair colour or their eyebrow colour or something in between. Knowing that seems to be a big one. Another one is blush placement. Where is the right place? And I feel that if someone puts the blush in the wrong place it can really do something to the shape of the face that maybe isn’t that flattering. So really making sure that they are not getting too close to the centre of the face, and not too close to the eye.”

On fall trends

“I think fall is fun. In the summer you want less because you just don’t want your skin to have the weight on it, but now you feel that you can put more on and it’s going to stay put and it’s appropriate. I am loving autumnal colours. I just came off a summer of  orange but I am not bored of it yet. As long as it’s with other things, like greens. For me, it’s all about the rich incredible palettes in autumn.”

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