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Who I am and who I’ll be
Pati Dubroff started her career as a makeup artist assisting Francois Nars on set with Irving Penn one day and Madonna the next. From working in Paris, New York, and now LA, she shares her personal experience with beauty and aging and the importance of patience.

I never want makeup to be oppressive or a burden, I want makeup to be an accessory, and an expressive accessory that can be used when you feel like.

19/99       Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Pati Dubroff    I’m a makeup artist, I am a mother to a teenager, and I am pretty much a nature hippy when I’m not glamming girls up for red carpets. I’ve been obsessed with beauty and makeup since I was a little girl, and am really grateful that my interests as a young girl have paned out into a long-standing career as a professional makeup artist, which has been over 30 years now.


19/99      How did you get introduced to makeup as a little girl? What sparked your interest? 

PD      My mother had some nice products, and I remember being ten years old, sitting at her vanity, being fascinated by the product as objects; by the packaging, the colours and what they would do when you put them on. I distinctly remember thinking at that time that when I grew up, I wanted to do this. Through high school, I was always the girl who would do everyone’s makeup for the school plays, the dances, the parties and I realized that that was where the most fun was to be had; those environments of getting ready. I started to pay attention to fashion magazines, this was early to mid 80s, and realized that there were names attached to all of the images I was seeing. That gave me the insight that there was something there I could do. The obvious first step for me was to go and work at a makeup counter, and so the second I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. I got myself a job at a good makeup counter, with a great brand; I was 18, working at Bergdorf Goodman selling makeup to very elegant ladies and doing really well because I loved it. At that time I started to realize I could assist other makeup artists and offer myself to work on music videos, at MTV, and assisting, and assisting. Assisting was a big deal for me; I assisted a lot of great artists, and ended up becoming Francois Nars’ first assistant for a solid two years. Francois was the master of all the shows, he did everything from Valentino to Calvin, and Versace. I was going to Europe with Francois four times a year, for couture and pret-a-porter and doing the whole show run, and assisting on shoots with Avedon, Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier and Ellen von Unwerth. Weeks would be being in Penn’s studio one day, and shooting a Madonna video the next; it was amazing. Francois was such a great teacher and a very generous teacher, which taught me a lot about being a generous teacher. Then I moved to Paris to do my own thing, I assisted other great artists there, and stayed for a while to build my own book. I ended up moving back to New York, and after a few years I realized that I wasn’t really a fashion girl, I didn’t feel like it was my world so much. Celebrities were becoming more evident as they started to appear more in the fashion world, I was starting to work with celebrities more on fashion shoots. With my husband being in LA, it made sense for me to move here without it jeopardizing my career. I realized that I have this thing with actors, that's cool, and they are doing fashion stuff, that's cool, and I could be in the same house as my husband, that is cool. So I made that move the end of 2001, and it was amazing because Hollywood really opened up for me. I realized that that is what I am good at; working with actors and helping them feel like the best version of themselves, and it could still be elegant, and glamorous and fashion, without the theatrics that the fashion world sometimes thrives on. And I am still here. 


19/99      What does makeup mean to you? 

PD      It is creative expression. It is something that gives people extra boosts and confidence. I never want makeup to be oppressive or a burden, I want makeup to be an accessory, and an expressive accessory that can be used when you feel like.

I was playing around in my makeup room the other day, and I had this moment where I looked around and thought, “Holy, if the younger me knew she would have all of this, she would die.” I had such a moment of gratitude that my dreams came true; I wanted to become a makeup artist, and this is beyond my wildest dreams. And there are no boundaries for what it can look like. I’ve thought about moving, I don’t need to live in Hollywood forever, if I go live somewhere else off the beaten path, I could still do makeup. I could do brides, and that would be wonderful. I can always be a makeup artist, it just doesn’t have to look like today’s version, and tomorrow’s version would be great too. I can still be a makeup artist in the craft I love. 


19/99       Can you take us through your daily beauty routine, morning and night? 

PD      I have always been on the go, and travelling, I’m never in the same city for more than a few days, so the fact that I haven’t left this time zone in a few months is crazy, it hasn’t happened for so long. So with that said, I have a routine now and it is minimal. In the morning I do oil pulling, which is an Ayurvedic technique of detoxifying; I swish the oil in my mouth for a good 15 – 20 minutes, while dry brushing, then take some supplements. I drink a lot of water, which is my main thing. If I am going to work out, I will put on a little bit of serum, and after will cleanse with Furtuna’s Micellar Essense. Furtuna is a brand I discovered recently and am using all the time; they have really gorgeous products. I use Augustinus Bader, for moisturizer – I am a huge fan and have seen an incredible difference in my skin from using it. Night time is when I will use more products, and mask, either a cream mask or sheet mask, and really give myself that time to chill out, have a bath, and mask up. I love Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, True Botanicals’ Resurfacing Mask, 111Skin for sheet masks, Knesko has beautiful sheet masks too. And I’ll usually do some sort of serum for resurfacing, I really like the Pro-Heal Serum from iS Clincal. I have a light panel that I do to sleep with every night, which is crazy. It is a panel that I put over my head, and I end up knocking it off the bed after a half hour. 


19/99      Do you wear makeup day to day? 

PD       When I was young I did, and then I didn’t for a long time. Especially to go to work – I didn’t think it was appropriate; I didn’t think that clients wanted to see a makeup artist with a face full of makeup in front of them. Because then it looked like I was caring more about myself than them so I wanted a blank slate. I thought that as long as my skin looked great, that was enough. During COVID, being home so much, and not having as many clients to do makeup on, I find myself doing makeup a lot more, playing with makeup, trying out new things that come in, like your gorgeous pencils. And it’s also a bit of a boost; it makes me a little happier. I’m not the girl that wears makeup every day; I want my skin to be the focal point. 

Images via @patidubroff Image via @patidubroff

I feel confident in who I am, and if it is going to help someone else feel confident in who they are, that is all I want to do

Images via @patidubroff Images via @patidubroff

19/99       How has your beauty routine changed over the years? 

PD       When I was younger I’d do facials and treatments that were a little bit harsh and that was not a great idea. I have never had any injections, Botox or fillers. No judgment for people that want to do it, for me I am scared of injecting compounds that are full of toxins and preservatives into my cellular level, especially so close to my brain. So I don’t do them, and I have wrinkles, and it is what it is. Now I am a minimalist but I only want to use the most exceptional products in my minimalism. I am accepting of myself. I am 52, and I’ve got these lines, I’ve earned them, and my skin glows because I am taking really good care of it. 


19/99      Do you feel pressure to look a certain way? 

PD       If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said yes. Being in Hollywood, working in the beauty industry, trying to keep my hair brown; it was a rat race to try to keep that youthful thing. I had bangs; my motto was ‘bangs no botox’, now I am like “Here they are!”. I haven’t seen my colourist since January, not fully by choice, and my hair is really grey. People that I really respect and trust are telling me how great I look, and I hear them, because I know that they are no bullshit. And people that I don’t know personally, social media people, are messaging me that they are so grateful that I am showing them that you can be beautiful and embrace what is happening with age. So that gives me a lot of hope, and I feel confident in who I am, and if it is going to help someone else feel confident in who they are, that is all I want to do…I want to keep that chain flowing. 


19/99      Does the term age appropriate mean anything to you? 

PD      Before being an adult, definitely age appropriate needs to be paid attention to. There is nothing more cringe worthy than seeing children or teenagers looking too adult, but after that no, fuck no. If I want to rock purple glitter eyeshadow, I can absolutely do that. I don’t need to look like a chic or conservative or timid older woman, just because that is what society used to tell people…no way. We should be free to express ourselves however makes us comfortable. Some of my closest friends are 30 years younger than me, and I don’t feel like I am any different than them, and they don’t feel like they are any different than me. I have different experiences and advice to share and I turn to them often for advice on what this new world is all about, how to approach things from the perspective of what they understand is happening in the world. The only way that I remember I am the age I am is that my body doesn’t bounce back as quickly, but I know that the youthfulness of my spirit is eternal, which sounds really corny but… it’s true. 


19/99       If you could share advice with your younger self what would that be? 

PD      Patience, be patient. I thought everything was supposed to happen over night, and if it had, I wouldn’t have been ready for what I’d be facing. I am so grateful that I didn’t skip steps. When people skip all these steps to get to the top, whatever that means, they are missing out on so many beautiful layers of learning and growing and becoming more steady and secure in who they are. That is a big one, and the other would be – I was a little too sassy when I was young. I wish I would have learnt to listen more; you can be sassy, but you need to listen before you sass. 


19/99       What makes you feel beautiful? 

PD      Feeling healthy and strong, and my family’s happiness. It’s not so much about mirrors for me. It is an internal feeling. I don’t even want to say it is about putting on a look…that is fun but that is not what real beauty is to me. It is a confidence that I have a life worth living. 


19/99       Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning? 

PD       I don’t ever feel like I’ve mastered anything, I always feel like I am a student…always, always. There is always more to understand, know and tap into, whether it is internal spaces or tangible spaces, and I think if you think you are done learning…then you are dead inside and outside. We all have so much to share and teach, no matter if it is a young person, a child, or if it is someone who has lived a lot of life. If we keep ourselves open, we can always, always grow. 


Follow Pati on Instagram @patidubroff

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Who I am and who I’ll be