Pati Dubroff on Holiday Beauty, Making Under Kim Kardashian, and Her Powder Pet Peeve

pati dubroff
Photo courtesy of Pati Dubroff
Clarins celebrity beauty artist Pati Dubroff

Pati Dubroff's CV is almost intimidatingly extensive:

She's painted the flawless faces of Gwyneth Paltrow, Eva Mendes, Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts (to name a few!); her handiwork can be seen on countless magazine covers including Vanity Fair, W, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Allure; and French beauty giant Clarins has tapped her to be its in-house celebrity beauty artist.

Her passion for makeup is contagious—Dubroff can talk about Clarins' shades and formulas all day, dabbing a little of that or a sweep of that on herself (or her company!) to show off the gorgeous goods.

While that kid-in-a-candy store makeup mentality could result in overkill for some, Dubroff's light hand and love of natural beauty means the dramatics are kept to a minimum. But that doesn't mean she doesn't love to have fun.

FashionEtc chatted with Dubroff about embracing glitter for the holidays, her favorite celebrity faces, and getting Kim Kardashian to lighten up.

What are your favorite beauty looks for the holidays?

I think for special occasions it’s definitely a time to break out the brighter lipsticks. There’s a lot of red around, and people are less afraid of brighter lipsticks—if you have a mouth that can handle it. You get dressed up really quickly when you put on a great lipstick. Another look’s kind of a basic smoky eye with a little something extra, like gleam or glitter to make it a little bit special. Another one could be doing that sheer wash of glitter on the eyelid, really playing it up and then keeping the rest of the face more neutral.

How can a normal person get these looks on their own?

For lipstick, you need to make sure the lip is well-prepped. You can’t have dry flakes on the lip or the lipstick won’t stick, and not too much lip balm on the lip or the lipstick won’t adhere. I like to take the lipstick on my finger and press it into the lips first to create a base. If you’re doing a strong color on the lips and you’re using a pencil, you can use that base—you don’t put the pencil on a dry lip. But go easy on the pencil, or it can look a little extreme, and then a coat of lipstick straight out of the tube. Then I like to kiss my hand. When you blot with a tissue it can leave some residue. The last thing I do is use my finger and soften the edges so there are no harsh lines. That’s the thing with strong colors—when the lines are really harsh, it can look a little severe or make the lips look really small.

And what about the eyes?

Glitter is kind of tricky. This one [in Clarins' Passion Eye Quartet Ombre Mineral Palette, new for the holiday season] is so nice because it has a moist base—trying to do a glitter look with dry glitter, it can kind of fall all over the place. If you don’t have this palette, you can take a little bit of lip balm or Vaseline, and drop the glitter into that, and then press that onto the eyelid. And if you are using glitter and it does fall, you can use scotch tape to pick it up off the face.

What’s the one product that every woman needs in her beauty arsenal?

Instant light [lip gloss]. This is my must-have. I have one in every purse. Can I say two? The Instant Light Brush-On Perfector and the Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector, which brightens the shadows under the eye and then gives the lip some glow. With these two things, you’ll look finished.

Who are some of the people you love to work with?

Kirsten Dunst I love. She loves makeup and she loves fashion, and she really loves to play with it. Julianne Moore’s a favorite—she’s so beautiful, and the woman doesn’t age. And she’s incredibly kind. I’ve been working with Felicity Jones, and she’s so beautiful. And she’s just a cool English girl and she likes makeup.

You know who else I love to work with also? Rosie Huntington [–Whitely]. She’s one of the most amazing creatures that I’ve ever been around. I just did a cover with her, British Harper’s Bazaar, and she looks amazing.

Anyone you’ve never worked with that you want to get your hands on?

The other day I was thinking I should ask my agent to see if I can work with J.Lo. She’s asked for me in the past and I wasn’t available, but I have this kind of fascination. I want to see what that’s all about! I can see how she’s very beautiful, and I’m curious to see what she looks like up close in person. I would like to make her under a little bit.

Speaking of makeunders—you recently did Kim Kardashian’s makeup on the cover of Marie Claire.

People say it’s the best she’s ever looked. For that cover, it was very specific: She would get the cover if Marie Claire could use [the makeup artist] they wanted. And she had no say in what she looked like. That’s why she looks so natural and beautiful! Chris McMillan did her hair really natural and soft, and I put no mascara on her. No spider lashes allowed! She has really long lashes anyway, so that’s why I didn’t have to even use mascara. I was like, OK, I’ll put a little brown at the base to make her feel like she got something! She looked amazing. She’s really a pretty girl when you strip off all that stuff.

clarins holiday makeup

Photos courtesy of Clarins

Clarins Instant Light Brush-On Perfector, Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector glosses, and Passion Eye Quartet Ombre Mineral Palette

Do you have any hard-and-fast beauty rules?

I think Rosie [Huntington-Whitely] is a perfect example of breaking the rules. If you have big lips, don’t wear bright lips? False. You just have to own it. If you have really small lips, though, I wouldn’t do dark lipstick. It never looks good. It minimizes them to the point of being mean.

What do you think is the biggest beauty faux pas women are making these days?

People, or celebrities? People in general wear too much foundation or too much powder. Maybe it’s that Bare Minerals stuff they do! Too much powder is my pet peeve—it’s really aging. Something that celebrities do is probably those spider lashes. They can go away.

What kind of trends are you looking forward to from the Spring 2012 runways?

I love how the brow was the focus, but then there were the ones where the brow was this really dark, caterpillar, blackened thing. I get the theatrics of it, but the message that it’s sending is for people to have their eyebrows so dark and so severe. That doesn’t look good. Same thing when they were bleached out! It’s those two extremes—that’s what fashion’s about, isn’t it, those extremes—but that middle ground is where I like to be.

Would you say that’s sort of your philosophy of beauty?

Yeah. Natural, but paid attention to. Skin really glowing and radiant is really important.

And how do we get that skin?

Take good care of it! Things like exercising, not smoking, not drinking [alcohol], not drinking coffee … it’s all so boring. For me personally, I can’t eat cheese. It’s just the most bizarre thing. I get saggy and baggy. It’s so evident. I’ll eat cheese, and the next morning I wake up and I’m all saggy. If people have food sensitivities, that can affect the skin.

Drink a lot of water ... And you have to make the investment in good skin care.