Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta talks Instagram beauty, highlighters and time constraints – Vancouver Sun
Patrick Ta sits casually in a chair on the patio of the penthouse at the Loden Hotel in Vancouver.
Rather than stare out at the impressive view of glass-covered residential towers shooting up from the streets below, to say nothing of the Burrard Inlet and Stanley Park beyond — he’s drawing on his hand.
But, rather than exhibiting a classic sign of adolescent disobedience, Ta is demonstrating something for a small group of media. So, what’s he working on that’s proving all-consuming enough to keep him from ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ over the landscape beyond?
He’s creating the “perfect eyebrow” on his hand.
“When I’m looking for a brow pencil, the thinner the better,” he explains as he continues to sketch. “I like to be able to draw each hair.
“As a makeup artist, I want to mimic real hair. You need pencils that are dense because you really need to be able to draw each hair. The first time someone looks at your face, you don’t want them to see just your eyebrows. You want them to see your entire face.”
When he’s done, the completed “brow” looks better than the two I have on my face. In fact, it’s better than most of the eyebrows I’ve ever laid eyes upon.
“That’s actually pretty good,” he laughs softly to himself. Yes, yes it is.
Ta is one of a new guard, so to speak, of makeup artists. Unlike in the past, where artists had to toil for years under master artists, working at makeup counters and, if they were lucky, on endless editorial shoots and B-list celebrities, Ta shot to fame relatively quickly.
“I moved to L.A. three and a half years ago,” he explains. “I got really lucky because I met Gigi Hadid like three months after I moved to Los Angeles. And then she blew up, and that really helped my career, as well.”
So, basically, Ta became social-media famous. (In case you didn’t know, the hash tag #beauty has been used more than 195 million times on Instagram, alone.)
“Instagram is the key factor in my success — and I know many other people’s success,” he readily admits. “Katy Perry found me on Instagram. Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lopez. The Kardashians.
“If I didn’t have Instagram, I might never have worked with them.”
Social media platforms and online destinations such as beauty blogs and YouTube channels have opened the floodgates for a seemingly infinite number of beauty “influencers” to enter the scene. From how-to makeup tutorials, to in-depth beauty reviews, there is a bevvy of online beauty content.
“I don’t think a lot of bloggers, or a lot of people who are doing makeup, thought they could make a living doing makeup — until now,” Ta says of the beauty boom. “The world didn’t really allow you to do that back then. But, now, people appreciate it. And they like it.”
So, what’s the impetus behind the apparent increase in the overall popularity of makeup? According to Ta, it’s as simple as supply and demand — meaning, both have increased significantly in recent years.
“In general, makeup is just so popular. There are so many products out there now,” he says. “Even two years ago, there weren’t as many highlighters. Now there’s this formula and this formula and that formula.”
But to say Ta has made it big purely because of his prowess for sharing makeup photos, would be to do a big disservice to his aptitude and all-around talent for all things skincare and beauty.
With a few sweeps of an applicator brush, Ta transforms some of Hollywood’s hottest young celebrities (Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Shay Mitchell, to name a few) into golden goddesses. One need only scroll through his Instagram feed (which boasts a following of more than 780,000 followers) to see that Ta knows how to make his “girls” (as he endearingly refers to the celebrities he works on) glow.
“I love applying powder highlighters because they’re a lot easier,” he says, motioning to the shimmer-flecked KISS New York Professional sitting open on the table in front of him. “Then I like using a setting spray to set it into the skin. So it feels and looks like skin.”
Ta says the ultimate highlighter application will resemble a “natural dewiness.”
In fact, perfectly shimmering skin has become Ta’s calling card, of sorts.
“In photos, you do need to put a little bit more on in order to make it pop,” he says of his trademark, camera-ready makeup. “I love makeup that is glamorous yet wearable. Something that you can wear on the red carpet, but also wear day to day.”
Ta says his first question to each client before he begins their makeup is always the same.
“I always ask my client, is this for a photo, or is this for in-person,” he says. “You need to know your surroundings, or what you’re going to. If you’re going to a wedding, you obviously need to pack on a little bit more makeup because you’re going to be photographed. For an in-person dinner, do makeup that makes you look beautiful in person.
“You don’t need to put as much on, but you should always focus on the skin.”
And that screen time is one big thing he says we all have in common. These days, most men and women can admit they likely spend a bit more time in front of the camera than they ever have before thanks to #selfies and Snapchat, albeit not quite as frequently as our celebrity counterparts.
So, what’s the key to looking flawless on a daily basis, according to Ta?
“You can never blend enough,” he says. “Instead of just using one eyeshadow colour, always have a transition colour to diffuse up to your eyebrow. I always say use two to three eyeshadow colours. And take time to blend them. Because it doesn’t look blended — don’t wear makeup because I feel like it just looks crazy.”
He says one of the biggest issues he encounters with his clients — and makeup fans in general — is their desire to rush through the process of getting ready.
“You need to be realistic with the looks that you choose. If you only have five minutes, then just focus on highlighting and your lip. If you have 30 minutes, you can do everything,” he says. “If I was a girl and someone gave me 10 minutes to do a look, instead of doing a smoky eye, I would rather do something that looks amazing than something that looks half-assed.”
He cautions people to remember when they’re scrolling through the seemingly endless offering of online images showcasing perfectly applied makeup, that those looks could have taken hours (yes, hours) to create.
“When you’re looking at photos on a makeup artist’s feed, you need to remember that these girls allow us two to three hours to get ready. Whereas, you have 15 to 30 minutes,” he says. “You need to understand that these girls’ job is to look good. So, they’re going to spend time and effort into looking good.
“Don’t feel bad if you can’t create that look in 15 minutes, because it didn’t take them 15 minutes.”
Instead, with 15 minutes, Ta says it’s important to focus on a few key features rather than a full face. (Oh, and for the record, Ta says a five-minute face is basically impossible.)
“I’ve done makeup in 15 minutes on a client,” he says. “But I know that if a client is really late and she has to be out the door, and there’s no wiggle room, then I’ll focus on the brow, the eyelashes and the lip. And, obviously, if she has blemishes, then I’ll cover that.
“If she wants a crazy smokey eye, I’m like — no. We can’t do that. It’s not doable.”
In addition to considering time constraints, Ta says it’s important to consider skill level when pondering the possible outcome of a makeup application.
“If you are a girl that doesn’t know how to do makeup, once you learn you can do more, but in the meantime — less is more,” he says. “Everyone has their own natural beauty, and you can just accentuate that.”
Blush, mascara and lipstick are “idiot proof,” he assures.
Sitting with Ta during his Vancouver visit, it was easy to see he loves what he does. It comes across in the way he describes trends, talks about application tips — and even asks questions about one’s own makeup.
“I’m so lucky to do what I do. My job is so easy because I love it,” he says when asked about the best part of his gig. “I get to hang out with fun girls every single day. It doesn’t even feel like work to me.
“I would do it even if I didn’t get paid for it.”
Three makeup must-haves in every women’s kit
Looking to pare your makeup bag down to the absolute bare minimum? You’re in luck.
We asked Patrick Ta, the makeup artist behind some of the hottest celeb looks in Hollywood to dish the details on the “must-haves” for any woman’s makeup kit.
Here’s what he came up with:
“You need a great highlighter because a highlighter can really amplify your look and make your skin look rich and expensive.”
Try: KISS New York Professional Halo Strobing Palette, $19.99 at London Drugs
“I think you need a dramatic lip. Personally, I love bold, red-carpet reds. I like pairing it with just skin and a highlighter and letting that just be the focal point.
Try: Estée Lauder Pure Color Love lipstick in “Bar Red”, $28 at esteelauder.ca
“A great mascara.”
Try: KISS New York Professional Dead Sexy Lashes, $12.49 at London Drugs
Patrick Ta’s red-carpet ready skincare tips
We may not all have to face a red-carpet scenario in real life, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want our skin to look red-carpet ready.
According to Patrick Ta, a perfect beauty look starts at the skin.
“Invest in your skincare and taking care of your skin. Doing that makes your skin shine and glow,” he says. “Have the makeup be the second thing that makes you beautiful.”
Here are his three top tips:
1: Exfoliate your skin two days before and the day of an event so there’s no dead skin on your face.
2: Get an oxygen facial.
3: Prep skin with a hydrating moisturizer such as Ta’s favourite, Crème de la Mer.