In Focus: Los Angeles Makeup Artist Patrick Santa Ana

We are often told the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we must also note that beauty on a societal scale is shaped by what we see in the media. We sat down with Patrick Santa Ana, a industry make-up artist recently signed with Universal Music, and ENVY model management to talk about the makeup industry, ranging from What is beauty, to Foundation Colors, to Patrick's new skin care line, and even the recent firing of trans model Munroe Bergdorf. We had questions, and Patrick kept it real with us the whole time.


EFNIKS: So Patrick, Tell us about a little bit about yourself, What do you do? Do you own a Salon? Tell us about your Product Lines?

PATRICK: Well I’ve been an a signed makeup artist for over 15 years now -

EFNIKS: Wait a second, what does that mean exactly

PATRICK: Oh yeah, basically it means that I’m contracted to specific talent and fashion agencies, which means I work for film, tv, and editorials.  I’ve worked with modeling agencies and talent agencies, but they’re two different worlds they have some similarities between what they want, but here is a  difference. Only because models are supposed to be hangers for clothes, and actors need feature people. Modeling agencies are size 0-4 (which is considered large) modeling agencies are more “simple” and talent agencies are more talent based.

EFNIKS: What does talent based mean to you?

PATRICK: They are comedians, or actors, or people who have a talent, they aren’t just a “pretty face” that can photograph well.

Anyway, my sister does hair, and we’ve been working together forever. 6 months ago we opened our own full service salon, called the Maya Salon. I work with a line called REN--it's completely chemical-free, and they helped sponsor the EFNIKS meetup! It’s completely clean and completely safe. On top of that I have my own skin care line coming out soon. It’s been in the works for a year now, based off of things I personally use, under Patrick Santa Ana products, and Patrick Santa Ana skin care. It’s a mask and exfoliator all in one and it does everything, you end up looking like a million bucks after, I’m really proud of it.

EFNIKS: Nice! So getting your hustle on couldn’t possibly be a new thing for you. How did you get your start in the industry as a makeup artist?

PATRICK: [Laughter] That’s a crazy story in itself! Oh man, but i can give you a quick version. I just graduated high school and was working at the gap, and I met this other girl who was just super cool, super trendy and absolutely amazing, and we became bffs like that - [snaps fingers].  She was going to (the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) FIDM at the time, and back then, they had like this bulletin board - like a job board - which featured jobs for LA fashion week. So she called me up and was like “We gotta do this together, let’s just go down and do this.”

PATRICK: The story is longer than that, but my big break came when an artist didn’t show up for a big show and I thought to myself “I can do this, I’ve been doing it on my sister and friends so I know can do it.” So I filled in. One of the models said how fast I worked, and I got snapped up by Red Alert (a talent Agency) and Nevon (a modeling / runway editorial) that day.  In this industry you have to work fast. Time is money. So actors commonly have great skin because it’s less time for a makeup artist, it’s not about vanity actually.

EFNIKS: What is good skin? And what is good hair?

PATRICK: Good skin is about texture, and about even skin tone. It’s not about color, it’s about tone so what a makeup artist is looking for is a tone where we don’t need foundation to even you out. You thought I was gonna say white huh?

EFNIKS: [Laughter] You got me.

PATRICK: Yeah. we’ll get there in a bit i'm sure. But no, good skin is not necessarily light skin. Good hair is something that’s “easy to manage”. If a model has frizzy or limp hair, we ask them to pre-do their hair before the shoot, because time is money. So often times “good” just means, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get ready.

EFNIKS: What are some of your favorite looks to create?

PATRICK: I love working with skin. Smoothing out skin, evening-out skin, big bold lips, bushy brows. I've been working with the same photogs for years because they say they “rarely touch up the face” because I make makeup “not look like makeup” when I apply it to the skin. I like to make you look “naturally beautiful”. Surprisingly a lot of models have bad skin because they’re doing shoots with 3 to 4 makeup artists a day.

EFNIKS: With your products I’m sure their skin is safe.

PATRICK: They do! [Laugher] It’s all natural, so it’s a lot less harsh on their skin. But yeah, I just like to make skin look amazingly real and flawless, and it turns out pretty good.

EFNIKS: How has makeup been a part of your experience as an LGBT person?

PATRICK: So outside of modeling, I didn't have good skin growing up, so I always used makeup to cover up flaws and scars. Makeup is usually seen as “only for women” but to me, it’s really for confidence. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have been as confident as I needed to be,  to get me where I am today. It’s negative and positive.

EFNIKS: How so?

PATRICK: Well because makeup is a mask. On the positive it gave me confidence to look people in the eye, and overcome my insecurities, but It was super secret cause as a boy you’re not supposed to wear it. I remember hiding my MAC compact in my backpack that I saved up all my lunch money for; doing touch ups secretly in the bathroom.

EFNIKS: As a makeup artist do you define beauty the same way the industry does?

PATRICK: Me personally - I define beauty, now that I’m a bit more woke, in the person’s eyes. I see everyone as beautiful in one way or the other. When I working with people it’s nice to see when you add a little bit of something like a great eye shadow, and their eyes light up! I can see if a person is being genuine in their eyes, and that’s so beautiful. We’ve been brainwashed to think “everyone looks beautiful with more makeup on” which is why I like to use natural looks, to bring out that natural beauty.

The industry’s idea of beauty is based on “what photographs”, which is a “symmetric face” or a unique look. Let's be blunt, when they ask for people, they want them in the most extreme version of that stereotypical idea. They want black people to be very dark, Asians to be “Asians”, white people are always blonde with blue eyes. If they want a red head, they have to have freckles. Now there's a bit more mixture involved, but before if there was any diversity, it had a small window of what was there. It's about about branding, if the shoot it’s for Walmart in the Midwest, they’re gonna base it on their clientele - or well on their perceived clientele.

EFNIKS: Kylie Cosmetics just released colors for Black girls RIGHT after Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty came flying off the shelves. Do you see this as a change in the industry to be inclusive, or a half hearted attempt to get money.

PATRICK: Ok, Let’s dive in. [Laugher] For the Kardashian’s personally, yes it’s a way to get more money. What boggles my mind is the Kardashians have dated black people, but they didn’t have colors for PoC. As a makeup artist, foundation lines are critical. Her line has been out for quite some time, so why didn’t they have other colors? They’re clearly clearly not against African American people…. But I think they’re just selling their name and they're not involved in it. I don’t know how true it is, but knowing the industry, they’re not the ones in the room mixing the ingredients. So I think Kylie is whatever about it, she’s not thinking on it. She’s not using her platform to her advantage, she’s not being a good ally or a good role model. But on the whole the changes are positive. It’s not just black girls, it’s girls of all ethnicities and backgrounds, which is beautiful. So not only is the fashion industry being more open, but so are cosmetic lines.

EFNIKS: Munroe Bergdorf was just fired from L'oreal for discussing racism on an Instagram post. Is there a place for discussions about race in this industry?

PATRICK: I think as a business, L'oreal didn’t want anything to do with racism. They didn't want to have someone who was so outspoken and so political. But they didn’t realize that now PoC probably won’t buy L’oreal. For these businesses, everyone is a dollar, and they were afraid of losing dollars. The thing is, now they’re gonna lose dollars because they didn’t support a trans woman of color.  And let's be real, who wears more makeup right? The trans girls, and the drag queens.  My cis-girl friends will go through one bottle every 3 or 4 months, but my trans friends go through a pack every month or two. They made the wrong choice.

EFNIKS: James Charles has been defended by Covergirl for his racist tweets, do you think this is because there aren’t enough boys in the makeup game, or because there is something more sinister at work here?

PATRICK: “I wonder if it’s cause he’s white?


PATRICK: But realistically, it’s equal parts that he’s a boy and white… probably more that he’s white. But also because there are a lot of white male influencers on Instagram & YouTube, and they didn’t want to lose those dollars.

EFNIKS: Would you say there is colorism at play, in the strives toward diversity in the industry?

PATRICK: Yes. They’re trying, but their version of trying comes up short. I think it’s because we’ve all been brainwashed to see european standards of beauty as what is beautiful. Small nose, big eyes - that’s “pretty”. So I feel like there is a strive, but it’s not real. The face is still a white girl's face somehow - the model is mixed. She’s always gonna be a mixed girl.

EFNIKS: Have you noticed a difference between what white art directors and art directors of color see as beautiful?

PATRICK: Oh for sure 100%. I had a client where the casting agents were all straight white dudes. Every time they hire their talent for commercials, they’re always white. The husband and wife selling the bedding, is always a white couple. And PoC that i’ve worked with who are in charge, they are pretty equal about it. There’s a bit more taste of the rainbow going on with their shoots.

EFNIKS: What are things our readers can do to be beautiful?

PATRICK: I think everyone’s already there! [Laughter] But if you’re looking for particular tips I say meditate, and try to have good thoughts. If you feel bad, and stressed, it sucks out the life from you and your face. You can have the best artists in the world if you’re in a bad mood you’re gonna look bad. But above all inner beauty is something people should work on because looks fade… unless you use the right skin care [Laughter]. But I truly believe the right mindset and attitude really shows in our face.

EFNIKS: Patrick, thank you so much for your time.


Take it from an expert, Beauty doesn’t come in one size or shade, it has more to do with being a good person inside. As the beauty industry is shifting to adapt to become more inclusive, we need to come together as a community to support people of color who are models, artists and business owners. You can find more of Patrick on Instagram @patricksantana or on his website


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