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The best of Pat McGrath Labs: Our top picks from the cult make-up line

Pat McGrath’s beauty brand is a unique take on the luxury make-up landscape

Nateisha Monique
Friday 08 October 2021 12:06 BST
<p>Pat McGrath Labs’ packaging is stunning – but what’s inside is just as good</p>

Pat McGrath Labs’ packaging is stunning – but what’s inside is just as good

Pat McGrath Labs is known for its unique blend of kaleidoscopic colour, dewy bases and premium packaging, with premium prices to match. Masterfully playful and steeped in the sublime, it’s an avant-garde brand that takes beauty to an unrivalled level.

Industry legend and founder Dame Pat McGrath has been conceiving, launching and developing ideas for cosmetic brands for more than 20 years; hers is the genius behind countless catwalk shows, campaigns, adverts and editorial covers.

Known for transcending trends with her creative takes, it’s no surprise that her namesake beauty brand is a dream come true for those that also love to spark creativity with their make-up.

The line is clearly inspired by pop culture and art history, positioning itself as a collection to be inspired by and aspire to simultaneously. It stands out from the crowd thanks to its novel take on everything from colour palettes to technique and artistry, but even those who wouldn’t consider themselves to be aspiring MUAs can find joy and innovation using the line in their own routines. So where to start?

Whether you want to dip your toe into the Pat McGrath Labs waters or are after a full face of the best buys from the edit, here are our top picks to shop now (including those famous gold-lipped lipsticks).

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The best Pat McGrath Labs products for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish sublime perfection foundation: £61,
  • Best concealer – Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish sublime perfection concealer: £25,
  • Best eyeshadow palette – Pat McGrath Labs mothership VIII divine rose II eyeshadow palette: £120,
  • Best highlighter – Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish highlighter + balm duo: £45,
  • Best lipstick – Pat McGrath Labs mattetrance lipstick: £36,
  • Best lipstick for staying power – Pat McGrath Labs liquilust legendary wear matte lipstick: £29,

Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish sublime perfection foundation

Best: Overall

When Pat McGrath Labs launched this product in 2019, it shook up the scene by bringing the texture of a serum to a foundation, settling somewhere between a matte and dewy finish for the perfect radiant look. Boasting 36 shades spanning light, light-medium, medium, medium-deep and deep, the skin fetish foundation is truly sublime. Extremely lightweight and almost water-like, it blends seamlessly with either a brush or beauty blender before drying to a semi-matte finish.

It’s extremely buildable and long-lasting – we recommend applying to the areas of the face you need coverage for first and then taking the excess to blend into the complexion. This foundation will sit beautifully in anyone’s collection but especially for those who prefer lightweight foundations that resemble skin tints or tinted moisturisers.

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Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish sublime perfection concealer

Best: Concealer

Equally as creamy and soft-focused as the foundation, the sublime perfection concealer boasts a full coverage that is long-wearing and weightless. Confidently blending in to conceal any blemishes but stretching with the natural contours of the face, we found that the concealer didn’t crease or crack as time went on. Collectively brightening, blurring and concealing, it matches perfectly with the foundation, but you can also wear it on its own for a “no make-up, make-up” look. We loved that when setting it with powder, the concealer lasted the duration of the day (an oily girl’s dream) but was still creamy enough to hydrate and refresh drier or sensitive skin types.

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Pat McGrath Labs mothership VIII divine rose II eyeshadow palette

Best: Eyeshadow palette

If your ideal palette is richly pigmented, has dense colour pay-offs and is brazen with bold colour choices, then this is the palette for you. The divine rose palette is one of nine palettes in the brands’ range, but this is our favourite; the mix of mattes, shimmers and glitters all blend together in a decadent rose ensemble that would complement any look. It’s admittedly on the expensive side when compared with other palettes on the market, but it transfers to the skin so beautifully that as soon as you try this, we suspect you won’t go back.

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Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish highlighter + balm duo

Best: Highlighter

This fusion is lightweight by our usual standards but certainly doesn’t lose its pigment or punch. With one side offering a hydrating balm and the other a dewy highlighter that is sold in a choice of three shades (nude, golden and bronze), it’s the only compact duo you need for ultimate illumination. Gliding onto the skin, the balm and highlighter can be applied on their own or in sequence to deliver unrivalled radiance. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, argan oil and aloe vera, the products melt into the skin for a natural but noticeable glow and a boost of soothing hydration. We loved using the balm during our prepping steps and the highlighter over the foundation in the same areas for added luminosity.

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Pat McGrath Labs mattetrance lipstick

Best: Lipstick

Those who love the breadth and vibrancy of Mac’s range will be drawn to the hydrating yet long-lasting formula of these lipsticks. We went bold and tested the shade “elson”, a showstopping muted red that appears matte in the bullet, but on the lips sets to a creamy finish. Although it’s not completely smudge-proof, we wouldn’t be concerned that topping up throughout the day would be a hassle, as it has a pigmented pay-off from the first swipe. With a selection of 38 shades, the nudes being our personal favourites, this lip colour will carry the conversation no matter which hue you choose.

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Pat McGrath Labs liquilust legendary wear matte lipstick

Best: Lipstick for staying power

This is another great option for those who love wearing lipsticks or tinted glosses – and it’s more budget-friendly too. The staying power of the liquilust range is indisputable – drying down to a matte on the lips, this liquid lipstick went nowhere and only came off with some pressure applied with a tissue or makeup remover, which is just what we love to see. The only downside is that although liquilust delivers the same impressive payoff of pigment and colour as the famous mattetrance lipsticks, we did find they were slightly more drying on the lips in comparison. Hydrate the lips with a balm beforehand and you should be good to go.

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The verdict: Pat McGrath Labs products

Whether you prefer lightweight or full coverage, have years of applying make-up under your belt or not – Pat McGrath’s products will make your artistry feel second to none. The winners in our eyes are the skin fetish sublime perfection concealer, skin fetish sublime perfection foundation and mattetrance lipsticks – essentially building the perfect base for whatever direction you take with your make-up.

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