Lab Lips

Makeup maven Pat McGrath makes a splash at Sephora.

Wendy Duren Health & Wellness


111 East


It’s a particularly awesome time to be a makeup enthusiast. We are immersed in a golden age of product innovation — primers, setting sprays, and long-wear formulas that promise to outlast any outing. If there’s a makeup technique you’d like to master, social media tutorials can demystify everything from false-lash application to celebrity red carpet looks to matching a nude lipstick to your skin tone. Perhaps most exciting of all, new makeup lines launch with the frequency of days of the week that end in Y.

Pat McGrath is a makeup artist whose work you’ve doubtless admired on magazine covers and in runway shows, even if you didn’t know her name. No less than Anna Wintour claimed McGrath to be the most influential makeup artist of the last two decades. McGrath has, from time to time, released limited-edition capsule collections — a liquid lipstick here, a skin highlighter there — all of which have been beautiful, high-quality products encased in a sleeve full of loose sequins, perfect for social media unboxing (or a complete mess, depending on your perspective). These releases sold out quickly, and tears were shed by those not fleet enough of foot.

Now comes the Pat McGrath Labs perm- anent collection, available at Sephora and I’m over the moon about this line not only because I’m a fan of McGrath’s work, but because every item in the collection makes you look like you’re about to hit the catwalk. The price may be daunting, but the result will make you consider hopping onstage during Fashion Week El Paseo.

The three Mothership eyeshadow palettes — I Subliminal, II Sublime, and III Subversive ($125) — each contain 10 highly pigmented mattes, shimmers, and duo-chrome finishes in shades ranging from light to dark, with pops of vivid, bold color. The black lacquer packaging with gold engraving is weighty, luxurious, and chic. The shadows invite experimentation but still deliver when it comes to everyday looks; they are easy to work with and surprisingly forgiving. (I hesitate to call them foolproof because someone would turn up to prove me wrong.) I find it’s best to lay these shadows down with a flat brush in a patting motion. They’re so pigmented that a little bit of product goes a very long way.

McGrath’s PermaGel Ultraglide Eye Pencils ($25) come in five wearable colors in matte or shimmer finishes. This gel product is incredibly creamy and applies smoothly without tugging or skipping. However, these pencils set quickly and, once set, they don’t budge. A word of advice: Work on one eye at a time.

Likewise, the PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencil ($25) — in 12 shades, from neutrals to deep red — are soft and buttery and not likely to bleed into lip lines. I find their ability to stay in place perfect for “cheating” (evening out or overdrawing) the lip line.

I wouldn’t typically suggest a lipstick simply for its packaging, but the thoughtful presentation of MatteTrance and LuxeTrance ($38) makes them a special treat. The black lacquer tubes are adorned with voluptuous gold lips right where the cap and base meet. Nine matte shades and 25 satin-finish shades deposit dense color — so dense, I like to blot or buff the lips after application for a lighter look.

I almost wish this lipstick required touching-up more often, merely for the joy of pulling the tube from my handbag. Plus, when someone asks me who does my makeup, I’d be able to say, “Oh, Pat McGrath. Do you know her?”