M. K. Johnson is Lucire’s first beauty editor and is our Austin, Texas-based writer.
These high performance, glow-giving products are versatile and portable, writes M. K. Johnson
Pat McGrath is well known for avant-garde, fashion-forward, (website-crashing) cosmetic launches, but one aspect gets slightly less attention. Her products are powerful workhorses in any make-up artist’s kit. Every product she launches solves a problem. Problems like not enough rich pigment, too much powder fall-out, glitter that doesn’t stay put, products that are too irritating, or too messy to be portable, and the like. Make-up artists snap up her products because they make some aspect of application easier and with better payoff.
Each of her products can be used many ways, in various settings. The two Skin Fetish 003 kits are no exception. Each kit comes with a clear Shiny Stick balm, a cream highlighter stick on the other end, a powder pigment and the perfect brush to apply it all. The Nude kit has a powder shimmer that flashes hot pink, and a lustrous highlighter stick in pearlized cool pink-beige. The Gold set comes with powder pigment that flashes sunny-yellow, and a highlighter stick in warm, shimmery gold.
It will take me at least six months (maybe longer) to work out all the different ways I can use these products. For now, I’ve put together a list of my favourite ways to apply them.
Note to make-up artists: my biggest recommendation is to buy both the Gold and Nude sets if you can. While each set is beautiful on its own, it’s the combination of the two sets of colours that I use most. The beauty of the sets is that I can control how much of each shade I want in the mix to get the desired effect. I also go through the Shiny Stick balm rather quickly, and having two just made more sense for me. For personal use, just choose the kit that flatters your own complexion best.
Shiny Stick Balm
1. The best reason to have this in your kit: it has the best characteristics of two coveted clear gloss products. It has the high shine of MAC eye gloss, without the acrylate stickiness. And it has the treatment benefits of cult favourite Weleda Skin Food, without the Lanolin or Peanut Oil as Skin Food has. Those are two ingredients which can be problematic for sensitive skin clients and those with allergies. (Ingredient lists for SkinFestish003 are pictured at the bottom because, trust me, you don’t want me to try to type that out.)
2. I can testify to its almost supernatural ability to tame dry, sensitive, flaky skin. I’ve used this on my own peeling, flaky, red “Retin-A” face to get make-up to go on smoothly and it works like a dream. (Just call it the ‘complexion whisperer’.)
3. The balm works as a clear, dewy highlighter on top of any shimmer product—tapped onto the skin. It transforms a harsh shimmer into a soft gleam. And it does it without causing make-up to mix together or slide around. (Just don’t rub it into the skin.) My favourite way to use this is to apply the powder pigment rather heavily, and then tap the balm in over the surface. It feels comfortable and looks ethereal in photographs.
4. Eye lid gloss. The balm, like other eye gloss formulas, will still crease any pigment you apply with it, but the effect is still far more comfortable than other products. The wearability is about the same, so I still only recommend it as an editorial product when used on lids. As street wear, it’s a little too “slippy”. But for the same wear, models and clients will be so much happier with the comfort of the Shiny Stick balm. It’s also much easier to remove than MAC eye gloss and other similar products.
5. Lip balm. It can be used to soften cracked lips (and dry nose area).
Bonus use: eyelash and eyebrow gloss on male, or no-make-up-look models. This has just enough shine to make eyelashes and eyebrows glossy and a little bit more defined. (Only use this way if you are able to keep your balm sanitized.)
Shiny Stick Highlighter
6. As a cream highlighter. Both colours are gorgeous, and, blended together, they make a beautiful third colour I use all the time. You can apply this at just about any point in the make-up application process. I’ve mixed it with primer, with foundation, with cream blush—and of course applied it on its own.
7. Mixed with eye shadow primer and used as a cream eyeshadow. You may be able to use this on its own as a cream eyeshadow, but primer kept it from creasing for me.
8. Mixed with lipstick: particularly with matte lipsticks to give a subtle sheen.
9. Gold highlighter stick: brushed through blonde and light brown eyebrows.
10. As colour adjusters mixed with cream bronzers. Great for using with cream bronzers that look a little too muddy (add Gold), too cool (add Gold), or too yellow (add Nude).
11. The uses for the powder pigments include: separately, or layered together, and brushed on as you would with any powder highlighter.
12. Eye-shadow. They can be used wet or dry, as an eye-shadow.
13. As another layer of bright highlight over the cream highlighter sticks. The Gold in particular is very brightening.
14. Mouth. Tap a tiny bit into the bottom lip for a multidimensional mouth.
15. Highlight. Brush onto shoulders, décolleté, etc.—anywhere you want to catch the light, and the eye.
Combinations and layers
For greatest shimmer and shine, combine all three products: Balm first for a smooth-as-glass surface. Highlighter second for the shimmer base. Then top with pigment powder for most flash and shine.
For the highest “flash”, use the Gold pigment on top. (In my experience, the Gold powder shows up just a little shinier in photographs.) For subtler shine, use the Nude pigment on top.
For the most subtle shine (best for in-person use, event,s etc.) use the balm tapped into either the powder or the highlighter for a smooth, glossy sheen, instead of a high shine.
Tricks for uneven skin
The toughest part of using high-shine products is that they can highlight texture problems and imperfections in the skin. To keep highlighter or pigment powder from “grabbing” dry or uneven skin, try the following.
1. If possible, have the client or model exfoliate the night before.
2. Hydrate the skin thoroughly.
3. Use a smoothing primer with some light-reflecting properties. (It’s not usually necessary to use a high shimmer, or “strobing” primer.)
4. The powder is most likely to attract attention to uneven skin, so plan on tapping a little bit of the balm over the powder to smooth it out.
The Buffer 003 brush
I was sceptical about the brush that comes with each set. Brushes that come with make-up kits often end up in my “don’t-really-need-it” brush roll, unused and unloved. Don’t fret: McGrath thought of everything. The brush, like all the other products in the kit, is well thought-out. This Japan-made brush has two levels of bristles, long and short. If the brush only had short bristles, it would pick up, and deposit, too much pigment at one time. If the bristles were only long, it would be harder to control the powder application. Her brush has both lengths mixed together so you pick up just enough powder, and still have great control. I’ve been using her brushes with other my powder highlighters for that reason.
Like any other make-up artist, beauty editor or beauty blogger, I can only tell you what work well for me. Of course, your mileage may vary. Please leave a comment and let us know how you’re using Skin Fetish 003. What do you love? What challenges have you had?
If you haven’t gotten your set yet, it has sold out on Pat McGrath’s website and on Sephora.com. But, according to Sephora, it is still available at the following stores: Times Square & Union Square, New York; Hollywood & Highland, Los Angeles; Cæsar’s Palace, Las Vegas; Houston Galleria, Houston; Aventura, Miami. It’s worth a phone call to see if they can ship a set (or two) to you. •
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