The Internet Is Freaking Out About This Highlighter

Photo: Thierry Orban/Getty Images.
Update: Pat McGrath's long-awaited highlighter is going on sale tomorrow at noon on her website. This kit is sure to sell out, so make sure you've got your strategy set.

This story was originally published on March 23, 2016.

Many makeup artists have a calling card. It's a look that's all their own — an aesthetic that's so familiar, you can almost guess whose brush strokes are behind it the moment you spot it on a celebrity or model. For Pat McGrath, the beauty and fashion industry's most influential makeup artist, that signature is harder to pinpoint. She experiments with sublime colors and surreal textures that dazzle and inspire. To find her trademark, you have to get to the heart of every look. McGrath creates insanely gorgeous, lit-from-within skin, no matter what. You've seen it most recently on the models at Valentino (pictured) and Tommy Hilfiger. But with the launch of her third product — aptly named Skin Fetish 003 — McGrath, like a magical, mystical fairy godmother, is handing you the tools to get this look yourself.

Skin Fetish 003 is a three-piece kit that comes in two colors — nude and golden — that will give you the glow you've always wanted. "It was very important for me to have a multifaceted product, because that's how I work," McGrath explained. "It's how I do skin. It's not just about one product…it's a mixture of a few. Most people think [I just use] one thing. It never has been [that way]. To really make that [kind of illuminated] skin, it's a lot of different [products] so you can tailor your look." It's so in line with how she works that she actually used Skin Fetish 003 at Valentino's fashion show this past season.

McGrath's mix of products includes a dual-sided stick that contains a creamy, non-tacky balm on one side, and possibly the best damn highlighter you've ever tried on the other. I couldn't figure out the formulation — it's glossy and shiny, but with no discernible shimmer. "The formula is actually a gel, which is so different from the typically metallic or white shade," McGrath said. "It's really tapping into that lit-from-within look, instead of looking like you've got talc or mica that's in the way of your [natural] skin." The line is also pumped with good-for-your-skin ingredients, such as argan oil and aloe.

While the dual-stick will give you a more natural sheen, the third component is what really makes your look sing. A finely milled pigment (in gold for the golden version and blush for the nude) can be brushed onto the skin for a near-holographic glow. McGrath calls it "alien-gelic" — a cool, subversive take on a strobe that is less shimmery and more dewy.
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Skin Fetish 003 comes with a pamphlet explaining how to use all three products, but McGrath stresses that the entire point of her lab products — which also includes Gold 001 and Phantom 002 — is experimentation. "We really want to teach people how we do things at shows and in those campaigns," McGrath said. "It's all about experimenting. We encourage you to mix-and-match and play with the products." She has formulated the makeup to be used everywhere on the face — not just the eyes or cheekbones. "All of [the products] can be used separately, but they look gorgeous together when you want to just go for it."

In fact, that's the entire ethos behind Pat McGrath Labs: a no-rules, guerrilla-style, do-it-yourself attitude that's so popular right now. McGrath credits social media and the exchange of ideas there for the uptick in interest in this kind of skin — strobed, highlighted, and fresh-faced. "I think that people just want to be themselves," she said. "There's a celebration of individuality — we've been calling it 'raw glamour,' actually. There's something beautiful about the rawness and realness of the skin, and people are drawn to that." Skin Fetish 003 is McGrath's perfect answer to this call.

"I'm just trying to teach people to have fun with makeup," she said. That's a sentiment — and a signature — we can all get behind.

Skin Fetish 003 will be available for $72 at Pat McGrath Labs on April 26 and in Sephora on May 10.
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