I Took Pat McGrath’s Expert Party Makeup Advice & It Changed Everything

Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline Kilikita.
Pat McGrath is one of the beauty industry's most sought-after makeup artists for a reason. Just ask Taylor Swift, whose recent unmovable sparkly makeup on stage, at red carpets and in music videos came courtesy of Pat McGrath Labs products. Everything McGrath touches turns to gold. And I mean literally. A quick scroll through her Instagram page proves that she isn't afraid to embrace molten metals, metallic foils and a shedload of shimmer (whether it's on eyes, lips or cheeks).
McGrath's signature looks certainly lend themselves to party season, but going-out makeup can be daunting, particularly if you want to experiment with sparkle for the first time (and don't want to resemble an overdressed Christmas tree). Festive makeup doesn't have to be excessive or time-consuming, though.
I asked McGrath to lay down her simple and achievable tips and tricks for nailing party makeup in moments, and I actually learned so much.

Inner corner highlights elevate the simplest makeup

McGrath is devoted to gold, sparkle and shine but has found that these elements don't need to be overly dramatic. If you have neither the time nor the patience to layer and blend when it comes to creating an eyeshadow look, McGrath suggests depositing a "mere touch of sparkle in the inner corners of each eye."
Most of the makeup looks that McGrath creates are so lustrous, they can be seen from space, hence her Motherships collection and collaboration with Star Wars. "Use a shade like Binary Sunset [a pink champagne with a subtle sparkle] in the Eye Shadow Palette Star Wars Edition," she said. Take a small, fluffy brush and simply dust the shadow into the inner corner, or use the soft pad of your little finger to press the pigment into place. It's that simple.

Try the "centerpiecing" trend

If you're not keen on fashioning an elaborate glitter eye, pressing just a hint of shimmer onto the center of each eyelid and then atop the Cupid's bow using your fingertip will create something subtle at first, says McGrath. However, when the light bounces off the shimmer particles, it'll look like you've really tried. McGrath suggests enlisting ChromaLuxe Artistry Pigment in Nude Euphoria.
Creams are easier to blend here but if you prefer powder eyeshadow, McGrath has a handful of tips for minimizing messy fallout. Firstly, ditch your priming lotions and potions for a concealer. "I love the Sublime Perfection Concealer, which creates a smooth, even base for your eyeshadow. This will help the shadow to adhere to your lid and reduce fallout." She's right. Concealer is better than most drying eyeshadow primers I've tried and this one acts like Velcro under powder eyeshadow as the texture is creamy and hydrating.
If you want something more dramatic, the key is layering up rather than going straight in with a brush loaded with pigment. "When applying your eyeshadow, use a light hand," said McGrath, "and apply the product in small, buildable layers. This will allow you to achieve the desired intensity of color without over-applying the shadow, which can cause fallout." Lastly, McGrath recommends pressing a tissue or a piece of transparent tape against your lid to catch any stray particles of eyeshadow. This shouldn't mess up or remove the pigment if you're super gentle. Think of it like blotting lipstick so that it doesn't smudge throughout the day.

Extend the inner corner highlight up to your brow bone

If the inner corner highlight is a bit too understated for your liking, dip your eyeshadow brush back into your chosen shade and bring it up to your brow. Stop blending just short of the arch of your eyebrow for a surprisingly pretty, sculpted inner eye look. I love shades Wicked Envy (a shimmer-laden khaki) and Blitz Violet Orchid in the Mothership VI: Midnight Sun Star Wars Edition Palette, which just so happens to be one of McGrath's favorites in the collection.
You could also try this with something more translucent, like the shade Belt in the ISAMAYA Industrial Colour Pigments Eyeshadow Palette, a pretty lilac with a green tinge, which has a color-changing effect at different angles. Also try Juvia's Place Afrogalactic Eyeshadow Palette, or e.l.f. Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow, which comes in a variety of shades to suit all skin tones.

Use eyeshadow on your lips

It isn't just TikTokers who are obsessed with teaming shimmery highlighter or glitter eyeshadow with lip gloss. "I love using eyeshadow on the lips for a fun, unexpected twist on a classic look," said McGrath. One of her favorite colors for the lips is a deep red eyeshadow, such as the shade Blitz Crimson Ecstasy in the Mothership XI: Sunlit Seduction palette. A metallic crimson with magenta undertones, this can be applied underneath or even on top of another lipstick thanks to what McGrath calls the "cushiony" texture.
You could also use shades Imperial or Force Sensitive in the Eye Shadow Palette Star Wars Edition, swiped underneath a clear gloss. Or make like TikTok's @lexusmperezz, who layers on Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Wattabrat, underneath Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Ice Cooling Lip Luminizer in Cold Heart'd.
@makeup Highlighter + gloss✨ Would you try it? @lexusmperezz #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #makeup #lipstick #lipgloss #makeuptutorial ♬ original sound - makeup

Try a "floating cut crease" with glitter

The smoky eye is making way for the floating cut crease and believe it or not, it takes far less blending. "To achieve this effect, take a small, precise brush to create a sharply defined crease," said McGrath, who would gravitate to the aforementioned ChromaLuxe Artistry Pigments. Gently trace just above the crease of your eyelid and wing out the shape. You can use a cotton bud and some micellar water to clean things up.
"Then apply glitter underneath [the floating crease] using a flat, dense brush," said McGrath. "This will give the illusion of a floating crease and add a touch of sparkle to your look." Opting for a powder over a cream will make blending a lot easier. Try Morphe Ready In 5 Eyeshadow Palette, which combines five complementary shades so you can nail the look easily.

Try the "vampire skin" hack

Over the past year TikTok has been obsessed with "vampire skin": mixing a dot of liquid glitter eyeshadow (like Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Perlina) into foundation for a complexion that twinkles at every angle. If you want skin that gleams but is a little more pared down, McGrath suggested starting with a skin-quenching primer like Divine Skin: Rose 001 The Essence. If you have a smaller budget, try VIEVE Skin Nova, with hydrating niacinamide and rosewater, or Versed Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops.
Then simply pat a liquid or powder highlighter over your high points, such as the tops of your cheekbones, the tip of your nose and along your brow bone. McGrath recommends the Skin Fetish: Highlighter + Balm Duo.
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This article was originally published in December 2022 and has since been updated.

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