A Joint Review by Rachel & Emily
When it comes to epic launches, I think we can all agree that Pat McGrath has already won 2017. It all started back with the kits - remember those? First, there were the Skin Fetish highlight kits. Then came the Lust Totale lip kits. Somewhere along the way we learned that Kim Kardashian was a fan of the Darkstar 006 eyeshadow kits....But time for a confession: neither one of us bought any
of those kits. That's right. Beauty blogger blasphemy
Emily: Honestly, my main takeaway from Pat McGrath Phase 1 aka 'the Kit Phase' was "...sequins!" Sequins galore. SO MANY SEQUINS. In fact, for a non-negligible period of time, I genuinely thought that the sequins were meant to be used as part of the ‘look’ for each kit.
Understandably, that sort of made me write off Pat McGrath entirely. Yeah, occasionally, I would hear her name get mentioned and I'd feel compelled to give those kits another look but the sequins/DIY vibe just killed it for me. I'm being totally honest here - those little pots of loose glitter, the tubes of sticky glue stuff...nope. Nuh uh. I am not a fan of self assembly. That's why I don't do IKEA.
Rachel: We aren't here today to talk about Pat McGrath's old kits though. Or, for that matter, the new holiday ones, which also have that weird DIY vibe. (Why Pat??)
We're here today to talk LuxeTrance lipsticks. If you've read this far, chances are you've bought a LuxeTrance (or two) already. If you haven't bought a LuxeTrance lipstick yet... um, you’re excused for the present moment. Go get thy self to Sephora's website and start filling up your cart. You can check back in with us here after. (But seriously, get on that.)
In the meantime, we're going to discuss packaging. Because whoever it was who said pretty packaging didn't matter was a) blind, b) a total liar or (c) both. Take it from us: packaging matters. And Pat McGrath came up with some crazy good packaging for her unlimited edition lipsticks.
Packaging - Pat McGrath 2.0 Style
Rachel: When Pat released her MatteTrance lipsticks over the summer, I had a hunch she was headed towards a permanent line. This was not the same generic sort of plastic packaging she'd used during 'the Kit Phase'. My first Pat McGrath lipstick, Omi, was weighty and luxe. To make something so stunning limited edition would have been beyond cruel especially with a formula as good as that.
Each lipstick is housed in a glossy black metal tube, with a pair of of gold lips that clasp the cap shut with a satisfying 'snap'. It could have easily veered into cheesy territory but instead the design immediately reminded me of of Salvador Dalí’s famous sculpture of Mae West’s lips. Even the cardboard boxes each lipstick comes encased in are works of arts with lips, eyes, and faces embellished in gold. The design of each box is supposedly the work of one of Pat's many artist followers on Instagram, who were specially commissioned to work on the packaging for her collection. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m ever going to be able to throw those boxes away. Each one of them is a piece of art in itself.
The LuxeTrance Formula:
Emily: Compared to the MatteTrance range, the LuxeTrance lipsticks are definitely more comfortable. I've broken down the formula in bullet point form below:
- Neither hydrating nor actively dehydrating. Expect your lips to be in the same condition when you remove this lipstick/it wears off as they were when you first applied it.
- The finish is extremely forgiving on dry, flaking, peeling and/or chapped lips. This is a similarity with Tom Ford's Lip Color Matte formula which also magically smoothes imperfections while adding a touch of fullness to the lips.
- The LuxeTrance formula is more matte than many 'matte' formulas on the market. When first applied, the lipsticks have a slight sheen which disappears after about 10-15 minutes, leaving behind a demi-matte finish. No glossiness here, nor that moisture-sucked pruniness characteristic of MAC mattes. Compared to other similarly-priced formulas on the market, the LuxeTrance lipsticks are similar to the older Tom Ford Matte Lip Colors, as well as Chanel's Rouge Allure Velvet lipsticks. Charlotte Tilbury's Matte Revolution formula, on the other hand, is definitely more luminous, and I question its credentials as a true matte (still a nice formula -just not a matte one).
- The LuxeTrance lipsticks are not lightweight - you'll definitely be aware that you’re wearing lipstick. However, rather than feeling heavy, the texture is rich and cushiony, almost plush. Both Rachel and I found it to be extremely comfortable, and we're pretty picky when it comes to evaluating lipstick.
- In general, the shades run dark compared to the swatches on Pat McGrath's official website. Only one of the shades in the 'Skin Show' nude range is a classic pale nude on either of us (Donatella). A better way to think of the Skin Show shades is as rich MLBB colours for every skin tone. Virtually the whole range is not just wearable, but also flattering, regardless of one's complexion.
- There is no discernible taste or scent to the lipsticks so this should be a plus for anyone who is sensitive to fragrance.
- The formula is extraordinarily consistent across the entire shade range - there are virtually no disparities, with each shade consistently ranking a 10/10. The only shade that felt a little bit 'thinner' was Sextrology, although it was by no means 'thin'. It just didn't have as rich a texture as the other shades we tried.
- You get bang for your buck with these lipsticks. Each $38 tube contains 4 grams of product which is an excellent deal, notwithstanding the fact that we both own enough lipstick to withstand the apolocalypse several times over. In comparison, Tom Ford’s Lip Colors and Lip Color Mattes ($54) only contain 3g of product. Charlotte Tilbury’s lipsticks ($34) contain 3.5g of product. Pat McGrath doesn't skimp when it comes to product.
Emily: This is a fairly lengthy post so we suggest settling down somewhere cosy with a beverage of your choice, and getting ready for some serious Pat McGrath talk. Today, we’ll be focusing on the 'Skin Show’ LuxeTrance shades, which are categorised as 'nudes' on Pat McGrath's website. As it happens, Rachel and I both love our nudes so consider the first installment in our review of the LuxeTrance lipsticks a paean to the best nude lipsticks out there….wait, that's not too strong a statement, right?
Rachel: Not too strong a statement at all. They're categorised as Skin Show ‘nudes’ but in the post-Fenty Beauty era we're now living in, ‘nude’ lipsticks are - definitively, I think - not limited to shades that only work on N15-N30 complexions.
Emily: Totally. So although not all the Skin Show shades are going to be classic ‘nudes’ on every complexion, in general I think they’ll mostly be wearable and flattering across the board. Undertones are neutral - neither overly warm nor cool - and are muted enough to be wearable everyday without being boring. For comparative purposes, we’ve divided up the Skin Show shades into three different groups. The formula is incredibly consistent across all shades, we’re super impressed.
Group 1 - The Light, Classic ‘Nudes’
The official description of Donatella as a ‘beige mauve’ is pretty accurate, but do be aware that this is a shade that may pull more brown, depending on your undertones. It’s the lightest shade in the Skin Show lipsticks and the only classic ‘nude’. It’s also the only limited edition shade in the LuxeTrance range so if in doubt, remember that we told you it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Described as a ‘brown rose’ on Pat McGrath's website, in the swatches on Sephora’s site, She’s Heaven! looks like anything but heaven - more like a murky sludge-brown. Personally, I live on the wild side when it comes to lipstick (and by ‘wild side’, I mean I blind buy them by the dozen). So - I took a chance on She’s Heaven! Conclusion: it’s definitely not sludge-brown, promise. For all you N15-N25s out there, this is a fantastic, MLBB, I-don’t-have-a-mirror-lipstick because you can swipe it on without any fuss, and stride down the street 50% convinced you sorta-maybe resemble Kate Moss. Yes this is your jaded model-off-duty shade. We recommend pairing it with a generous sweep of Kevyn Aucoin’s sculpting powder and smudgy eye kohl.
Group 2- the Peachy Pink Nudes
Out of this group, Realness has the least peach in it - in fact, while it might be redundant to buy both Sextrology and Valletta, Realness is something quite different. While I'd be cautious about saying definitively that Sextrology and Valletta don't have white bases, I can confidently say Realness doesn't. If you're a rosy lipped N10-N25, with neutral to cool undertones, Realness needs to come home with you. It's reminiscent of Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk lipstick except cooler and clearer, with no traces of brown in the base. It is muted by a cool mauve cast that keeps Realness firmly in the category of an MLBB rose lipstick.
Described as a ‘neutral pink’, Sextrology is really the least muted of all the ‘Skin Show’ shades. It’s a peachy-petal pink with a warm, sunny cast, softened by its summeriness rather than anything ‘neutral’ in its composition. In fact, for those who are wary of lipsticks with white bases, Sextrology may be worth an extra little bit of caution. To those who can wear white based lipsticks - I count myself within that lucky number of people - well, hallelujah! Here’s the pink you’ll be wearing on some golden sanded beach next summer. Yep, that’s ages away, and utterly in keeping with Pat McGrath’s style (she’s definitely a tease).
While Valletta and Sextrology are very similar, Valletta is paler and slightly more muted, lacking the pinky peach tones of Sextrology. Described as a neutral peach, Valletta isn't so much a 'peach' as at is is a neutraliser of the pink and red and plum tones present in lips' natural pigmentation. Valletta doesn't wipe out the rosiness in your lips so much as take it down a few notches. Swipe it on and you're left with a soft, pillowy Bardot beige, reminiscent of a Fellini film (and practically begging to be paired with a feline flick and teased bouffant).
Group 3 - The Brown Rose ‘Nudes’
Described as “a deep brown rose”, Attitude is sort of like Unfaithful’s warmer sister. It’s a brazen brick red befitting of its name, warm toned but never crossing the threshold from red into brown. It's on the warmer side of the spectrum, with a mix of terracotta hues and a dash of milk chocolate brown. In a nutshell, Attitude is a must have for lovers of brick-reds and P.S. - if you like Charlotte Tilbury’s Walk of Shame, you’ll definitely want to check out Attitude.
While Pat McGrath’s website is generally accurate in providing shade descriptions, one of the exceptions to that rule is Lavish. Far from being a ‘mauve rose’, Lavish pulls straight-up brown on me, and is more challenging to wear than the name might suggest. The brown tones here overwhelm the rose and, to the extent that there is any ‘mauve’, it seems to have been thrown in mainly to signify that Lavish is a cool brown. It is the second darkest shade in this group and far more brown than the description implies. If at all possible, we recommend swatching in person before buying. However, for those of you after a classic ‘90s Shalom Harlow brown lip, Lavish is the shade for you.
Unfaithful is the coolest toned shade in this group and my personal favourite, it is a rose slightly muted with brown rather than a rosy brown. It will suit people of all complexions and play well with both warm and cool makeup. While Attitude and Lavish seem worldly and confident, with their rich swirls of brown, Unfaithful is cooler and more aloof. It's the one to get, imo. I have never seen anything quite like it and I've seen a lot of lipsticks (-Emily, but could be Rachel too).
This is the darkest of the ‘Skin Show’ nudes and Pat McGrath describes it as a “mahogany”, which is spot on. It’s a deep, rich, reddish-tinged brown, with a burnished sheen once seen in nature that now eludes us. It reminds me of richly polished antique wood. Human greed for beautiful things turns the natural into unnatural (where am I going with this). This will definitely be more of a 'vampy' shade for lighter skintones, while for deeper skintones, Unnatural Natural will be a beautiful MLBB shade, especially flattering on those with red undertones.
Also, stay tuned for Part 2 of our roundup of Pat McGrath's Luxetrance Lipsticks - we'll be covering SIX BLITZ BRIGHTS and ONE VICIOUS VENOM!
-- Emily & Rachel