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Pat McGrath’s Porcelain Skin Makeup Has Captivated the Internet

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

“Glass skin” evolved from the unattainable skincare ideal of perfectly smooth, moisturized skin to a literal imitation of a porcelain doll’s glossy face in Maison Margiela’s Spring 2024 Couture Collection shown at Paris Fashion Week. The whole show was under the artistic direction of John Galliano, already famous for his ’90s and 2000s runway looks and as the designer behind Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic newspaper dress in Sex and the City. But the innovative makeup that sparked an Internet trend was the work of an equally legendary creative: the makeup artist Pat McGrath.

Galliano’s show for Maison Margiela took place in Paris underneath a bridge of the Seine at 3 a.m. on a rainy night, a setting inspired by the sometimes called “Paris Noir” style of Brassaï, the famous photographer of 1920s Paris. The clothing’s mesmerizing designs had muted colors, 1980s-meets Victorian silhouettes, and lots of corsets. But what tied every look together was Pat McGrath’s ethereal yet tangible makeup on each model’s face. The look was of a neglected porcelain doll: once beautiful clothes now tattered but with the paint and glaze of its face intact — the porcelain skin only eroding if the models, who were walking uneasily like marionette puppets, fell and shattered completely.

Fashion critics have already designated the show as one that will “go down in fashion history,” but makeup creators on social media have been particularly captivated by how exactly McGrath created her shiny, breakable skin illusion. After the Jan. 25 show, some even accused McGrath of gatekeeping her technique. Makeup artist and social media creator Erin Parsons, a former assistant of McGrath’s, theorized how to recreate the look based on social media clues from McGrath and her assistants. Parsons hypothesized the product used was the Freeman Cucumber Face Mask, available at Walmart, diluted with water and applied with an airbrush.

Finally, in February, McGrath and her team revealed on Instagram Live how they achieved the glossy skin look. Erin Parsons was partially right in that McGrath used the Freeman’s face mask in a combination of other peel-off face masks applied in many thin layers with an airbrush and blow dryer. After the reveal, many social media makeup artists recreated her technique — multicolored soft, abstract eyeshadow, blush, and lip shapes underneath a high-shine glaze covering their faces. In the comment sections of such posts, @patmcgrathreal often leaves an appreciative and encouraging response (along with an English “xx”), reposting many of the recreations on her page.

Personally, I’ve been getting back into having fun with makeup for the first time recently since middle school, and it’s so fun to see such mesmerizing and innovative artistry from editorial makeup artists like Pat McGrath as well as social media creators. I feel that after the 2016 Anastasia DIPBROW opaque eyebrow, glitter cut crease eyeshadow, and matte Kylie lip kit era, following the trend cycle of the recent past being most out of fashion, there was a huge shift away from this style of maximalist, colorful makeup to what became the “Clean Girl” minimal makeup look.

While I appreciate natural and fresh-faced makeup too, I’m so excited to see makeup artists playing with eyeshadow, different colors, glitter, and the return of fun, creative makeup looks.

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Flora is a sophomore at FSU who grew up in Houston, TX, but more recently lived in Jacksonville, FL. She is studying History and is part of a pathways program for Geographic Information Science. This is her second semester at Her Campus which she loves to write for. <3