The legendary British make-up artist Dame Pat McGrath needs no introduction, and neither does her eponymous beauty brand that’s been pushing make-up boundaries with innovative formulas and state-of-the-art packaging. Now the brand is moving on to skincare, with its first foray hitting the virtual beauty shelves: the Pat McGrath Labs divine skin rose 001 the essence.
Arguably the most influential make-up artist in the world, Pat McGrath creates beauty looks for the most prestigious fashion brands and designers every season, as well being the go-to MUA on editorial shoots for luxury titles. In 2019 she went on to elevate her successful career further when she launched Pat McGrath Labs, becoming the biggest selling beauty brand in Selfridges’s history.
The cosmetics brand has gone on to continuously wow beauty editors and beauty obsessives alike with unique, fashion-forward formulas, as well as sell-out collaborations. From holographic eyeshadow palettes to the glitter lip kits, it’s impossible to pick favourites, and that’s before even looking at the latest Bridgerton collection that would win the approval of every viscountess in the land.
Launching skincare seems like the inevitable move for the brand, but you might think starting with a facial essence is a strange first move – why not opt for a more conventional product, like a cleanser or moisturiser? But loyal fans of McGrath’s work will know she’s renowned for creating her signature glowing skin backstage, and essences are major glow-givers.
If you’re not familiar with the Korean beauty regimen, think of essences like a primer to your moisturiser. Similar to a serum, they contain a high concentration of potent ingredients that penetrate deeper into the skin, rebalancing and hydrating your complexion so the products you put on top will work even harder.
This luxury essence has some big claims to live up to. McGrath calls it her secret to the ultimate glow: “This is my transformative formula for hydrated, revitalised and luminous skin,” she says. And, with the backing of another legend, supermodel Naomi Campbell says: “I wouldn’t use anything else. The glow, the luminosity, the hydration, it’s unparalleled. It’s perfection.” With such high praise from the new global face of the brand, we had to get our hands on a bottle to try it for ourselves.
How we tested
We put the essence to the test for two weeks, as part of our regular morning and evening skincare routines. Marking it on ease of use and benefits to skin both instantly and over a longer trial period, read on to find out what happened…
Pat McGrath Labs divine skin rose 001 the essence: £81, Patmcgrath.com
When you first unbox the essence, you’re first drawn to the Instagram-ready packaging that we’ve come to expect from Pat McGrath Labs. The essence is housed in a heavy glass bottle with pretty pink and gold detailing. But aesthetics aside, the first thing you notice about the formula is what the brand calls “biphase tech” which is essentially two very different looking liquids inside.
At the top half of the bottle sits a milky emulsion that’s infused with a cocktail of botanically-derived oil. There’s some first-rate emollients and natural antioxidants at play here, including sweet almond oil and macadamia nut oil for nourishment and hydration, rich in skin-loving vitamins A, C and E sea buckthorn oil, as well as super-moisturiser squalane. The cocktail of oils is designed to nourish, hydrate and lock in moisture to leave you with a smooth, soft and plump skin texture, as well as impart a glow or luminosity to dull, tired complexions.
The bottom half of the bottle consists of a cloudy-pink rose water or what the brand calls “rose biotic” that’s designed to rebalance, revitalise and fortify the skin barrier. A potent rose blend of centifolia rose petal extract is teamed with French skincare staple damascene rose water, to provide a vitamin, mineral and amino acid-rich second part to the formulation that’s also soothing and calming.
All in all, both parts combine to make up an essence formulated with 97 per cent naturally-derived ingredients that are designed to be suitable for all ages and skin types – it won’t clog the pores either as it’s non-comedogenic. You’ll also find it’s cruelty-free and free-from silicones, parabens, and mineral oil, among others.
Easy to slot into an existing skincare routine, this essence can be used both morning and evening straight after cleansing. It’s recommended that dry to normal skin types use it before they layer any serums and moisturisers on top – remember the general rule of skincare is to apply it in order of texture from thin to thick. However, oily or combination skin types may find this is enough to be used on its own as a lightweight moisturiser.
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The two-part formula is designed to be mixed together with a quick shake of the bottle. This turns the essence into pink-toned milk – reminding us of a delicious strawberry milkshake in texture. Simply pour 2-3 drops into palms and massage or press into the skin, then apply more if desired – you’ll be met with a subtle rose and jasmine scent. We found our dry skin liked a second helping on top. You can even apply on top of make-up for a pick-me-up throughout the day.
We tried out all three ways of using the new essence. Firstly, after cleansing and before moisturiser, as recommended for dry to normal skin types. After our very first use, we were impressed with the difference this made as an additional skincare step before bedtime – we woke up up to an incredibly soft and supple complexion.
But we have to say it’s in the morning routine that we liked it best. It feels like a refreshing wake-up for the skin – we can see why rosewater is such a French skincare staple. Our skin felt instantly more nourished, smoother and plumper – the perfect make-up canvas. And the dewy skin finish it leaves you with is just a dream.
Secondly, we wanted to see what a difference this made to our skin when just used on its own as a light moisturiser, as recommended for oily skin types. It impressed us on its own too, leaving a glowy but not greasy finish that still worked on our tester’s normal to dry skin. Applying it this way really made the most of the luminous finish, making it a great option for make-up-free summer days.
And lastly, we tested it on top of make-up for a hit of hydration throughout a long day, and we loved it this way too, as it added a pick-me-up glow to the skin. Using it this way became a little addictive, as we just can’t get enough of the silkiness and luminosity it leaves behind.
The verdict: Pat McGrath Labs divine skin rose 001 the essence
Pat McGrath promised three transformative skin results, and she didn’t disappoint. The divine skin rose 001 the essence ticks all the boxes when it comes to delivering hydrated, revitalised and luminous skin. With impressive results after the first use, it’s like a big drink of water for the skin that will leave it smoother and plumper the more you use it.
Although all skin types will see benefits from using this, we think dry, dehydrated or dull skin types that need the extra Korean-style skincare step will have the best results. Expect to love the luminosity so much that you’ll want to top up throughout the day, which luckily you can as it sits well over make-up too.
Pat McGrath has never disappointed with her next-level formulations, and this essence in her Instagram-famous packaging is no exception. Setting the bar high with her first step into skincare, we can’t wait to see what’s next in the line-up.
Pat McGrath Labs divine skin rose 001 the essence
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