Is This the Mother of All Foundations? Pat McGrath’s Next Release Promises ‘Sublime Perfection’

Pat McGrath attends her Skin Fetish 003 Launch at Sephora Union Square on May 3, 2016 in New York City.
Pat McGrath attends her Skin Fetish 003 Launch at Sephora Union Square on May 3, 2016 in New York City.
Photo: John Lamparski (Getty Images)

Kids, start stockpiling your allowance because “Mother” is about to sell you the promise of “sublime perfection” in a bottle—and it ain’t cheap (but will likely be worth it, if her previous releases are any indicators).


Real talk? We’ve been waiting for Pat McGrath to release a foundation range since she launched Pat McGrath Labs—after all, this is the woman behind the formulations of Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci’s inaugural cosmetics lines. But when it came to launching her own 36-color foundation range, McGrath took her time—a reported 25 years, to be exact. On July 26, she’s releasing a holy trinity of products, including her Sublime Perfection Foundation ($68), Setting Powder ($55) and Primer ($60), available on the Pat McGrath Labs site and at Sephora.

As McGrath’s site reads:

Indulge like an icon with a breakthrough Skin Perfecting System three decades in the making. A trio of simple steps unlock the Queen of Beauty’s game-changing approach to the ultimate No-Filter necessary skin ritual for Runway, Red Carpet and Editorial. Whether your fantasy is the minimal majorness of Mother’s iconic “No Makeup” Makeup or you love to lavish yourself in luxurious layers of seductive skinspiration, all you need to remember are three little words - Prime. Perfect. Set.

What are we excited about? The promise of sheer-to-medium buildable coverage Bustle reported after seeing the foundation in action at a press event. “It has a serum-like texture and a vita-serum complex that kickstarts your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production,” the outlet boasted, which is music to the ears of anyone who wants to counteract the look of maturing skin.

The 36-shade range encompasses five categories: light, light-medium, medium, deep-medium, and deep—14 less than Fenty’s current shade range, and far short of Pür’s recent 100-shade drop. Style site the Cools took umbrage with the comparatively low number, calling the edited offering (which we have yet to see in full) “disappointing” and saying that “the small shade range feels like a slap to the face” from a woman of color beauty trailblazer who admitted to once using cocoa powder to match her brown skin tone.

But to hear McGrath tell it, she’s just not falling for the hype the 40+ shade phenomenon has become.


“As a makeup artist, we know the real amount of shades that we need when we’re doing 250 girls of all nationalities,” she explained to Bustle. “According to professionals, this is the number. This is the full amount of colors I would have in my kit if I was going to cover the world.”

Considering that the 40-shade standard wasn’t even a remote expectation prior to Fenty’s debut in late 2017, we will reserve judgment until we see McGrath’s full shade range and how it balances tones and depths. But according to Page Six, at least one unnamed female star who got to demo the new product at the 2019 Met Gala was instantly sold; so much so, she tried to keep it after seeing how well it performed.


“It looked like her skin but she was cooked,” recalled a Pat McGrath Labs team photographer. “She was so, so happy and tried to attack me and take it.”

Many cosmetics lines launch with foundation (understandable, since it’s literally the foundation of any great makeup look), so what took McGrath a quarter century to perfect her formula? Interestingly, part of the hold up may have been an ongoing legal dispute over the use of the name “Skin Fetish” with a producer of facial masks named Carrie Gray. Though McGrath and Gray have both been releasing products under that name since 2015, Gray filed suit in January against McGrath and Sephora.


Clearly, legal issues won’t be keeping Skin Fetish out of stores—or our hands, as we are admittedly intrigued enough to consider dropping $200 on a flawless finish. I mean, who can resist the promise of sublime perfection?

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?



I am curious because her lipstick looks amazing. But: her website needs more people wearing her colors - not just computer-fluffed models. Particularly as a makeup artist with a history of finding makeup for her skin tone it’s daunting.