The Pat McGrath Makeup Theories Breaking the Internet

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Pat McGrath Labs, Shutterstock

Backstage beauty is finally having a moment again and we can thank Madame Pat McGrath. Are we surprised? Not really. Since the ’90s McGrath has been a trailblazer in the industry for her artistry and innovativeness. Her most recent viral moment is proof of why she will always reign supreme in the beauty world, especially for backstage beauty moments during fashion week.

Last week at Maison Margiela’s Couture show designed by John Galliano, the clothes had a moment, but so did the porcelain-doll glass skin on the models. The look was reminiscent of Galliano’s ’90s and early-2000s shows where models would walk the runway with dramatic old eyes or over blushed cheeks. For Galliano’s Fall/Winter 2007 show, McGrath sent models down the runway in faces painted with an array of bold colors surrounding their eyes and cheeks and squiggly thin eyebrows. The pair knows how to make a magical runway moment. Exciting beauty on a runway is a dying art, so the excitement of the look led everyone to ask questions: How could their skin be so glossy? How could it be so poreless? The one thing we know is that it was applied with an airbrush and it was peeled off, thanks to videos of the models post-show. “All will be revealed soon,” McGrath said in an Instagram post. But, of course social media was eager to discover her secrets. Makeup enthusiasts have been going on TikTok and Instagram to share their theories and some of them were actually on par.

Today, McGrath went on Instagram and TikTok live to reveal her method that she says took three years to perfect. “Water and a lot of other products went into this for the perfect consistency,” she said on the live. “I’m not gatekeeping,” she added before revealing her personal cocktail of masks and glass skin products. The lineup included: Proot’s Calendula peel off mask, Freeman’s renewing cucumber peel off mask, Daggett & Ramsdell tea tree peel off mask, Que Bella’s pineapple hydrating pineapple peel off mask and Skin Illustrator’s clear gloss. The skin was prepped with McGrath’s own rose essence and she revealed that she’ll be launching her own product to achieve glossy and glazed skin. See the best theories below.

Photo: Pat McGrath Labs

Theory No. 1: Freeman Peel-Off Gel Mask

Erin Parsons, makeup artist who has worked for Pat McGrath before and has a supermodel clientele list including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima is known for her extensive knowledge of makeup history. After seeing the models peel a mask off their face at the end of the show and receiving intel from one of her assistants saying: “it is a custom mix … all I can say for sure is that it was a water-based product … The color of the mix looked a bit like the Listerine mouthwash,” Parsons put her clues together and came up with her own theory: Freeman’s peel-off gel mask (a mask with a slightly bluish color like Listerine) diluted out with water and airbrushed in layers. Parsons airbrushed five layers on her skin and the outcome was a super glass skin finish, similar to the models who walked the show. “You’re a professional detective,” one comment read. Another person added, “I was BLOWN AWAY by this level of craft. Pat McGrath is incredible.”

If a mask under $4 created this sorcery, it’ll definitely be sold out immediately.


Replying to @. All hail Pat McGrath 🙇🏻‍♀️ @Pat McGrath Labs i still hope she announces what it is! #patmcgrath #glassskin #margiela #johngalliano #kryolanglass

♬ original sound - Erin Parsons

Theory No. 2: Natura Bissē Diamond Luminous Glowing Mask

Katie Jane Hughes, another beloved celebrity makeup artist to Hailey Bieber, Ashley Graham and more attempted to recreate the look from the show and her guess at the mystery product was Natura Bissē’s Diamond Luminous Glowing Mask, a $105 brightening mask that has a glass-like finish when applied.

Hughes added that fifteen years ago when she worked at Space NK, she met McGrath who came into the store to purchase Natura Bissē SPF. Her theory? She 100 percent knows McGrath is familiar with the brand because she’s sold it to her before. The mask “sets kind of like a shiny film on the skin,” Hughes said before applying it on her skin and admitting that she no longer thought it was this product because of the slight pink hue. McGrath commented, “THANK YOUU Katie!! Sending LOVEE.”


Still baffled and a very failed attempt to re-creating MOTHER @Pat McGrath Labs look at margiela!!! Was fun to try atleast. PatMcgrath, #Makeup #Margiela #makeupfail#FYP

♬ original sound - Katiejanehughes

Theory No. 3: Kryolan Liquid Glass

This theory became the most viral and popular theory following the show, so viral that the product, Kryolan Liquid Glass, sold out. “We are currently experiencing high demand for our LIQUID GLASS and it is now, unfortunately, out of stock,” is the message that instantly pops up on the brands website. Kryolan is known to be professional stage and film makeup. The $5 liquid glass leaves the skin with a glossy finish after multiple layers. Although it sold out and was a theory many believed, McGrath commented on a video debunking this theory. “Amazing !! But we will show the real product soon ! Stay tuned,” McGrath said. Makeup artist Netta Szekely lent her opinion saying it was either this or another gloss product.


Were all obsessed with this hyper ssurreal plasticized skin created by Pat McGrath and team backstage for the Margiela SS24 Runway. Here are top 2 products that might have been airbrushed on models skin. Well keep guessing untill someone will ket us know. @Pat McGrath Labs #patmcgrath #maisonmargiela #margiela #runwaymakeup #backstage #glossyskin

♬ Pieces of Memory - Carlos Carty

Theory No. 4: Skin Illustrator Clear Gloss

Szekely also hinted at a skin illustrator’s clear gloss as a product of interest in the mystery to the method. Parsons (before trying the peel-off mask) also tried this gloss claiming it was like a “glaze for the skin,” before stating she was wrong. “The skin illustrator was not easy to get off,” she said. The videos of the models show that whatever product that was used was in fact easy to peel off. TikTok creator Niko Haagenson also tried this on sans airbrush and was pretty confident that he had found the mystery product.

Theory No. 5: A New Pat McGrath Product

A TikToker who claims she used to work for McGrath, Samantha Lim Achatz, made a video saying, “I can confirm she is messing with you.” She went on to say that they’ve always had “multiple products under development so it could be a sample,” but she also confirmed that McGrath has worked with Krylon products for a long time and said that’s what this looks like. “Both answers can be true,” she added, alluding to the fact that this could in fact be a new product on the pipeline for Pat McGrath Labs. In the past, McGrath has sampled new beauty products on runways and red carpets, but she’s never had a skincare product outside of her rose essence, a moisture-boosting liquid for skin prep. Is it likely that she’s launching a mask that has dual purposes? We’ll just have to wait and see, but something tells us one of these theories is close to correct.

The Margiela Makeup Theories Breaking the Internet