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July 26, 2017

Matte Fever-Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick


If you’re not yet in a trance from the idea, impact and reality of Pat McGrath MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), then may I gently coax you into having a peek at what this renegade has bequeathed to the world, which now includes lipstick. Born in Northampton, UK, she draws a correlation between her mother’s scholarly approach in having her memorise eye-shadow shades to her escapades as a young woman, dazzled by the royalty of British Pop music of the day, as part of the foundation of her ability with colours.

After the required lucky break to travel to Japan to do makeup for one of the members of the epic music group Soul to Soul, surely the planets were all in agreement that was to be the first brick laid in the foundation. Since then, that foundation grows ever stronger with each project, title or launch she is involved in. Beginning in 2016, McGrath has been releasing colour cosmetics under her own name, finally. Instead of a multi-product launch, she has opted for one product launches that have sold out every single time. This writer is still hoping to get her hands on one of her Skin Fetish Kits if they ever become available again.

I don’t know who comprises McGrath’s marketing team, but they are obviously wizards at what they do. The anticipation of her lipstick launch has been steeping for many months prior, so once the email sign-ups became available, I happily added my name. And so, the nine shade lipstick launch is off the ground, and of the nine, I was naturally lured in by the shade Elson. Named for Karen Elson, a musician, model and former spouse of The White Stripes lead vocalist, Jack White, Elson is, to me, evocative of red lipsticks of the 50’s and the 80’s.

Prior to the official launch, Elson had already debuted at Prada’s Resort 2017 runway show, so it’s been hard at work for a while now. Starting with the scent, there is none that I can detect. The texture is pleasingly silky, something new generation matte lipsticks can hold over their predecessors’ heads. Therefore, the application allows the user to apply straight from the bullet. With this, a liner is not necessary unless you want a highly sculpted, finished look. In a makeup class I took several centuries ago, we were taught to first trace the lipstick in a line around the lips with a lip brush, the way you would with a lip liner. Then fill the lips in with the lipstick to complete the look. However, McGrath advocates for using one’s index finger to tap the pigment into the lips, thereby filling in lines and lengthening staying power. I’ve tried that but I still use a brush or the bullet to keep things neat on the edges.

Now to wear time. For the good of the team, I first tested this by applying it very early one morning. I had my morning elixir, followed by breakfast that included two bowls of matcha, had a bit of lunch then a full dinner. It was only after dinner that I noticed some of the colour had faded a bit. Otherwise, Elson remained evident throughout all of that. After dinner, I then showered with it on. I cleanse my face at the sink, always, as that’s a separate routine/invocation. I was quite tempted to sleep with the lipstick on but the thought of having to apply stain remover to the pillow shams didn’t thrill me.

This brings me to the fact that Elson’s performance is multi-faceted in that it behaves like a lip stain as well. The Velvet Finish Formula is next generation, in that the pigment is suspended in a powder film that acts as insurance for the silkiness of this lipstick.The formula also contains diffusers that are intended to mask imperfections on the lips. Coverage is truly opaque and intensely pigmented. Elson is a true blue-red lipstick, which always makes teeth look whiter. It is indeed buildable, but I’d suggest tapping it on with a finger in the event you don’t want the full on look. It also does not feather or bleed, and even in very hot temperatures, it maintained its brilliance.

Pat McGrath’s Lust MatteTrance Lipsticks are housed in unique packaging. McGrath worked closely with design engineers to come up with a tube adorned with gold sculpted lips set against a glossy black case. It definitely stands out from so much that is currently available in the market.

Gucci Deep Matte Lipstick in Iconic Red and Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson

L-R: Gucci Iconic Red and Pat McGrath Elson

L-R Gucci Iconic Red and Pat McGrath Elson


I did a quick comparison between Pat McGrath’s Elson and Gucci’s Deep-Matte Lipstick in Iconic Red. Gucci’s is more of an orange red lipstick that definitely veers much cooler. Naturally, the formula is very different and it also needs a couple of swipes to really bring the colour forward.

Lipstick, like fragrance, is a very personal part of one’s beauty kit. I believe it was Gabrielle Chanel who said something to the effect that lipstick is a woman’s weapon in seduction. In these contemporary times, I wonder how true that remains. Pat McGrath’s Lust MatteTrance lipsticks are available on her website at Pat McGrath Labs and soon, Sephora will be carrying the range. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried anything from Pat McGrath and your thoughts.

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  1. backstorybeauty@gmail.com says:

    Thanks so much, and yes the packaging is stunning. Let me know if you’re able to try it as well.

  2. asparkleofgrace says:

    This sound amazing! The packaging is adorable too.
    Great review!

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