Every so often a beauty product comes along that is a true game changer. Meet Pat McGrath Labs Divine Skin Rose 001 The Essence, £81, which launched earlier this year and is the first skincare product from makeup guru Dame Pat McGrath.
Nicknamed by the industry 'Mother' (because she is the mother of makeup) not only is she the first makeup artist to be made a dame (for 'services to the fashion and beauty industry and diversity') but she was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2019. She was the natural MUA choice for the 'colour-blind' casting of the Bridgeton TV series, which gave rise to the best beauty collaboration of 2021/2 the Pat McGrath Labs Bridgerton Makeup Collection Series. And did we mention she also makes one of our favourite highlighters, Skin Fetish Divine Glow, £45 as well? We could eulogise forever, but we're not actually here to talk makeup, but how she achieves the canvas that underpins it all: great skin.
The Essence took years to formulate and was tested in secret backstage at all the big-name fashion shows on top supermodels as well as on the faces of celebs at New York's prestigious Met Gala before being released to the world. But it wasn't just the glam and famous that were used as guinea pigs, Pat McGrath enlisted her friends and family to try it out too because this is very much a product for the people, admittedly one with a fairly significant price tag. She wanted to make sure that this product would work on every skin tone, and people of every age and be a one-stop-shop for creating plump, hydrated glowy skin, simply and effectively. As a makeup artist, she's confronted with all types of skin and is often under time pressure to transform it. Creating a 'one-and-done' product that delivers every time is, we think, a stroke of genius.
And its list of fans reads like a who's-who of Hollywood. Naomi Campbell says of it, “I wouldn’t use anything else. The glow, the luminosity, the hydration, it’s unparalleled. It’s perfection.” It is the product actor Timothée Chalamet wore on the first ever Vogue cover to feature a man and was used to prep supermodel Linda Evangelista’s skin for her ‘comeback’ Vogue front cover. Celebrity makeup artist, Wendy Rowe used it on Olivia Wilde's skin at the Venice Film Festival and when Paris Hilton walked in the most recent Versace catwalk show, it was The Essence providing her with a glowy complexion.
This bi-phase lotion is an essence by name but, we think, so much more by nature. Essences are very much a key skincare step in Korean 'K Beauty'. They are very light liquids, essentially waters, used after cleansing and before any other skincare and prep the skin and help other products be absorbed more effectively. However, this one is veering on the consistency of a serum and a pink milky one at that as it transforms into a milky solution when you shake the bottle up to combine the two layers. It glides onto the skin and gives it an instant glowy, plumpness that is next level.
It contains a very clever ingredient called HydraSphere 18, which is a molecule that combines oils, lipids and skin-soothing vitamin E to soften and hydrate the skin and its been clinically proven to boost the moisture levels in the skin. And then there’s also a rose extract that not only gives it an amazing scent - that’s not overpowering btw - but also drenches the skin in protective antioxidants and phytonutrients to feed the skin.
It's been designed to be used on clean, dry skin before any other skincare. Some skin types might find that they can use it as a stand-alone moisturiser and primer for their makeup. Drier skin may still want to layer up with serums and moisturisers. Shake a few drops into the palm of your hand and then massage and press it into the skin and watch some serious glow appear. On good skin days, this may be all you and your skin need, but it makes the perfect base for anything else you want to put on top too. Pat's top for extra hydration and glow throughout the day, is to press into the face, décolletage, shoulders and body, too.
We almost didn’t want to write this feature for fear that the more people that know about The Essence, the harder it will be to get our own hands on it, but we couldn’t do that to you. So now you know the beauty industry’s best-kept beauty secret, kind of. You can thank us later.
Victoria Woodhall Get The Gloss Editorial Director: "When I met Pat McGrath recently and heard her explain just how hands-on and utterly perfectionist she'd been in the creation of The Essence – down to finding roses picked at down when they were at their most potent – I had to give it a try. She revealed that among the raft of celebs she'd also given it to her 'nail lady' to use and when she saw her skin transformation six weeks later, she asked her what she'd done. It surprised even Pat that the lady's glow-up was down to her own product.
"It's Dame Pat's first and only skincare product and she may as well retire, because it may well be the only one you need, outside of your actives. I have dry skin and can almost go without moisturiser with this. At its heart, it's oil and water (skin barrier supporting oil squalane, almond oil and rosewater) which are the fundamentals of a bouncy complexion. It also has ceramides, which my older skin desperately needs and a calming, nourishing rose-biotic plant complex. Consumer testers reported high levels of hydration, smoothness, glow and evenness and my testing so far completely backs that up. Morning and evening, I can't wait to reach for this jewel of a bottle, that's as pretty to look at as it's divine to use.
"Is it worth £81 though? If you think that a standard moisturiser is 50ml, and serum is 30ml, this 100ml bottle delivers quality as well as quality – and you really don't need much. If it's in your budget it's a low-risk, high-joy glow-up to brighten your skin and your day.
Buy Pat McGrath Labs Divine Skin Rose 001 The Essence, £81