Review: Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio (Pat McGrath Labs)

Pat McGrath Labs Highlighting Trio Palette Sephora Australia

Pat McGrath Labs is one of those brands for me – one that I love and respect so much, yet kind of hold back on purchasing too much from. The brand was only available online for the longest time, meaning that I couldn’t see anything in person before buying it – which is a big risk when it comes to such a high end brand.

When Sephora Australia announced that the brand was finally coming here, I was so excited that I might have cried a little bit! At current, they only have a few of the products available at select brick-and-mortar stores (with everything else being available online) but I have been told that the full range will be coming to stores early this year! I was planning on waiting until then to pick up a few more things but I couldn’t stop myself.

I had been eying this Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio for a really long time – the videos and swatches of it online looked incredible but I never got the chance to see it in real life. Even now, I just took the plunge and bought this on the Sephora Australia website with zero regrets! I love this!

This palette is currently selling for AUD$85 (though I checked and I bought it for AUD$75, which was the then full price – so I don’t know if they changed the price with the exchange rates). It is definitely one of the most expensive palettes I own at the moment, but the formula and finish is so unique that I can justify spending that money. I don’t think that this (or any make up) will ever be a necessity, but if you love blinding highlights and you’re looking to splurge on a high end palette – then let’s get into this review!

I don’t think that this (or any make up) will ever be a necessity, but if you love blinding highlights and you’re looking to splurge on a high end palette – then let’s get into this review!

Brand Story

Pat McGrath is considered by Vogue to be the most influential make up artist in the world – in fact, her success was even recognised by Queen Elizabeth II who named her a “Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the fashion and beauty industry.” Coming from humble beginnings, she built her way in the beauty industry with no formal training but rather just her own creativity, dedication and what her mother – a lover of fashion and beauty – had taught her from a young age.

She often talks about how her mother had difficulty finding the right shades for her skin tone, being a woman of colour, and so would often resort to mixing her own. That sort of creativity in reflected in Pat McGrath’s style. She is well known for her bright and non-traditional editorial looks, which has led to her being the creative director for multiple brands and working up to 80 fashion shows per year!

Although she has worked with a lot of commercial beauty brands (Max Factor, Cover Girl, D&G just to name some), they were all very hesitant to launch her own line. So, Pat McGrath did possibly the best thing she could have done for the beauty industry – she started her own brand herself. What was at first a limited edition release of a thousand single loose eyeshadow pigments (and the mixing fluid) has since sparked an almost cult-like following for her beautiful and unique formulas.

“I spoke to makeup executives about my own line for the past 15 years and they’d say: ‘You know, nobody knows you, nobody really wants the kind of stuff you do in shows in real life.’ And then I joined social media and all I’d hear from thousands and thousands of people was that they did.”

The Guardian (Link)

Pat McGrath Labs takes artistic runway beauty and brings it to the masses, daring people to do what ever they want. Now most well known for their highly pigmented and buttery eyeshadows, I actually remember back in the days when she launched the first glitter lip kit and sparked a major trend that trickled down to all of the drugstore brands.

Now, when ever they come out with something new, we all pay attention.

Product Description

And now that I’m done with my spiel about Pat McGrath (and I adore and admire her so much that it was unavoidable), I’ll finally talk about the Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio!

This is a trio palette of pearl-infused gel-powder hybrid highlighters with a super reflective, iridescent or metallic finish (depending on which shade you use). There is only one shade type (i.e. there is no light or dark set) but, from my personal experience, I feel that all three of the shades would suit most skin tones because they have a slightly sheer base colour.

The Sephora Australia description follows:

These highlighters brighten with ravishingly revolutionary results to fuel your most incandescent fantasies. Three surreal shades radiate pure light, lay down a smooth veil of pure and even colour and accentuate bone structure. Combining the best features of powder, cream, and fluid textures, each shade is individually iconic, creating a tantalising triple threat of gorgeous gleam when layered together. A futuristic trio of pigments flows across the skin, mimicking the reflection of light with glittering shine, ethereal luminosity, and metallic brilliance. Glow at your own risk, and beam beyond the spectrum.

It is currently selling on Sephora Australia for AUD$85 – which is definitely a high end price tag (as is expected from her brand), but the uniqueness of the formula can justify the cost.

Packaging

When it comes to packaging, Pat McGrath has a specific style that is aethetically beautiful – though it can be bulky to store (this is relevant for most of their products). The highlighting palette comes encased in a cardboard folder-type cover, which has an elastic closure and a magazine cut-out style print. The design of this is really unique, as I haven’t seen any other brand do it before, and it really ties back in with Pat McGrath’s editorial, creative make up style too! All of the other palettes have different print designs but they all have that same elastic binder folder design.

The material of the packaging feels very high quality and sturdy. I especially love the small gold detailing in the corner (which is the Pat McGrath Labs logo) and that fact that the front is actually magnetized – giving it that extra bit of security.

However, the downside is that this case is pretty bulky – it isn’t particularly travel friendly and is also a bit difficult to store since it’s so thick and have an uneven front surface. This highlighting palette isn’t too bad as it is small in general, but her other palettes do pose an issue. Another downside is that the front doesn’t fully open (as you can see from the below image – I actually had to hold it open) so this can be difficult if you prefer to lay your palettes down flat.

In general, the packaging of these smaller Pat McGrath Labs palettes (as I’m aware the larger palettes are a bit different) is super unique and beautiful, as well as reflective of the brand values and her identity as an artist. However, I feel that it can be excessive and isn’t the most practical – which is actually something I thought would be more important for a brand like this. The packaging can be easily improved by making it open flat, as well as doing a minor redesign to the folder box shape so that the front sits flat.

Shade Range

In the Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio, you will find three colours (the below descriptions taken from Sephora Australia):

  • Iridescent Pink 003 (opalescent pale rose)
  • Fine Gold 003 (glittering yellow gold)
  • Bronze Nectar 003 (gleaming soft copper)

All three shades are honestly more beautiful in person than on camera. The first two in particular have a very strong and reflective duochrome finish that just won’t translate in photos (though I did try my best). Fine Gold has a more glittery finish while Iridescent Pink and Bronze Nectar are more of a full bodied metallic.

Iridescent Pink is a vibrant pink highlight that applies beautifully on the skin with a more neutral (and slightly sheer) base colour. This shade does not leave an awkward gray cast on skin like many others of these colourful highlights, and the pink reflect is positively the most saturated and beautiful shade that I’ve ever used! It is a very eye catching shade, almost like a fuschia, and is not for the faint hearted.

Fine Gold, on the other hand, actually has a similar semi-sheer base colour and a bright iridescent reflect. However, this translates as more of a pale gold shade, which is very different to typical gold highlights. It has a blend of yellow and orange gold micro glitters to create a multi-dimensional look where the pale colour does not compromise on shine.

And finally, there is Bronze Nectar which I was originally convinced would never work on my pale skin tone. However, I was so wrong. This colour actually applies more sheer on skin (but can be built up to be super bronze-gold) so it is suitable for – dare I say it – almost all skin tones! Out of the three, this is probably the most wearable shade as it has a warmer undertone.

Application & Personal Experiences

These highlighters apply like an absolute dream. They pick up easily on my brush (I use a natural-synthetic blend brush by Zoeva) even though they have a slight gel-like consistency – with these sort of formulas, I find that it’s best to give the brush a slight swirl in the pan. Although you can’t see it much on the brush (unless you’re using the golden shade), it applies with full vibrancy on skin and is immediately blinding! You can build it up more if you want to but, to be honest, it isn’t necessary.

The highlighter blends easy into skin and the unique shades create an almost high fashion look. That being said, they do have a bright metallic finish though so I try not to overapply it (i.e. don’t use it all over the face) as it can emphasise pores and texture.

Aside from the immediate glow that this palette creates, I find that it also last really nicely throughout the day. It stays on my skin without any fading or dulling of the vibrancy until around afternoon (so approximately six hours), in which it will slowly start to fade into my natural oils but won’t fully disappear. The formula doesn’t go patchy or cakey as it wears, though this is a rare occurrence for powder formulas (even gel-powder hybrids).

In this highlighting trio, you can really see where Pat McGrath’s roots are – in dramatic, editorial beauty looks that are inspired by the fashion industry. Although her products are now commercially available at Sephora, they all hold some of that dramatic flair and really work towards bringing the runway to every day life. I just love this palette and I have loved the eyeshadows that I tried from her too so, even though the price point is well up there, I’m certain that I’ll continue to be a loyal fan to Pat McGrath Labs.

And here’s the verdict!

SO WHAT IS IT?

A trio of highlighters with an iridescent and metallic finish and a gel-powder formula

THE GOOD

  • Unique and aesthetically beautiful packaging
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • Interesting shade range that suits a wide variety of skin tones
  • Picks up well on a brush (swirling is recommended)
  • Blinding iridescent reflect with very vibrant shades
  • Can be built up (but isn’t necessary)
  • Wears without any fading for six hours, fades slowly after

THE BAD

  • Expensive
  • Bulky packaging (not suitable for travel)
  • Can emphasise texture

RATINGS

  • PRICE POINT | 1/5 (Look, I would pay the price but this is so expensive)
  • PACKAGING | 3/5
  • SHADES | 5/5
  • REFLECT | 5/5
  • BLENDABILITY | 4/5 (A point off for texture)
  • LONGEVITY | 4/5

OVERALL RATING? 7.3/10

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

Truth be told, I love this palette and I want to recommend it to everyone. If fact, I am always frothing over the Pat McGrath brand, so I think that I do that anyway. However, this product is very difficult for me to recommend all of the time because it is expensive. This is definitely a luxury product and it is not a necessity in everyone’s life.

However, if price is not a concern for you or if you are looking to splurge on a high end brand then look no further because I would highly recommend this Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio – it is so beautiful and unique, and very well suited for someone who wants a dramatic iridescent highlight.

WHERE TO GET IT FROM

This is currently available on Sephora Australia for AUD$85, otherwise check out the official Pat McGrath website.

Oh there's more!