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Pat McGrath reveals how she created the viral ‘glass skin’ for Maison Margiela runway

Pat McGrath's mannequin-like makeup on a model wearing a white dress at the Margiela Artisanal show in Paris by John Galliano.
Pat McGrath's mannequin-like makeup on a model wearing a white dress at the Margiela Artisanal show in Paris by John Galliano.

Pat McGrath’s highly anticipated “glass skin” secrets are finally crystal clear after a whirlwind week of internet virality, as beauty gurus attempted to recreate her latest cosmetic feat.

The New York makeup artist is fresh off the heels of the buzzy Maison Margiela show from Haute Couture Week in Paris, where she created a porcelain complexion to accompany the Victorian-inspired collection by creative director John Galliano.

But audiences were not so much captivated by the catwalk — which featured mannequin-like models in waist-cinching corsets and prosthetics to exaggerate their shape, their gait akin to a mechanical doll — as much as they were McGrath’s cosmetic wizardry, as audiences at home scrambled to investigate what products the makeup artist used.

“My phone has been on fire since this show,” McGrath told Vogue.

“In my 35-plus years of beauty, I have never, ever seen a reaction like this. And it has blown me away how people have had such an emotional connection to these looks … it is one of the great pleasures of my life to be able to inspire in this way.”

TikTokers likened the Margiela show — complete with McGrath’s creation of porcelain complexions — to the 1976 film “Fellini’s Casanova,” which features a mechanical doll with the same features and gestures as the models. Courtesy Pat McGrath
TikTokers likened the Margiela show — complete with McGrath’s creation of porcelain complexions — to the 1976 film “Fellini’s Casanova,” which features a mechanical doll with the same features and gestures as the models. Courtesy Pat McGrath
“My phone has been on fire since this show,” McGrath said, referring to the buzz around her viral makeup look most notably done, as pictured, on Gwendoline Christie. Courtesy Pat McGrath
“My phone has been on fire since this show,” McGrath said, referring to the buzz around her viral makeup look most notably done, as pictured, on Gwendoline Christie. Courtesy Pat McGrath
The Margiela show featured doll motifs, from the body prosthetics and exaggerated silhouettes to the porcelain complexion. Courtesy Pat McGrath
The Margiela show featured doll motifs, from the body prosthetics and exaggerated silhouettes to the porcelain complexion. Courtesy Pat McGrath

The glass skin effect has since been dubbed “skingate,” as beauty savants tried their hand at re-creating the mystery look online with an array of airbrushed products, such as Kryolan glass skin.

MUA and vintage collector Erin Parsons believed she finally cracked the code after seeing behind-the-scenes footage of models peeling off the “glass skin” and hearing from an insider that the custom mix looked “Listerine” in color. In a TikTok posted this week, she deduced that it was likely the Freeman Cucumber Peel-Off Mask, which had been watered down.

But, until now, McGrath remained tight-lipped about the actual products used for the viral presentation, dropping only slight clues online.

On Thursday, she exclusively revealed to Vogue that the concoction used to create the “perfect, hyper-reflective, glass-like finish” required multiple ingredients, “including water and different gel-like masks.”

“I love being an alchemist — my brand is centered around creating products and formulations that have never existed before,” she said.

“We’ve been working on one formula in the lab for some time now, and while I was backstage for Margiela, I combined several products for the show, including face masks — yes, one was cucumber! — and the perfect amount of water.”

To add to the buzz of the avant-garde spectacle, Gwendoline Christie said she fulfilled her “dream” walking down the catwalk. Pixelformula/SIPA/Shutterstock
To add to the buzz of the avant-garde spectacle, Gwendoline Christie said she fulfilled her “dream” walking down the catwalk. Pixelformula/SIPA/Shutterstock
On TikTok, beauty sleuths attempted to unearth what products McGrath used for the glass skin effect. Pixelformula/SIPA/Shutterstock
On TikTok, beauty sleuths attempted to unearth what products McGrath used for the glass skin effect. Pixelformula/SIPA/Shutterstock

The technique, she added, was “the most challenging piece of the puzzle.”

McGrath needed to find a way to spray the finish on top of the cosmetic artistry without disturbing the products beneath — a tricky feat both for her and the fans at home who may not have access to the proper products or an airbrush machine, hence the experimentation with her own product for her namesake brand.

Since her splashy runway look, her team has been working in overdrive to expedite the production process and launch the product quickly for her eagerly awaiting fans.

McGrath is well known for her skilled artistry and show-stopping runway looks. Getty Images
McGrath is well known for her skilled artistry and show-stopping runway looks. Getty Images

“The super sleuthing of everyone online has been so joyful to see,” said McGrath.

“We truly pushed ourselves artistically and technically when creating this makeup look, and it means so much to me to have that recognized. Watching everyone experiment with different products to try to re-create our look has been incredible.”