McGrath’s passion for makeup began at a young age out of a necessity, It was born from a lack of options as far as makeup for black people was concerned.
As a young girl in England, McGrath and her mother would mix their own experimental concoctions.
“When I was a child, the world of makeup was so different. There wasn’t the wide range of shades available for darker skin tones like there is now. So my earliest memories of makeup are rooted in experimentation — concocting new formulations, playing with different pigments to mix and match and blend and create something that matched my personal skin tone,” she said in an interview with Time magazine.
The self-taught make-up artist initially crafted her trade as a side hustle, before landing her big break with current British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful during his tenure as a fashion editor at i-D magazine.
Her star rose quickly and by the close of the 20th century, she had been snapped up by Giorgio Armani to design a new cosmetics line for the brand. From then on, the major gigs started pouring in from some of the biggest names in international fashion, including the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.
In 2004, she became the first global Creative Design Director for Procter & Gamble, creating makeup lines, most notably, for Max Factor and Cover Girl.
Her notable clients include Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid, Celine Dion and Kim Kardashian.
Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross is a huge fan of McGrath’s beauty products, particularly her range of matte lipsticks.
McGrath is the most in-demand makeup artist – working around 80 fashion shows per year. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Winter famously referring to her as “the most influential makeup artist in the world”.
Despite all of her career achievements, it took convincing from her mum for her to start Pat McGrath Labs less than three years ago.
Her first item under her own brand was a limited-edition gold metallic dust eyeshadow that sold out in just six minutes and her products are best-sellers at Sephora, a giant health and beauty retailer in the USA.
She has built her brand – which now also boasts a T-shirt, jacket and hoodie range – into a major player in the global beauty industry, with Eurazeo Brands last week injecting $60 million (R792,4 million) into the business for a reported 5%-8% stake.
The deal puts the value of the company at a staggering $1 billion (R13,2 billion).
The cash injection will help McGrath expand the brand from a presence in 54 Sephora stores to 90 more outlets and broaden the product offering.