Pat McGrath Wants Us To Really Lean Into Blush For Spring 2022

Liquid liner and bold lip color may be tried and true staples of “going out” makeup, but allow us to offer up an inspired alternative, courtesy of makeup artist Pat McGrath: blush — and lots of it. 

For Anna Sui’s Spring 2022 runway show, the backstage legend dreamed up a blush-on-blush look, sweeping pink pigment (Pat McGrath Labs Divine Blush in Electric Bloom and Lovestruck, to be specific) over models’ cheeks as well as their eyelids, blending it out into a hazy but vibrant halo. To liven things up (and to add her signature luminosity), McGrath dabbed metallic silver eye shadow (the “Sterling” shade from the Pat McGrath Labs Mothership IV: Decadence Palette) on the lids, keeping it concentrated at the very centers to exaggerate and highlight the eyes. She also placed a strategic “stamp” of silver at the inner corners, over the tear ducts, for more impact.

[It’s about] transporting us to somewhere, not necessarily specific, but going to a place where we all want to be,” said McGrath in an interview backstage. “It’s really like an adorned face, but it’s still so soft and very pretty.” 

While the ample use of pink, as well as the technique of pulling it up toward the temples, is certainly reminiscent of the “blush draping” trend we saw way back on the Spring 2017 runways, here it feels reimagined in a way that’s fresh, rather than ’80s or retro. Seeing it in person backstage — the way the silver pigment, cheekbone highlight and accompanying glimmery lip gloss caught the lights and dazzled in front of the cameras — this look is positively begging to be worn out for a night on the town. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Pat McGrath just created the Going Out Top of makeup. It’s trendy, it’s fun, it looks good on everyone and it’s one thing you can put on to let the world know you’re ready for a party.

Pink and red eye shadows are notoriously tricky to pull off, but leave it to Mother McGrath to come up with a technique that makes it wearable for any skin tone: “I think if the pink was [on the eyes] alone, it would look a lot more drawn, a little more pale. It’s adding that kiss of color [to the cheeks as well] that gives it that beautiful effect,” she explained, adding, “I really do think wearing the silver and the gilted colors on the eyes makes it more fun.” 

When McGrath debuted her powder blush last spring, it was with this exact holistic approach in mind. “That’s how we launched blush, using it around the eyes and making it a whole statement of blush — blush isn’t just that thing that you add for a glow; it [can also be] an eye statement,” she said. 

GET THE LOOK:

PAT McGRATH LABS
Skin Fetish: Divine Powder Blush

PATRICK TA
Monochrome Moment – Velvet Blush

Maybelline
Fit Me Blush

LYS Beauty
Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush

MAKEUP BY MARIO
Soft Pop Powder Blush

mented cosmetics
Blush

FASHIONISTA

Scientists Found That 82% of Waterproof Mascaras Have Toxic Chemicals in Them — Here’s What to Shop Instead

Everything to know about PFAS in makeup, and how to tell if your routine has them.

I know exactly where I was when Urban Decay’s original Naked palette launched… In those pre-Instagram days, I don’t remember how I knew it had dropped, but with the fervor of someone who took any chance to detour into Sephora, I knew it would complete me. It was my go-to for years, but the name “Urban Decay” now takes on an unpleasant irony — because Teflon, listed under the name “PTFE,” is on the label. And that’s bad news for everyone. 

As a study published by researchers at the University of Notre Dame in mid-June found, the problem extends far beyond one palette. After testing more than 200 cosmetics, including concealers, foundations, eye and eyebrow products and various lip products, scientists found that 52 percent of all the cosmetics they tested contained high levels of fluorine, which is an indicator of PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — in the products. 

According to the EPA, the group of man-made chemicals are “very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.” That explains why they’re used in cosmetics, says Notre Dame study lead Graham Peaslee, despite only a fraction of the tested products listing a perfluorinated chemical on the label. 

They’re used basically to impart a water-resistance or a long-lasting effect, and that’s why we know that some of it’s intentional. If you look at regular mascara and you look at waterproof mascara, guess which ones have all the fluorine in it? It’s the waterproof ones,” Peaslee says. To that point, 47 percent of all the mascaras they tested had PFAS in them, compared to 82 percent of waterproof ones. It was a similar story with liquid lipstick (sob), where 62 percent of them had PFAS, versus 55 percent of all lip products tested.   

As Peaslee notes, previous studies have found that the average lipstick wearer eats anywhere from 4 to 7 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime. That’s worrisome, because the CDC says that exposure to high levels of some PFAS can lead to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, changes in liver enzymes, decreased infant birth weights, increased risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, increased cholesterol, and a decreased vaccine response in children. 

The risks continue, says Rainer Lohmann, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Superfund Research Center on the Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFAS (STEEP). “Numerous studies indicate a link to a weakened immune system, and adverse effects on metabolism, insulin resistance, [and] obesity,” Lohmann told InStyle via email. Which is especially bad news, considering we’re still in the midst of a global respiratory pandemic — and, as a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study found, higher exposure to some PFAS that accumulate in the lungs is associated with more severe COVID-19 cases.  

Elsie M. Sunderland, a Harvard professor of environmental science and engineering in the department of environmental health, says that outside of the ingestion pathway, how well PFAS penetrate the skin isn’t well understood. Lohmann says that drinking water contaminated by PFAS or inhaling them is much worse than having Teflon particles in your eyeshadow, but per Peaslee, that doesn’t absolve manufacturers using PFAS in cosmetics. Because once a mascara with the ingredients goes into a landfill, for instance, the contents will wash out and enter the drinking water supply.

Inhalation is also a concern when it comes to aerosol sprays from brands like Living Proof, which uses a perfluorinated ingredient, OFPMA, in a majority of its products. While the brand says “OFPMA is thoroughly researched and regulators around the world confirm that it is safe to use — for you and for the environment,” Peaslee is less certain. 

Are they all toxic? Pretty much. Every one we’ve tested has been toxic, or bioaccumulative and persistent at least,” he says. “So we maintain a pretty strong line that we’ve never met a good PFAS yet.” Lohmann concurs: “Even compounds like OFPMA can cause problems once released. OFPMA will break down to smaller, very long-lived PFAS that will persist in the environment for hundreds of years.” 

There is no good reason to keep using it. Once problems are discovered later, it is almost impossible, and very costly, to remove OFPMA’s breakdown products from the environment and drinking water.” Which brings us to a point that every expert I spoke with highlighted: Wherever possible, we should be cutting out these “forever chemicals,” and as convenient as it is to not have to reapply lipstick or long-lasting foundation, PFAS aren’t essential in cosmetics — and certainly not worth the risk. 

So how do you shop for cosmetics that don’t have PFAS in them when so many are flying under the radar? Peaslee says if it has “remarkable properties of being long-lasting or waterproof, those are the ones that most likely contain PFAS.” If you’re not sure, he recommends a simple test: Paint a piece of paper with a swatch of your lipstick or mascara, put a drop of water on it, and see if it’s there the next morning. If it is, there’s PFAS; if the water soaks into the paper within seconds, there’s not. 

Sound complicated? Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act in June, although it’s unclear when the act will pass or take effect. Until then, Peaslee suggests brands place a “PFAS-free” designation on their labels — and while that’s yet to come, brands like It Cosmetics have already taken steps to remove PFAS from popular products (look for ingredients “perfluorohexane,” “perfluorodecalin,” and “pentafluoropropane” to know if you have the old formulas). 

In the meantime, the brands below confirm that they’re PFAS-free, so you can shop knowing you aren’t putting your face up close and personal with a toxic chemical.

INSTYLE

Cream Blushes That Always Look Natural

Tower28 BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush

BeachPlease blush delivers buildable color in a luminous, second-skin finish. This silicone-free formula is made with skin-loving, plant-based ingredients like green tea extract and aloe vera extract to give skin support with every application.

Shop $20

Kaja Mochi Pop Bouncy Blush

This innovative powder-gel blush feels like a cream and finishes like a powder. Get the sweetest-looking glow at home and on the go with these bite-sized, cheeky confections.

Shop $26

Revlon Photo Ready Insta-Blush Stick

Kiss your cheeks with color. This sheer cream-to-powder blush is mess-proof and mistake-proof—so apply it anywhere, anytime.

Shop $14

Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush

This first-of-its-kind water-resistant blush combines pigments with a non-greasy blend of weightless oils and spherical powders for a natural flush you can’t mess up. The ultralightweight, liquid-like cream melts on contact and blends to a smooth, satin finish that won’t cake, crease, or clog pores.

Shop $27

Clinique Cheek Pop Blush

This vibrant, yet natural-looking cheek color has a virtually powderless finish. The silky-smooth, stay-true formula is available in a range of shades for every skin tone. It makes creating that just-pinched look simply effortless.

Shop $33

LYS Beauty Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush

Give your cheeks a kiss of color with this cream blush that delivers high payoff for all skin tones. Packed with clean, skin-loving ingredients like kaolin clay and avocado oil, this multipurpose cream leaves skin looking refreshed. Rich in pigment, this blush adds the finishing touch on any look.

Shop $22

Pixi On-the-Glow Blush

Formulated with Ginseng, Aloe Vera and a unique mix of Fruit Extracts, this tinted balm provides a hint of natural colour while hydrating and conditioning skin.

Shop $18

NARS Air Matte Sheer Cream Blush

Experience a perfectly diffused, soft-touch matte blush with a rush of color. Formulated with NARS’s blending and blurring Color Diffusion Complex, smoothing jojoba gel, and antioxidant-rich passion-fruit oil, this lightweight, creamy mousse transforms into a velvety powder for a skin-like finish.

Shop $39

ELF Monochromatic Multi-Stick

One stick, all the versatility. This cream-to-powder stick works overtime as an eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush, delivering a gorgeous hint of color wherever you want it. The nourishing formula glides on and blends seamlessly, melting into your skin for a fresh and flattering finish.

Shop $4

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush

This blush is easy to use and impossible to overdo in a lineup of shades designed to enhance every complexion with a youthful glow. Created by Rihanna, these shades are sheer, buildable, and melt into skin. The sweat- and water-resistant formula smooths over skin without feeling sticky or greasy.

Shop $26

Merit Flush Balm Cream Blush

Soft and flexible, this balm blush glides on beautifully. Micro-fine pigment powders deposit a touch of color without covering up the skin’s natural texture. Made with low-weight emollients that won’t clog pores, the formula has a light, balmy finish for a long-lasting glow that’s never cakey. 

Shop $36

Honest Beauty Cream Cheek Blush

Achieve your best natural look with this sheer, easy-to-blend cream blush formula to bring out a dewy and healthy glow. Keep this in your makeup bag for an instant pop of color whenever you’re on the go and want to bring out that natural glow!

Shop $13

Danessa Myricks Luxe Cream Palette

A highly pigmented, smoothing, multipurpose liquid color product with a satin/semi matte finish that can be used on the eyes, lips, and cheeks. 

Shop $44

Patrick Ta Major Beauty Headlines Double-Take Creme & Powder Blush

This compact combines a pigmented, weightless powder paired with a hydrating, dewy cream designed to layer together for a bold, dimensional finish.

Shop $45

Burt’s Bees Color Nurture Cream Blush

Burt’s Bees® blush makeup comes in a cream blush form with a lightweight, luxuriously creamy formula that applies smoothly and blends easily across your cheeks for a seamless, radiant pop of colour.

Shop $13

Sephora Just Stocked Its First Black-Owned, Clean Makeup Line Ever

Love Your Self. What a wonderful way to lure the customers in.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #46 series on my blog.

As a beauty buff, I’ve had the opportunity to test a bunch of makeup products. But as I’ve grown to be more conscious of what I’m putting on my skin,  I noticed there aren’t many clean options that work well. So when I heard that Sephora’s first Black-owned clean makeup line was launching, I was ecstatic. LYS Beauty landed at Sephora in mid-February with a variety of makeup products, including foundation, primer, powder, lip oil, bronzer and blush. Of course, I had to get my hands on it.

BeI was pleasantly surprised to see how many shade options LYS Beauty Foundation had. With 35 shades available, the line makes it simple to find one that matches your skin. The first product I tried was the Triple Fix Serum Foundation, and it definitely lives up to its name. The texture is velvety smooth and looks like a veil on my skin. Another factor that’s important to me is blendability; if a formula doesn’t blend easily, then it’s simply not for me. However, that isn’t the case with this foundation, because the blending process was seamless and the color melted into my skin flawlessly. The color also worked very well for my skin tone, and I didn’t feel the need to mix it with anything else in order to get the proper coverage — which leads me to the next thing I love about these products: the actual coverage.

Shop now: $22; sephora.com

I’ve found that a lot of clean foundations provide minimal coverage (which is great if that’s what you prefer!), but I like mine to offer at least medium coverage. I found that this one has buildable coverage so you can increase it depending on your preferences. 

The foundation is made with Ashwagandha, an herb that can combat signs of stress in the skin, turmeric for brightening, and hyaluronic acid for maximum hydration. And I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a great formula — despite being a fairly new product, it already has a 4.8-star rating from Sephora shoppers. “I hate the feeling of heavy makeup on my face and this is super lightweight and covers my blemishes so I am Zoom-ready for my never-ending conference calls,” wrote one customer. “Best foundation I have ever used. I am obsessed with the coverage, feel and finish,” said another. The fact that the Triple Fix foundation has this many great details and still doesn’t use any toxic ingredients makes it a total game-changer for me. 

I also got my hands on the LYS Beauty Secure Skin Gripping Serum Primer. Now, just to be clear, I’m a big primer girl to begin with. I typically find that by using the right moisturizer and a flattering primer, my makeup blends and stays put if I hadn’t used it (opinions vary from one person to the next, though).

Shop now: $20; sephora.com

Created for combination and acne-prone skin, the primer’s key ingredient is grapefruit extract, which is rich in vitamin C to brighten skin, along with niacinamide and an exfoliating AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) blend to smooth pores.

Just like the foundation, this primer has a lightweight feel to it, which is of the utmost importance to me. I don’t like layers of thick or heavy product on my face, and this one results in an airbrush-like finish that makes my skin feel smooth before I apply the rest of my makeup.

All in all, I’m very impressed with the quality of both the primer and the foundation. Sephora’s LYS Beauty collection makes it easy to transition over to clean makeup products while supporting a Black-owned business. 

Sculpt, define, and warm up your complexion with this matte bronzer. The ultra-velvety, buildable powder effortlessly blends while delivering a sunkissed glow. Formulated with niacinamide, this bronzer gives skin the warmth you want while blurring the look of imperfections and texture.

Shop Now: $18; Sephora.com

Give your cheeks a kiss of color with this cream blush that delivers high payoff for all skin tones. Packed with clean, skin-loving ingredients like kaolin clay and avocado oil, this multipurpose cream leaves skin looking refreshed. Rich in pigment, this blush adds the finishing touch on any look.

Shop Now: $16; Sephora.com

This clean, cushiony lip treatment oil maximizes comfort with a blend of chia seed oil and sweet almond oil, quickly replenishing lips with vital moisture. Perfect for every day, this colorless oil pairs with your favorite lip liner or lipstick, leaving behind a non-sticky, glossy finish.

Shop Now: $12; Sephora.com

This clean, talc-free, finely milled pressed setting powder buffs beautifully into skin as it blurs and locks makeup in place for all-day perfection and no white cast. Infused with niacinamide, green tea extract, and sodium hyaluronate, this weightless powder won’t accentuate texture or pores.

Shop Now: $18; Sephora.com

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

Clean at Sephora
Clean at Sephora is formulated without a list of over 50 ingredients, including sulfates (SLS and SLES), parabens, phthalates, and more. For the full list, check out the Ingredients tab.

SHOP LYS BEAUTY AT SEPHORA