Is it worth it? Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Primer by Pat McGrath Labs


Does this pricey primer live up to its name?

Dropping some serious coin on beauty and skincare products that you know will run out in a matter of months isn’t something we do lightly. That’s why we called in Rob Povey, a makeup artist extraordinaire and product junkie, to try some of our most lusted after luxury purchases to decide, “Is it worth it?”. For the third instalment, we asked him to put the Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Primer by iconic makeup artist Pat McGrath to the test.

What is it?

Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Primer by Pat McGrath Labs.

How much does it cost?

$99 (30ml) at Sephora.

What does it claim to do?

Makeup meets skincare in this water-based skin-refining primer that smoothes and blurs with a sublime silken effect that ensures a flawless canvas for makeup application and improves the foundation’s wear, while hydrating hyaluronic acid moisturises so that skin instantly looks renewed.

How well does it live up to those claims?

I must admit, as a professional makeup artist working predominantly in editorial and commercial fashion photography, I don’t necessarily consider primer to be an essential component of makeup application. Unlike makeup artists working in red carpet or film, or even bridal/events, I’m always on set with my talent to maintain and touch up or even do quick look changes on top of the existing makeup, so longevity isn’t as paramount for me.

I tend to only really reach for a primer when dealing with more textured skin types, as they can definitely help to minimize the appearance of larger pores and fine lines. In that regard, the Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Primer performs beautifully, applying a silky-smooth velvety-matte finish to the skin and enabling foundation to blend even more seamlessly. I just personally find a thorough skin prep routine prior to makeup application much more effective than the short-term quick-fix results of a primer.

Any other pros/cons?

The greatest drawback of the product for me is the packaging; a barebones black plastic bottle wrapped in a simple sticker label. Usually concise, minimalist packaging is a positive for me as a makeup artist, where I often have to decant my beautiful glass bottles and jars of product into utilitarian Muji containers for more effective travel.

But at almost $100, the primer’s unfortunately cheap and flimsy feeling packaging feels so out of step with a) the luxury price point, and b) the rest of the Pat McGrath line, which all come encased in the most exquisitely decorated (and very sturdy) housing.

Are there any cheaper dupes out there?

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($58 for 30ml) and Benefit The Porefessional Face Primer ($56 for 22ml) are two silicone-based primers that have a similarly silken feel which helps to soften the appearance of textured skin. Both come in kit-friendly plastic tubes, but at almost half the price of the Pat McGrath, the cheaper-looking packaging isn’t nearly as egregious and just feels travel-friendly.

Is it worth it?

For me personally, I just can’t justify $100 on a product that a) doesn’t feel luxurious, and b) isn’t imperative to my makeup routine, least of all when there are many other similarly effective products on the market for much less. That said, if money is no issue, the product itself can’t be faulted; I just wish it looked more worthy of its price tag, like the rest of the impeccable Pat McGrath line.

Check out the first instalment of ‘Is it worth it?’ here, the second instalment here, the fourth instalment here, and the fifth instalment here.

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