Pat McGrath’s Packaging: Opulence or Excess?

Anyone who knows anything about the beauty industry will have heard Pat McGrath’s name. With over twenty years of experience it is only fitting that she is considered the ‘mother’ of make up. It was therefore incredibly exciting for all when she launched her own brand in 2016; Pat McGrath Labs. What began with a beautiful selection of shimmering loose pigments has evolved into a full- blown cosmetics range.

With the emphasis on ‘labs’, the style of packaging for many of the earlier products was simplistic and almost industrial. Makeup You-Tuber Tati described the packaging as “like a lab sample, sent to you to test out”, which would undeniably make any customer feel special and exclusive.

However, currently, whatever you order for Pat McGrath Labs, it will arrive in an extremely lavish package. Most of the products are sealed in a gold plastic wallet that is filled to the brim with gold sequins. This wallet is then inside a box which is also filled with black, shiny shreds of plastic.

Unboxing a package such as this will certainly feel as decadent and ‘opulent’ as I am sure McGrath intended. There is nothing like sequins, sparkles and endless unwrapping to make you feel as though you are truly treating yourself.
However, for many of us, this luxuriant feeling may also be laced with a fair amount of guilt. As wonderful as her products themselves are, it is simply not acceptable to have an indecent amount of single use plastic to package a product product.
Sequins and glitter are microplastics. Meaning they will never biodegrade and eventually contaminate water, air, soil and even animals. In short, some of the worst possible kinds of products to use in light of the dangers of climate change. Even though the beauty industry itself is based around an attitude of luxury and excess, the unnecessary use of these products is unacceptable and unsustainable.

As the mother of make-up McGrath has the responsibility to set an example and explore different methods of evoking a sense to luxury without a terrifying quantity of plastic. She and her products will always be admired and celebrated but a more eco-friendly approach to opulence would certainly not go amiss.

By Sophie Easton