Beauty

Pat McGrath reveals she used cocoa powder as make-up due to lack of diverse beauty products

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Legendary make-up artist Pat McGreath featured on Desert Island Discs, where she touched on diversity in the beauty industry. 

She’s one of the most iconic beauty figures in the world, has founded a successful make-up line and was awarded an MBE for services to the Fashion and Beauty industry – but Pat McGrath has revealed that she used to use cocoa powder on her face because of the lack of beauty products for deeper skin tones.

Speaking on BBC4 Radio’s Desert Island Discs, the legendary make-up artist opened up about the lack of diversity around beauty products when she was younger. Growing up in Northampton in the Seventies, McGrath would visit make-up stores with her “beauty obsessed” mother – but it wasn’t always easy finding products. “Back then there wasn’t colours that were right for dark skin,” she says.

But McGrath - who was recently named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2019 - learnt a valuable lesson from her mum; “if you can’t find it, if you can’t buy it; make it”. To get around the scarcity of make-up products for black skin, her mum turned to cocoa powder.

“She came in from the kitchen with cocoa powder all over her face and was like ‘this is the right tone of powder’,” McGrath remembers. “She had dusted it all on her face and she looked amazing. So that’s what I ended up doing as well – making products that I needed backstage. That stems from my mother.” 

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Pat McGrath MBE accepts the Isabella Blow award for Fashion Creator during The Fashion Awards 2017

In fact, McGrath, whose cult make-up line Pat McGrath Labs was recently valued at $1 billion,  first dabbled in creating her own moisturiser for her dolls and herself as a child. “I mixed oil and water together, whipped it and put it in the fridges and it looked like a cream… I was shining like a Belisha beacon for months.”

In the 40-minute episode, the beauty entrepreneur also discussed the changes she’s witnessed across the industry to making it a more inclusive space.

“I’m so happy to see the changes that I’m seeing now. We have models from all different social backgrounds, different weights, different body types, different religious backgrounds, shows that are over 50% women of colour and it just wasn’t there for such a long time and now it’s just so fantastic to see. Beautiful.”

Main image: Getty

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Hanna Ibraheem

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