meet lauren mcgrath
I believe that things—even those that seem most frustration at the time—happen for a reason; they happen so something even better can happen later. Over a year ago, I was dead set on booking this one makeup artist for my wedding. And then someone else booked her first for that same weekend. I was super bummed, but I asked her for another recommendation. That’s how I met Lauren. Lauren McGrath was a beauty writer and freelance makeup artist at the time, but I knew she was onto exciting things. She radiates beauty in all directions, makes her clients feel stunning and confident, and never fails to answer my “how do I use [insert any makeup here]” questions. A true go-getter, she’s been an inspiration to me as she chases after her many passions. And, she nailed my wedding makeup (see her in action in the pic below!)
Name: Lauren McGrath
Occupation: Fashion photographer, filmmaker, editor/writer, makeup artist...
Hometown and Current Residence: Warrington, PA
WHAT ROLE DOES BEAUTY PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
Aesthetics are part of my DNA—my mom and grandmother always looked glamorous. My older sister Mari got into makeup first, and as a diligent little sis I copied. I freelance as a makeup artist as a side hustle, both for MAC Cosmetics and myself. Makeup is the most obvious manifestation of it, but beauty plays an integral role in every medium I’m lucky enough to work in whether it’s making a documentary about beauty around the world (coming soon!), photographing fashion lookbooks, or weaving together details in my writing.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A MAKEUP ARTIST?
Makeup is armor. A swipe of mascara and a bright lip can be the reason I walk into an interview confidently. It has the power to transform how you look, but more importantly how you feel. I love being able to share that with whoever’s in my chair. Plus, getting someone glam for an event is a special honor—not everyone gets to be present for that internal transformation.
ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE GETTING THEIR MAKEUP DONE FOR AN EVENT?
Photos are a great reference point for your makeup artist, but if you’re showing me Kylie Jenner but you look more like Jennifer Aniston, things might not turn out like you’re thinking...
AS A MAKEUP WEARER AND AN ARTIST, WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON BEAUTY?
I believe most women who wear makeup do it for themselves first and foremost. It can change your attitude, which can change your life. Yep, I went there, but it’s true! As an artist, I want to enable every single person to harness that power. If you’re one of those unicorns with completely flawless skin, long lashes, and full brows then you might not “need” it every day. But knowing how to accentuate your features, up the volume with a smoldering smoky eye, or fill in gorgeous kiss-me lips...I believe you can tap into that inner power, that confidence turbo shot.
WHAT'S YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE?
I’m either at my home office answering a million emails (it never ends!), writing articles for Be Well Philly/Curalate/my own platform for men, Grooming Messenger. Or I’m hitting the pavement shooting street style, in the studio working on conceptual shoots, zipping up to NYC for meetings, or doing my makeup thing either at MAC or on-location somewhere. And during the odd hours that are left after that’s all said and done, I’m putting in time with my West Coast counterparts on editing our film, Hermosa.
YOU HAVE SO MANY THINGS GOING ON RIGHT NOW! WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
I’m grateful that I work in areas that let me get creative every day. I’m super excited for Grooming Messenger, bringing men into the conversation about cosmetics, taking care of their appearance. I can’t wait for Hermosa to debut because we’ve poured our hearts into this rad project. Most of all, when I get past my thick layer of panic and doubt that blankets all “life direction” conversations, I’m excited that I don’t know what the next 5 years (or 6 months!) holds for me. I crumble into self-doubt once a month, but I’ve also got the freedom and guts to go after anything I want right now. No kids, no man, no mortgage...I’m a free agent!
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
When the way I look mirrors what’s in my heart. When I’m happy and it shines through my exterior.. In the gaze of a beautiful man, when I’m taking charge of my life, after a really great workout (like way after, when my face isn’t magenta), when I make the choice to be vulnerable instead of putting up my defenses. I feel beautiful when I feel powerful, like when I’m in the driver's seat of my life and I’m doing the damn thing. At least right now. Ask me in a week, and it could be completely different.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Nothing is going to go the way you think it’s going to go, but try your best to chill out and enjoy it. The universe is in your favor, so just go for it, go for everything! Even Notre Dame cheerleading...spoiler alert, you’ll make the team ;)
WHAT'S YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE?
In the morning, I wash my face in the shower with African Black Soap, which I leave on my face as a mini mask while I wash my hair. It smells like burnt plants, but gives you the deepest clean. Before I towel off, I apply Ole Henricksen Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask, which smells like a citrus dream and exfoliates first chemically and then manually as you wash it off after 10 mins. It’s for-real amazing, I use it 2-3 times a week. If my skin’s feeling dry, I also apply Aveda Intensive Hydrating Gel Mask for that glow-from-within look. Then I slather on Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream and try to let that sit for 10 minutes before applying any makeup so it can absorb. I always add La Roche Posay SPF with Zinc Oxide—leaves your face looking a little chalky, but it’s better than skin cancer and wrinkles! Plus, makeup covers it up :)
At night, I use Neutrogena face wipes to remove my makeup, and then cleanse with this new Snowberry cleanser that’s all-natural. I really dig Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Toner—talk about a deep clean. This stuff is the truth. I’m getting more into oils these days. Lately I’m loving Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate. I finish it off with the same moisturizer as daytime because my face is dehydrated in the winter.
LET'S TALK MAKEUP. WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU SWEAR BY?
The standouts are MAC Eye Primer Paint Pot in Painterly—without it, you might as well just not wear eyeshadow. I just got the Tarteist Eye Palette from Tarte, and the colors are super pigmented. MAC Extended Play Mscara is amazing; it coats your lashes in the most luxurious way and the brush is super small, so you can get mad precise with it. And Kat Von D liquid matte lipsticks have been my obsession for months now, especially Lolita I and II. The color is amazing, it lasts forever, and you can get away with no lip liner.
WHAT'S YOUR #1 BEAUTY TRICK?
Fill. In. Your. Brows. Even if you’re Cara Delevingne, comb through and fill in your brows. They are the frame to your entire face. Even if you just take a little angled brush and some eyeshadow, fill in your brows! It makes your eyes, cheekbones and lips pop in one fell swoop.
AS A GIRL-ON-THE-GO, HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND PLAY?
Make work feel like play! And when it doesn’t, get shit done ASAP so you can go enjoy life!
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE WELLNESS?
I am certainly not the best at this that I could be — a goal in 2017 for me! But in general, I think wellness and happiness are interconnected. As balanced of a life as humanly possible is at the core of that, so some days that looks like kale smoothies, hot yoga, and going to bed early...others it looks like Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked and Netflix on the couch after a long week of running around like a crazy lady. Recognizing those moments, days, weeks when you need to give yourself a break is an act of self-awareness and self-love that’s just as important as eating all your veggies and a full 8 hours rest.
WHAT'S THE FOOD THAT BRINGS YOU INSTANT GLOW?
Mom’s kale smoothies...she throws a ton of greens, berries, lemon/lime and whatever fruit we’ve got into the Vitamix with some honey and cold water...somehow it always comes out amazing. I can never replicate!
Craziest skin or beauty trend you’ve tried: The Planets Treatment at Lush Spa...4 hours long! Amazing!
Desert island skin care or beauty product: Mascara. Or Brow Pencil. Or Moisturizer. Or dry shampoo. This is too hard.
Personal style in one word: rad
Something you’re super good at: impressions of people
Something you’re embarrassingly bad at: floating lol
Guilty pleasure: really bad reality TV
Favorite (or dream!) vacation destination: Japan
Smoothie or juice?: Smoothie
Must-read book: Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Favorite instagram account: @saltspellbeauty :)
Change you’d like to see in the beauty industry: represent people of all colors, shapes, sizes, creeds
ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE US TO KNOW?
If you’re ever at a point in life where you feel weird juju weighing on your soul, chop your hair off :) Best cure on earth.