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Breaking Down Beauty: Fixing Broken Powder Cosmetics

By Sheila Arkee

So, you have a favorite eyeshadow, pressed powder, or blush you absolutely cannot live without. Life happens, and sometimes before you even realize it, you find yourself the owner of your favorite product, smashed into 5 million little pieces.

When your powder cosmetics are broken into 5 million pieces, you can always put them in a small container and use as a loose shadow, but you DO have the option of fixing the products so it’s almost as good as new.

It’s easy! I mean it! You’ll thank me!

The only extra product you’ll need is Rubbing Alcohol that you can get from any old drugstore.

Here is a lovely L’Oreal H.I.P. #319 eyeshadow that was sadly broken upon arrival.

Step 1: Dump the shadow into a small bowl. You can use an extra makeup brush to get the original container clean.

Step 2: Use the back of  a brush to crush the shadow into a fine powder.

Step 3: I used the cap to my rubbing alcohol as a measurement and poured it into the container with the shadow. Make sure to mix well until you end up with a paste! Start off by slowly adding the alcohol, to make sure you don’t make the mixture too watery. In the case that happens, it’s all good – it will just take a bit longer for the shadow to dry down.

I used a wooden stirrer that I had lying around, but you can use a spoon or anything you want.

My assistant insisted on helping out.

Step 4: You’ll have a paste that you will mold into the original shadow container. Try to make it as even as possible! You will be able to make little adjustments later!

Step 5: Place the shadow where it will not be bothered for the next few hours. In my case it’s where a certain assistant can’t reach my makeup brushes, either!  

Step 6: Time goes by ….. and after a couple of hours you can see the powder coming together. You can use a piece of fabric (or in my case a paper towel), tohelp mold the shadow and also give it a nice finish. Afterwards, leave it alone for several hours.

Step 7: All set! When all is said and done, it took around 8 hours or so to complete! Not bad!

Product provided by PR for consideration.
  • Gini

    This happened to my favorite gold shadow! And of course I’ve had it so long, all the lettering on the lid has rubbed off and I have no clue what brand it is. Thanks for the tip to save my shadow!!

  • admin

    Yay! You will be thrilled – it’s super easy!

  • http://mypersiankitchen.com/ My Persian Kitchen

    Beauty blogger and GENIUS! Loved this tip! :)

  • Ninjagato

    Just curious, L’Oreal sent the product for review and it came all crushed up like that just on the one side? Did they not pack it well when they shipped?

  • admin

    LOL, Ninjagato! Yes, it arrived smashed into a zillion bits – just not packaged well. I saw an opportunity and ran with it!

  • Abby

    THAT.IS.AWESSSOOOMMMME! Freaking ingenious!

  • admin

    To be honest, I heard of this technique a while ago from a book called Beauty 911, but I’m just bringing it to the masses! LOL!

  • Jean

    No matter if you’re the originator of this idea, or just the messenger – this is AMAZING! Freaking ingenious and awesome, as Abby said. Thanks TONS for passing along this precious lifesaving gem!

  • admin

    Lol, of course! I forgot to mention that this is a good trick to use with loose pigments, you can make them into pan shadows by mixing in some alcohol. I’ll have to do a breakdown about that sometime soon!

  • Marisa

    Sheila this is an awesome awesome tip!! This has happened to all of us, and it always happens to the favorites!! Thank you!!!

  • admin

    You are welcome (and happy b-day!) :)

  • augustajosephine

    This is an INCREDIBLE tip all on its own, but you mentioned (in the comments) that it can be done with loose pigments TOO?? Please please tell me that post is coming soon!

  • admin

    Yes, for sure! I intended to do that when this first posted last year, but it totally escaped me. I just cleaned out some stuff and will be taking photos and putting up a post later this week. :)

  • DalaLuz

    I just launched my current favorite Sleek Oh So Special Palette… and it did not land on its feet :'( So how awesome to rescue your beloved! Not as pretty as it used to be, of course, but a whole lot better than having to say goodbye! And I am definitely think about doing that to my pigments too, because the poor darlings always get terribly neglected by yours truly…

  • http://celinecrowne.blogspot.com Ava

    Brilliant! Thanks for posting this. Is it possible to place a few drops of alcohol on eye shadow that’s just cracked?

  • http://www.neatheringourfest.com Skye @ Neathering Our Fest

    BRILLIANT! I’m pinning this! :)

  • http://invisibleblush.wordpress.com/ Christine

    I don’t use eyeshadow myself but my mom does and she doesn’t store them properly. They end up falling off the closet shelves and breaking. Now I can fix her eyeshadow with the alcohol we just got to clean my scrape. Thank you. :)

  • Jackie

    this is brilliant! but say it was eye makeup and i put it near my eyes then i get my eyes wet or i rub my eyes wont the rubbing alcohal like get in my eyes and it will really hurt!

  • admin

    Thanks, Jackie! Not to worry, the alcohol won’t irritate your eyes!

  • bernie ann

    works a lot faster if you use 99% alcohol . its also less messy if you crush it up in the pod already and just add a few drops of alcohol to moisten it in the pod already.

  • Laura

    Thank you so much!! My absolute favorite gold EVER- Stila Oasis broke into about 12 pieces because I dropped it. Now it’s as good as new!

  • http://ladies-trends.com/ Aaria

    Thanks alot for sharing ..now i know how to fix my broken powder cosmetics… :)

  • http://mariasewing.blogspot.com MariaSewing

    I’m impressed! I’ll try it right away!

  • beth

    I love this tip. Should i leave the container open to dry out?

  • admin

    Yep! Leave the container out to dry up.

  • marth

    Can 99% be used or does it have to be70% alcohol?

  • admin

    Yes, 99% works just fine!

  • http://www.mytaylormade.blogspot.com shan

    Pure Genius!! Love this!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Marianne

    Thank you, Thank you!! About six weeks ago, I dropped my beloved NARS blush compact. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so I’ve been lightly tapping my brush on it, trying not to create a mess on my counter (and on my cheeks!) ever since. I came across your post on Pinterest the other day, and JUST finished pouring the blush back into the compact. I’m so excited to use it (properly) as soon as it dries. :D

  • http://www.handlingwithgrace.blogspot.com Jamie@ HandlingWithGrace

    This is genius. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.pinterest.com/hilljo HiLLjO

    This is the best thing of my life.

  • Alexa

    Just wondering, does this work with loose eyeshadow that i want to turn into a powder? i don’t really like loose eyeshadows very much, they get pretty messy for me. thanks!

  • admin

    Alexa, it does! Check out this tutorial.

  • Bow

    You are KIDDING me! My Benefit pressed powder broke a few weeks ago, so I got a new powder from Lorac. And I JUST now see this! It’s a good thing i haven’t yet thrown away the Benefit powder… I’m going to go ahead and use this technique since the Lorac is a bit dark for under my eyes anyway. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.remodelingaustintx.com/services/insurance-claims dhanna

    I’ve dropped my newly purchased and turn it into a mess! I don’t know what to do to make them stick together. My friend told me to mix it with a using a warm water but I end up buying a new one. I’m glad I found this post, really helpful! I’ll keep this in mind.

  • http://www.luckybrand.com Gretta

    I just arrived in San Antonio for a friend’s wedding and all of my makeup was smashed, I’m assuming due to baggage handlers at the airport. Note to self: carry on makeup from her on out. I have a few days before the wedding and this little tutorial completely saved the day. I was afraid I was going to have to go get my makeup done at a department store for the wedding. I always pack a little rubbing alcohol, you never know when you’re going to need to do emergency surgery. . .on your makeup!

  • Delah

    thanks so much for sharing! just this weekend i realized that my $30 bronzer was in “5 million pieces”. i didn’t have the heart to throw it away. i will definitely be fixing it tomorrow!

  • http://www.empirestilettos.com Caitlin

    This is so great! I discovered this via Pintrest and wish I would have learned this great little remedy sooner in life!


  • http://www.mydeliciousbliss.com Kyi

    Brilliant!!!! I hade to share it on my blog!! Thank you so much!!!!

  • Mayra

    Does the affect the way the shadow applies or skin reactions to the alcohol?

  • admin

    Nope, not at all!

  • Megan

    I love this tip! Thanks a bunch! I found it on pinterest and I’m so glad I didn’t throw away my two favorite shadows that shattered a while ago. Will be passing this on. Thanks again!

  • Julia

    Ummm…how about the fact that you are then putting the shadow/powder etc., on your face that has been soaked in alcohol. Are there no concerns from that respect?

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    The alcohol evaporates as it dries. Considering the numerous other ingredients that are used in eyeshadows, it is the least of your worries.

  • http://Desertgirlsvintage.blogspot.com Desertgirls

    This is genius, and I am now a little bit in love with you. Thanks for the fantastic tip!

  • Courtney

    Awesome tip! Does the rubbing alcohol affect the skin in any way as part of the mix? I like the idea of “reusing” makeup. I’ve read some similar eco-friendly ideas on: http://www.taaz.com/advice/advice.html

  • Megan

    Tried it this morning on a broken pan of Smashbox shadow, and it worked like a charm! I used an orange stick to stir, spread and smooth, and it helped get it into the pie-shaped wedge since it has a flat edge.

  • http://www.supergorgeous.co.uk Alice @ Super Gorgeous

    Would this work with face powder too? I love my Shishedo but it ALWAYS smashes after a couple of weeks!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    It sure will!

  • hellen

    I love this! its sooooo easy!

  • KPH

    Could we use some other alcohol like vodka for this if we don’t have rubbing alcohol?? Sorry, this is a really stupid question but I’m desperate!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    It could possibly work, but I wouldn’t recommend the risk. Proceed with caution!

  • Karen Elizabeth

    Is rubbing alcohol safe to use on your face daily in makeup? Sorry, I don’t know these things, but I just want to make sure that what I’m putting on my face is okay!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    It’s a small amount so its ok. If you have sensitive skin you need to do a patch test on a small area of skin to make sure its ok.

  • Jessica

    i love these tips can I get them in email

  • kk

    If you let the powder dry completely then the alcohol will have all evaporated. i.e. it shouldn’t irritate your skin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurenojeamakeup lauren

    I have totally used vodka to do this, haha. Worked like a charm.

  • Annmarie

    could you just use water instead of alcohol? Would that affect the way the powder dries? Just curious…not too keen on putting alcohol on my eyes/face…even though its just a little bit.

  • melody

    Well the alcohol will evaporate to nothing that is why she said use it and not water. I tried this and it worked great. They already have tons of chemicals in them to begin with propolen glycol for one is already in there to begin with.

  • Faye

    What about fixing a dried and cracked cream shadow??

  • Princess

    Can you do this with foundation as well?

  • White Rabbit

    This is also perfect for customizing compacts! I want to break some of my own to do this with. X3

  • http://pintrest.com denise hughes

    i love the idea have to try soon!!

    thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.aplace.com Bob Dobolina

    To the person asking if its ok to use rubbing alcohol or any type of alcohol– Alcohol evaporates over time. That process allows this to work. It wont hurt you. Other types of alcohol are less pure, but they still evaporate.

  • Sara

    it is alcohol…it evaporates.

  • http://Stumbleupon Char

    Can you use this just with eyeshadow or maybe powder cover up?

  • http://Stumbleupon Char

    Can you use this tip only with podwer eyeshadow or could you use it with powder coverup ?

  • http://Stumbleupon Char

    Or could you do it with foundation?

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Yes, it works with other powder products, too. :)

  • Geri

    So if I decide I don’t like those loose mineral eye shadows for example, that you see so often advertised, I could make it into more of a solid with some rubbing alcohol? Loose eyeshadow always goes all over the counter, drives me nuts…but love the shades.

  • http://www.quirkyquail.blogspot.com vikki

    Genius, I am definately going to try this.

  • Jadie

    Does it have to be alcohol? Or can I peroxide? Just curious. I have hydrogen peroxide in the old medicine cabinet but I’m all out of rubbing alcohol. I can get some but thought I would ask just in case. Thanks for the tip! I found this post via Pinterest and now I’m a little smitten by your blog!!!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Thank you so much! :) I wouldnt recommend hydrogen peroxide – alcohol works best.

  • Plaigh

    AWESOME IDEA! I read that a lot of people are asking if something other than alcohol will work & my guess is NO because I can’t think of anything right off hand that will evaporate as quickly as alcohol. Peroxide doesn’t evaporate/dry quickly & you might risk ruining your makeup entirely because it foams up.

  • Amy

    I am a make up artist and this idea is by far the best! The alcohol will not effect or dry out your skin. Once it dries and is powder the liquid , which is rubbing alcohol has evaporated and is not in the product as an active ingredient. I wouldn’t worry . Estheticians sanitize everything from brushes to sponges to bowls with no less than 70% rubbing alcohol. I spray it on my make up after clients to sanitize it. Directly on the shadow , blush , lip eye pencil it dries almost instantly and doesn’t alter the make up at all!!

  • shayla

    Can i use water or hydro peroxide please help?!?! sorry if i spelt it wrong. :]

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Shayla – no, unfortunately those don’t bind the powder effectively.

  • Erica

    Shayla, hydrogen peroxide will turn to water when exposed to air. Water is a big no-no because it makes a great environment for germs to multiply.

  • Tiff

    So glad I found this! My daughter broke my compact the other day and it’s currently in a plastic baggy so I can still use it lol. I’m so trying this as soon as she’s Down for her nap!

  • angie

    Freaking brilliant… I am forever in your debt for this trick.. I am going to use it to customize my pressed powder color as well a repair dozens of broken shadows I’ve been collecting and mourning for God knows how long… I am so happy my shadows are not dead…”muahahahahahaa(evil laugh) THEY LIVE” sorry about the dramatics I’m just so flipping excited. Thanks

  • http://bzaleel.com Bzaleel

    Remarkable, going to try it asap.. Thank you for sharing

  • http://beezbuzz.moonfruit.com Becky

    If you have a cream product that dried up chances are it’s just the top so use the back of the brush “crush” and mix thoroughly! This worked like a charm on my mac paint pot!

  • http://www.bestantiwrinklecremereviews.com/ Elaine Edwards

    I tried this method and it is really effective. Great post mate!

  • http://www.neversaydiebeauty.com Allison@neversaydiebeauty

    Wow, wish I had seen this post before I threw away a mattifying powder that got crushed in my suitcase. Sharing this!! Thank you

  • marilyn d.

    i would not use vodka for this–it has a potato content. vodka is fine for diluting scent and essential oils, because it only goes on the skin. but in makeup, the starch, even though it’s a small amount, would be a medium for bacterial growth, something we try to avoid in our makeup. stick with rubbing alcohol. it’s simple, basic, and will evaporate completely. and it’s cheaper than vodka!