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Breaking Down Beauty: How To Press Loose Pigment Shadows

By Sheila Arkee

After publishing a Breaking Down Beauty on fixing broken powder cosmetics, I’d promised to follow up with a post on turning loose shadows into pressed shadows. Well, that was last year, sad to say! My intentions were good, and it’s never too late to make good on my promises.

The process of turning your loose pigments into pressed powders is basically the same as fixing broken powders. It’s so easy, and will revolutionize the way you deal with your pigments! As much as I adore pigments, little jars aren’t so great to transport if you’re going on a trip or like to carry shadows around.

Pressing loose pigments will revolutionize and open up so many more possibilities for your makeup kit. Prepare to be astounded!

You will need just a few ingredients:

- An empty shadow pan

- Rubbing alcohol – use 70% and above for best results.

- Pigments

- Something to mix the pigment/alcohol with. I used a bobby pin, but anything small and non-porous will work, really.

Let’s proceed to pressing!

Step 1: Find a Container 

I used a NYX shadow container that had been on its last legs for a while. I emptied out the last of the shadow and cleaned it out with rubbing alcohol.

You can also purchase empty shadow pans in bulk, which is fantastic! Add a bit of a magnet to the bottom of the pans, pop ‘em in a Z Palette or your palette of choice, and voila! Bliss!

TKB Trading sells pans in a round or square form at great prices.

Step 2: Mix & Smooth!

I used a sample of MAC’s Tan Pigment that I’d had lying around for awhile, which was surprisingly a small amount of shadow! I ended up having to add a bit more pigment from a jar of Tan that I had in my kid.

I eyeballed my measurements, but when placing pigments into the empty shadow pan, go slowly, adding in increments.

Slowly add the rubbing alcohol to the pan, until you get a smooth paste going on. It’s ok to have your pan overflow a teensy bit, as the liquid alcohol will dry down quite a bit.

Step 3: Dry & Use!

Clean around the edges with a q-tip, if needed.

Leave the shadow pan in an area where it won’t be disturbed for a few hours.

It doesn’t take long for the shadows to dry, at all. Although I didn’t for these photos, you can use a small coin placed on top of a towel or other material to compact the shadow and leave an aesthetically pleasing pattern.

And there ya have it! Simple, easy, and effective. Enjoy!

  • http://cucumpear.blogspot.com/ CucumPear

    So far I’ve only re-pressed shattered shadows and blushes using the same method. So easy! I often had square pans, so instead of using a coin to press down I cut one of my old credit or customer cards to size and used that. Works like a charm.

  • Wendy

    I’ve found that some brands of loose shadows don’t like to be pressed. For instance the Jesse’s Girl pigments laugh in the face of pressing.

  • admin

    Thank you for that awesome tip, Cucumpear! And that’s good to know, Wendy – I guess it has something to do with the ingredients!

  • http://beautyrepblog.blogspot.com Trina L. Grant

    Thank you for answering a life-long question for me. This has been a dilemma that has sent many a perfectly good piece of makeup in the trash. I daresay this may change my financial future, :) Great info, as always.

  • Sherri

    Hey just wondering if this works for pressed face powder too? I have one that got dropped on it’s edge and broke into a bunch of bits… can this method fix it?

  • admin

    Yep! It will!

  • beth

    This is so awssome! I have question about making a whole pot of gel or cream liners out of my Bare Minerals loose shadows and loose liners. I have googled and theres been a few youtube videos using vaseline but it doesnt dry. Do you have a solution? Also do you think the alchohol method will work with Bare Esentuals Bare Minerals? Thanks, Beth

  • admin

    Hi Beth! Thank you! One thing you can try is to incorporate a bit of Visine with your pigments to make them a liquid-y/gel texture. I’m not quite sure how to make an entire get pot, but I know some compaines sell a carrier that transform powders into more pliable mediums. Check out the mac cosmetics pro website because I know they have them.

  • Dawn

    I was wondering if anyone tried to do it right in the Bare Escentuals eyeshadow container. I’m thinking that as long as the container is not full, this might work?

  • Liz

    This is BRILLIANT!!! I’m so excited to test out my pigments! Guys I’m going to expirament with some cheap $1 pigments I have before I do my BE but I’ll let you all know how it goes!

  • admin

    Thank you! I’m so happy that so many are learning and loving this technique!!!

  • Alison

    As questioned above, do you think this will work by just adding the alcohol into the B.E. containers with loose shadow powders?? I literally have about 25 colors and it drives me nuts that the powders get everywhere when I’m applying makeup and have wondered how to turn all my shadows into pressed powders instead! :)

  • admin

    I would suggest “depotting” the loose shadows and placing them in smaller containers before adding any alcohol. The liquid would make the powder “swell up” and could cause a mess. Hope this helps!

  • Kemmie

    I was wondering, do you know if this would work to make a loose powder foundation into a pressed powder? I love my loose powder but it’s driving me nuts when i’m trying to get ready for work and i end up COVERED in foundation. thank you!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    It would, but it would be powdery and more fragile than a traditional pressed powder

  • danielle

    I did hear that you should glycerin to the alcohol solution to bind the ingredients… I have used your method and while it does work I find that the shadows are very quick to loosen up… within 4 used half the shadow is basically loosened up. I find adding glycerin made them literally look like a pressed shadow and act like one.

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Thanks for the tip, Danielle. I’ll definitely try this out.

  • carla

    Anyone know where to purchase a pressing machine that will press loose minerals into pressed? Thank u!

  • http://www.makeuporganizeronline.com Elizabeth

    Wow! I just came upon this post on how to press lose pigment shadows. I have a ton of BE shadows that I never use because they are hard to apply. I am definitely going to try this! Thank you for posting!

  • http://www.slashedbeauty.com Miranda

    Did this affect the pigmentation at all?

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com Sheila

    Miranda, nope!