Makeup DIY: pressing loose pigments

While I was re-organizing my makeup a few weeks ago I came across a box full of loose pigments that have been abandoned there for months if not years and the reason is simple laziness on my part. Because pigments are messy, they take more time and effort to apply than regular eyeshadows and I just cannot bring myself to use them. So when I had a sudden instinct to buy more eyeshadows the other day, I remembered of my pigments instead and decided to make myself new eyeshadows by pressing the pigments in pans and adding them to my Zpalettes. The process is quite simple and with a bit of online research and key props anyone can press their pigments to eyeshadow pans in no time. Let me guide you through it.

What you need:
To start, you need your pigments and some empty eyeshadow pans to press them into. I bought the ones from Z Palette in a pack of 20 from The Makeup Spot (here) because I wanted next day delivery (no, I am not a patient person), but you can find them on Boozyshop and BeautyBay as well. These pans are 26 mm in diameter, the same size as Makeup Geek, MAC and Morphe Brushes eyeshadow pans, and they are magnetic, which means they will be secure in your ZPalette without having to add an extra magnet. Then you need Jojoba Oil and Pure Alcohol to use as matrix for your pigments. I then used a dropper and two spatulas to help pour the liquids and powder in the pans and combine them. Finally you'll need a coin or a round object (in my case a round magnet slightly smaller than the pan size) and a cloth to press the pigment in the end.

The procedure:
I started by mixing 2-3 drops of Jojoba oil with the alcohol in the empty pan, adding alcohol until three quarters of the pan is full. Normally if you have to repair a broken powder you don't have to use any oil, but since pigments generally don't have a binder, you need the jojoba oil to obtain a smooth and not powdery eyeshadow. I then went adding the pigment with my spoon-spatula a bit at a time and mixing each time to avoid lumps. When the mixture reached a toothpaste-like consistency I tapped it on my desk carefully to smoothen the surface and set it aside for the alcohol to evaporate a bit. The amount of pigment you will need varies, but as indication, I used a whole sample size Neve Cosmetics pigment but only half of the Essence ones and maybe a fourth of the Kiko jars. After half an hour to an hour the liquid will have reduced and it is time to press. I took a piece of fabric (a piece of an old tshirt will do) and wrapped it around the little magnet and pressed it into the pan. This step ensures that you compact the powder and press as much of the remaining alcohol out, which is absorbed by the fabric. And now the only thing left to do is give the shadows a night in air to dry completely and they're ready to use! To recognize what is what, I added a sticky label with the name of the pigment on the back, but you can also just write on the pan with a marker.

Now let's talk a bit about the results. I was quite worried of the outcome of this pressing experiment because I didn't want to ruin the pigments and render them unusable of course. I am happy to say that this didn't happen for any of them except for one. The shimmer shades kept their high pigmentation and gorgeous shine, and even the two more glittery shades (a white and a light pink) show up really nicely in the skin. The swatches above and below were done on bare skin without primer and with my fingers. I pressed my Essence, Kiko Cosmetics and Neve Cosmetics pigments and haven't seen too much of a difference in the formulation.

As you can see from the pictures above, the shimmery gold pigment results even more pigmented after pressing, and I attribute that to the addition of the jojoba oil which acts as a binder to keep the pigment together. This is an example of how all the other shimmery pigments turned out, so I'd say it's a great success. The only dud of the batch is this dark plum shade which lost all its pigmentation with pressing. The problem of this one is that it has a matte base with some glitter. Doing some research online I have found out that it depends on the ingredients in your pigments. Mica-based shimmer of matte pigments are suited for pressing using a binder, whereas matte pigments based on mineral oxides, ultramarine or dyes do not press well and should be kept in their loose form. So check the ingredient list before trying! I discovered it too late and you can see the disappointing result above.

So here goes my makeup DIY talk through on how to press loose pigments into eyeshadow pans. It was a fun and easy project to do and it only took a part of a rainy grey afternoon. Now of course I can't wait to use all these "new" eyeshadows in some colorful looks.

Have you ever tried to press your loose pigments? Let me know in the comments if you did or will because I'm curious to hear your experience and see the results!


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