Sunday, 28 July 2013

DIY: How to press loose eyeshadow and pigments

I like loose pigments, they can be really flexible and versatile to work with. They unfortunately are also a bit fussy and messier to deal with than pressed eyeshadows, which is why I thought a tutorial about how to press them yourself might be handy!

The idea to press my own eyeshadows didn't cross my mind until I was searching for a certain colour that I couldn't find anywhere, but was available in an indie store I hadn't tried before. Actually, there were a lot of unique colours there! I knew I would be too lazy to want to deal with loose eyeshadow though and so I googled a bit to see if there was something to do about that. Turns out, there is! Pressing your own eyeshadows is easy and actually fun to do as well, so let me show you how I did it.

I used my eyeshadow samples from Shiro cosmetics that I ordered and wrote an article about a while ago that you can read here. Shiro's samples were pretty tiny, but large enough to be able to press and since they only cost a dollar a piece it's a great way to try a colour or the eyeshadow pressing out!

You can also use this tutorial to fix broken powders since the technique is the same, just leave the glycerine out.

Anyway, this is how I did it. I'm also going to link you guys a video at the end about how other people do it, because my way is probably not the best way haha. It worked for me though! I tried a few different things out, and the way I'm going to show you had the best results, so there you go.

What I used:

For this DIY you will need: 

An empty eyeshadow palette with removable pans. I got this one from Ebay for about £3. 

Rubbing alcohol: You need this to mix the powder with, the alcohol will evaporate after a while, so don't worry, you're not going to put alcohol on your eye or anything.

Vegetable Glycerine: This is also used as a mixing medium to improve the texture and vibrancy of the eyeshadow. It's totally optional, but I did get better results when I mixed it in. 

Loose pigments: Make sure they're safe to use on the eyes! For this tutorial I'm using a mix of Barry M Dazzle Dust and Essence Loose Pigment, but I pressed most of my eyeshadows with Shiro's loose pigments.   Higher quality pigment means higher quality eyeshadow!

Something to stir with: In my case, cocktail sticks, because I was too cheap to buy mini spatulas. 

A drip: Or a teaspoon, or creativity with the cocktail sticks. 

Kitchen towel: A lot of kitchen towel! Stuff is going to get messy around here, so make sure all the surroundings are protected with towels and kitchen towels! You don't want these pigments all over your table, but then again it's your stuff so hey. Do what you want. You still need it to press with though.

A flat round object that fits in the pan: Such as a coin, or a button or something. 

Also, if you're making this for a friend, make sure you use gloves! Just to make sure it's all sanitary, you should also clean everything you use first with some alcohol. 

Step 1: Scoop it!

It's okay if you pile on a bit too much, a lot of it will shrink down when you add the alcohol anyway. I wanted to create a mix between this rose gold and orange pigment that I had, so I made sure that I scooped about half of each in the pan. I'm going to be mixing straight in the pan, but you could also mix in a little bowl first and then scoop it in the pan later. 

Step 2: Alcohol time!

A dripping tool would probably have been a better idea, but I thought a spoon would suffice just fine. What I noticed is that it's a lot easier to mix this stuff if it's smooth and gel-like. Watery is also fine, it'll just mean you have to wait longer later. The alcohol evaporates anyway so it doesn't matter if you use a bit too much. A few drops is recommended, but I tend to flood the whole thing and it was still fine. 

Oh dear, it looks like a battlefield over there! I almost feel bad. Almost. Just stir it gently with your stirring device - in my case, a cocktail stick - and it'll be just fine. 

Step 3: Glycerine

I'm using my cocktail stick as a dripping tool here, so just kind of push it in the gooey substance that is Glycerine....

And drip a few drops in there. I did about two or three, which is what I recommend. I think you can go up to six, but one time a big glob ended up in my mix and the eyeshadow became really hard to work with. 

Also, if your eyeshadow isn't smooth enough at this point the Glycerine will just collect in drops and it'll be a bastard to mix properly, which is another reason why I put so much alcohol in there. It's a lot easier to mix this way.

Gently stir it...

Step 4: You must wait!

Aaaaand, wait! You have to wait for the alcohol to evaporate enough to the point where you can press it. Yes, I am as impatient as you are. What worked best for me was to just keep on mixing shadows until a few had dried up enough to be pressed, press a few and then mix more. Rinse and repeat and you'll only have to wait for the last batch to dry up enough. The best thing to do is just to forget about it and go do something else for twenty minutes. 

When the consistency changed like this, it's ready to be pressed! Yaaay, finally! Do check with whichever stirring device you prefer to see if the substance isn't still runny. If it's not solid enough the product will spill and more will end up on your tissue than in the pan. Not cool! So do check. 

Step 5: Time to press.

For this step you're going to need your round flat object (a coin) and some tissue paper or kitchen towel to soak up the alcohol residue. You can also use a cloth or something, but I find this to be such an absorbing material so I went with this.

Wrap the towel around the coin so that it's flush against it..

Fit the coin in the pan, pick it up and press firmly with both hands. I was doing it with only one hand in the picture for effect, since the other hand needed to shoot the photo and stuff. 

Congratulations, you have just pressed your first eyeshadow! And now you must wait some more.

See, wasn't that easy? Now you have to be patient and let it rest for a day or so. The alcohol needs to completely disappear and then you can finally swatch it. Secretly it's okay to do it after an hour or so, but the true vibrancy is there after a few more hours. 


These are some swatches of the Shiro eyeshadows I pressed previously. Since I was trying out different quantities of mixing mediums I expected that some of them would fail, but most of them have become really nice quality pressed eyeshadows! My guess is that if the eyeshadow pigments are already good it's pretty hard to mess them up. I'd class the eyeshadows I pressed somewhere between mid- and high quality. This is because my high quality eyeshadows from other brands are a lot softer and even more pigmented, but the ones I pressed myself are less powdery, smoother and more pigmented than the ones I can usually get in the drugstore. This is very good, because they only were a dollar a piece! The rest of the ingredients also weren't expensive at all, so if you want good quality eyeshadows for a fair price you should definitely give this a go!


  1. Hele toffe DIY!

  2. Yay! You did it too! Isn't it crazy-easy?

    1. It is! I just had a practise run first with my older pigments to get me started and then it was so easy it's unbelievable, haha. Definitely going to do this again, I already ordered more from Shiro. :p

  3. Thanks this is so helpful... I've just got some Shiro samples and want to press them too.

  4. very nice! thank you for this :)

  5. can I just press the loose eye shadows in the plastic containers they came in?

  6. Reading this I now understand why my attempt at pressing a broken eyeshadow utterly failed - I was not patient!

  7. Pipettes are very good for this sort of thing. usually you can find some disposable ones (being cheap like i am, i wash mine with a "chenile stem", dry then re-use them) or clean eyedroppers. i find wooden coffee/tea stir sticks helpful too.