Pressing Eyeshadows - Tips and Tricks
It's a sure sign of Spring! As soon as the weather gets milder (and days get longer), pigments are mixed, binder is prepared and I get giddy about making colored make-up.
Above is my latest pressed eyeshadow palette. For this batch, I've tried out a new base powder and have tweaked my binder formula.
Here's how this collection of pressed eye shadows came to be, along with a few of my best powder-pressing tips and tricks.
Tools of The Trade
- Measuring spoons or weight (the measuring spoons below are made for color make-up and from Aroma Zone in France - check the sidebar for links)
- latex gloves
- pans and holder (I am re-using a cool elf container and pans – a gift from the lovely LiisK. The little pans stay put in the container with magnets)
- metal and/or silicon press (in a shape and size that fits into the eyeshadow pan)
- small glass bowls
- waxed paper
- a stiff but pliable plastic spatula
- small tea strainer
- binder (recipe below)
- vice (if you want to get serious about pressing eyeshadow, you will need to invest in some type of pressing tool or you will have the sorest fingers and thumbs on the planet)
Tip: Use dedicated tools for your make-up and keep them separate from your regular kitchen/food tools. I keep all of my make-up tools collected in a plastic storage box
Mix Base Powder with ColorDepending on the base powder mix and color density you prefer, the ratio of base powder to color can be anywhere between 10/90 to 50/50.
This year, I tried out a new Serecite mica powder as my base. Using anywhere from 10% - 100% serecite mica is ok (it can also be used alone as a mattifying face powder).
The pigments and base powder are sifted together thoroughly until the color is even.
What does base powder do?Base powder ensures your color make-up (foundation powder, blush, eyeshadow) is easy to spread/apply and stays where it is applied. Also, it can add a silky, lovely feel to your product.
A base powder can be a single ingredient (like serecite mica) or a mix of several powders such as talc, cornstarch, silica, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, magnesium stearate, kaolin and more – all depending on your desired opacity, function, and effect.
My binder this year is a mixture of 60% fractionated coconut oil with 39% jojoba and 1% vitamin E. This is put into a small spray bottle and kept refrigerated when not in use. I mix binder once a year, and discard any binder older than a year.
Tip: Make binder in small amounts (less than 30 ml) and put a label on the bottle with the ingredients and production date. You may think you're going to remember everything, but trust me, you really won't.
Work Binder into Color MixtureSpray the binder directly onto the waxed paper you will be working on – then add the color mixture.
Work color and binder together with the spatula. Go slowly and work as if you are buttering a piece of bread. This will incorporate the binder into the powder evenly.
Tip: A little binder goes a long way. Take your time when working in the binder and your eyeshadows will not only press evenly, but they'll feel smooth as silk going on.
Test the mixture occasionally while working in the binder by pressing down on it with the spatula.
When the mixture looks even and starts to stick together when you press down on it, it's ready for pressing.
PressMy tried and true best tip for pressing eyeshadow is to build up in layers. If you are patient and press many thin layers, your eyeshadow will pass the all-important drop test with flying colors and reward you by staying in the pan.
My Pressing Method
- Cover bottom of pan with thin layer of color mixture
- Distribute color mixture evenly with cotton swab
- Place a small piece of waxed paper over the pan and press lightly with thumb/finger
- Now place press (metal coin and/or silicone pad) over waxed paper and press harder
- Repeat, building up layers until the pan is half full, then press in vice.
- Repeat until the pan is full, and press in vice again.
Above: see how the silicone pad has an indent from being sandwiched between the vice and metal press? That kind of pressure just can't be achieved by hand. That indent was made by my trusty vice (available at regular hardware stores around the world).
The Drop TestDo a drop test to check that you are good to go. It doesn't have to be from a great height, but if your eyeshadow can pass a simple drop test without crumbling and coming out of the pan, then it's not only sufficiently pressed, but also has the correct amount of binder.
Do TellDo you do your own pressed eyeshadows? Which base powders are your favorites? How about binders? Which tools do you use to press?
More Make-upHow I mixed the pigments for this eyeshadow palette
Why patience is a virtue when mixing colors for make-up
How my pressing tool kit was made
I would strongly advise adding a preservative if you decide to use glycerin. As soon as you introduce anything water-based into a product, you need to add a preservative. This is one of the reasons I have always worked entirely with oil-based binders.
Does the 10/90 to 50/50 rule apply only to eyeshadows, or all types of powder makeup, like foundation, blush etc...
I am getting ready to start pressing my foundations, blushes, bronzers, and highlights and would like to know what this vice is called? I can't seem to find one and perhaps I am searching with the wrong terms. I am using dry binder and oils to press my minerals, no alcohol or water based ingredients. Thank you!
If I use your binding recipe, does this mean I do not need to add a preservative? If so, how long will the eyshadow last?
If you choose not to add preservative - be careful to keep your brushes clean (and never share with anyone else), never introduce ANY moisture to the mixture and store your shadow dark and at an even temperature (read: not carried around in a purse in all kinds of weather)
If you are prone to dipping a moist brush/fingers into the product, you will need to add a preservative. Hope this helps!
What is a usual ratio of binder and powder you recommend using? Thank you..:-)
I'm looking for organic / clean micas for face like foundation and colors for eyeshadows. Where would you recommend to purchase these items from? Also will Aroma -zone deliver to the USA?
I've been using a mixture of fractionated coconut oil and 91% alcohol to press my shadows. I've finding though, that even with primer they are slipping off my skin. I've tried using the eyeshadow bases from TKB. I've tried using C-smax/boron nitride, but I'm still not getting the adhesion I'd hoped for. Any suggestions?
As to your binder - What if you are planning to sell eyeshadows and cannot control how the consumer treats the product? I'd prefer to use the oils since they will be more nourishing and less chemicals in the product but if they get wet or moisture does get near them (I know some people like to wet their brushes and then use eyeshadows) then what? Would adding a preservative with the oil binder change the way they work on the eye? Thanks!
I use coconut oil to press but I feel like they come out too thick. The shadow will swipe onto my finger, but not onto a brush. Any tips?
Do you have any recommendation as to what I could use as a preservative?
I can't use oils to press since I have super oily skin, so I have to use glycerine
Great post, one of the most informative I've found
im going to try add more binder (jojoba oil) it is currently a little bit dryer than your formula
kind regards, kerry
is jojoba oil enough to use to stop the powder from crumbling or producing so much fall-out?
Sorry for sounding really off :) need help xx
I hope that makes sense haha. Thank you in advance! <3
Thanks for your kind comment! The vice I use is a Wolfcraft brand (they make them in all sizes and are available at hardware stores) and, yes, mine has a release button. If you check the other make-up posts on the blog, I did one specifically about the vice I use. :)
mica powders are shimmery. i want matte shades . are mica powders come in matte colors?
I was wondering why you chose those certiain oils to use for your binder?
Do you tihnk that pure glycerin can be used as a preservative?
Thank you for this super useful article! I know it has been a long time since you posted it but I thought that maybe you might help me :)
I am about to press my first pigments (polyurethane based) but I realized I don't have many ingredients at home... I thought I could use alcohol, cornstarch (or talc?) and an oil. For the oil, I thought coconut oil but it's not fractionnated so I fear it does not work...Perhaps I could use macadamia oil since I don't have Jojoba? (I also have olive oil and hazelnut oil). What do you think of the composition? Your advise would be precious.
Thanks a lot in advance,
I was just wondering if 37mm and 57mm pans would fit in the wolfcraft vise, if not are there any other easy to use vise's you would recommend that would fit 37mm and 57mm pans? Thanks in advance:)
Thank you so so much.