How to: Pressed Powders in Skin Tones

Soo, now that you've made an entire collection of skin colors. What to do with them? How about making a face-sculpting and toning palette of pressed powders?

Today, we're going to use a finished base powder mixture, so we can (almost) dive right in to the fun part - building up our palette!


To make pressed powder, you need
  • pigment mixtures
  • base powder mixture with binder

You can make your own base powder and binder (links below), but I was curious to try a ready-to-press, pre-mixed base.

Depending on where you purchase your base powder, the proportions of base powder to color will vary.

Follow the recommendations of your supplier to begin with. You can always get creative if you want to try something different after you get a feel for how the product works.

The Base Powder Mixture

For this batch of colors, I used this mixture – ideal for both loose powder or pressed powders (and yes, I just had to test the recommended limits).

Here's the ingredients list: Mica, Lauroyl lysine, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Simmondsia chinensis seed oil, Helianthus annuus seed oil, Magnesium stearate, Ricinus communis seed oil, Rhus verniciflua peel cera, Helianthus annuus seed cera, Cera alba, Tocopherol, Euphorbia cerifera cera, Shorea robusta resin, Helianthus annuus seed oil, Ascorbyl palmitate

The texture is silky and I was quite pleased with its pressing ability, but a little surprised to discover a recommended dose of 80% base powder to pigments for pressed powders.

The method for making pressed powders is quite simple:
Mix pigments with base until throughly mixed, transfer to container a little at a time and press. I mixed by sifting everything together a few times.

Tip: For best results, build your pressed powders up in thin layers - pressing each layer well. (see links below for posts on pressing tools)

Experimenting - But of Course

As I was doing several colors, the ratio of base powder to color was lowered by 10% with each color – just to see how low we could go and still pass a drop test.

At 60% it was still OK, but had a tendency to 'crumble' a bit too quickly when filling a brush with color.

Under 50%, it failed every drop test.

Admittedly, 50% way under the recommended limits for pressed powders, but it's nice to know there is a bit of leeway.

Needless to say, this session took me a bit longer than normal, but there was valuable knowledge to be gained from due to the. product-testing.

Here's my work space after pressing these powders. I had a bit of leftover highlighter and 'shadower', so did a quick 'side-by-side' number in an empty single-color casing I had.

Work Tip: Since it is impossible to press powders without a bit of spillage and mess, I always cover my work surface with a large piece of white paper or baking paper. It makes clean-up a snap.

The result of this session is pictured above. I started with the highlighter color (little separate container on the right) and graduated by darkness of tone until the palette was filled.

I had to re-mix and re-press the final colors because I had pushed the base powder past its capabilities, but I knew what I was getting into.

Leftover color

As is almost always the case when pressing powders, there was some leftover. I'll show you how I used that in an upcoming post.

More About Making Pressed Powders

Matching Your Skin Tone
Mixing Different Skin Tones
Pressing powders- tips and tricks
Preparing powder for pressing
Powder pressing tools


Olivia J said…
Pressing pigments is a big mess but it is fun. I just wish I could find one of those portable eyeshadow presses. I remember a brand back in the late 80's Beaute Visage which had one for their custom made eyeshadows. I thought it was the greatest tool and wanted one so bad.

I do like reading about your makeup making adventures, it is like peeking into someone's lab!
LisaLise said…
Hi Olivia - If you check Aroma Zone, they have a small handheld vice - which is actually also available in most hardware stores as well. the brand is wolcraft - just ask for their smallest one. :)
K said…
Do you use the same binder for your pressed face powder as you do for eyeshadow? I am allergic to coconut and soy so I can't use most vitamin E or coconut oil (or anything really which is why I am making my own makeup). Is there anything wrong with just jojoba oil?
LisaLise said…
Hi K - yes I use the same binder. You can use pure jojoba if you like but the fractionated coconut oil gives it a lighter feel. You may find you can toletate fractionated coconut oil as opposed yo coconut oil. A patch test is the brst way to find out . Best of luck with it.
LisaLise said…
Forgive my iphone typos above!