Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to Press Mineral Eyeshadow

Hi readers!

Long time no see! :) How are you all? (That's not a rhetorical question - I'd love to hear from you - please feel free to tell me how life has been treating you lately in the comments!) Some of you know this already, but I got a job in social work at a skilled nursing facility in June. That has not only kept me busy, but also been pretty energy-draining, so it's been a long time since I've felt much like blogging. I have a ton of ideas for posts that have been stewing around in my head for months, as well as a few reviews I feel I owe to a couple of company reps who graciously sent me some product samples this summer, so hopefully this current bout of motivation will last for a while! I'm also planning to do another blog sale soon and would feel like a schmuck asking you all to buy my crap without giving you any new and interesting reading material, so... I'll write some new posts, you'll read them, then I'll ask you to buy my crap. Problem solved!

Anyway, someone posted a comment on my old post How to Salvage a Broken Eyeshadow asking how to press a mineral eyeshadow, which made me realize I promised to write a post on that and then never did. Oops! So, here goes. Please note that you can click on any picture to view it full-size!

To press mineral eyeshadows, you use a similar process as what you see in the How to Salvage a Broken Eyeshadow tutorial. However, instead of mixing the powder with only alcohol, you need to mix it with a combination of alcohol and some substance that can act as a "binder." I don't know the science behind this, but I do know that unlike with MAC pigments or previously pressed (and broken) eyeshadows, mineral eyeshadows will revert back to their loose powder form as soon as the alcohol has evaporated if you don't use a binder. I've heard of a variety of things working as a binder in this process - among them are pure glycerin (available at the drugstore), Fyrinnae Powder Modifier (though I don't think they sell it anymore), Coastal Scents EZ Prez, MAC Mixing Medium, and Biosilk Silk Therapy (yes, the hair serum!). So here's what you'll want to do (credit for most of the following goes to the lovely Lorin, a.k.a. sixxmum on Makeup Alley, who taught me everything I know about pressing mineral eyeshadows):

1. To start with, you'll need the following materials:
  • isopropyl alcohol (91% is best, but if you can't find it, 70% will suffice)
  • your binder product(s) of choice (see above)
  • a mixing tool like a laboratory spatula (pictured) or a plastic cosmetic spatula
  • a quarter
  • some kind of clean, lint-free, absorbent cloth
  • dropper bottles (available at craft stores)
  • a mineral eyeshadow (duh)
  • a pan to put the shadow in when you're finished
  • a small mixing bowl (I usually use a shot glass or a larger empty sample jar)
  • measuring spoon
  • optional: an organza bag, an empty magnetized palette (shown is E.L.F. brand, $1), an adhesive magnet (I use these ones), sticky labels (pictured below)
Here's the shadow I was working on (Fyrinnae Maneki Neko). I use the cleaning cloths made for glasses (can be purchased at any drugstore, or most optometrists give them away for free to patients) or a clean piece of denim (such as a cutout from an old pair of jeans) and 1" round pans purchased from; they're about the same price as the ones from, but they have a smooth bottom instead of a ridged one, which I find more aesthetically pleasing.

2. Sanitize all materials with alcohol, then measure about one teaspoon of eyeshadow into your mixing bowl.

3. Slowly add about 7-10 drops of your binder of choice (you may need more for matte shades), "cutting" the binder ingredient(s) into the powder like you would cut butter into flour for dough, until all the powder has begun to cling and clump up a little. Just be sure it's cut evenly through. I do it this way because once you've added too much binder, you can't take it back... but you can always add more! (I like to use 4-5 drops of Fyrinnae Powder Modifier, along with 3 drops of glycerin; I have great results with this combo.) If you're not sure if you're verging on adding too much or not, err on the side of not adding enough. Worst-case scenario, your shadow is too soft/powdery (not a solid!) after it dries in the pan and you start over again (wet it with alcohol, add another 1-2 drops of binder, and re-press). The only way you can recover from adding too much is by doing the same thing, but adding more powder instead (and I often end up pressing all I have the first time, so I end up having to order more or dilute it with a different color - not so fun).
4. Add enough alcohol, 5-10 drops at a time (I usually need between 40-70 drops total) and mixing as you go, to give the mixture a wet-dough consistency.

5. Scrape all of the mixture into an eyeshadow pan and spread it out as evenly as you can while still being careful to ensure it doesn't spill out over the edges. Let your eyeshadow sit like this and begin the drying/setting process for a little while before you move onto the next step - I usually give it 15-30 minutes.

6. Lay your cloth down gently on top of the pan. Lay your quarter on top of the cloth and line it up with the pan's edges (it should fit just right). Gently press down until you see the alcohol "bleeding" out around the edges and soaking the cloth; then move to another dry spot on your cloth and repeat. You'll find that you need to gradually press harder and harder to get the cloth to soak up the alcohol. You want to keep pressing and shifting to new dry spots until the cloth is soaking up little to no alcohol at all. (For some reason this picture didn't come out; if you want to see this in action, check out the How to Salvage a Broken Eyeshadow tutorial.) Optional step: once it seems you've soaked up as much alcohol as you can, you can slide the pan inside an organza bag, then lay the cloth and quarter over it and press down as you did before. This will imprint the shadow with a finer-looking hetchmark pattern.

7. Voila! You now have a pressed eyeshadow. Now for the finishing (optional) touches: add a sticky label with the name of your shadow on it to non-sticky side of an adhesive magnet, then peel off the backing on the sticky side of the magnet and stick it to the back of your pan. (If you prefer, you can also glue your shadows into place in your palettes. I only use magnets because I like to be able to take my colors out and re-organize them in different color groups, etc.)

8. Put it in your palette. Yay! You're all done! The palette I made tonight is comprised of Fyrinnae Shrinkirou + Fyrinnae Cookie Dough + L'Oreal Shimmering Sands On-the-Loose pigment (top left), Fyrinnae Maneki Neko (top right), Fyrinnae Snow Leopard (bottom left), and Fyrinnae Beholder + Fyrinnae Broken Doll + Fyrinnae Samhain Spirits + MAC Bloodline pigment (bottom right). Can you tell I had a lot of samples I wanted to press/use up?? :)

It came out wonderfully! ... in other news, I need to buy a full-size jar of Beholder ASAP. That color is freaking GORGEOUS by itself - I wish I'd had enough to make it its own pan!

Note: this post contains an affiliate link (for the magnet dots). All other products featured in this post were either purchased by me or, in the case of the metal spatula, pilfered from my alma mater's chem lab. (Shhh!)


  1. Wow! Thanks so much for this awesome post!

  2. Ooooh it's so good to hear from you again!!! Here's my silly question of the day: where do you pick up the empty shadow pans from? I have lots of fyr shadows and misc pigments, and due to my high level of klutziness, have almost given up on them in the mad dash of the mornings.

  3. Hi! :)

    I use the 1" round pans purchased from (like the ones in this listing but you can buy them in a variety of quantities on that site); they're about the same price as the ones from, but they have a smooth bottom instead of a ridged one, which I find more aesthetically pleasing. (They also feel a bit "sturdier," if that makes sense.)


  4. Yay Kristina is back! hopefully we will see more of you before life gets in the way. i am pretty drained myself! can't wait to see your blogsale!

  5. Woohoo, you're back!

  6. Have you ever tried pressing Silk Naturals eyeshadows? I'm thinking into pressing some staples but have no cojones to start. Afraid I'll lose some precious colors.

  7. Does a full-size Fyrinnae shadow bascailly fill a 1" pan?

    1. Yes, with a decent amount left over afterward, in my experience!


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