Monday, 23 November 2009

How To: Pigment Pressing

If you're anything like me, you've probably got several shades of pigment, whether by MAC, Barry M or just plain mineral mica, which are in jars. If you're as clumsy as me, you've probably spilled them everywhere too. As a result of my clumsiness, I've stopped using my loose powder products so often, which narrows my makeup options down a bit.

I'd long heard of people pressing their pigments into palettes, so along with some supplies from Coastal Scents, I thought I'd have a go. Here's my step-by-step guide to pressing a pigment; I'm using blusher type shades and a large blush pan.

Gather some ingredients. Some pigment samples, a bottle of surgical spirit, an empty pan, and a stirring device. I used a cotton bud with the cotton removed at first, and later moved on to using a pearl-headed pin. You'll also need an extra cotton bud for dispensing the surgical spirit.

Start off by putting a few drops of surgical spirit into the bottom of the pan, by dipping a cotton bud into the bottle, then dripping it into the pan, to help the pigment stick.
Pile in your pigments. I think I used about half a teaspoon in total, per pan, to fill most of the space available.

Add a few drops of surgical spirit and mix mix mix with your cotton bud / pinhead. You're looking for a fairly creamy, medium thickness texture, a bit like cake batter - you can make it thinner, but it'll take longer to dry out. It's best to add the surgical spirit in a little bit at a time.

At this stage, I realised I didn't have nearly enough pigment in there. So I added some more. And some other colours, too, so I could build up an interesting shade. A couple more drops of surgical spirit, and a bit more mixing followed.

And then I ended up with a very pretty pink shade. To ensure that the surface is even, gently drop the pan from about an inch above the table onto the table surface. Repeating several times.
Leave to dry until any hint of glossiness is gone from the surface of your pigment mix.

Once the mixture is dry, pop a square of fabric (cotton or denim work well) over the top of it. Then, place something in the pan that's roughly the same size - for eyeshadow pans (which are smaller), coins work well, but for large blush pans, my Clarins facial oil bottle turned out to be the right size.

Balance a heavy book on top of the whole lot and leave to press.

Voila! A pressed pan of pale pink blusher. I popped it directly into my magnetic palette and went on to make another. The colour, you might notice, is a bit lighter than it looked when it was mixed up with the surgical spirit, so bear that in mind when mixing colours.

The colour pay-off of this is quite sheer, as I used mostly Apricot Pink pigment, which is a pale pink with lots of frost, and a small amount of Fuschia, which is more pigmented. The only downside I've found from this process is that the surgical spirit scent lingers on in the pressed pan - although I'm hoping that it'll fade in a few days.

I had a LOT of fun mixing colours and am quite proud of the finished product - and shortly will be on to filling up my empty 15 pan palette with eyeshadows too!


  1. Is pressing pigments as tricky as learning how to program Perl? :P

  2. I would say that learning to program Perl is probably harder than pressing pigments :P The heaviest books I own are all programming manuals :)


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