Sunday, March 13, 2016

Eye Shadow Pressing

Hey everyone, long time no blog :p

Anyways, I've recently gotten into indie makeup, especially eyeshadow. Most indie shadows come in loose form, and since I'm a total klutz and not great at manipulating loose shadow,  I've taken to pressing it.
Assemble your materials. 

I get almost all my materials from TKB Trading, they have fast shipping, reasonable prices, and I can get everything in one place. I've linked the stuff I use in the materials list.

  • Loose Shadow for Pressing (I'm using a mini of Femme Fatale Lady of the Red)
  • 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Shadow Pans 26mm (This set includes pressing tiles and a tamper, which are very helpful)
    • 26mm pans are best for mini or full size shadows
    • 15mm pans are for samples or extra from pressing a larger size
  • Pressing Medium (I buy this in the 1/2 oz size, since it's already in a dropper bottle)
  • Preservative Cap-5 (Again, I use the 1/2 oz size because of the dropper top)
  • Pressing Ribbon (You can wash and reuse this stuff)
  • Pipettes for Alcohol
  • Mixing Spatulas
  • Paper Towels
Helpful Tools:
If it's your first time pressing, add 20-25 drops of preservative to the binder.
Mix well.
Add a few drops of alcohol to each pan and let evaporate to sanitize them.
Peel the label off the shadow container and put it on the bottom of the pan.
If the label won't peel off, you can soak it in a bit of alcohol to loosen the adhesive. You will need to use a bit of glue to get it to stick to the pan though.
You can also make your own label with the label stickers and sharpie.
Carefully pry the sifter off. If you aren't gentle, you will get a huge poof of shadow everywhere.
Use your nail or your depotting tool to pry up the sifter around the edges until it pops off.

Dump the shadow into your mixing jar.

Add 3-5 drops of binder for a mini size.
Mix the binder!
Use a chopping motion to get rid of the lumps.
Your mixture should have lumps this size or smaller.
Add about 10 drops of alcohol and mix.
Add about 10 more drops and incorporate 
Continue to add alcohol, 2-3 drops at a time, until the mixture sticks to the stir stick.
It should not look dry, but shouldn't be dripping off the stick either.
Try to get it to look like a blog of silly putty.
Poking the shadow to show the correct texture. The dents should be slightly visible and it should wiggle a bit like jelly.
Scrape the shadow into your pan.
Drop the pan on the towel a few times to spread the shadow.
If it doesn't fully spread, add about 2 drops of alcohol to help the spreading.
Continue dropping and tapping the pan until the shadow is evenly spread and level in the pan.
If the pressing ribbon picks up color with light pressure, it's too wet to press. 
When the shadow is still slightly damp, but there is minimal color transfer with light pressure, it's time to press.
Make sure to press as hard as you can, before carefully removing the tamper.
If you pressed it correctly, it will have nice crosshatching from the ribbon :)
Let the shadow finish drying for at least 24 hours before using. 

  • If you're pressing a full size shadow, fill the mini pan first, then use the rest for your 26mm pan. 15mm pans are great for travel, or to introduce your friends to indies!
  • Matte shadows are temperamental when pressed. You should press these when they are still pretty damp (aka have color transfer to the ribbon) which will keep them from cracking as much as they might otherwise.
  • Shadows with ultramarine do not press as well. This doesn't stop me from pressing them since I suck using loose powder, but if you can avoid it, then do.
  • If you add too much alcohol and get a soupy mixture, you can either scrape and pour it into a pan, or you can let a bit of alcohol evaporate off first.
  • While you're waiting for your shadow to set, clean off your spatulas, I use alcohol and paper towels. 
  • If your shadow never seems to dry, or is soft/squishy, you're adding too much binder. Use less.
  • While you need to press the shadow really hard, be careful your hand doesn't slip. I took a huge chunk of the pad of my finger off on the edge of the pan. It bled everywhere, and effectively ruined that shadow. 
  • I usually press 5-6 shadows at a time. When they're all panned, the first one is usually ready to be pressed.
  • Cover your area with a plastic trash bag or paper towels, it gets messy.
Brand Tips:
  • Fyrinnae shadows are already semi-loose. DO NOT add binder to these. I usually mix in a drop or two of preservative though.
  • Shiro samples are super generous, and can usually fill a 26mm pan.
  • Samples other than Shiro tend to only work in 15mm pans, and usually don't fill them. If your tamper isn't working to press them, use the ribbon, a layer of paper towel, and your finger.
Any questions? Post them below!


  1. Very helpful, thank you Austen ! I didn't use any preservative for my others. I'm going to pick some up and some of the helpful tools such as spatulas.

    1. You're welcome! Let me know how your next pressing session goes!