An Illustrated MAC Pigment-Pressing Tutorial :)

May 30, 2008
Want to learn how to turn you messy pigments into gorgeous pressed shadows (that you can’t spill-you know you’re afraid you will!)?
Then read on! πŸ™‚

List of Supplies:

  • Phase 1
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Small dropper (old bottle of eye drops, etc)
    • Empty eyeshadow pans (I get mine here)
    • Small spatula or other mixing implement and a little spoon
    • Small mixing bowls (optional)-I used the bottom half of those little plastic containers you get out of the 25 cent machines πŸ™‚
    • Pigments (DUH!) 3/4 teaspoon per eyeshadow (aka 3 samples if that’s what you’re using)
    • Paper towels
  • Phase 2
    • Small squares of fabric (preferably something sturdy like denim)
    • Lots of quarters (and nickels and dimes!)
    • Some very heavy books (you know you’ll never read them anyway!)
    • Slim magnets with adhesive on the back
    • Labels (optional)
Phase 1

1. Lay down a paper towel and get together all your supplies for Phase 1 of pressing (Pigment pressing can get a little messy!)

2. Fill up your dropper bottle with rubbing alcohol. I used 70% but different concentrations are fine. Just keep in mind that the lower your percentage, the longer it will take for the alcohol to evaporate! And yes mine is citrus scented, meaning my eyeshadows have a faint citrus scent πŸ™‚


3. Place a few drops of rubbing alcohol in the bottom of your mixing bowl (or directly into the empty pan if you choose not to mix in a separate bowl).

4. Spoon in a few little spoonfuls of pigment.

5. Mix mix mix!!!

6. Keep adding more pigment and more alcohol until you’ve used about 3/4 teaspoon of pigment (approximately 3 samples for those of you working from sample containers) and your mixture has reached a cake icing-like consistency. You can go for a runnier mixture, but that again means your eyeshadow will take longer to dry and set. Also, I’ve found that while you’d think that having a runnier mixture would be easier to transfer to your eyeshadow pan, it’s actually more difficult. After a few tries you’ll figure out what consistency works best for you!


7. If you were working out of a separate bowl like me, place 1-2 drops of rubbing alcohol in the bottom of your eyeshadow pan now (it helps your pigment mixture to adhere to the pan).

8. Scoop your pigment mixture into the pan. Make sure you get it all in there!! At this point it should look like you have a big pile of poop in your pan πŸ™‚

9. Repeatedly pick up and drop your eyeshadow pan (from a distance of about an inch or two in the air) onto your tabletop to create a smooth even surface (if you can’t get it perfectly even no worries-pressing takes care of that!). Also do this every once in awhile while your eyeshadows are drying to pack them down.


10. Set your mixtures aside to dry (anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight)! I like to place them in a warm/sunny spot so that the rubbing alcohol evaporates more quickly. You’ll know your eyeshadow is ready for phase two when you lightly tap touch the surface of your shadow and nothing comes away on your finger. Also, check out how Bell-Bottom Blue, Tan, and Golden Olive have sunken into their pans, whereas Fuchsia and Violet which I mixed up last (and which aren’t ready for pressing) are still somewhat overflowing. This is another indication of whether your pigment is or isn’t ready for Phase 2. Don’t forget to keep packing down your shadows whenever you remember to!

Phase 2
Got all your supplies for Phase 2 together? Then let’s get to pressing!!
Make sure you have at least as many quarters as you do eyeshadows, and a good amount of change on top of that!


1) Top each eyeshadow with a square of fabric (I cut up an ancient pair of denim shorts), and then center a quarter on top. You should be able to feel the quarter get caught within the confines of the eyeshadow pan-makes sure it’s actually in there!

2) Repeat however many times you need to πŸ™‚ I like to use two quarters plus a dime for every eyeshadow, since the pressing causes the pigment mixture to compress a good amount. If you only use one quarter, it’ll sink and you might not get as good a press as you’d like.

3) Stack a few heavy books on top of your eyeshadows (I used my casebooks-those things are massive!) and press down HARD! You can also use a small flower press to speed up the process. Now walk away and let those babies compress (I give them at least an hour or two. And if you’re patient, overnight is great!). NO PEEKING!!!


4) You couldn’t resist peeking could you? I never can! If the bottom quarter has sunken so that its top is about flush with the top of the eyeshadow pan, your new shadow is probably ready. Your fabric swatch should have sunken into the pan like in the photo.

5) Remove the quarters and fabric and marvel at how gorgeous your new eyeshadows are. Doesn’t the denim leave a beautiful texture?!

6) Now if you’re going to pop them into your palette, stick a magnet on the back (I have magnetic scotch tape so just use that), and pop a label with the name of the pigment on top of that.

And voila, you’re all done!! A rainbow of pigments, conveniently pressed and ready to be used!

Top row: Tan, Rose, L’Oreal HIP pigment in Valiant
Middle row: Quick Frost, Fuchsia, Golden Olive, Bell-Bottom Blue
Bottom row: Vanilla, Pink Pearl, Violet, Pastorale, Mutiny

I’d love to hear what you think of my tutorial in the comments! Any suggestions for improvement would be most appreciated πŸ™‚

See swatches of Mutiny, Bell-Bottom Blue, Violet, Fuchsia, and Vanilla pigments here.

Read about my little pigment-pressing experiment here, and learn that yes you can press L’Oreal HIP pigments!

See swatches of Pink Pearl, Rose, Quick Frost, Pastorale, Golden Olive, and Tan here.

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