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Very ImPRESSive: How to Press Your Own Pigment

You all know how much I love an opportunity to further customize your makeup kit. You might be thinking, "Zena, why would I want to press my pigments?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of loose pigments in the first place?"  Great question.  Well, lovelies, there are so many reasons!  First, can I just say, don't be fooled by those deceptively small jars.  They add up fast and take up tons of space in your drawers and kit.  Pressing pigments into pans saves space and makes them easily interchangeable. Another reason is to cut back on the mess that loose pigments create, not just all over your makeup station, but on your face as well!  There's nothing cute about the dusting of shimmer that loose pigments inevitably leave all over the bathroom and floor (I love fairy dust as much as the next gal, but ugh try to get black pigment out of a white bath mat!) and we've all no doubt shed countless tears over an open jar of pigment that met it's untimely demise as it fell from the vanity (unlike milk, it's totally ok to cry over spilled pigment).  But what about all of that fallout on your face that results from using a loose pigment straight from the jar? Not a good look!  And those really great eye shadows that have been crushed and broken along the way (a de-potting casualty here, a fumble there)? What if I told you that you could solve all of these pigmented problems in six simple steps?  Oh and what if I also told you that pressing your pigments could result in stronger, more vibrant pigmentation, not to mention complete portability?  You in?  Let's go...

There's one important thing to consider before we get started and that's whether the pigment you plan to press is pure or if it contains fillers.  I know what you're thinking, "This is makeup not chemistry, Zena," but it's really much more simple than it sounds.  Loose pigments that contain fillers are made with ingredients that act as binders.  In plain English, this means a 99% alcohol solution is all you'll need to press it, and it'll hold it's shape.  I like to use a 99% alcohol solution because it contains less water than the rubbing alcohol you find at the drug store, which means it will evaporate much faster.  Pure mineral pigments on the other hand must be combined with a mixing medium, I like to use one that is silicone-based, in order for them to bind, otherwise, they'll revert back to their powder form.  Here's a tip:  the "dustier" and "finer" the powder, odds are it DOES NOT contain binders and WILL need a mixing medium, however if the powder sort of "sticks" when you press into it with a brush, it's likely to already have binders in it, and you WON'T need a mixing medium. Not sure?  Test a very small amount of pigment using alcohol only.  If it crumbles back into a powder once the alcohol evaporates, you're going to need a mixing medium.  Ok now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get started, shall we?

Materials you'll need:  loose pigments, empty metal pans (square or round take your pick), de-potting spatula, 99% alcohol, silicone-based mixing medium* (if you are pressing pure pigments), paper towel and a quarter (for pressing), and of course a Z Palette for your newly pressed pigments to call home.


Step One:  Using your de-potting spatula, scoop your loose pigment out of the jar and place into the empty metal pan.

Step Two*:  Skip this step if you are pressing a PURE pigment, and go to step three. Using a 1:1 ratio, begin adding the 99% alcohol, drop by drop, stirring slowly with your spatula, until you achieve the consistency of wet sand.

Step Three*:  Skip this step if you are pressing a powder that DOES contain binders, and go to step four.  Carefully add your mixing medium, one drop at a time.  For a standard-sized, .26mm pan, a few drops is usually enough.  But use extra care as it's much easier to add more mixing medium than it is to work with a mixture containing too much.  You'll know you've got it right when you achieve the consistency of wet sand.

Step Four:  Add a pinch or two of more pigment to the pan to ensure it is full enough. Since we will essentially be packing and pressing it very tightly into the pan, it's important to have enough in there.  Gently tap the pan against a flat surface a few times to smooth out any bubbles or lumps. Continue with the rest of your shades, filling the rest of your pans. This will give any excess liquids a chance to evaporate before we begin pressing.  If the consistency is still wet, give the pan a bit more time to dry because you don't want to press on wet pigments (unless you want a big mess on your hands, literally).

Step Five:  Wrap your quarter in the paper towel, place on top of the pan and press down firmly with your thumb.  The key here is firmly!  Think of your ex-boyfriend, annoying roommate, whatever will give you a bit of extra force to really pack the powder in tightly.

Step Six:  Allow to fully dry.  Read a book. Clean your closet.  We favor taking this time to de-pot some blushes and eye shadows, but whatever you do, don't mess with your pans until they are fully dry.  I like to give them a good 24 hours before I use them, as the true vibrancy of the pigment really appears after a day or so.  Write the shade name right on the back of the pans, drop them into your Z Palette et voila! 


Wanna get fancy?  Why not mix different shades to create a truly custom palette. The sky's the limit.  Have fun!


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