How to

How to Repress Eyeshadow: It’s Easier Than You Think

Ugh, the heartbreak of opening that palette you ordered and finding the shade you were most excited about—scream emoji—shattered.

And the agony of dropping a palette and holding your breath, praying precious crumbles don’t fall out when you pick it back and open it. But there it is…that one-of-a-kind shimmer in pieces all over the rest of the shadows.

Sure, this is a first world problem. That doesn’t make it any less painful to see something you love ruined.

The bad news is that a shattered eyeshadow means you’ll lose the perfected look of that brand-new single or palette. You won’t be able to get that back.

But the good news is way more important. You can save that shadow and get it performing good as new! And it’s not even hard; just a little messy.

Want to learn how? Read on!

How to Repress Eyeshadow

It takes six steps to repress eyeshadow, and the key thing you need is some rubbing alcohol or isopropyl.

Here are your steps:

  1. Collect all your shards and place them back in the pan.
  2. Break the entire eyeshadow down into a fine powder.
  3. Add isopropyl or rubbing alcohol to the powder, pouring only drops at a time.
  4. Keep adding the alcohol until you can mix it into a paste.
  5. Using a paper towel, press gently and evenly on the paste.
  6. Let dry overnight.

So, the quick-read steps are fine and dandy, but maybe you’d like to see a tutorial in detail, with tips along the way. If that’s the case, I got you.

Step 1: Collect All Your Shards and Place Them Back in the Pan

I didn’t have any shattered eyshadows to repair at the time of writing, so I did something painful—I broke one of my shadows. For the good of the people, I make this sacrifice.

Broken shadow in e.l.f. Carnival Candy palette
A toothpick attack on my e.l.f. Carnival Candy palette.

Since the shards didn’t go everywhere, I didn’t have to do much work to collect them. If your eyeshadow is in million places all over a palette of yours, you might need to tap the palette over a bowl and keep them there until step 3.

Step 2: Break the Entire Eyeshadow Down Into a Fine Powder

At this point, you’re going to need to break down the entire eyeshadow, even the stuff that’s solidly in the pan. That’s because you want the eyeshadow to be one solid piece when you’re done so that it doesn’t crack along any lines.

Since my pan is tiny, I used the sharp end of a skewer to loosen the eyeshadow in the pan and the blunt end to break it down, and that worked well for me.

Using the blunt end of a skewer to grind eyeshadow into powder

If you have a bigger pan, you can try using a ballpoint pen you don’t want. Use the tip to break the eyeshadow out of the sides and the end to grind the pieces.

The important thing is that you get the eyeshadow as close as possible to being a fine powder.

Here’s what mine looked like before I started adding isopropyl:

Pic of completely broken down eyeshadow, with some powder spilling out of the pan
Getting messy. We’ll be able to clean it up later.

Step 3: Add Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol to the Powder

Okay! With our powder all mixed, it’s time to take the big step—adding alcohol.

If you used a bowl to grind the shadow down to a powder, now’s the time to put that powder back in the pan. If you just mixed in the pan, you’re already all set.

You can use either rubbing alcohol or isopropyl (they’re not the same thing, but either will work here.) I had 70 percent isopropyl leftover from my “remove lipstick from carpet” experiment, so I used that.

I poured a little in the cap and added it drop by drop into the powder. PRO TIP: be careful to get the drops actually in the powder. Mine dripped to the bottom end of the cap and wound up in the shadow next to it. It’ll be fine, but it causes discoloration in the pan.

after adding isopropyl, the powder—and the pan nextdoor (oops)—are looking pretty wet.
Oh no, all that isopropyl in the next pan over! Oh well.

Step 4: Keep Adding the Alcohol Until You Can Mix It Into a Paste

After a few more drops, I felt it was time to try mixing to see if the concoction would form a paste. To mix, you can use the sharp end of whatever you used to break up the powder.

An eyeshadow pan that has product the consistency (and looks!) of melted chocolate.
This is about what it should look like.

Don’t worry if you overdid it here—you’ll be drying overnight, and that’s enough time for any amount of alcohol to evaporate.

Step 5: Using a Paper Towel, Press Gently and Evenly on the Paste

At this point, it’s time to (gently!) press. This will do two things. One, it will absorb some of the excess alcohol. Two, with even pressure on the middle and the corners, it will let your paste dry into something like the original shape and structure.

pic of me tapping a paper towel over my shadow, with some moisture coming through.
Tappy tappy.

If you have a round pan that’s the size of a coin, you can use the coin to press it evenly into a nice shape.

Unfortunately, nothing you do at this point will truly make it look good as new. The good news is that the thing you’re really worried about—performance—should stay true to the original.

Here’s what mine looked like after pressing.

Pressed wet eyeshadow spilling over edges
Again, the process is pretty messy.

At this point, if you like, you can do a little cleanup. A cotton swab cleans up the plastic between the pans, and I was able to just blow the brown powder out of the cream-colored shadow.

Step 6: Let Dry Overnight

And now, the easiest step of all—waiting!

Simply leave your palette or single container exposed to open air until the morning. It will be completely dry at that point.

Final Results

So, in conclusion, how did my e.l.f. shadow turn out? Pretty well!

Final results—looks fairly clean and solid
Lookin’ pretty solid.

As you can see, the brown stained the plastic packaging and the shadow next to it on the right shows some battle scars. But generally, this isn’t a bad looking palette compared to what it could be.

That’s not what you really want to know, though. You want to hear about performance.

I had to run my finger over the shadow before it behaved like its old, powdery self, but as soon as that top layer was off, it performed just as I’d expect. The pigment was the same as always, and it blended beautifully. I noticed no difference between the “before” e.l.f. formula and the “after” Amanda formula.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Eyeshadow

So if your eyeshadow has shattered, not to worry—these steps will have it performing like new. All you need is to break it down, add some alcohol, mix, press, and dry.

Minus the drying time, this took me less than 10 minutes, and it was easy as pie.

So go ahead. Drop those palettes! Ha, kidding—please don’t.

But at least now you know you’ll be okay if one winds up on the floor.

4 thoughts on “How to Repress Eyeshadow: It’s Easier Than You Think

    1. Instead of using alcohol, it’s easier to just repressing it dry. I take all the product into a fine strainer and with a spoon I crush it into a bowl. The result is a very finely milled powder and then I put half of it into the pan(cleaned with alcohol and dry) . Then I pressed it with something that fits the entire pan( a powder lid, a cut out cardboard ) then apply force until it’s flat. Test the repressed powder by flipping it around. If it’s OK and nothing crumbles, then proceed to the other half of the powder. Put it on the pan, pressed again with the powder lid until it’s flat once again.
      I have been doing this method, and it’s so much better than repressing with alcohol, you don’t change the formula and it’s ready to use.
      Hope it helps.

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