Behind the Fine - How it's Made

Much like baking / cooking I make sure that my surfaces have been cleaned and sanitized and then do the same thing with every piece of equipment and all of the tools that will be used. When mixing eyeshadows, wearing a mask is required- you do not want to accidentally inhale any of the powders! I do wear non-latex and powder free gloves. Even after washing and sanitizing my hands, after putting on gloves I sanitize them as well.

Because this is considered a formulation, not a recipe, each ingredient must be weighed. When cooking you can use a table spoon or teaspoon, but in makeup you must use exact weights such as grams and ounces. Even the slightest bit off in weight can change the outcome of your eyeshadow. As an example, 1 tablespoon of an iron oxide and 1 tablespoon of a mica will not weigh the same because the iron oxide weighs more than the mica.

For PHASE ONE In my formulation, I start with my dry powders. These are used for the opacity, texture, slip, and adhesion.

Eyeshadow base powder mixture

This may look like one white powder, but it is a mixture of 5. All of these white powders serve a different purpose to the final outcome of my eyeshadows. I carefully weigh each of them out and then evenly mix them in a coffee grinder. You can read more about these ingredients here

PHASE TWO of this formulation, I weigh and mix my liquid base. This helps my powders bind together as well as creating a buttery smooth texture. You can also view more about those ingredients in the link above.

Eyeshadow liquid binder mixture

In PHASE THREE I will be mixing my colorants to the desired color. Colorants vary from FD&C, D&C, Lakes, Bismuth Oxychloride, Oxides, Mica, Dyes, Pigments, Nacreous Pigment, Manganese, Ultramarines and more. The most used colorants that I use are Micas and Oxides. You will see Ultramarines and Manganese in some of my blues and purples and carmine in pinks and reds.

For this specific formulation, I will be using red mica and red iron oxide. Again, these will be weighed and mixed in a grinder until the desired color is reached.

PHASE FOUR will be combining Phase Three and Phase One to mix. Some people do this in a ziploc, others use mixers / grinders, or even a pestle and mortar. I use a handheld electric grinder. Please be mindful that when using a grinder, if you grind a mica too much, you'll loose the shimmer. But if you grind an iron oxide with something like Sericite Mica or another iron oxide, the color will evenly distribute. 

Adding the color and the powder base allows the base Ingredients to coat the colorants. This can make the eyeshadow more opaque, adhere better to the skin, have a light and silky or buttery texture, and even long wear properties. Using Boron Nitride and Titanium Dioxide allow for SPF properties as well as water resistant.

PHASE FIVE I will slowly add in the liquid base made in Phase Two. This helps bind all of the ingredients together. Depending on your type of base, you'll either make it into a wet paste that will dry in the eyeshadow tin or you'll add enough liquid base that it creates the consistency of wet sand. I do the wet sand technique. I add in a few droplets and then hand mix with a metal spatula. And then continue until I get the wet sand consistency.

Making a red eyeshadow

PHASE SIX The eyeshadow is almost complete! Now we get to press it! I use 26mm tins, a pressing ribbon, pressing coin, and a tiny hammer. Always sanitize your tin, coin, and hammer before using!

Pressing an eyeshadow with a pressing coin, pressing ribbon, and hammer

If you use the paste technique you'll have to wait until the eyeshadow has dried out before pressing. Which is why some formulas use Isopropyl Alcohol (shown as Propan-2-ol, isopropanol in ingredient listings) because as the eyeshadow dries, the isopropyl alcohol evaporates. 

Because I use the wet sand technique, I sanitize my tin one more time and with a .15cc plastic spoon, I layer the mixture into the tin. I make a layer, place the ribbon over it and press with the coin and hammer. I do this until the tin has been filled to the rim. And then I place it in a 2x2 ziploc with a date and time that it was prepared and let it rest on my setting rack for 24-48 hours until I put it into storage.

Completed pressed eyeshadow technique

Pressing eyeshadows, depending on how many I am making--if I'm restocking a collection or making a new one--can take anywhere between 4-16 hours because I run my business by myself and do it all myself.

As a disclaimer I do not recommend it to anyone who is not passionate about it because it takes time. It takes time to learn, to do, to do it well, and to continue doing it with quality in mind. Anyone can pump out eyeshadows after watching a youtube video but the care for the tiniest details are important. These details don't just define your eyeshadows, but your integrity as well because you don't want to create something that is crap quality or with such a disregard for the ingredients that it hurts someone else or makes them sick.

I hope this was easy to follow along and enjoyable to read. Thank you for taking a look behind the scenes and learning about my artisan-made eyeshadow technique.

1 comment

Nikkia Jackson

Thank you so much for your knowledge!. I am starting out with making shadows and need all of the information that I can get.

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