Are You Im-Pressed?

How to press a premade mineral shadow.

First gather all your supplies.  You’ll need everything I mention in the first part of my post (except maybe the sifter) and the jar of purchased mineral shadow you want to press.  I’m going to be pressing one of Aromaleigh’s Opulent Lustres in Lychee.

Make sure your work area is clean, free of food or any contaminants and your bowls and spoons are clean and your gloves are on.  I usually have my bottle of alcohol nearby along with some extra paper towel already damp and ready to clean.

Spread paper towel over your area, I find it’s easier to clean up then anything else and you can just toss it when you’re done, lay a new layer, and keep going.

Carefully open and dump your shadow into your bowl.  The smaller the bottom of the bowl the better, it’s just easier to stir.

Drop a couple of drops of binder in and stir.

There is no way to tell how much you’ll need, so I can’t say here to ‘add X amount of binder’ and that will work every time.  Start out with a few drops and stir.  Add more as you need it.  When working with a premade shadow you can’t just add more mica or base if you use too much liquid, so be careful!

Mix, mix, mix.

Make sure the mixture is consistent.  It’s done when it looks like wet sand and stays together when you press it against the side of your bowl.  If it crumbles, you’ll need a bit more binder.

Now get your pan ready.  Make sure it’s disinfected by cleaning it with alcohol.

Drop a small drop of binder in the pan and with a q-tip wipe the whole inside of the pan so it’s all covered in a thin layer.

Next add just enough of the shadow to cover the bottom of the pan, making sure it’s even.

Using your tile, press it carefully into the pan so that the first layer is smooth and compact.

DO NOT OVER PRESS.  You just want your first layer to be even. It’s going to look bumpy and odd, that’s perfect.  If you over press it and make it TOO compact the rest of your shadow and layers won’t ‘stick’ to it and won’t be one uniform shadow when you’re done and it could crumble and not set (it should all have the same density).

Using this same method of thin even layers, press the remainder of the shadow or until the pan is full.  Make sure you wipe off your tile between each press so that it’s still flat and doesn’t have shadow collected on it.

For the final press place your bit of ribbon on top of the pan and center your tile.

Now using all your weight, in my case my whole 130ish pounds, press the shadow consistently for about 15 seconds.  This is the press that will turn all of your layers into ONE compact shadow.  This tile works wonderfully, but that decoration on the top always leaves a weird bruise on the palm of my hand.

If you were careful in your layering the top should be level and embossed.

Place the pan out of the way someplace free of heat/cold/win/dust/etc and let it dry overnight.


You can see how the pan isn’t quite full and that there is a lot of the pan’s rim remaining.  Be careful, some of these are sharp.  As I mentioned before, most full 5 gram jar of shadow won’t fill a standard 26mm ‘MAC’ pans.  This shadow did not, however when I pressed a lot of my Rocks! shades I had left over, it depends on the shadows.  If I were to press this shadow again, I’d use a smaller volume pan.

Keep in mind that these pictures were taken more for reference then anything else.

If you  have any questions or something wasn’t clear please let me know!

Coming next : How to make and press your own custom shadows and comparing pan sizes.


35 Responses to “Are You Im-Pressed?”

  1. Looks easier than I expected. When messing around with shadows and pigments I usually put a sheet of plastic underneath since that’s reusable and more eco-friendly 🙂

  2. That’s how I do it, too 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  3. Well, I’m im-pressed. Bruise-inducing final press aside, this process looks like fun!

  4. Thanks so much for the how to 🙂

  5. I do my pressing a little differently; I mix mine directly into the pan, no layers. I also only use 1 maybe 2 drops of TKB’s pressing medium and add drops of alcohol after that. I use 15mm pans to press most samples 🙂

  6. I don’t know if I’ll ever tackle this myself but I am really enjoying your DIY pressed shadow posts 🙂 Do you prefer pressed to loose and why? Sorry if you talked about this elsewhere, I did do a search on your website but typing “pressed shadows” turns up a LOT of results LOL

    • I honestly have no preference. I like loose because I think they are better made and usually more pigmented. But if I press them myself, I love to have them to be able to make a smaller travel sized palette, cause I am always all over the place.

  7. Very interesting. Darn it, now I wish I’d purchased that Lychee shadow. It’s pretty.

  8. This looks like such a fun sick-day project :)! I would probably get some scrap fabric to put over the pressing tile before putting my full weight on it, so that I wouldn’t bruise my palms.

    • I’ve tried that, with a towel, etc etc. But it’s harder to ensure that the tile is pressing EVENLY and the pans always come out wonky.

  9. Very helpful. I had tried pressing before, but it was before TKB came out with all these tools. I may have to give it a try soon. 🙂

  10. Wow, this is totally different from what I’ve seen elsewhere! It looks a lot faster. I’m so glad to hear you’re going to talk about different size pans; I can’t find info on smaller pans anywhere – I can find the little rectangle pans but not how much pigment you need to fill one, etc.

  11. You are my hero. I wasn’t using enough binder, so it didn’t all stick and was crumbly afterwards.

  12. Great tutorial! 😀
    I am not brave enough to try, though hahahaa! ^^
    Unless I made my own, I would be afraid of losing my e/s!

  13. Oh this looks simple enough, now I really want to try it. Would this method work with plain micas?

    • It would, although as I’ve mentioned before, I’m going to have a whole series on pressing, including custom blending. This one basically covered premade shadows.

  14. Great post! Thank you, it’s very helpful 🙂

    If I ever dare to press mine, I’ll follow this method, very well explained and seems easy to learn.

  15. My heart jumped seeing all that shadow in the bowl. I’m so stingy I hate to waste any. What do you do with the remainder?

    This was a fun post to read. I’ve not pressed any of mine, but thought about it, for ease of travel. This will stick in my head to review should I dare. Thanks!

  16. Sterling Morgenstern December 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Wow, that makes it look really easy! Do you recommend pressing loose shadows that have consistency issues? (as in, if it’s not formulated well for loose application might pressing it help?) I can definitely see how girls with large loose collections might benefit from pressing, would certainly clear up space and make it more travel-friendly! Thanks for the tut, rather demystifies the process. Cheers!

  17. i have the same color and im drinking lychee green tea.

    very nice tutorial.

  18. Oh man, I’m loving this series! Thank you so much! I need to start saving money for a TKB order…

  19. Thank you for this very informative post. I am learning so much from reading your blogs. Can’t wait to try some pressing for myself.

  20. Oh. This seems surprisingly simple.. Thanks, Grey!

  21. Have you also tried pressing glitters? Like TKB’s Storm, 24K Gold or Limerick? I also have trouble pressing Winter Rose and Scorpio the Eighth – they tend to crumble at the lightest touch with the brush. I even bought the Pressing 101 book but found no answers there (it just said use more binder when pressing glitter – but that ended up gooey).

    • I’ve pressed glitter successfully with binder and alcohol, but you still shouldn’t use too much, for my 15mm pans I used 4 drops only with the rest being alcohol and it stays together very well.

  22. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for the next one! SQUEE!

    This was also super fantastic. Many thanks!

  23. That looks really good. Now I want to start pressing my own eyeshadows. Maybe sometime I can get a kit from TKB. I already wanted one for making your own lipsticks. Thanks for the good instructions too, I will definitely come back to this post whenever I get a pressing kit. =)

  24. I just wanted to say thanks so much for posting this, I really do prefer pressed shadows, but love the choice with loose. I will definitely have to give this a go sometime soon!

  25. thanks for the pressing tutorial, very helpful. And the little pressing tile is pretty adorable!!

    Also: I got my RMK in the mail today!! So exciting. You seemed to somehow have read my mind, as I have been craving taupey grey shadows lately. And the candies are DELICIOUS.

    Thank you, Grey!

  26. I tried a while ago and was successful until a slight knock destroyed a palette full of pressed-Fyrinnae shadows, which I then had to replace. I haven’t tried again since =[

  27. awesome post! Thanks for taking the time to do this. =)

  28. This is a really great series of posts, and awesome timing for me considering I prefer pressed eyeshadows, but really want to start mixing my own colours!

    My only question is probably a bit of a stupid one, but do you cover the eyeshadows when you leave them to dry? My instinct would be to put a bit of paper towel or something loosely over them for hygiene “just in case”, but could this stop them drying out properly?