Tutorial: Depotting eyeshadows in unusual packaging

I had a request for this a few months back, and it has unfortunately taken this long to get my act together.  There’s a lot of information on depotting the common eyeshadows, like MAC and Urban Decay, but the technique differs with some other specialty makeup brands, like Tokidoki, OLD Urban Decay eyeshadows(The one I had like this is probably 4 or 5 years old, now.), Benefit, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, Sephora, Ulta,  even NARS Eyeshadow duo’s.  If you aren’t sure how if the pan is on a tray that  can be removed to heat it faster, or if it feels like it’s heavy plastic, you can usually depot them this way.  Please note, if you are depotting an eyeshadow in a cardboard case(Like the Urban Decay Book of Shadows), you’ll want to avoid this method, since it uses HIGH heat and may be more of a fire hazard.  I usually set the oven for about  250-300(Fahrenheit) for those, and let it sit for longer, until I can begin to pry the pans up.  THIS ALSO SHOULD NOT BE DONE FOR CREAM PRODUCTS, since they will melt.  To depot cream blushes, you need to drip alcohol between the pan and the compact, to dissolve the glue.

As with any depotting, you will need a hot surface(The plate of a hair straightener, or an iron.  I use an iron, with a layer of aluminum foil to prevent glue or plastic from burning onto the surface), a thin knife(Or VERY heat resistant fingertips, like me), a magnet, cut to fit the bottom of your pan(You can purchase thin magnet sheets at craft stores, and some online cosmetics sellers offer pre-cut ones in common sizes, like 26mm(MAC, UD eyeshadows), and your empty palettes(ELF sells quads that fit 26mm eyeshadows, or Camera Ready Cosmetics sells YABY, zPalette, or La Femme palettes, that will fit 15-24 larger pans, depending on the size..

When you depot a MAC eyeshadow, the first thin you do is pry out the tray that the pan is glued into, but this may not be needed with many brands.  Tokidoki eyeshadows have the seam for the tray set in the pan is basically RIGHT against the BACK of the compact, so this can be REALLY tough to pry out.  Benefit, Shiseido, and Shu Uemura eyeshadows don’t HAVE a tray–the pan is set right inside the shell.  For all of these, you can just turn the iron up on high heat, set the bottom on it, and check it after a few minutes, to remove the label.  THAT adhesive melts pretty fast, since all you need it to loosen it enough to pry it up with a fingernail, or a knife. You will see it beginning to peel back from the plastic. Remove it and set it aside(Or glue it to the bottom of your magnet, if you already have it cut to size)

Put the eyeshadow compacts back on the hot surface, and wait, checking on them fairly regularly.  You’ll feel the plastic get a bit tacky, and stick to the hot surface.  When you look at the bottom, if it is ready, you will see the plastic looks glossier, like it’s wet, and may begin to pucker or warp from the heat.  If it is doing that, put it face down on a soft towel, with the lid open, and push your knife(Or finger, if you’re as stupid and calloused as I am. This is why the boyfriend refuses to let me near the stove), against the melted bottom, at an angle, to push the pan out from the compact.  If it is loose enough to pry up with the knife, CAREFULLY(The metal gets HOT) set it down, to glue your magnet and label on when it cools.  If it hasn’t come up that far, or doesn’t give way easily, return to the heat.

This is Tokidoki Carnivora.  It’s not quite ready to pop out yet.  You can see the pan is loose, but if you try to pry it out NOW, you’ll likely end up gouging the product out, trying to force it. Return it to the heat, and try again in a few minutes. Pushing on the bottom of the compact with a knife should force the pan far enough out, for you to see the bottom. You can then put the knife between the bottom of the pan and the compact to finish removing it.  Either wrap something around your fingers, or balance it on the tip of the knife, to prevent  burning yourself on the metal pan.

I’ve gotten streamlined—-I can depot 5 products at the same time, removing labels from one while the other finishes heating, prying the pan loose from another while I wait for others to finish heating, etc.  Just BE CAREFUL, and go slow—you can ALWAYS heat it more, but you can NOT scrape the product off your floor if it goes flying while you try to pry it loose.  If you accidentally gauge it during handling, you can put rubbing alcohol on the product and tamp the pigment down, to restore it.

It takes a bit of practice, and care, but most eyeshadows are actually pretty easy to depot.  It’s WORTH the time and money getting them in palettes, so you don’t have to deal with broken packaging, bulky kits, never being able to find the color you WANT….  If anyone has any questions about specific brands packaging, I’m happy to help, but this technique has proven pretty foolproof for me, especially when I am unsure of where any seams are, or how the pan is secured into the compact.

Good luck!


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