Pressing eye shadow is awesome because you only need three ingredients: loose shadow, fractionated coconut oil, and rubbing alcohol. Fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil that's been expeller pressed and refined. It's food grade, but it has a longer shelf life than unrefined coconut oil and it stays liquid, even in colder temperatures. You could definitely use another oil, but FCO is great since, with its indefinite shelf life, you don't need to worry about it going rancid. I used 99% isopropyl alcohol to press these, but anything over 70% should be fine. You don't want to introduce too much water into your shadow, so I wouldn't recommend going below 70%.
I bought most of my supplies from TKB Trading, though the alcohol is from the drugstore and the loose shadows I already had in my stash. In the two palettes I made - one neutral and one with brighter, more fun colors - most of the shades are colors I created by combining multiple shadows, but I didn't make any completely from scratch.
Since a lot of the shadows I was working with were samples, I used small, 15mm pans. They're roughly the size of a dime, so pretty tiny, though you'll still need a good amount of shadow to fill them - between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon. The amount varies because shadows from different companies will have different ratios of pigment to base ingredients, which makes them compact differently. In loose shadow terms, a 3-gram jar holds roughly 1/4 tsp, and a 5-gram, 3/4 tsp, so you'll need, at minimum, the equivalent of a 3-gram jar.
I think the best part of the whole endeavor was taking colors from my collection that I don't use much and turning them into new favorites. For example, I mixed Noella Beauty Works Milk & Honey, which I find a little too yellow and Silk Naturals Cloudberry, which I've always wanted to have a little more pizzazz and created a warmer, more metallic peach shade. Neither of these shadows were big hits on their own, but I really like how they turned out blended together!
Does Pressing Change Colors?
When I first started talking about pressing shadows, a couple people asked me if it altered the colors, but I haven't found that to be true. I didn't have loose leftovers from all the colors, but I've compared those I had, and while the pressed ones are perhaps slightly darker, I don't think it's enough of a difference to be noticeable on the eye. The pressed also adhere a little better without a primer, as you can see in the below photo (all swatched over bare skin.) The top row is the shadows after being pressed and the bottom is in their original, loose form.
|(L to R) The Starshine Company Sea Foam, Madd Style Cosmetics Hold Fast, Cheeky Cosmetics Sun Goddess, Shiro Cosmetics Master Sword, Shiro Cosmetics Vileplume|
The Bottom Line
I'm really happy with how this experiment turned out! The whole process was a lot easier than I expected and the shadows are smooth and creamy with awesome color payoff. They do tend to kick up a bit more powder than your regular, silicone-filled pressed eye shadows, but I've found the same thing to be true of natural pressed eye shadows I've bought.
I'd originally hoped to include some kind of photo tutorial of the process with this, but I didn't manage to get it together in time and I didn't want to delay the post any longer. Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing a more in-depth tutorial in the future. In the meantime, Oxana124 has a video on pressing with fractionated coconut oil that you can check out. I followed the same process, but I used much less oil - only 2-3 drops per shadow, compared to the 12-14 she uses in the video.
Mixing colors was fun and I have this compulsion to press all my shadows now! I love looking at the finished palettes, but aside from that and the obvious ease for travel, in a lot of ways I prefer using loose shadows. What do you think of pressed vs. loose shadows? Have you ever tried pressing your own?