The big declutter 2016: fixing cracked powders with rubbing alcohol

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First up, I want to apologise for the photos in this post: they're not quite up to scratch. When I was doing the rubbing alcohol process, the light wasn't good that day but I couldn't hold off because my daughter was in childcare for the morning and I didn't know when else I'd have the chance to do it.

Still, they show how things turned out so that's the main thing!

Anyhoo. If you read this blog, you'll know that I bought myself a Z-palette recently and have been attempting to depot makeup for the first time. 

While I'm glad I've done it, there have been a few injuries (which is why I started with powders I don't care about) and I wanted to go through how I've managed those mishaps with rubbing alcohol - just in case you're like me and haven't done any of this stuff before because it's always good to see how another rookie has gone with something, as opposed to reading posts from experienced people!


So there's the rubbing alcohol I bought, in that distinctive green bottle. When it comes to fixing powders, it's better to pick a product with the highest alcohol content you can find (at least 70%, but 90% plus is best) because the alcohol evaporates but the water doesn't and can rust your pans.

What you're meant to do is completely smash up your broken product so that it's all powder and then add the alcohol before pressing it in neatly. I decided not to do this with my powders because they were all still a bit intact (as you can see with eg the Glazel Visage shadow above), so I only needed to re-press a portion of them and I didn't care if they weren't all pretty, even and flat.


I accidentally poured out a little too much alcohol onto the Glazel Visage shadow, but oh well. Once I'd done that, I pressed the loose bits in and left it to dry.

The drying process can take a while, depending on how wet the product is to start with. This one had the most alcohol in it so it took the longest (a couple of hours, left in the sun), but the others didn't take as long. If you've got a big pan and have completely saturated the product, you may prefer to leave it overnight.


Next I dripped a little rubbing alcohol into the cracked parts of my beloved Stila bronzer and also the Mememe blush and the Coastal Scents mini eyeshadow. You can see from the bigger pans that I've concentrated the alcohol where it was needed and then pressed the wet bits until the product looked like it had merged back together.

I didn't worry about making the surface of the powders look flat, but rather adopted a 'less is more' approach because I've never used rubbing alcohol before and wanted to see whether there was any resulting difference between the untouched portions of the products and the wet parts once they'd dried.


There they are back in my Z-palette (see also the close-up shot below). You can see there's a 'water shadow' left behind in the pans I've added alcohol to.

I've tested the (previously) wet parts against the dry ones, and I think the wet ones (now dry) may be a tiny bit softer, meaning they now swatch a little more intensely because you're picking up more product with your finger or brush. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's worth mentioning.

I don't feel there's any difference in colour or quality, so that's a plus.


In sum

Overall my rubbing alcohol experience was a good one. Adding the liquid did bind the products back together when I pressed them (I used my fingers with a piece of Glad Wrap between my hand and the pans) and I don't think it damaged the powders - at least not in the short term.

It's also worth mentioning that you don't need to smash up your cracked powder completely before adding alcohol if you don't want to. You might wind up with a prettier, more even/flat product if you do, but it's not essential so that's good.

I would use rubbing alcohol again, but I'd rather not use it on my expensive products if I can help it! Best not to break them in the first place ; )

Do let me know if you've ever used rubbing alcohol to fix cracked powders. I'm especially interested in learning whether the process has any impact on the products over time (eg does it shorten shelf-life?), so let me know if you've discovered whether it does.

I'll check back in soon with more depotting adventures : )


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