The big declutter 2016: round up of depotting attempts and tips for avoiding makeup injuries


I've been meaning to write this post for weeks, it's just that I wanted to use my newly acquired Z-palettes for a while after I built them, so I could see whether I had any further issues with broken powders or experienced eg any changes in texture: that way I could let you know.

Turns out I'm glad I did that because I did have three shades crack on me last week - I mustn't have re-pressed them properly (which I'd suspected) and eventually they crumbled a little when the palette got knocked, so I went back and pressed them again. More on that in a sec.

There are my two Z-palettes. As you may know, I bought one and loved it so much (particularly the experience of depotting my shadows and streamlining my collection!) so I went and bought another one. Over time I might buy one or two of those Makeup Geek Travel Vaults because I like the look of those too, but what I've got will suit me for now.

In one palette, I put all my Nars products and any powders I'm trying to use up as part of Pan that Palette 2016. You may remember that I'm not a huge fan of Nars powder products (I know, I know - I'm weird) because as a general rule I find them to be too hard and sheer for my tastes, and the eyeshadow duos especially don't always apply well on the eye.

In the other palette, I put all my Kevyn Aucoin powders and a few extra products to fill any gaps. This was a more nervy experience for me because I care about those more, but fortunately the depotting turned out pretty well overall.

Anyhoo. What I thought I'd do is make a brief comment on my experience of depotting products from different brands, since that may be useful to anyone considering doing the same thing - and hopefully that will help you avoid the few makeup injuries I had!

Depotting Nars powders

I did some research on this before starting the process and I'd read that Nars powders can be easier than most because the pans aren't held in by too much glue - I've seen some people say they can pop them out with gentle pressure, while others have opted for using dental floss and running that beneath the pan.

I did try the dental floss method (where you poke floss down the sides of the pan and then pull it underneath to cut through the glue), but found this wasn't working for me and I kept managing to poke my shadows with the pin I was using to squeeze the floss down the sides of the pans.

So what I did instead was take an old pair of nail scissors and use one of the blades to prise the powders out. You'll need very fine blades for this and you may find that cheaper scissors work best because they're thinner and more flimsy, which works well because you can fit the blade between the packaging and pan easily enough.

While you can see above that this worked, I wouldn't say that Nars pans use less glue than other brands: if anything, some of the pans had way more than others.

Above are my Nars Eyeshadow Single in Cyprus and mini Blush in Orgasm. Orgasm had the least amount of glue and popped out with very little pressure, so it may be that limited edition and/or GWP items aren't as well made, which wouldn't surprise me. Something to keep in mind.

Cyprus was glued in tightly and it cracked from the moment I started prising it out with the scissors, to the point where I didn't even bother being careful because it was already in pieces (this may in part be because shimmers are often softer than mattes so they're more prone to cracking easily). Happily this was nothing that a little rubbing alcohol couldn't fix and I've noticed no difference in the shadow after re-pressing it.

My Nars Blush in Sin and Eyshadow Single in New York were different stories altogether, and I'm warning you now - be careful with purples! Across all brands I've tried depotting so far, purple shades seem the most likely to crack. 

Both Sin and New York shattered twice, first when I depotted them and then later when my Z-palette was knocked. It probably happened the second time because I didn't want to smash them up before re-pressing them (they only had a few cracks), but in the end I had to do it that way because the powder wasn't re-adhering to itself properly. 

Sin was glued in so tightly that it took ages to remove, so be careful with the larger blush pans because they appear to have more glue than all the other powders (or at least mine did). Happily though, the re-pressing process has given me a better product: maybe it was pressed too hard before (so the texture was very hard and sheer), but I've packed it in less tightly so it's now softer and therefore more pigmented, and it applies better too. 

New York, on the other hand, is my biggest regret in this palette. It's the best Nars eyeshadow I've used (all the others I can take or leave), and I managed to butcher it so I've lost quite a bit of product and I think I pressed it in too hard - plus it developed a crust that I've had to remove. So don't press things in too hard! I had to do that, though, because the shadow kept cracking as the rubbing alcohol dried so I needed to use elbow grease to get it to re-adhere to itself. Should I have added a binding agent instead? Let me know : )

As for the duos, these came out relatively easily and only the right side of Charade cracked a little (yep, it's purple), but I was able to press that back in gently with my finger. The right side of Portobello also cracked a little so I added some rubbing alcohol to that and nothing textural changed during the process.

Gorgeous Cosmetics and Stila powders

You can see that one edge of my Gorgeous Cosmetics Bronzer cracked a touch when I depotted it, but otherwise it fared reasonably well. I would like to depot my two GC highlighters in future, and the thing to keep in mind here will be to work very slowly from different sides of the pan, since I think my issue with the bronzer was focusing too much on one edge (which is why it cracked there). It's best to move around the pan in stages, which is something I've found overall.

As for my Stila shadows, these came from a cardboard palette so they were much easier to remove. But it's worth noting that I have depotted one of the shades from my Stila In the Mind palette, and that came out beautifully with very little pressure - so it may be that Stila products are easier to remove than most.

Depotting Kevyn Aucoin Powders

These are so far the easiest items I've depotted - and thank god for that, since Kevyn Aucoin is one of my favourite brands and the products don't come cheap!

These are my two matte eyeshadow duos in 211 and 213, and while they came out of their pans easily enough, you can see that I ran into issues with the deep purple shade (from 213). Not all of it cracked so I didn't crush it up but instead just re-pressed the cracked portion. There seems to be no difference in quality but I did get a little bit of crust over the shadow that I had to remove (I'm not sure why this has happened with two eyeshadows and none of the others).

These are my two shimmer duos in 202 and 204. The pearl side of 202 cracked a tiny bit (you can see my fingerprint in the centre where I've pushed it back in ; )) but that may be because the formula is so soft and buttery. In any event, it wasn't a big injury and once I've used the shadow a few more times, you won't be able to tell.

As for my singles in 104 and 108, these were slightly harder to remove - I think they had a touch more glue than the duos. But they both came out easily enough (and injury free) and I was able to use my lessons from the other palette here: work around the pan gently, rather than automatically focusing on the 'easiest' side. This will help prevent the pan from bending at all, which can be the cause of cracks.

Last up, my highlighting powder in Candlelight and the Dolline powder blush. Both of these came out of their pans with very little effort and there wasn't much glue (even though the pans are larger) so I found them the easiest of all the Kevyn Aucoin powders. Something to keep in mind if you want to depot them - it mightn't be as hard as you think : )

Depotting lessons in brief 

  • Be careful with purples! For some reason these crack easier than most. 
  • Nars glue is toxic. I'm serious - that stuff just doesn't want to budge. Not only during the depotting process, but also when it comes to cleaning your pans. I can't tell you how long it's taken me to scratch off the excess glue from the bottom of my Nars pans, because for some reason nailpolish remover or rubbing alcohol weren't working (but they worked for others). 
  • If you crack a powder, don't re-press it too hard or not hard enough. That sounds like an obvious thing to say, but it's worth mentioning because you don't want to learn this the hard way like I did ; ) 
  • Clean the base of your pans. I didn't do this to start with when it came to my Nars powders (it was all too hard) because I thought I wouldn't be moving them around in my Z-palette anyway. But turns out I like moving things around occasionally, and if you don't remove the glue, it will re-adhere to the base of your Z-palette and getting the pans up is almost like having to depot them all over again. 
  • Even if one side of a pan is shifting much easier than other sides, don't focus too much on that edge or you'll risk bending the pan and cracking the powder. Instead work around the whole pan before focusing your attention on the part that's moving most. 

In sum 

I hope this was helpful! I've really enjoyed depotting my shadows and streamlining my collection, and I've already found that having these things in a Z-palette makes me more likely to use them more often because I can see them all together and I don't need to reach for a bundle of individual compacts. Winning! 

Do let me know if you've ever depotted powders and how you've found it if so. Any tips and tricks would be most welcome : )

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