Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tutorial - How I Use Loose Makeup - Part I

One of my blog readers asked me a whole bunch of questions regarding the use of loose powder makeup. I figured it would make for a great blog post! 

Here are the questions she asked:

  1. How do you get it out of the baggie and work with it?
  2. Doesn't it get mess everywhere?
  3. How do you make it stick to your eyes?
  4. How do you blend them? 
  5. How do you organize it so you can find it later?
  6. Whose loose powders are your faves?
  7. Do you like them more than regular pressed eyeshadows or are they just different?

I'm not going to answer all of these questions in this post, which is why it is titled "Part I", but I will get to the rest later! I believe this photo tutorial should answer questions 1-5. I should say "hopefully". I've never done a tutorial before, so this was an exciting challenge for me!

Please click beneath the cut to view the tutorial!

First of all, let me clarify that this is not a "How To Use..." tutorial. I entitled it "How I Use..." on purpose. Other people have other ways of doing things, and there are probably some people who have some really amazing and much better ways of using mineral makeup. However, this is what I do and so far, it works for me!

For today's look, I started out with the four bagged samples of mineral makeup pictured below, plus two other loose powder bagged samples that I didn't include in the photo because when I took this photo, I didn't know I was going to include the other two colors in today's look. 

Now, I hate bagged samples. I really, really despise them. But as a makeup addict, they are a necessary evil, as many of the great makeup companies only sell samples in baggies. My ideal way of dealing with bagged samples is to transfer the powder into a 5 gram screw-top jar, such as the one pictured below. I buy mine from PilotVials, as their shipping is super fast, and in years of ordering jars and thousands of perfume vials from them, they've never messed up an order. 

To transfer the powder from the baggie to the screw-top jar, I just pour it into the jar from the baggie, tapping any excess powder loose from the sides of the bag. There will always be excess powder on the sides of the bag. There's always enough to test, so I like to give these away for friends to try. 

This probably isn't the best method. I could get out some of my teeny-tiny scoops and transfer it more carefully and methodically, but I'm not anal-retentive enough for that. 

I will always put a label on the bottom of the jar with the brand and product name.

Now, I'm going to digress for a bit from my process today, and talk about storage. I was initially planning to do this in separate post, but I figured why not stick it in here anyway because when I talk about my use of screw-top jars, I feel like I need to address the pros and cons.

As I said, I love using the screw-top jars for my loose makeup -- smaller jars (3 or 5 gram) for shadows and larger jars (10 gram) for blushes. It makes working with them so much easier. The problems are two-fold: 1) cost, and 2) storage space. While the cost is not necessarily prohibitive (I believe twelve 5-gram screw-top jars are $2.99 from PilotVials), if you order a ton of makeup samples, it does add up, especially with the additional cost of shipping the jars. In addition, it takes a lot of space to store a bunch of jars. I have so many drawers full of full-size loose powder jars and clamshells, etc. that I already am pretty much at capacity for storage. This is how I've been storing them:

(My apologies for the lack of organization in these drawers. I wasn't about to take the time to make them presentable just to take one photo. I'll get to organizing them better eventually. I always do!)

I do like this method of storage a lot. I can store like colors with other like colors, and when I haven't been throwing my jars back in my drawers willy-nilly like I have lately, it looks neat and orderly. But, it's cost- and space-prohibitive to have to keep buying more acrylic drawers for my makeup. I have no table-top space left, and if I build my Wall o' Makeup any higher, I won't be able to see what's in the top drawers. 

And so, I have a new solution. I'm talking brand spankin' new to me. I was at a friend's house yesterday, and was going through her binder of samples, and was struck by how brilliant it is. She uses the transparent polypropolene slide pages. 2"x2" sample baggies fit into the slide protectors perfectly. She sent me home with a few blank slide pages last night, and today I went to Target and bought a cute hot pink binder to put them in and got some of my samples organized. I will be ordering more slide pages because I have another 200 or so bagged samples that are currently residing in an acrylic drawer with no sense of rhyme or reason. 

I'm pretty excited about this new (to me) storage method. On the one hand, I really hate using baggies, but on the other hand, it's going to save me money and space, and I think that pro outweighs the other con. It'll also be so much easier to find the baggies. Rather than digging through a drawer, I can simply flip through the binder pages. Here are a couple of photos of my binder:

See, isn't that a great way to store your samples and see exactly what you have? Of course, if you only have a few samples and you're not predisposed toward hoarding, the screw-top jar method may work better for you.  

Instead of taking up a ton of drawer space, the little binder takes up a significantly small amount of space on my desk. Plus, it's hot pink, and that just makes me happy.

We now return from the digression on storage to your regularly-scheduled program on how I use my mineral/loose makeup.

When working with a baggie, as I seem to be doing more and more often due to the fact that I went off my 2.5-year long "no buy" a few months ago, this is one of the things I do...

I take a piece of paper and place it on the desk (table/vanity/your choice) in front of me. I used to use washcloths to catch the fallout, but I like using paper better because I can then use it kind of like an artist's palette.

I will take my baggie and tap a little bit of the loose powder onto the paper. 

I will pick up what I need with my brush and tap off the excess onto the paper so I can use it again. Waste not, want not!

If I'm using a jar, I do the same thing, but tap the excess into the lid of the jar, and then I use the powder in the lid up before dipping back into the jar for more. 

Then I pat the main lid color onto my already-primed eyelids with a MAC 239 rounded edge eye shader brush. With most loose shadows, any primer tends to work well to keep the shadows in place, reduce (or eliminate) creasing, intensify the color and shimmer, and increase wear-length. (Some loose shadows, especially the ultra-shimmery or glittery shadows, need an even stickier primer such as Fyrinnae's Pixie Epoxy, which is an absolutely amazing product that everyone who wears makeup should own.) In the photo below, I'm patting the shadow on over Meow Cosmetics' i-prime, which is currently my favorite primer after Too Faced Shadow Insurance. As you can see from this photo, there's already fallout on my cheeks from the loose powder. It happens with pressed shadows, too. I have seen some people use tape under their eyes to catch the fallout and others will pat on a thick layer of powder to catch it. I don't do that. I'll discuss in a bit how I deal with the fallout. 

I patted on the green shade onto the main part of my lid, then I did the same thing with a pretty purple color that I used on the outside of my lid. To blend them, I just gently patted back-and-forth, bringing some of the green into the purple area and some of the purple into the green area so there was no definitive line between the two colors.

Next, I used my dome-tipped shadow brush from Paula's Choice. This time, I dipped the brush directly into the bag to pick up the shadow, rather than pouring the shadow out of the bag onto paper. I did this to show that there's more than one way to pick up the loose powder out of the baggies. I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way -- there's the best way that works for you.

After I picked up some powder on the brush, I tapped the excess onto the paper in front of me: 

Then, using the dome-shaped brush with a bit of shadow on it, I blended it into my crease using back-and-forth windshield wiper-like sweeps. 

Next, I used a fluffy blending brush (MAC 217) to pick up my highlighter color....and whoops! I forgot to take a picture of me applying the highlighter to my brow bone, but I basically did the same thing -- side-to-side sweeping of the brush across the brow, like a windshield wiper, gently blending the crease color and highlighter together so there wasn't a hash line between the two.

Then, I went back to some of the excess I'd tapped off when I placed the second color (purple) on my lid, and picked up some of it using my MAC 212 push brush...

...and then I pushed the shadow up under my lower lashes to create a line of color beneath my eye.  

Today, instead of using my usual gel liner, I wanted to turn one of my mineral eye shadows into an eyeliner. Some people use water, some people use MAC Fix+, some people use contact lens solution, and there are all sorts of products out there formulated to help turn powder into liner, but my favorite is cheap and easy and always stays in place: Visine. 

I place a drop of Visine on the paper in front of me, like so:


Then I dip my MAC 210 liner brush into the Visine:

Doing this picks up way too much Visine, and I want a damp brush, not a wet brush, so I then blot the brush tip on a dry washcloth that I always keep nearby when I'm doing makeup:

After blotting the excess moisture off of the brush, I'm now ready to dip the brush into my loose powder. I always swirl it around to make a sort of paste. The reason I do that is to make sure that the powder is thoroughly damp, because I don't want to get a random streak of dry powder on my brush when I'm trying to line my eyes. If I need more moisture, I'll dip the tip of my brush in the Visine again.

And then I apply it to my upper lash line... 

 ...and in today's case, I did the same thing with a second liner color and applied it very thinly to my lower lash line, so I could still see the purple I had already placed there, but so there was a bit more definition around my lashes. 

I then applied my mascara, did my brows, and lined my lower waterline. That's when it's time to deal with cleaning up the fallout. The below taken before I finished my eye makeup, but it shows some of the fallout on my cheek:

Regarding fallout, one of the reasons I always do my eye makeup before anything else is because once I apply my foundation and concealer, it typically covers up any fallout residue. However, I always do one or two other steps to remove the most residue that I can before applying my face makeup. 

The first is to use a fluffy brush to simply brush it away. 

With some ultra-shimmery or highly-pigmented shadows, there may still be a trace of shimmer or pigment left over. In this case, I will often use the washcloth I keep nearby to gently wipe away the excess. Some people like using Wet Wipes for this step, but I can never seem to remember to buy them, hence the washcloth!

After applying my face makeup, I do the same thing with my blush, if I'm using a bagged sample. I will tap a little out of the baggie onto the paper in front of me, dip my blush brush in it, tap the excess back onto the paper, and apply as I would any other blush. 

When I'm all done, it looks like I have a little artist's palette in front of me! I will carefully fold the paper to keep loose powder from straying where it doesn't belong, and then throw the paper in the garbage bin. 

This is the look I created during this tutorial:

Indoors, with flash: 

Indirect sunlight, no flash:

Tarte Smooth Operator concealer
Sweet Libertine yellow concealer
Boscia BB Cream
Sephora Mineral Foundation in Claire Light 21
Bare Minerals Mineral Veil 
Darling Girl Virgin blush

Meow i-prime
Aromaleigh Elodie on inner 1/2 of lid and beneath inner 1/3 of lower lashline
Aromaleigh Violet Ruffle on outer 1/2 of lid and beneath outer 2/3 of lower lashline
Aromaleigh Oleander Vapor in crease
Sugarpill Lumi Chromalust on brow bone and inner corner
Aromaleigh Splintered to line upper lashes
Aromaleigh Nightshade to line lower lashes
Smashbox Onyx Limitless Eyeliner on lower waterline
Shu Uemura Hard 9 brow pencil in Seal Brown
Maybelline Falsies mascara

Darling Girl Hot Mama Holo-Gloss


  1. Great post, ive been thinking about using some of my shiro eyeshadows as liners, thank you so much for this (: ♥

  2. Visine! I never would have guessed it!

    It makes a lot of sense with the photos! I was imagining dipping the brushes into the baggies, which would make it really hard to control the amount of makeup on them.

  3. When I dip the brush into the baggies, I am usually very careful to just pick up powder from the side of the baggies, as it usually gives me as much as I need. I don't like dipping brushes into baggies, though -- I like to be able to pass along my samples if I don't like them, and I don't feel I can do that (for sanitary reasons) if I've dipped my brush into the baggie. I only use clean brushes, but if I have to go back and re-dip after applying, it means I'm the only one who can use that baggie again...unless it's going to a good friend who knows I absolutely don't have eye cooties and doesn't care. :)