Thursday, 27 August 2015

How to Make Your Own Mac Highlighters

I've been promising this post for quite some time. And here it is! 

Basically, I had a lot of people ask me where my previous post about this went. I deleted it about 5 months ago, for various reasons, but will now share a better, more detailed version. 

I've been making these highlighters ever since I made that post. I've made literally... Hundreds and hundreds of them and never had one person be dissatisfied with the quality. If you love highlighters, then this post is for you! 

So, the story goes. 

Around a year ago. I smashed my precious Dior Rose Diamond. A rare high end highlighter that I adored and which is really difficult to buy nowadays and can cost around £80-£100. I was devastated. (Don't worry- my darling friend Aisha got me one sent over from Italy at RRP-friends in high places me!) I also bought a really rare Mac Extra Dimension MSF on depop which arrived smashed to pieces because Royal Mail are brutes. 

I wanted to press it back into place because using it loose just made me sad. So I looked up how I might do that. Process seemed fairly simple. I fixed the Mac, then started on the Dior. However, as I was watching it dry, I thought, I always wished it was just a touch more pink. In my eye line on my dressing table, stood a pot of Mac pigment in the shade Fuchsia. 

I tipped some in and it became the most perfect shade I'd ever seen. 

The thing is. All these products. Highlighters, blush, eyeshadow. They are the same thing. Pigmented cosmetic powder packaged and sold to us in different forms with different names. 

I posted about it on Depop and my blog, and people were so excited that I got a lot of requests to make more. 

I'd always hoarded Mac Pigments, but never really found much use for them so I started experimenting with different colour blends. 

For such a big brand, Mac have pretty limited gold shades, so making lots of golds is quite hard, but I managed to make around 30 highlighter shades altogether in pinks, golds, silvers, nudes, champagnes etc. 

Highlighters are crazy popular. And the best highlighters (or any powder really) is usually talked about as being really 'pigmented'. What could be better then, than a highlighter that is purely made of pigment?! Usually, brands will sell us highlighters made up of pigment, and then other things to bulk it out. Fillers, talcs... Cheaper to manufacture powder products. The search for really pigmented products is annoying. So why not make our own with pure loose pigments? 

To do so, you will need the following. 

Mac Pigments. Preferably in Frost or Pearl finishes. Some of the mattes work, some really don't. It cost me a fair bit of money working that one out! I stuck to Mac, for lots of reasons. Ive heard some other people tried this with cheaper brand pigments. If it's an unbranded one from online, it may not be tested by UK cosmetics authorities and given that some fake/unbranded stuff has been found to contain rat poison, feasces, arsenic and lead, I don't fancy that on my face. Also, Mac pigment is already filled with cosmetic binders so they press really well. Other lower end brands may sell pigment or powders that look really pretty and could make nice highlighters, but they may have a less dense binder content, or a lower quality of binder meaning they fall apart really easily. Even some Mac pigments can be less binder dense. I found at least two shades that didn't hold as well as others and fell apart easier. But cheap imitations will always break apart and this is why. Unless you fully know what you are using, and you know what you are doing, and are willing to state it honestly, then stick to Mac or other well know brands and always be honest. 

Rubbing Alcohol. This is easily available on Amazon and is sometimes called Isopropyl Alcohol. Isopropyl is an ingredient that is already in Mac pigment, and actually in most cosmetics and skin care you buy in stores. Please please don't try this with surgical spirit. I don't know who started the rumour that this is ok. It's not. In my opinion. It's the main reason I'm writing this post. I'm worried about the amount of girls messaging me to say they are using surgical spirit because they don't know what else to use. I'm not a scientist, but I would never touch my skin let alone my face with a product that's sold for stripping paint. I only ever use isopropyl. You want above 70%. I've used right up to 90%. It evaporates quicker, but is obviously more flammable etc. You really just need above 70%.  This item evaporates out during the process. 

Something to mix with. A little spatula or tweezers. The handle of a spoon. Whatever. 

A tray of some form. Something to protect your surfaces, as straight alcohol isn't great for them. 

Gloves, to protect your hands. 

Pans/ Packaging. 

Sourcing the pigments and stuff is easy. Packaging is harder. At first I just used lots of empty high end compacts I had. It was good, as I weirdly hate throwing out my old Nars, Chanel or Dior compacts. They are in such statement packaging, and we pay so much for that logo. So having a use for them was great. 

But when I started making for others, at first I redecorated cheaper compacts. I would just buy piles of £1/£2/£3 compacts, dump the pressed powders in the bin and refill them with my creations. 

Then I'd decorate the compacts. It always felt morally wrong to just bin so much product but the only place online I seemed to find that sold empty compacts didn't look too secure to me. 

I liked my old compacts, but they took a whole lot more work and time to revamp than it would to just have them blank and ready. 

Eventually, I gave in and chanced the site. 

Diycosmetics is a site where people who make their own cosmetics can purchase packaging a tools to do so. When you try googling to find a place that sells them it's literally the first and only site I've ever found where you can buy completely blank packaging in bulk. It's extremely cheap, but postage to the UK is expensive if you do what I did and pay for it to come overnight. Getting stuff from California to Edinburgh in one night always pushed my costs up massively and you do usually get slammed with customs. However, even then, it worked out really cheap per compact when buying in bulk. You do have to buy the pans separate to the compacts on this site. 

So. For the process. It's literally as simple as making a pressed pigment. 

Tip pigment into the pan, you don't want it overflowing, but the amount of product will go down after you add alcohol, so you do have to top it up as you go if you don't want a half empty pan. 

Add the pigments you want to blend. 

I find alcohol annoying to aim into the pans without making a mess. So I tip mine into a bottle with a pump. 

Add enough alcohol that the pigment becomes a liquid. 

Mix the pigments together. I find that it's easiest, and gives a neater finish if it's like a liquid rather than a paste. 

Remember that while a pan may look full at this stage, as the alcohol evaporates, the product level will go down. And when you press it, it does go even further down. So it's best to keep topping it up to get a nice full pan. 

Pick the pan up, around 2cm from the surface and drop it gently. Keep doing this, turning, picking up and dropping until the surface becomes even and smooth. 

Leave the pan out in the open, to dry. To completely dry, it can take overnight. But I have one more trick for you. 

When it's almost dry. Like, it looks dry and you know it's still tacky, we are gonna hand press it rather than the traditional dry press. 

Take a baby wipe. These are light, absorbant and slightly damp so perfect for this. Lay over the pan. And roll a sponge, like an old beauty blender over the top, pressing down gently. This compresses the pigment even more tightly. 

I would then leave them out overnight to dry. 

That's literally it. Super simple. 

Here's some examples of my work, some are tagged with my depop name @kittybaker and other are tagged with my Instagram name @kirstiebarlow

And here they are on some faces, including mine and some gorgeous depop girlies. 

Image curtosy of the beautiful Megan  at @megrobbx on Depop

Image curtosy of the beautiful Naz at @_theshoechateau on Instagram. 

Image curtosy of the beautiful Elisa at @eyelashobsession on Instagram

1 comment:

Missy Neveradullmoment said...

I absolutely love this hun thank you so much for posting, im hoping i can do this to my two broken bobbi brown highlighters :-) i wouldn't have time to do as a business but kudos to you hun they look gorgeous. i will update you on how i get on

Missy Nadm xo

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