What to Do When – Ohnoes! – Your Pressed Powder Ends Up as Plain ‘Ole Powder

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To

Today Rae of theNotice shows how to rescue a broken pan of pressed powder from the brink!

Pressed powder repair


Hi there, ladies! It’s Rae from theNotice. I just wanted to take a moment to say “thanks!” to Karen for letting me guest blog. Makeup and Beauty Blog is definitely one of my favourites, so this is pretty much the best. thing. ever.

Okay. Moment’s over!

It’s happened to us all: you go traveling, or you move, or you take a compact with you on your way out the door. When you open up your traincase or cosmetic bag, there’s a thin film of powder everywhere, and then you just know — one of your pressed powders broke in transit, and it’s completely unusable in its current state.

But it’s not the end of the world, because this is a problem that’s easily fixed! Seriously, folks. It’s easier than making toast to fix a hungry stomach or tempting children with candy or Jell-O.

What you’ll need

  • Alcohol (no, not vodka. You want cleaning alcohol! I’m using isopropyl.)
  • A steady hand to pour it, or an eyedropper
  • Lots of tissue and/or Q-tips

We start our endeavor with one of the Smashbox Brow Tech duos from my makeup kit (this one’s Blonde). The powder portion had completely broken in transit — crumbles and chunks everywhere!

You know how when you get to the bottom of your Special K Cinnamon Pecan, there’s just… dregs? Well, it was like that. And for all of you who don’t obsessively eat that stuff, just check out the photo below (and add the cereal to your shopping list, because it’s like heaven. But in cereal form. And edible).


So because this was a duo, I started by scraping off the top layer of the wax with a clean cosmetic spatula and using an eyedropper to moisten the powder half with alcohol.

Use a damp towel or Q-tip to clean up around the edges a little, but it doesn’t have to be perfect — trust me, it’s easier to clean it up at the end, when more doesn’t tip out every time you move the pot!

For the wax, I just wiped off the top with a tissue after scraping, and it was pretty much good to go. But for the powder (or for a single pan) it’s a little harder. To fix this one, you have to keep putting in alcohol until it turns into pudding. I know. SO much harder, right? Oh, my god! I can’t do this! It’s too difficult!

…aaaand I’ll pretend you recognize the sarcasm in my, erm, font.


Anyhow, that’s really all you need to do! Once it’s mushy, all you have to do is let it dry (the stronger the alcohol, the faster it’ll be ready for the next step). Because this was a half-pan, re-pressing was a little harder. But for a normal 26mm MAC shadow pan, all you have to do is wait until it’s just barely damp, put a paper towel or handkerchief on top, stack a couple quarters on that, and apply pressure!

SHAZAM! Just like that, you’ve got a like-new pan again — clean up the edges, let it dry overnight before closing it, and you’re ready to face the day. If you have a half-pan like mine, and not a full circle, just press it with your fingers. The result won’t look new, but unless you’ve found a way to get a half-quarter, it’s the best you can do!

TIP: if you’re pressing something large — like a foundation, powder or blush — the bottoms of glasses work wonderfully instead of quarters!


One last thing, though. The pans in this were a little loose (if by “a little loose” you mean “totally not connected with the pot anymore”), which I’m thinking was the reason for their demise. So I took ’em out with tweezers, applied a couple drops of Krazy Glue, put them back in, and after about 10 seconds, they were secure again!




For loose pans, plain ‘ole Krazy is a lifesaver. It’s my number-four beauty tool, preceeded only by my Tweezerman tweezers, lash curler, and Q-tips. Just please don’t use it as cosmetic glue, alright? πŸ™‚


Is it just me, or did this turn into a lesson about how you shouldn’t blog while hungry, instead of one about re-pressing broken powders?

This post was written by Rae, the beautiful brains behind theNotice. Beauty blogger, student and makeup enthusiast, Rae can’t remember a time when she didn’t love makeup.


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So far, 20 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jenna says:

    Wonderful! I’ve been wanting to get directions on how to do this! If only I had known there was a way to save my Stila eyeshadows in Kitten and Oasis when they broke on me a couple years ago. *sigh* Thanks so much for the info! It was a delightful read.

  2. Julia says:

    cute post! loved it!

  3. Briana says:

    Lol, that was great post, very amusing πŸ™‚
    I love how the crazy glue specifically says not to use it for artificial nails. They must have had a very high incidence of cases to warrant such a specific warning lol.
    It makes me think about all those stupid warnings, like don’t use your hairdryer while your sleeping, or do not eat printer toner

  4. Rae says:

    I’m not sure if you want replies, but that’s what I do on theNotice, so that’s what I’m going to do now πŸ˜›

    Jenna: You’re welcome! I’m totally hooked on pressing – especially as I’m a major klutz. I’ve heard that Stila pressed powders break really easily, which is why I’ve never bought Kitten, though it’s so popular!

    Julia: Thanks ^^

    Briana: Thanks, hon! I totally laughed out loud when I read that… in the middle of the grocery store. And hey: remember not to expose your aerosol hairspray to an open flame *rolls eyes* πŸ˜›

    Rae´s last blog post..Splurge: “The Envelope”

  5. TaLaisa says:

    Love this! I haven’t had any pressed powders break (knock on wood) but this technique would work for pressing loose powders, wouldn’t it?

    TaLaisa´s last blog post..Happy Valentines

  6. Nina says:

    Your post is not only very very informative it also made me LOL! Thanks …. and I promise to remember about the Krazy Glue. πŸ˜›

  7. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the great post! I’ll know what to do next time! πŸ˜€

    Catherine´s last blog post..Skincare Routine VIDEOS

  8. Jaime says:

    I LOVED this post – so hilarious and informative! πŸ™‚

  9. Connie says:

    This an excellent post! I bought alcohol aaaaaages ago but never got to do the actual fixing. hah!

    Connie´s last blog post..I Nuovi Mummy’s Girl Contest Winner!

  10. NeenaJ says:

    @TaLaisa: I was thinking the same thing! I have a ton of loose eyeshadows from Rickys NYC and Bare Minerals that I would love to press into a palette for travel.

    Rae, would that work? Does the alcohol alter the formula/texture of the product? Or does it simply evaporate?


  11. Meream says:

    Wonderful tips, Rae. Took a peek at your blog. You have great stuff. Will definitely follow you from now on. πŸ™‚

  12. Sarah says:

    Wow. i NEEDED this post. just cracked my bronzer yesterday… i was bummmed all day!

    Thanks a million πŸ™‚

  13. Ann says:

    thanks for this post! so funny πŸ™‚ and i learned something new!!

  14. Rae says:

    Hi TaLaisa,
    Yes it would =D Depending on what you’re pressing, you might want to substitute the alcohol for pressing medium – the one I use is by Fyrinnae, and I’m quite happy with it. Go get pressing!

    Rae´s last blog post..Hair show FOTD

  15. Rae says:

    Nina —

    I’m glad I could make you laugh πŸ˜› And you better remember! How could you forget, right?

    Karen –
    Thanks, hon πŸ™‚ Emailed you back!

    Catherine, Jaime, and Connie – lol! Thanks πŸ™‚ (The one thing you can always notice? When I get hungry… my replies and/or posts always get shorter! Grr, I should NOT have skipped my snack today.)

    Rae´s last blog post..Hair show FOTD

  16. Rae says:

    Neena J —

    The alcohol definitely effects the texture – it turns it into a pressed substance πŸ˜› I do get what you’re asking, though, and the answer is “not in my experience”! I found with one blush that it got a tiny bit darker in the pan, but upon application, the only difference is that they’re sometimes more intense (because you pick up more with each brush stroke).

    The alcohol evaporates right out! Once you can no longer detect any traces of the alcohol scent, it’s dry πŸ™‚

    Rae´s last blog post..No post today…

  17. Rae says:

    Meream —
    (I love your name!) And thank you, hon πŸ™‚

    Sarah —
    Whoo! If nothing else, I have brilliant timing. I hope fixing the bronzer goes well – it’s just the season that you’ll need it for ^^

    Ann —
    You’re very welcome πŸ™‚ I was hesitant to do this, because a lot of ladies have heard about pressing already, but I really wanted to show how simple it can be. I hope you give it a try sometime!

    Rae´s last blog post..Hair show FOTD

  18. ijemen says:

    I work in a make up store! And we sell preety expensive products,while trying to clean,I broke a bronzer(tester) which was almost equivalent to my salary! But thanks to u,NO ONE ever found out!!

  19. kimberly says:

    i tried this and let it sit and dry, did all the procedures carefully and once my Chanel compact dried it was hard to scrape off powder with the brush. did i do it right?

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