Welcome to the third installment of my depotting journey. I’ve already discussed with you my own personal makeup journey, how I began acquiring makeup palettes with dubious quality such that I wanted to retain only one of the shades (or half) and why I began depotting to make my makeup more usable.
I went through a number of tutorials on depotting before attempting it myself, and here are the five most important things I learned.
1. The hot iron trick takes much longer than you think it will.
A lot of depotting videos show a person casually resting some makeup packaging on top of a straightening iron, and seconds later the pans pop right out of the palette. These are all lies. They are sped up and lies. Did I mention they are lies? This approach is a good slow-and-steady-wins-the-race, but just be aware that it takes forever. And don’t ignore the advice to use wax paper or something similar to protect your iron. Packaging will melt and ruin your iron. Wax paper protects it. Don’t think “Oh shoot, all I have is parchment paper. I guess I’ll just go without” like I did the first time.
2. Fire is a good alternative, but can also seriously damage packaging and release some toxic fumes.
I like to light a BBW candle and use the flame to warp the plastic packaging in order to loosen the glue and release the pan a bit. This works phenomenally well. However, it also is a game of patience. If you hold the packaging too close to the flame in your impatience, you will burn holes in the packaging instead. The smell of melted plastic is not particularly wonderful (nor probably that healthy to breathe in), and the makeup pan itself may heat up to a point it’s difficult to handle. While I find the flame method much more efficient than the hot iron trick, you should still engage your patience.
3. No, whatever pointed item you have (Tweezers, flathead screwdriver, edges of scissors) is not as good as a professional depotting/makeup spatula.
I have often thought “This is good enough” and then found out it was not. I can’t quite fathom why because the depotting spatula I bought off Amazon does not seem that much thinner or more well angled than a destroyed pair of tweezers, but it is. So this is one thing, especially if you’re depotting expensive products, where it makes sense to maybe spend a little more to get the right tools.
4. Cover the glue rather than remove it. It’s not worth the effort.
All these depotting tutorials tell you to use rubbing alcohol or Goo Gone or a similar product to remove the glue at the bottom of the pan once you remove it from the palette. The much better solution for those sticky pan bottoms is to cover them.
If the pan is already magnetic, write the makeup brand and shade name on a piece of paper about the size of the pan and stick it over that glue.
If your pan is not magnetic, use the magnets that frequently come with a Z-palette to cover the glue. This strategy prevents the pan from sticking to your Z-palette and ruining it. It will also allow you to keep track of the shade names. And it involves less scrubbing. Win-Win-Win.
5. Go slower than you think you need to and be prepared to repress your makeup.
In general, don’t attempt a makeup depotting if you will be devastated to damage the product in the slightest. It is a well known fact that I have very unsteady hands and generally bad depth perception. Still, even when I think a depotting is going well, I have managed to slip my spatula into the makeup, creating deep grooves. Or I have used too much pressure to lift the pan, resulting in a crack in the eyeshadow/blush/etc. Either you feel the result of depotting–removing bulky packaging and getting more use out of your product–is worth the possible negative side effects of the process, or it’s not. If there’s an item you would be devastated if you had to repress, then maybe consider keeping the bulky packaging.
If you do need to repress an item, that’s a blog for another day. But I’d direct you to the girls who run The Makeup Breakup for demonstrations on the best repressing strategies.