A Blog for the Makeup Insane.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pssst.... About Those Pigments

Okay, so who out there has purchased pigments? Pigments are those loose powders you can get from M.A.C. and other cosmetic companies that you can put directly on your skin, or mix with gloss, nail polish and other powders.

If you are like me and you love makeup with a garishly capital 'L', then you have a tendency to want every item you see on Sephora or Ulta, or calling your name in the cosmetics section of Macy's. Those pigments -- oh so bright and rich and multipurpose -- sing out like a siren's song from your computer screen, or the display in front of you. But which one do you buy? They're so expensive!

I'm going to tell you something that will make you love me forever -- if you haven't already figured it out on your own. I'm going to tell you where you can get pigments -- beautiful pigments -- for around $1.50. No, I'm not lying, and no, they didn't fall off the back of a truck.

Pigments are really nothing more than mica powders. Some brands will add extra powders to drive up the adhesion and slip properties, but essentially they're all the same. Now, you can buy micas. I have probably 50 of them stored in my craft room at this very moment. Some come mixed with Titanium Dioxide and others don't, but they're basically all the same, and they will stick to your skin with varying degrees of adhesion. On bare skin they'll be light, but if you put down a base, such as eye primer, they'll stick so beautifully & brightly!

Here's another tip -- chapstick makes an excellent base for micas/pigments. Apply to your finger tip and smooth over your eyelid et voila! Just don't use the flavored kind, and the butters and oils in the stick will also keep your delicate eye area moisturized. Vaseline works too.

So, where can you get these pigments? TKB Trading is one retailer. Coastal Scents is another (although some of CS's pigments have bismuth oxychloride in them, which can be a skin irritant. Bare Minerals uses this as well -- just FYI). Do a search on micas or mineral makeup ingredients and you'll find plenty. A lot of these places will sell you a 1 oz bag of mica for approximately $4.00, and that's fabulous if you plan on making eyeshadow/blush/lip color for friends or to sell, but for your own private use, you can order their sample sizes, which are about 1 teaspoon of color in a little baggie. PERFECT.

Now, if you don't want to keep the color in a baggie, most of these sites sell 5g pots that will hold your samples beautifully. To apply, either use your primer, or dampen your brush with mixing medium (more on that in my next post). Even your foundation will provide a base for these colors, though they won't be as bright. A note: if you're dampening your brush, put a little mica in the cover of the pot and work with that rather than re-dipping your brush in the pigment. You don't want to invite bacteria into your product!

What if you want to make eyeshadows and don't want to use primers and mediums and all that jazz? Well, a lot of these DIY sites also have base mixes for sale. All you have to do is mix your mica with the prepared base and you have a beautiful shadow that will adhere to your skin without any help -- although primers will always make colors last longer and pop more.

The best part? $10 (plus shipping) could get you up to 10 pots and 4-5 samples, and you know exactly what's in your makeup. $10 wouldn't get you anywhere near a pigment by a big makeup company. Never mind that they have larger pots. Unless you're a makeup artist you're not going to use that much. And if you are, you can still buy a 1 oz bag for less!

So there you go! Let me know if you buy some micas and from where -- especially if you love them!

Photo of Chameleon Violet Mica from CoastalScents.com


  1. Hey Kathryn - great blog. I LOVE make up and you've just given me some terrific ideas! Thanks!

  2. Fun idea for a blog! :) I love makeup too, and I've been tempted to try samples of pigments for a while. Now I know where to get them. Thanks!

  3. You're welcome! Though don't blame me when you spend a small fortune on samples! lol. BTW, 'foiling' or wetting the pigment lends a deeper hue than using just a primer. Fun stuff!

  4. Love this
    Another Great by Kate!!!