There's a running joke among the Style editors here at HuffPost about who has the heaviest handbag. It's easy to blame our back-breaking loads on iPhones, magazines or heels. But when we dump the contents of our purses out in search of gum, those aren't the only things weighing us down ... it's our makeup. So we think it's time to try the space-, time- and money-saving beauty hack that the pros swear by known as "depotting."
Depotting is the practice of removing a makeup product, such as eyeshadow, blush or lipstick, from its original container and placing it into more practical packaging. Without its original packaging, the existing makeup is usually left in round or square-shaped metal pans.
"Most professional makeup artists find themselves lugging around a heavy makeup kit from set to set,"says Zena Shteysel, the head makeup artist for "Dancing With the Stars" and creator of Z Palette. "In theater, film and TV, makeup artists needed an efficient way to have everything in one place and ready for touch-ups. Depotting makeup pans out of their bulky packaging and into one palette was the answer."
"Depotted products are simple and stripped down, and it enables consumers to combine all their favorite makeup brands into one easy-to-carry container," adds UNII Cosmetics founder Minna Ha.
You don't need to be a professional makeup artist to benefit from depotting, according to Shteysel. "I don't know a woman out there who wouldn't love a little extra space on her counters or time in the morning. Depotting your makeup and getting it out of those clunky compacts also allows you to see all the products and shades that you have. I always say, the best thing about makeup you can see, is that you'll actually use it," she says.
Using custom magnetic palettes can also save consumers money when they purchase refills instead of the standard product. Ha breaks it down: "There is a $3 differential between the MAC eyeshadow and the MAC eyeshadow refill. For consumers who purchase multiple products a year, the savings will begin to add up!"
The technique typically involves applying a form of heat to the bottom of the packaging (as demonstrated in the tutorial video above) to help the product come out. "Traditionally, most depotting was done in the oven or on a flat iron, whereby low heat was used to gently melt the glue holding the makeup pan in the packaging, so that you could then carefully lift it out," explains Shteysel.
However, the ease of depotting may depend on the brand. Ha says, "Some products will pop right out of their packaging, while others are very stubborn and require a more careful approach."
"Pressed powder type products like eyeshadows and blushes depot best because they are contained in a separate pan than the outer pack," says beauty industry executive and artist Jenn Karsten. "Lipsticks also work well because they tend to be stable with few active ingredients that might react to a foreign plastic or metal palette."
Yet Karsten cautions against depotting foundations and concealers unless they come in the same type of plastic packaging. These products have very active ingredients and are in the pack or bottle they are in for stability reasons. Volatile silicone-based products can have a bad reaction to plastic. Shteysel also strongly discourages against repackaging lip glosses and mascaras.
A few other depotting dos and don'ts:
Do decide on a method most suitable for you. "Do look up tutorials if you are trying this for the first time," says Ha. "There are many instructional videos available on the subject. YouTube features many depotting tutorials, as well as repair videos in case you have a mishap. If you don't have access to adequate ventilation (for example, you live in a crowded dorm room), do not use the candle method."
Don't start with brand new makeup. Ha recommends practicing with colors that you don't like until you're comfortable with the process.
Do invest in high-quality palettes and tools to protect your efforts and product. "Be aware that cosmetics have a limited shelf life," says Karsten. "So when you mess with them, you are exposing them to non-tested conditions and foreign packaging that could alter the performance or quality." Shteysel believes a thin, flexible metal spatula is also a depotter's best friend. "It's going to let you get right in between the pan and the plastic packaging so that you can wiggle your makeup right out," she says.
Don’t rush the process. Never use dirty hands, towels or spatulas to depot. "This practice isn't risk-free as products can break or change," Karsten adds.
Shop our product recommendations below to build your own depotting kit.
Clockwise (from left to right): Sephora Collection Z Palette, $18; Z Palette 10-Pack Round Metal Pans, $4.50; MAC Cosmetics Pro Palette Large Duo, $8; Bobbi Brown 4-Pan Palette, $10; Z Palette 10-Pack Square Metal Pans, $4.50
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