DISCLAIMER: I am describing the process I used, along with some do’s and don’ts for complications I ran into while depotting. However, I am not a professional at this. I will try to be thorough, but there may be steps I forgot to list. Attempting to do this may put you, others, and your property at risk. Use the utmost caution or just don’t attempt this at all without the proper tools and protective gear. I am not responsible for anyone getting harmed for following the steps that I’m sharing, which isn’t even intended as a guide. I’m just sharing my experience and perhaps those with some depotting experience may be inspired by it. I do not recommend this for beginners. It took me years of smaller depotting projects to build up enough confidence to do most of the things I mentioned in this post. Reader discretion is advised. Using common sense and critical thinking is also a must! For the love of all things holy, please be careful if you try these! lol.
Also, all links in this post are normal non-affiliate links.
De-potting isn’t just a way to condense and uniformly organize a makeup collection. It can also be used to rearrange palettes or swap products in and out of their original packaging and/or empty magnetic palette. Often times, when I watched depotting videos on YouTube, the person doing it would destroy the original palettes or compacts. However, I have products in packaging that I love and want to preserve, if only I could customize the makeup within it.
So, it has been a goal of mine over the years to find a way to reuse palettes and compacts, especially if I’m not using the item because the makeup inside is too old or didn’t work for me, and replace it with a product I would reach for more often if it was in prettier packaging.
There are different levels of depotting that can be as easy as removing a pan from a palette that is already magnetic (such as most Natasha Denona eyeshadow palettes) or the most challenging ones that require both careful disassembling prior to then using heat and figuring out how much heat to apply to remove the pan without melting/burning the original packaging if the goal is to try and save it. Sometimes you might be surprised to learn there’s no pan at all and the product might be on plastic net/mesh instead. Sometimes the pan is made of aluminum instead of tin and will require a magnetic metal base to be added before it will be able to stick into a customizable palette. So, this sort of task can be super easy or complicated. I will give plenty of examples of the things I learned in this process with various projects if you’re interested in continuing to read on!
PROJECT 1: Making Palettes Magnetic and Interchangeable
Every year, Hourglass comes out with these holiday palettes and I owned four, yet none of them were perfect for me. If I want to use a blush, highlighter, and bronzer all in one, I would have to pull out multiple palettes which was extremely inconvenient. So, I finally had the guts to do what I’d seen Stefsedge and Grishan Roof do in depotting their palettes. I took it another step further in trying to make my palettes interchangeable, so that I could always swap out an even more appealing product of this size in the future if I wanted.
The process on how to do this involves:
- A Heat Source (and potentially metal plate or aluminum foil if the metal within the packaging is too far from the heat) plus heat-resistant gloves for extra protection.
- Metal stickers that will fit the size of the product if that product is not already attracted to magnets.
- Label stickers if there isn’t already a removeable label or one that would fit on the product.
- Magnets in various forms like circles, squares, sheets, etc.
- Pre-measuring to make sure the magnet isn’t too thin to not hold the product, but not too thick to where the magnet plus the product will prevent the lid from closing.
- A cosmetic spatula and/or something thin like a bladed object to stick between the product and the packaging to be able to pry/lift it out.
- Glue, just in case.
- Paper towel or something to lay the powders on that may potentially get messy.
- Liquid agent that helps remove glue from surfaces like Parian Spirits or Alcohol.
Tip: If the item is in a pan already, using a magnet to touch the rim or around it and see if it has a pull will indicate whether or not the metal will require a magnetic metal sticker.
My heat source is the Z-potter I bought quite a few years ago on Black Friday. Some people use an induction hot plate/countertop burner, hair dryer, or flat iron to heat up the bottom. I’ve only attempted to depot my aluminum Hourglass Ambient Lighting palettes, not the plastic ones, so I have no idea if the plastic ones would melt in the process, but here is a video for that type. And here’s one for the exact palettes I’ve partly depotted.
Anyway, the first thing I prepped in advance was writing the brand and names of the items on label stickers and attached them to the metal stickers (not the side that you peel away). Then, on my Z-potter, I placed the portion of the products I wanted to heat up within the indicated heat circle. I tried to avoid heating all pans at once because I didn’t want to loosen the glue too much of the products I had no intention of removing. I used setting number 3 for a minute or more and then used my box cutter to lift the powders out one at a time face first into a paper towel and then peeled off the sticker on the metal pan to attach onto the back of the clay tile. Because it already had soft warm glue residue, I didn’t think it was necessary to add my own extra glue to attach the metal sticker onto the tile, but that might be required of some projects because the adhesive bond is sometimes weaker than the magnetic pull. I’ve had other products where I lifted the product and the metal tile detached from the product and remained clinging to the magnet. So, one may or may not want to add the tiniest bit of extra glue (making sure that when pressed down the glue doesn’t seep out onto the edges of the tile. Also, the fact that these baked powders are on tiles helps to make them less fragile while prying them out. Baked/domed products on plastic drives me nuts because they’re so easy to fall out of packaging without even intending to depot them.
I repeated the process of removing the product from the palette, adding a metal sticker to the bottom, and so on until all powders I wanted removed were off to the side. If there was any residue of glue within the empty wells (none that I could recall) it would only require a little alcohol or Parian spirits sprayed on a paper towel to wipe it down/clean it up. Don’t spray the Parian spirits directly into the empty well because the sprayer might get droplets onto the other powders still within the palette. Also, wearing gloves might be a good idea since it leaves a strong orange-alcohol smell that one might not want to get on the hands or fingers.
Then, I cut my magnetic strips into the appropriately sized pieces to fit the empty well and stuck them to the bottom. This might be another time when one might consider using extra glue or not, but my strip magnets tend to adhere very strongly, so I don’t find extra glue necessary. Also, my strips weren’t thin enough to cover the entire well, but it’s not necessary either. Two streaks were enough. And they don’t need to look pretty since no one is going to see the magnets once the powders are placed back on top.
So, that’s the process! I didn’t have any broken products; I just nicked a few with my nails. When looking at them from the side, it’s visible that the powders with magnets holding them down underneath are raised higher than the ones that are glued down, but it doesn’t look that bad to me. I love how it turned out!
I took the white marbled palette on the bottom right completely out of the equation since none of those worked for me (any indication of the powders being used was when I mixed them with other products in DIY makeup attempts). As for the Butterfly palette on the top right, I could only use the blushes, so I took those out and replaced those empty spots with the bronzer from the Universe Unlocked palette (bottom left) and the too-ashy strobe powder from the Tiger palette (top left). This turned my Butterfly palette into a palette of completely unusable products for my skin tone. Rather than trying to make that one magnetic, I used a little Glue-All (so it wouldn’t be impossible to be removed again) to secure those powders back in the pan and I sold that new custom version of Butterfly.
This left me with the Tiger Palette and Universe Unlocked. I wanted those Butterfly blushes in the Tiger palette, so I put one in the newly empty spot that was formerly housing the ashy strobe powder. Then, I took the deep copper highlighter out and put that into the empty space in Universe Unlocked where the too-light bronzer used to be. That gave me room to put in the last Butterfly blush. So, my new Tiger palette has the only powder dark enough to be used as a bronzer, my favorite of Hourglass’ highlighters, and arguably my favorite four blushes out of the Hourglass ones in this size. I also like the coral blush from Universe Unlocked, but I preferred to keep that one in its original palette. Currently, the Tiger palette is the one I keep on my vanity since it’s full of favorites.
PROJECT 2: Prioritizing the Packaging Over the Product
The Hourglass project was simple, whereas this one was my toughest yet!
The MAC x Chris Chang compacts are one of the most treasured packaging for makeup that I have because of how different they all looked to each other and nearly all equally beautiful. The original one that I purchased is kept on my collector shelf in the box and with the original powder inside that I only used a few times because I didn’t think it did anything for me. The two others I bought pre-owned for the purpose of making the compact magnetic, so it didn’t matter what state the original product was in nor the fact that they were used.
For my first attempt, I didn’t remember the pans are housed in a removable piece which would have made things a lot easier. So, I put the compact on the Z-Potter, and unfortunately, the pattern started to warp, but I noticed it in time before it got too bad.
Then, I tried just not using heat and prying the pan out with my box cutter. I broke off the tip and still couldn’t get it out. The glue in these compacts is extra heavy duty! In that attempt, the powder started to break apart, so if I had wanted to pry out the pan without breaking the powder, I would have failed at that. Once I popped out the holder piece, I realized it had three parts to it: the main compact, the holder, and the lid opener. I put the holder piece with the pan on the Z-potter and used setting 3, which was too hot for it. It started melting the bottom of that holder piece and it started to bubble and lift upward. In the heating process, I also warped the lid opener and main compact enough that it shuts, but with a very thin gap that won’t be as big a deal for a dry powder, but I definitely wouldn’t want to put a cream or creamy powder in it. The holder also didn’t snap back flush into the main component either.
Where the tiny gap is visible near the hinge is where I start trying to pry the holder out of the compact.
I’ve already had a product (will be discussed in the Pat Mcgrath section) that warped upward, but I managed to use heat and a blunt object to press it back down to flatten it. However, this did not work with the MAC plastic. It went down but still not perfectly even. I couldn’t get it to flatten without melting/burning the underside. In the end, to make this compact usable, I had to just toss the holder into the recycling (the powder pan was also cleaned out and recycled). I then attached magnets to the bottom of the actual compact. This might make whatever product I put inside more susceptible to breaking if I accidentally drop the compact, but at least it’s still functional now despite my mistake.
In theory, I could have left the botched compact as is without adding magnets and just removed the holder out of a different MAC panned product with basic packaging and put it in this one instead. However, that would only allow me to use this for MAC products specifically, instead of any brand with a pan size that would fit.
For my second attempt on my other compact, I tried a combination of using the box cutter to pry a big enough wedge between the space to allow me to pour Parian spirits to seep between the holder and the pan so it could start loosening the glue underneath. I didn’t mind spraying directly onto it because I wasn’t trying to keep the powder in that one either. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a big enough wedge of space for the Parian Spirits to have done very much and I broke the blade even more to the point of needing to throw it out for safety reasons.
So, I very carefully used my nails and cosmetic spatula to lift a space and go around the edges to carefully pop out the holder from the main compact. I set the compact aside, put the holder in the middle of the Z-potter and used setting 2. I alternated between letting it get warm at the bottom, then flipping it upside down to warm from that direction as my way of trying not to let the same spot get too hot for too long while using my other box cutter to keep testing when the glue was loose enough to be pried up.
Once the pan was free, the bottom of the plastic was still covered in glue, so I unscrewed the spray top of the Parian spirits bottle and poured a little into the holder and let it marinade in there for a while before wiping it clean and repeating the process when needed. I managed to successfully get that pan out without burning/melting the holder this time. I cleaned out the aluminum pan of glue and powder and put the pan with the recycling. This time, I was able to keep the holder, so I put a few magnets on the bottom of it before snapping the holder back into the main compact.
Now, I have one of my favorite highlighters, the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter in Sunset Glow, in this gorgeous compact! I’m so happy to finally have a way to get use out of the MAC compacts and see them within my collection instead of being set aside! There are so many times I’ve spent money purely on packaging and I was tempted to get this year’s Lunar New Year pressed powder compact from Charlotte Tilbury just to put this highlighter in it, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my money getting something I don’t need (I own that powder in smaller packaging) by repurposing what I already have.
PROJECT 3: Adding Extras to Packaging.
You know those eyeshadow and blush compacts that come with brushes in them? I never use the brushes and end up tossing them, so then I have giant empty spaces that could have either made the compact smaller without it or could have held extra shadows. In the photo example below, I didn’t add a magnet to it, but I showed examples of various eyeshadows (Natasha Denona Midi Size, Viseart medium and small sizes, and Melt Cosmetics) that could fit in that space if I added a magnet to the bottom. Of course, the magnet needs to be strong but thin in order to hold the shadow securely on it without lifting the pan so high that the lid won’t close. Turning the empty space into a magnetic spot will give the ability to take extra shadows for traveling.
Also, in the event that an eyeshadow falls out if it was on a mesh, gluing it to the bottom is an option, but so is re-pressing the shadow into an empty eyeshadow pan, adding a magnet to the empty well, and placing the pan back in there. It, once again, leaves room for future customization. One just has to do those measurements to make sure it’s not too big.
PROJECTS 4 and 5: Condensing Makeup Out of Bulky Packaging and Making a Single Portable Item for Travel
The Pat Mcgrath Blushing Delights packaging was excessive compared to the size of the actual makeup within it, but because it fit the Bridgerton theme so well and the print was cute, I kept it intact despite how much I craved depotting it. However, once I noticed the edges of the paper lifting in multiple places on the cardboard, I figured it was time to get rid of it. I was thrilled to see the blushes were on tiles as well, since that made it even easier to slide a knife underneath and remove them from the packaging without even needing heat!
All I did was fill out sticker labels, slap them on the metal stickers, and then place those on the tiles. Before doing this, however, I do need to warn that baked blushes and other domed products will be raised much higher, which limits where they can be stored. These don’t fit in a traditional Z-palette or any of my cardboard empty magnetic palettes. My MAC double-sided palette is deep enough (that I turned one side into a magnetic palette by adding a thick magnet sheet), but I keep that stored with my other unused palettes because it’s so heavy and thick that it’s only worth using if it’s entirely full and not just to hold a few items. Where I stored the blushes will come later because I knew I wanted to keep my favorite shade, Aphrodisia in its own compact. I’m one of the few people that doesn’t like like the Pat Mcgrath Under Eye Setting Powder, so I didn’t mind getting rid of the powder and keeping the compact to house the blush. I figured it would fit considering that powder is also a baked product and chances are high that any domed type of packaging will be suitable for turning magnetic and housing other domed products. I somehow expected it to be on a mesh, so I wasted my time trying to cut off most of the powder, then prying the sides, before realizing this would require heat. Since there was no metal to warm up, I put it the Z-potter on setting 2 or 3 and laid the compact on top of the metal plate that came with the Z-potter. Then, I pried out the tile with my cosmetic spatula, but the bottom had bubbled upward.
Unlike my MAC compact, I was easily able to heat the bottom again on the same setting and use the handle of my hand mirror (with a flat rectangular shape) to press the raised parts back down while the plastic was warm and malleable. I continued moving the blunt object around the pan to make sure the rest of it didn’t start rising back up too. When I was satisfied with the whole thing being nice and flat, I transferred it to the spot without heat, turned off the machine, and then continued to press down on the compact to ensure it remained flat while cooling off.
I used the handle of my mirror because it was within reach, but I could have used anything hard and flat like the handle of my Tarte Buffer Brush, a bottle, etc. Whatever item is used will likely get glue on it though, so to avoid that, one could try putting something between the plastic and the blunt object, such as a paper towel. Or, clean the glue off the surface before trying to warm up the item to flatten the plastic back down. The heat setting should not be so hot that it melts whatever blunt item is used, like a thick bottle, but just keep a watchful eye out for that just in case.
Then, all I had to do was place magnets in the PML compact and voila! A single portable baked product case! As for all the rest of the blushes, I took one of my spare Kaleidos tins and removed the plastic lipstick holder piece, and placed magnets on the bottom of that. I didn’t place the magnets uniformly in a line in case I wanted to put larger domed products in there and didn’t want to run into the issue of only blushes of a certain size being able to fit there because they couldn’t be placed staggered within the container.
These weren’t the only Pat Mcgrath products I depotted that day. I had the Pat Mcgrath Highlighting Trio with the center shade having fallen out ages ago that I just kept loose in the packaging. I almost never reached for these because of the pretty but cumbersome flap style packaging. So, I started off with cutting the space around the black plastic holder within the cardboard packaging and then lifting out that plastic piece. Since the Kaleidos tin is attracted to magnets, I could have actually stuck magnets on the bottoms of the plastic holder and placed it at the bottom of the container, but considering the fragile nature of the highlighters, I decided not to. Instead, I heated up the plastic holder on the metal plate on setting 2 very briefly before using my box cutter to pop out the mesh. I don’t know if heating it at all was necessary, but I did it anyway.
Once they were all out, I scraped the excess product off the underside of the highlighters and glued the metal stickers onto them. I saved them all initially, but then the pink iridescent highlighter came off the mesh from the other side, which would have required that I glue that side directly touching the bottom of the highlighter onto the plastic. Considering how old these highlighter trio powders were, I figured I should just let the pink one go. Honestly, these other two are too sparkly for my taste now, but I’m not ready to let them go until they break!
Between the two pieces of packaging, these are now taking up significantly less space!
PROJECT 6: Transplating/Transferring Makeup Permanently from Faulty Packaging to Better Packaging
I know my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors are ancient, but I just can’t let them go! At least, not my favorites. The limited edition one called Champagne Gold was an item I was waiting patiently for to go on sale, but it sold out everywhere before that could happen! I had to deal with the regrets of missing out for over a year and a half before I happened to see them being sold on the Nordstrom Rack (technically Hautelook) website. The joy I felt over finally getting my hands on it, even though I didn’t use it a ton, is something I’m very nostalgic about. However, that original packaging had that rubberized gummy texture that is super sticky and gross feeling to touch. I had a pretty gold plastic compact from Becca with the shade Gold Lava inside that I never used because it was too glittery, so I decided to just get rid of the Gold Lava pan and put Champagne Gold in there instead.
The first thing I did was remove the Gold Lava sticker and put the original Champagne Gold sticker in that spot instead. Then, I put the old gummy packaging onto a piece of foil and put that onto my Z-potter. This wasn’t because it needed the foil specifically. I just didn’t want to get any of the sticky gummy part onto the surface of my depotting device. The compacts have holes on the bottoms, but because they’re still glued in, I didn’t want to risk breaking the powder, so I wanted a little heat to make it a gentler transition process.
Then I set the older compact with the aluminum foil to the side and put my gold compact in the circle to heat up. I then pulled the Gold Lava pan out before immediately put the Champagne Gold pan in the compact and pressed down so that the glue remaining on the bottom would stick to it. After it cooled off, I held the whole thing upside down (with my palm underneath just in case) to see if it stuck properly and it did! I didn’t try to make it magnetic because there’s no room for even the thinnest magnetic sheet. I have a few other original brown packaged highlighters, but none of those are sticky yet, so I’m keeping them in those for now, but may repeat this same process with the Own Your Light shade I have mixed feelings about and put Bronzed Amber in that ombre packaging instead.
PROJECT 7: Condensing Multiple Samples into One Container
If I have samples of things that would take multiple uses to try out, I make it a habit to find a tiny container to put the product in and limit air exposure. In this first example, I have two different shades of One/Size powders, but I didn’t notice a difference in the color on my face, so I wanted to put both of them into a larger container because it was a pain trying to evenly coat my powder brushes on such a small surface. I had a Besame loose powder container I had been saving, so it was the perfect way to make use of that as well.
I began with removing and cleaning the sifter lid, dumping out the remnants of the old powder, washing it, drying it, and setting it aside. I then removed the sifters from the two different shades of One/Size deluxe size samples, putting them in the clean Besame jar, and then mixed the two shades together before putting the Besame sifter lid back on top. The original mini powder puff that came with the Besame powder was never used, so even that was able to be saved!
Another example is that I tried each individual shade of the Dior lip balm and the colors weren’t significantly different enough on my lips to prevent me from scooping them all into a single jar. I have leftover empty lip balm jars from my past DIY projects, but those were too large for such a little amount of product. It actually came in handy that I now had two tiny jar containers in the form of those newly emptied One/Size powder sample jars. I just removed the sifter on one of them and cleaned out the jar before adding the balms into it. If I had any empty Laneige lip sleeping mask sample jars that are regularly available as a free gift with purchase from Sephora, I would have used that instead.
The photo of it below, admittedly does not look pretty, but I could have used a spatula to smooth them all around or even applied a little heat to melt the balm down enough for it to flatten out evenly into one smooth surface before it cools back off. However, I didn’t bother with that because there wasn’t much left. If I had 2-3 additional balm sample packs, I would have put more effort in making it pretty since it would be in my possession for longer.
I believe I mentioned I was going to declutter the Coloured Raine cream blushes in my recent review of the brand, but I kept the two smaller ones for reusing purposes. I had two sample packs of Rose Inc blushes and I wanted to save them so I could customize my blush looks. Even though Foxglove is my favorite color and the one I have in the full size, knowing I had three additional colors in samples is what kept me from purchasing more of them considering how infrequently I reach for them. So, I originally put them in a lipstick jar, but I had the idea to dump out the Coloured Raine blush, sterilize the pan, and use a spatula to spread out the three shades in a neat gradient of Anemone, Azalea, and Dahlia. The amount shown below is the end result of two trios of sample packs.
Since I didn’t want these to dry out, I thought it was a safe bet putting cream blushes in a container that was intended for cream.
BONUS PROJECT, PROJECT 8: Hiding Logos on Packaging/Making Packaging Better
There was a controversy with Ofra several years ago and I haven’t felt comfortable featuring them on my blog or showing their products ever since. However, the compacts are magnetic, and even though they are quite bulky, it felt like a shame to just toss them in the recycling. I wanted the ability to use them as backup compacts, and especially since these are tall enough that I can put a domed product in there. So, I took the sticker off the back, used a tool to pop the pan out of the compact from that hole showing at the bottom that was hidden by the sticker. I put that sticker onto the bottom of the metal pan instead. Then, I used Parian Spirits to clean off the bottom where the sticker used to be.
As for the front with the logos, stickers were a quick and easy way to hide them while also making the compacts look prettier with a beloved design. The sticker on the left was purchased from Redbubble. It’s a 3 inch by 3 inch sticker, which barely fit the lid dimensions. The sticker on the right was one that I got from Clionadh Cosmetics that has been coming free with every order.
In the future, if the edges of the stickers start to lift or is potentially getting dirty, I will consider putting a layer of Mod Podge Dimensional Magic on top. Other types and brands of sealer will work too, but I like the way it feels like plastic after a thick enough layer has been applied. If you’re handling Dimensional Magic though, be very careful not to get it on other items or skin as it’s an absolute pain to remove from fingers.
Using things like stickers, washi tape, scrapbook papers/cardstock, and so on, are ways to select prints and patterns that suits the makeup lovers’ tastes and elevate boring packaging into something truly special. I’m sure I’ve shown this multiple times before, but I treasure the look of the Huda Beauty highlighter palette that I did the same things to.
So, these have been some projects I’ve been doing lately! I’ve purchased a few more custom stickers in different designs from Redbubble, but I’m sure there are plenty of other places to get neat stickers. My first projects were made with stickers and washi tape from Amazon.
On a side note, one of my best friends has a Redbubble store which is how I discovered the website and other artists in the first place. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s here.
That’s all for today!
Thank you for reading!