I was introduced to pigments and loose eyeshadows about 2 years ago and in the process I built up quite a collection of them. I then got to wondering what the difference was between pigments and loose powder eyeshadows and why some companies called them such.
From left: Make Up For Ever Star Powder #90920, Barry M Dazzle Dust #14, MAC Coco pigment
MAC Cosmetics as most will know, sell pigments. These are jars of loose pigment powder that you can use not only as eyeshadow, but also for lips and face. Originally, these were supposed to be the basic ingredient of coloured makeup. Mix it with clear gloss and you get your custom coloured gloss. Use it on cheeks and you get a blush.
Other companies however, sell “Loose powder eyeshadows” or “sparkle dust” or other names that suggest a loose powder shadow. These loose powder shadows appear to be only targeted for one purpose – eyeshadows. They may have been mixed with other fillers and are therefore less “pure” than pigments which is why they aren’t sold as pigments. Essentially though, I think the concept is the same.
You can see from this swatch on my hand, that the colour intensity in the 3 loose powder eyeshadows and pigment powders above are about the same. However, not all loose powder eyeshadows have this kind of colour intensity or shimmer and in fact, even within the same brand, the texture and quality might differ.
I don’t place Mineral Eyeshadows in the same category as loose powder eyeshadows or pigment powders because from my experience with mineral eyeshadows, I have been consistently disappointed in the colour pay off of mineral shadows although thats my view. I’ve found that they tend towards being sheer and lacking in colour. I’ve tried quite a few brands and have not been impressed most of the time, so I don’t really bother with mineral powder eyeshadows anymore. But that’s me of course.
I like using loose powder eyeshadows or pigments even if they do create a bit of a mess if you are not careful or in a hurry. The colours appear more intense (depending on brand) and you get high shimmer if you like shimmer. I usually use them only when I have the time or in some cases, when I have the inspiration. This is because, faced with a tray of multi-coloured powders, it is easy to get confused or to end up with an odd looking colour combination.
There are many ways of getting your loose eyeshadow or pigment powder to stay on your lids. You can use an eye primer like Urban Decay Primer Potion or any number of primers in the market. I use a cream eyeshadow which works great for me. The idea is to create a base for the powders to stick to so anything sticky or creamy will work. Even those pencil eyeshadows work a treat for me!
Here’s how I apply loose powder eyeshadow or pigments:-
- Apply primer or cream eyeshadow on your eye lid
- Using your fingers, tap on the surface of the powder eyeshadow and then onto your lid.
I find that the best way to apply loose powder eyeshadows is with the fingers. Then again, I do use my fingers for all my eye makeup anyway. If you prefer to use a brush, go for a densely packed short bristled brush as it will pick up colour better. Perhaps I might write more about how I apply loose powder eyeshadows and pigment powders later. 🙂
However, loose powder shadows aren’t very travel friendly unless you can explain away white powder eyeshadow at the airport customs. 🙂 Besides, the incidence of spillage is very high even with a sifter.
These days, I don’t think there is much difference between the pigments and loose powder eyeshadows. I’ve found that MAC Pigments are now less pigmented than they used to be and some more recent collections have pigments that are essentially loose powder eyeshadow as I find them less strong coloured and in fact, are rather muted. All that said, pigment powders are probably the only item I like from the MAC stable – so MAC isn’t all that bad 😉
Other loose powder eyeshadows I like are Star Powders by Make Up For Ever, La Femme loose powder shadows and Barry M Dazzle Dusts. I’ll review them all another day when I have the time to take some pictures.
Do you like using pigments or loose powder eyeshadows?