Homemade Cosmetics 101

In this post…

  • How Is This Legal?
  • Is Homemade Makeup Safe?
  • Is There Quality in Homemade Makeup?
  • Starter Kits
  • How I Make Mine


How Is This Legal?

Fun fact!  The FDA does not really evaluate or approve finished cosmetic products, just the colorants as ingredients.  From the FDA website,

    “The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market, but there are laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics on the market in interstate commerce.

    The two most important laws pertaining to cosmetics marketed in the United States are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of these laws.”


Is Homemade Makeup Safe?

My rule of thumb is if you’re old enough and mature enough to handle and cook raw meat without getting sick, then you can make your own cosmetics without any negative side-effects.

Many people have reactions to store-bought makeup, and these things can easily be solved in a product made at home.  You get 200% control of the ingredients in your creations and are able to safely test your reactions to some ingredients before using them – made easier by the fact some suppliers sell small quantities of individual ingredients in sample sizes [about a teaspoon] for about two dollars.

Much like when you trust a chef enough to prepare your food, you are putting an awful lot of trust in companies who manufacture cosmetics to not only know what they’re doing, but to do it well.  I’m so often hearing of companies managing to violate the few standards the FDA has for cosmetics, having nasty things pressed into their powders, mold, insects — the list could go on.

The advantage homemade has over store-bought is it’s freshly made.  You add preservatives in pressed makeup and make sure to use eyeshadow tins that won’t rust, and this alone should generally keep you safe.


Is There Quality In Homemade Makeup?

Cosmetics are largely the same few ingredients, just in different quantities, and each brand has their own formula.  When they list their ingredients on the packaging, it’s in order — the first item listed is the ingredient that is used in the largest quantity, and the last item in the list is the smallest quantity.

It’s easy enough to make a dupe of most products, even high-end.

Product packaging serves no purpose other than to market and make a product stand out from the rest, but it bumps up the cost of makeup considerably.

A lot of people shell out for pretty packaging and say they’re going to keep it on their vanity for decoration, which I can understand.  However, instead of purchasing another overdecorated palette and having the clutter and waste [extra brushes, mirrors, puffs], why not just dupe the product and replace it yourself?

Reduce & Reuse 😀


Starter Kits

TKB Trading


Not sponsored


How I Make Mine

Let’s start off by saying I’m no trained expert or something like that – but I have made quite a bit myself and figure I could share my processes.

Gloves and a mask are a must and a minimum – something to protect your eyes might be a good idea as well since a lot of these powders are very lightweight and tend to go airborne really easily, and you don’t want to get them in your eyes or lungs.

You’ll also need a space reserved just for cosmetics – I hold the belief that kitchen cosmetics are dangerous because these powders are very light as i mentioned before and they’re not something you want around the food you ingest.  You can never be sure that the scrub down you gave your counter will be good enough to prevent anything nasty from transferring onto your food.

What I like to do is tape newsprint paper down onto a TV tray and work on that surface, since it’s easy to throw away afterwards.

Using my gloves and mask, I use small clean jelly jars for my mixtures.  I like mixing my base powders and pigments separately before combining them.  This way I can make sure I get the exact right color for my shadows.

If you’re using a premade base, your preparation time is cut in half!

For pressing, I prefer to only press sparkle and shimmer shades right now, and I like to use dry pressing, which is pressing with oil rather than alcohol.

I am working on pressing mattes, which is more difficult, and once I figure it out I’ll share my process here 😀



FDA Authority Over Cosmetics: How Cosmetics Are Not FDA-Approved, But Are FDA-Regulated, FDA.gov

Lime Crime & The Scary Truth About Product Safety, Refinery29

Hair Found in Highlighter! Third Time’s The Charm!, KarinaKaboom


Bugs & Food Particles Found In Kylie Cosmetics Products, Em Venditte

Preservatives from TKB Trading

How To Press A Matte EyeshadowMeggieXOXOXO


SPACE & SCALING in Photomanipulations

I remember one of my biggest hurdles in learning photomanipulation was scaling subjects accurately to make the piece more believable.  Improperly done and bad scaling can make your subjects look like they’re floating, freakishly big/small, and can make it difficult for the viewer to know where the subject is in relation to other objects, damaging the space and dimension you work to create.

A rule of thumb for me, and I wish I remember where I first read it so I can give credit where it’s due, is to keep an eye on where the subject’s waist is in relation to the horizon, then worry about resizing.  Once I decide where I want the subject’s waist to be, I move the model stock where I’d like it to be and use the anchor point to anchor the photo at the waist.  Doing so keeps them in place which makes resizing much easier.

Photos demonstrating the waist-at-horizon rule

However this trick has varieties that help you anchor your subject in other angles, rather than just the straight-on effect this gives.

Here you see the top two photos are taken from a lower angle making the models look bigger and powerful, and they are anchored by the horizon being lower towards their legs and knees.

The bottom two photos have a lot of open space and focus on the setting rather than the models, achieved by a horizon by their eye-line and higher.  They look small but not meek.

Here is a little of my artwork utilizing these rules.


  • All stock photos from Pixabay

Formulating A Base- New Chart!

You may need several base powders for different pigments in your shadows, highlighters, blushes, contours, and foundations.  Different pigments require different base properties.

Micas as colorants won’t need as much aid in oil absorption and color retention as iron oxides do.  Opacity isn’t an issue for iron oxides but poses problems in mica-colored shades.  And now, companies are releasing copper powder-based colorants among other things.  There are many types of pigments for cosmetics and they all have their own inherit properties that need balancing out.

Since I love making and organizing notes on my desktop, I figured I could put together a chart and share it here.

I’ve tried to keep the charts vegan, but if I didn’t, let me know so I can fix it~

Mica Powder

Not sponsored

Bright, colorful, sparkly mica isn’t the only thing around, but it is known for being a dream to work with and press.  But you can’t use them when making mattes, which makes a basic matte eyeshadow difficult to formulate.

Plain, uncolored [sericite] mica’s role in base powders is mainly to absorb excess oils and help preserve the color of your product.

However if you add a fair amount of it to a little bit of iron oxide coloring, you’ll get a really beautiful sheen or satin-y finish.  This makes a “matte” mica quite useful in creating highlighters, so they don’t appear glittery and chunky but as more of a shine.

When you are pressing with oils, which many do, you run the risk of discoloration over time if you don’t have an ingredient that has high absorbency.  This is mostly true when you add an iron oxide, as they do not contain any micas.  Iron oxides are typically used most heavily in matte eyeshadows, so a matte mica added with it helps maintain the color you worked so hard to mix in the first place.

The typical usage is adding up to 50% to a formula, so you can add as much or as little as you need to maintain the desired finish.

To alter the finish, add some to your pigment until you get a sheen.  For the base powder, add a little at a time until you get the right amount to absorb the oils used in pressing.

All photos taken from MakingCosmetics.com





Here I am with another pigment recipe~  This time the photos are less than stellar so I can go easy on my back for a while, unfortunately.

This one I call Murky; it’s a cooler shade of dark brown.  I typically wear a warm brown but decided to switch it up for a minute when I received my sample of Psi Blue.

The recipe is 3 parts brown iron oxide and 2 parts psi blue.  Just a warning, not only does psi blue photograph differently in different lighting types, but it’s very potent, so you need to mix extra well.  Sadly for me, I don’t have a grinder just yet and even with hours of hand mixing, I still got blue spots in the pressed result.  It doesn’t affect the application, though!

After you get this mixture, you can change the finish of the eyeshadow with plain mica.  In mine, I did about 2 parts mica and 3 parts oxide/ultramarine blend.  This gave it a nice subtle sheen that wasn’t glittery, and made pressing much easier.

Hopefully soon I can get photos of myself wearing it :3


An Intro

Since I feel like my wordpress topics here are a bit sporadic, a little introduction seems appropriate, so you know exactly what to expect from me here.  Yes, I look angry and uncomfortable in my photos, but I promise I don’t bite.  xD



Back in the stone-ages [AKA 2005 or so] I was in a creative rut due to the fact I had been trying to draw since my childhood and never could seem to improve.  Shortly after, MySpace sprang out of nowhere, and that’s where I first discovered digital art.  After begging forever, I finally talked my parents into getting me a copy of Paint Shop Pro 9, and I couldn’t have been any happier.

I grew fond of the program and quickly adapted to it with the help of various digital art groups on MySpace, even eventually entering art contests they held.  Lord do I miss those simpler times of social media.  (Your prize for winning was just a graphic made by the group owner and honestly nobody even got mad.  We loved it.)

In 2009, I finally got Photoshop, and luckily for me I found it functioned very similarly to PSP9.  I have been using it ever since :3

The same year, I discovered stock photography and photomanipulations on deviantArt and found a new passion.  However, after a few years, I grew tired of using other peoples’ stock photos and decided to buy a decent camera.



While sorting through tons of camera bodies and lenses, I found yet another artistic endeavor in photography – not just stock photos, but nature, insects, animals, and artistic portraits, namely ones with a lot of fun lighting and makeup designs.

About a year ago this month I was surprised with a Canon Rebel t3i for my birthday, and it’s my baby.  I still have a lot to learn and practice that needs to happen, so in a way this blog is part of that practice.

With nature, insect, and animal photos under my belt I can finally focus on artistic portraits as soon as my living space is fixed up.  I have plenty of plans, ideas, inspirations, all saved up and ready for me to go, as well as many drawn-up plans and props stashed away for such a time.  Can’t wait :DD



I first got into cosmetic creation about a year ago.  I was searching online for cruelty-free & vegan makeup for photography projects when I discovered Etsy and the hand-crafted products there.  I was amazed that people could make these things in their own house, and decided to try it out myself, thinking of it as a cost-effective way to fuel my projects, which will rely heavily on lots of various make-ups.

My base formula is getting a makeover, but soon after I will open an Etsy of my own, where you can purchase my own products!  :3  I’m wanting to focus on vegan makeup that photographs well, as that’s an issue for a lot of people.



As of right now, my day-to-day life consists of a day job working with family, taking care of the house and my pets, and dealing with one injury after another, it seems.  I not only have a fragment of my back that broke off and is still in me pressing on a sciatic nerve, but a stomach bleeding issue as well.  These things slow me down artistically and especially on here, but slow and steady wins the race anyway, right?  😉


Instagram:  instagram.com/noxy_voorhees/
Tumblr:  languid-lustre.tumblr.com/
deviantArt:  languid-lustre.deviantart.com/

My pets are many, and I take care of stray cats here as well as a registered colony manager, but I’ve had an empty house with no pets before, and it’s misery for me.  I’m much happier in a crowded fuzzy house than an empty one.

Layer Effects & Styles for Blending

Compositing several photos into one image relies heavily on lighting and coloring – in Photoshop, there are many simple Layer Effects that can be utilized to aid in blending these elements together seamlessly.  It’s no replacement for carefully-chosen stock with matching or similar lighting, though, but it certainly is a helpful cherry on top that seems to make the general flow of lighting a touch more realistic.

Layer Effects are as their name suggests – effects that only affect the layer you want.  They also affect any layers you may have clipped to the main one you are editing.

To bring up the menu for these, double-click the blank spot to the right of your desired layer in your layer panel.  Alternatively, use the menu on top and go to Layer > Layer Style.  Make sure your preview checkbox is checked as well.


Your selection of effects is to the left side panel, and the options for each effect is to the right.




Gradient Overlay

Gradient Overlay
An example of typical settings you can find in most of my manipulations.

This effect gives you the option to add a gradient – set to any opacity, blending mode, style, and scale – to the layer.  My tip to you is to try setting a white-to-black LINEAR gradient and play with the scale and angle settings.  The goal is to have the gradient follow the emanation of light that’s already in your photo, then pick a blending mode for the gradient that will compliment that flow of light.



Above is gradient overlay settings I used on the model photo, as well as a before and after of all gradient overlay effects toggled.



Color Overlay

This is essentially a solid color layer put into a layer style – you pick a color and set it to a blend mode of your choice and you can get many different effects.  Use it on individual stock photos to color correct, or add it to the overall flattened image for easy color effects.




Inner Shadow


This is my go-to for adding rim lighting, and I actually rarely use it for a shadow.  If you have your settings just right, it does a really nice job.