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Make the Very Most Out of Your Makeup

Make the Very Most Out of Your MakeupPhoto: Carlton Davis/Trunk Archive

It doesn’t matter if it’s a $2 eyeshadow or a $50 blush, dropping your favorite compact on the ground and hearing it shatter is a little bit heartbreaking. After you’re done uttering unprintable words, into the trash it goes. Or so we thought. Turns out some things are salvageable; it’s actually easy to rebuild, repurpose, and reuse broken cosmetics. Here, a few simple and smart ways to pick up the pieces—literally—and extend the life of your most-beloved beauty goods. 

Rebuild a broken eyeshadow:
The easiest solution is to mix crushed shadow with a bit of alcohol, then press it back into the original container and let it dry. While this technique does work, says New York-based makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, it’s better to skip the alcohol. “I find that the texture is never the same,” she explains.

Instead, Ciucci crushes her broken shadows into a fine powder. “I use them as a loose shadow or blush,” she says. Celebrity makeup artist Emily Kate Warren uses a similar technique, using the powder to intensify existing makeup. “Just sweep it over a liner or something else wet-ish,” she says.

Create something new:
Mix shattered blush or bronzer with Vaseline, and you’ve got an easy-to-blend cheek tint. And don’t be afraid to think beyond the eyes! “Light, shimmery shadows and blushes are great to mix with lotion,” Ciucci says. “You can use it as body shimmer.” Got a more dramatic shadow shade? “Mix it with gloss and wear it for a greasy, creasy, cool look,” Ciucci says.

Repurpose an “off” shade:
Got a too-dark foundation or bronzer? Give it a second life as a sculptor. “Contour your cheekbones with the foundation or bronzer,” says makeup artist and Armour Beauty co-founder Theo Kogan. “Too-dark bronzer could even go around the eye. Use it in the eye socket to create depth.” 

Get more from your gloss:
When Ciucci nears the end of her favorite lip gloss, she uses a kebab skewer to scoop out every last drop. “Also, if you have a strong pair of shears, you can cut gloss tubes in half,” she says. “Then, you can harvest leftover gloss more easily.”

Salvage a smashed lipstick:
Even with a broken lipstick, there’s more there than you might think.  “Lipsticks have a well of product, even below the tube’s visual endpoint,” Ciucci says. “Save your empties and scrape the hidden product into a lipstick palette.” Got a bit of similarly toned lipstick? Ciucci advises scraping them together in a screw-top container for a customized color. 

Just let it go:
Never disregard the shelf life of your cosmetics—your health is on the line. “Definitely do not extend the life of mascara,” says Warren. “Germs on eyes equals yuck!” And even the best beauty MacGyver can’t always save every fallen cosmetic. “When you drop something creamy, like foundation or liquid concealer, let it go,” Ciucci advises. “The minute anything creamy hits the air, it starts to oxidize and can attract bacteria. If it hits the floor, it’s definitely a goner.”