Tutorial: How to create the perfect make up palette for $1

My most-used eyeshadow is a tiny gift-with-purchase set. Over time the hinge has broken off and I have to hold it closed with an elastic band – but there is still a lot of eyeshadow left. One of my favourite powder blushes fell on the floor and shattered into many pieces. What should you do with broken products? I decided to create the perfect make-up palette!

The palette I chose was the ELF $1 Essentials Compact with Mirror. It’s very well-made and the mirror is very useful when you’re on the go. There are many other companies that make magnetised 4-pan refill palettes including MAC (CAD$9) and Annabelle (CAD$5.50).

 The first step is removing the 4-pan insert. I just wiggled and lifted it out. The metal sheet underneath is not attached, so I used super-glue to fix it in place.

Then I got all my palette pieces together. At the top you can see my shattered blush, as well as an eyeshadow trio that dissolved in the mail (a gift from my friend). I’m using one of the empty eyeshadow pans for the blush, since it is smaller. Below you can see my much loved Lancome shadows as well as my Sephora shimmerbrick. Also pictured is magnetic tape – but it ended up being too thick to use.

To depot the make-up, you’ll need some rubbing alcohol, a small cup and a dropper (I took my dropper from a Burts Bees serum that I no longer use). A lot of people use heat to depot – but I’ve found this method simpler.

Pour the alcohol into the cup. Use the dropper to drop it all along the edges of your make-up pan – don’t worry if some alcohol gets on your make-up – it evaporates quickly. The alcohol dissolves the glue holding the pan in place. After waiting for 30 seconds, CAREFULLY use a flat object to wiggle the pan loose (I used a fruit knife). I washed out the pan and used alcohol to remove glue residue from the back of the pan.

Then I placed fragments of my blush into the empty pan. I ground up the blush into a fine powder and added drops of rubbing alcohol until the shadow looked like a paste (I might have used a little too much rubbing alcohol!). Leave the newly potted blush to air-dry (it could take around 24 hours).

Use rubbing alcohol to depot all the other pans that you want to include in your compact. Since the other items stayed in their original pans, the process was much faster and easier. Then attach thin magnets to the underside of the pans. As mentioned, the craft magnet strips I bought were too thick, so I cut up a fridge magnet (this one was an ad from my dentist’s office LOL!) and super-glued them to the back of the pans.

Finally, arrange your pans on the metal surface of your palette. Since the pans are magnetised, you can rearrange and add more pans whenever you want to.

 See how securely the magnets hold the pans in place?

I’m loving my new palette – customised JUST for me and ONLY containing items that I love!

I hope that you found this tutorial useful – do you plan on creating your own make-up palettes?

Here are some helpful posts from other blogs:
From Head to Toe: Depotting eyeshadows using rubbing alcohol
Miss Natty’s Beauty Diary: Depotting using heat
Makeup Savvy: Creating a custom palette using pretty tins

If you want to purchase ready-made customizable empty makeup palettes (I’m not affiliated with either site):
Z-palette: Has a clear window so you can see your products. I’m not sure if the packaging is secure enough to travel with.
UNII: Brightly coloured and sturdy. Just the right size to store a full-face of makeup products.


  1. pearls and green tea
    May 5, 2011 / 12:13 am

    So cool!!jiyewww.pearlsandgreentea.com

  2. Ella Pretty Blog
    May 5, 2011 / 5:06 pm

    Jiye – thanks :-)Miss Pfefi – wow – I really love how you decorated your compact – I had been thinking of attaching some sort of vinyl stickers – but your version is SO pretty! I wish ELF made a larger palette too – I'm getting a little addicted to depotting LOL!

  3. StrawberryCheeksForever
    June 1, 2012 / 5:49 pm

    Wow, this opens a whole new world of options! I did not know you could "remake" your shattered powders, to think of all the money I wasted by throwing smashed products out. Thank you for this!!!

  4. Ella Pretty Blog
    June 1, 2012 / 9:10 pm

    I'm so glad this tutorial helped you! It's such a shame when a favorite item gets broken – and it's nice to know that it can still be fixed and used 🙂

  5. oh MY tookies!
    August 27, 2012 / 8:18 pm

    so outstanding! great job!

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      August 27, 2012 / 9:23 pm

      Thanks 🙂

  6. jennio999
    October 25, 2016 / 1:40 am

    Since you're based in Canada, and probably live in Canada, I was wondering where you purchased this? I really want one of the ELF compacts, but can't find one anywhere.

    • Ella Pretty Blog
      October 25, 2016 / 1:42 am

      I ordered mine online – but this was years ago. I think ELF is now carried in Canada in Old Navy, Walmart and well.ca.

  7. jennio999
    October 25, 2016 / 1:42 am

    I live in Canada and was wondering where you purchased this palette, I've been looking all over online and in stores for it , but can't find it.

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