The biggest makeup bummer we can think of is dropping an expensive product, or even worse, our entire makeup bag. In our experience, it’s kind of like dropping our phones. We pause for a split second, mentally preparing ourselves to go through the five stages of grief, just in case the screen is shattered. It’s exactly like that, but with eye shadow palettes, lipsticks, and blush. It’s not the end of the world, of course, but it’s still a misfortune, especially when makeup costs as much as it does. After all, when we spend $50-plus on a particular palette, we plan on making it last, no matter what. That means fixing our makeup and restoring it to its prior state so we don’t have to shell out more money to replace it.
How does one fix makeup, you ask? There are a couple of different ways, but it depends on what type of product you broke. Nonetheless, we went straight to expert makeup artists to find out exactly how they fix their broken products (plus to hear about their picks and expert makeup travel hacks).
How to Fix Broken Powders
According to Christine, how you should fix broken powders depends on the extent of the breakage. “If it’s just a crack, I would tap the backside [of the packaging], making sure all the excess is broken is off, therefore not bleeding into the other colors in the palette,” she says. After that, try reaching for a makeup brush to smudge the shadow in, making sure it’s pressed nicely into the packaging, in order to prevent new cracks from forming. “What you don’t want is the shadow to keep breaking, creating more of a mess.”
If the powder makeup is completely crumbled, break it up even further. Yes, we’re serious. “If any powders break, whether it’s a shadow, bronzer, etc., you can always break it up and put it into a container and use it as a loose powder,” Christine says. Just pick up a small container from an art store and pop the loose powder inside.
Khachaturian’s favorite pick is Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Powder ($50). “At first glance, they may look like they’re too shimmery to be finishing powders, but it’s quite the contrary,” he says. “They re-create the look of incredibly flattering light and basically photoshop your face. There are six shades to choose from, so there is one for everyone.”
For Full Pressed-Powder Restoration
If you’re looking to complete a full pressed-powder restoration, then Khachaturian has the advice for you. “Fixing a broken powder product isn’t as hard as you may think,” he says. “For me, I like to turn it into a fun little arts and crafts project. What I do is collect all the broken pieces and get as much of the product back into the original container as I can. Then, I grind it up as much as possible. This includes parts of the product that may not have broken. A toothpick is a good tool for this. The finer the product is, the better its chances of coming back to life. Finally, a few drops of rubbing alcohol (or maybe a few more if it’s a larger product like a powder compact) is all it takes. Put the drops over the top of the product and then smooth it out by hand or with a flat tool. A spoon can work really well. It dries quickly, but I like to leave it alone for several hours to ensure it comes together properly.”
That’s all it takes. Rubbing alcohol, a little patience, and some pressure will make your pressed powders, well, pressed again. You can also use filtered water or micellar water as a substitute for rubbing alcohol.
How to Fix Broken Lipsticks
As it turns out, fixing a broken lipstick is even easier than fixing a broken powder product. “This is a pretty easy fix,” Christine says. She starts by sticking the broken lipstick in the freezer. This will help bond the broken pieces back together. If that doesn’t work, “warm it up with a tiny makeup spatula and push it into a small empty container,” she advises. Again, you can find these at makeup or art stores. “I also microwave the lipsticks a little bit so they fully melt down into the container,” Christine explains. To apply your color, dip a lip brush into the lip color before tracing it onto the lips.
Khachaturian agrees with Christine that repurposing the broken part into a separate container is your best move. “Lipsticks can be a little tricky, as creams don’t work the same way as powders,” he says. “What I like to suggest is to get a little round sample or travel container that you can find at pretty much any drugstore or beauty supply and smush the broken part into that. You can also dig out the leftover lipstick from the inside of the tube and use that as well. A lip brush that collapses or that has a lid is a great tool to pair for this kind of scenario.”
How to Fix Clumpy Mascara
Clumpy mascara is difficult to use and results in a less-than-ideal look on your lashes. While clumpy mascara may be a sign it’s time for a new one, if yours is less than six months old then you can try these solutions.
To revitalize a clumping mascara, you can start by boiling water. Place the entire closed mascara into the hot water. It should be completely submerged and should be left to sit for a few minutes. Carefully remove the mascara and allow it to cool down before checking to see if this quick fix was effective.
If your mascara is still clumpy, try dipping the wand into hot water and allowing it to sit for a few minutes. You can also add olive oil, eye drops, or contact solution to the mascara bottle to break up clumps in the formula.
Khachaturian is a fan of Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes ($24). “This is literally the best mascara that I’ve ever used,” he says. “It delivers beautiful volume while lengthening your lashes without any of the clumsiness; it’s super separating.”
Identify Products Less Likely to Break
While it’s just a fact of life that certain products are more breakable than others, Christine says it might be worth sussing out the weak from the durable, especially if you travel often. “Some products last longer in their containers,” she says. “Chanel is the first that comes to mind. I’ve dropped my palettes and lipsticks, and they are perfect for use after.” We like Chanel’s Rouge Coco Lipsticks ($42), which are hydrating and ultra-pigmented.
As for Khachaturian, he recommends keeping the product’s packaging if you’ll be traveling. “As much as I feel like a pack rat, I like to keep the boxes from some of my favorite palettes and products. This gives them a little bit of extra armor, especially when traveling,” he says. “Another trick with keeping your products from breaking is to pack them tightly. When they have too much room to move around, you risk them breaking. If they’re packed up nicely and can’t fly around, then they’ll be much safer!”
Not All Makeup Products Can Be Fixed
Just know that there are some makeup products that can’t be fixed. We know, it makes us just as sad, but it’s a fact. “Most everything powder can be fixed but there are some that can’t be fixed,” Khachaturian explains. “I would say anything that’s in glass. If your foundation or something else that comes in a glass container breaks, I would definitely toss it. The last thing you want to do is exfoliate with little glass shards just to salvage some makeup.” We agree. After all, saving your foundation isn’t worth damaging your skin. It’s better to be safe than sorry.