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It’s all about the intensity of colour: the difference between eyeshadow and pressed pigments

Pressed pigments and eyeshadow palettes with makeup brushes

Dazzling lids, smokey blow-outs and perfect transitions – the world of eye makeup relies on colour. But within that creative, vibrant playground, two players often get mistaken for teammates: eyeshadow and pressed pigments. While both add a pop of personality to your peepers, understanding their key differences is essential if you want to unlock their true potential. So, buckle up, get your brushes ready and discover why the exhilarating story of shadows and pigments is a tale of two halves.

Eyeshadow: smooth, blendable and everyone’s friend

It’s easy to call an eyeshadow a pressed pigment without thinking - or if you don't know the difference. They are the same, right? Well, actually, no. Influencers and MUAs are often considered makeup snobs when attempting to differentiate the two. But they have a valid point. They are two completely different products.

Eyeshadow is the traditional makeup lovers’ choice. Think of it as a versatile friend who gets along with everyone. Its composition is a carefully crafted, time-honoured blend of ingredients. 

They include:

  • Colour pigments

  • Binders

  • Fillers

  • Emollients

Liken it to your favourite cupcake for a second. Now think of the pigments as cherries and sprinkles - the colourful toppings that drew you to the cake when you first saw it. Picture the remaining ingredients as a cocktail of fluffy batter and creamy frosting. Imagine they exist to ensure the pigments blend, bind and feel smooth. 

The finished cupcake:

  • Eyeshadow that is easy to blend: it glides on the lid, seamlessly delivering a burst of colour. This is the formula for effortless transitions and buildable shade intensity.

  • Very forgiving, especially for beginners. Eyeshadows don't require 100 per cent precision, making them ideal for makeup newbies.

  • Great choice of finishes: shimmers, mattes, satins. Eyeshadow is versatile enough to satisfy a wide range of tastes and styles.

  • Long-wear makeup. The binders and fillers, which may sound boring, help eyeshadows to stay put and last all day.

An eyeshadow palette with a makeup brush

Of course, pressed pigments wouldn’t exist if eyeshadow was perfect. Its sheer versatility is what can let it down. Eyeshadows tend to be less intense on the colour front than their pressed pigment counterparts. They provide a soft, buildable wash of colour rather than a one-punch knockout. A skin tint rather than a full coverage foundation, if you like. 

Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, you may find some of the ingredients in eyeshadows, like preservatives, irritating.

Pressed pigments: bold and brazen for creatives

Pressed pigments can be likened to your mate who is always the life and soul of the party. The out-and-out diva who steals the show with her own brand of vivacious drama. This type of eye makeup comprises pure, concentrated pigments that are pressed into a pan. They are usually made without the fillers and binders found in eyeshadows. Think of them as lumps of coarse sea salt compared to the refined, every-day table salt. 

This highly concentrated formula is known for:

  • Unrivalled intensity: pressed pigments deliver double-take eye colour in one swipe. It’s why they are favoured for creative looks.

  • Highly blendable, but usually requires skill. The sheer intensity of pressed pigments means they require careful handling. You will need a light touch and a good blending brush to use them effectively.

  • Unlimited creative potential. Layer them, mix them and even create your own custom shades – the possibilities really are endless.

With power, however, comes the potential for conflict. Pressed pigments are notorious for being:

  • Tricky to blend. If you haven’t got a steady hand and don’t quite know how much is too much, you will end up with a patchy finish.

  • Less forgiving for those new to eye makeup. Mistakes are obvious from the get-go with pressed pigments. That is why they are considered a better match for experienced MUAs. 

  • More susceptible to fallout: the lack of binders means you could end up with pigment dust under your eyes and on your cheeks.  

  • Prone to cause irritation. Due to their super concentration, some pigments might aggravate sensitive skin. While they are considered safe for most people, it is always worth carrying out a patch test on products you haven't used before.

Pressed pigments with an eyeshadow brush

Choosing the right eye makeup for you

Now, the million-dollar question: which one outranks the other? The answer, like most things in beauty, depends! It depends on your colour intensity preferences and your level of makeup expertise. 

Things to consider:

  • Everyday look: go for the user-friendly, traditional eyeshadow. Remember it’s blendable, buildable and forgiving. Think of it as your daily dose of colour without the drama.

  • Date night glam: it’s pressed pigments all the way! Unleash their vibrancy to create smouldering smokey eyes or bold graphic lines. Have a play around using different brush techniques to see what look you can create.

  • Creative experiments: Want to mix your own palette or rock unconventional colours? Pressed pigments are your absolute playground.

  • Sensitive skin: choose eyeshadows formulated with hypoallergenic ingredients, if your lids are easily irritated.

Unlocking beautiful makeup: top tips for eyeshadow and pressed pigments

No matter which team you side with, remember these tips for a flawless finish:

  • Prime your lids: use an eyeshadow primer, like P.Louise Base Shade, for either formula to improve colour payoff and wear time.

  • Use the right tools: opt for soft, dense brushes for eyeshadows and stiff, angled brushes for pressed pigments.

  • Build colour slowly: layer pressed pigments with light touches gradually to avoid overwhelming your look.

  • Set it and forget it: apply a setting spray to lock everything in place.

eyeshadow and pressed pigments with makeup brushes

It’s fun to practise eye looks, so why not spend an evening playing around with your makeup? Check palettes in advance so you know whether you are going to be using eyeshadow or pressed pigments - or both. With time, anyone can master the more vibrant of the two. Are you bold enough to go beyond the four walls of your bedroom with an in-yer-face look?

It is worth noting that some palettes contain a mix of eyeshadows and pressed pigments. Check packaging to determine which ones are which before you apply to the lids. If you are aiming for subtlety, you don’t want any unintended theatrics.

Let your eyes show the world that you embrace vibrancy. Eye makeup is the pinnacle for the passionate, the obsessed and fashion visionaries. It’s creative, beautiful and accessible. In short, it’s simply intoxicating. 

So, eyeshadow or pressed pigments? Why choose when, with a cup of passion and a pinch of patience, you can conquer both?

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