Pigment Problems Solved

When pitted against pressed products in my stash, pigments always get pushed to the side. They’re messy, I struggle to apply them in my 10 minute makeup application window and I usually end up with half the tub of the stuff on my floor/dressing table/clothes/hair/anywhere else that it shouldn’t be. But when I mentioned MAC’s Pigment in Tan in last month’s Beauty Bag some interesting notes popped up in the comments section and it got me thinking, and experimenting. Turns out they’re not that bad. There’s just a knack. So I’ve jotted down five tips I’ve found to aid a pigment pussy into a pigment pro.

Get your mix on. It was Miriam’s comment on that post about blending pigment with your foundation that snowballed this whole thing. What a genius idea – cheers gal. It may seem a little out there, but especially when using a neutral shade it just works. A little will create a cream-like texture, but a lot and you end up with a sheer wash of your chosen shimmer. Mind blown. Of course there’s always good ol’ MAC’s Fix+ if you just want something with some serious adhering properties.

Flat or finger. After a lot of trial and error (and remanents of pigment being found three days later on the carpet) I’ve found two methods of application to work best. First up the most primitive technique – fingers. A bit of dabbing and dotting works wonders. Just make sure there’s tissue to mop up the mess nearby. When brushes come into play I find that flat synthetic ones work best, either used dry or with a spritz of MAC’s Fix+ on the end. But fingers are seriously where it’s at.

Make it matte. I think part of the reason that I shy away from pigments as – bit of a sweeping statement here – they tend to be heavy on the shimmer. I found that pairing something über glittery on the lid, with something matte like MAC’s Espresso or Urban Decay’s Naked in the crease stops it looking too jazzy. Jazzy? Must use that word more often.

Eyes first! The oldest and most straightforward trick in the book, but the hurdle I fall at most often. Get your pigment on first, then start the rest of your makeup. A little dust of an unloaded powder brush over the tops of your cheeks (a.k.a pigment catches) should see of any stray shimmers.

Playtime. The loose stuff isn’t just reserved for lid use; check the box for any warnings first but most pigments are compatible with eyes, lips, face and all sorts. Mix in with nail polish, add over lipgloss, highlight cheeks, sprinkle some into your setting powder for an oomph of radiance or my personal favourite – wet an eyeliner brush and stripe over the top lashline.

Simples – you’ll be piling on the pigment like a pro in no time at all. My favourites? Illamasqua’s Pure Pigment in Ore and the aforementioned MAC Pigment in Tan. Bronzed glitter goddess perfection.


  • bacardi chasers

    I love loose pigments and I use them for everything just like you suggested. Great post!

  • Celina

    This is so helpful. I’ve always been so afraid of pigments because I didn’t know what the heck to do with them! Thanks Anna! 🙂

    Celina | The Celution

  • Jo Sharma-Stray

    I have Mac Tan, I love it but have to agree, always gets pushed to the side over other eyeshadows. Mac vanilla pigment is a really great one as it works well as a highlight for the inner corners of the eye, as well as cheekbones and brow bone. I have had mine for about 5 years and have hardly dented it…they last ages!

  • Miriam

    Other solution: Turn it into a pressed pigment by adding Alcohol and press it in a clean pot 🙂

  • and kate

    Wow I love this!
    Thanks for the help Anna (the best beauty blogger around)
    I love Illamasqua in Ore but have never tried MAC in Tan, definitely will do now though!
    Have a fab day
    Lots of love
    Kate xo

  • Olivia S

    My fear of getting pigment everywhere is now gone 🙂 I shall begin playing around with them! Mac’s tan is such an amazing colour Xx

    Olivia –

  • Catrin

    This is so handy, Thankyou!

  • Love these tips, I will be reaching for my Illamasqua pigments much more often.

    Lottie x

  • Of course you could try the cream pigments – Illamasqua do great ones so easy to blend from the get go. Hollow is a lovely eye base/contouring colour I picked up in their sale. They are generally matt too.

    Although having said that if I can get my hands on MAC Reflects Antique Glitter I will be happy for life.

  • These are great tips! I’m off to do some experimenting…thanks for sharing! x

    Deborah |

  • Keri

    I’ve always been intimidated by pigments, but I think I might do some experimenting with a mac pigment I received for my birthday. Thanks for the tips!
    Best Wishes, Keri

  • Parisian To Be

    Thanks for this ever-so-helpful post! I may finally have my try at pigments.
    xo Lillian

  • Ahhh, pigments scare me! The closest I’ve ever gotten to using them are those L’oreal Infallible 24-hour eyeshadows. I would make a complete mess if I used a real deal pigment!

  • Kelly C.

    Pigments and loose eye shadows can be really scary! I’ve never tried the Illamasqua or MAC ones, but I do have quite a few Bare Minerals eye shadows. I’ll definitely be trying the flat brush technique! What I usually end up doing is almost pushing the product into the bristles of a regular brush, tapping of the excess, and then patting it on. That way, you apply the product and sort-of blend it out all in one step!

  • Emily Allen

    Thanks for this Vivianna I might finally start using some of my mac pigments!

  • Amy

    Thank you for this post! I have a few Barry M dazzle dusts but they are soo messy and hard to use, but I’ll be having a go with them now! x

    Amy |

  • disqus_61ZpffsK95

    My fave flat brushes to use are the urban decay ones!

  • Kimberley

    Reading your post reminds me, I should probably get some of my pigments out to use as well. Thanks for the foundation idea! I will definitely try it!

  • Tenneil

    Thanks so much for these tips, Anna! I own a few MAC pigments but rarely reach for them because like you, suffered the problems of time consuming and mess. I can’t wait to try them out again using these handing suggestions though! I have MAC Fix+ and a flat shader brush at hand too, so I’m good to go!

  • Eliza

    These tips are so helpful! I have just ordered some pigments and now i won’t be afraid to use them haha, I’ve never heard of the foundation trick but shall give it a go xox

  • Stacey

    These Tips are amazing! I have always shied away from loose pigment eye shadows because of the mess and the the fall out. Won’t be worried about that again. Thanks 😀

  • Amber Hunter

    This post is insanely helpful! I have always shyed away from buying loose pigment because I always make a mess but I think it’s time I gave it another try!

    xx Amber

    Lovely Notions

  • This looks so good!

  • Carima

    These are some really good tips! Thank you.


  • Beautyandtheb

    The mac pigment looks so gorgeous, Great tips! 🙂

    B xx

  • Darling Zara

    What a great post, love your tips Anna!

  • lane

    I agree those urban decay brushes that come with the palettes are so useful for pigments!!

  • Eleri Roberts
  • Denisha

    Omg you just saved all those unused pigments in my drawer <3Denisha

  • Charlotte

    Such great tips 🙂 Love the mix in with the foundation one – definite genius. I’ve said this before but I really love your sense of humour, you really make me chuckle.

    Charlotte xxx Something Special To Say

  • Gee Mill

    omg thank you! this was so helpful!


  • Shevasherapy

    I have never tried pigments before because I’m too scared of them (how do you apply it, what do you pair it with, will shimmer work on me, etc). I have to admit, I’m still scared of them but now is the time to be brave. What would you recommend for a pigment noob like me?

  • Daniella

    i cant be bothered with pigment.. hahaha but I love the foundation trick!

  • Very helpful post! I have a few pigments but I just never really knew how to use them. Definitely going to try them out more often now!

    x Isabelle

  • Roshni K

    I have so many bare escentuals pigments that I dont often use, just because it is so much easier to use a palette and not ruin my white carpet! Il definitely try out the mixing with foundation tip! Thanks 🙂

  • Rosie Apple

    Love this post, so helpful!

  • I usually stray away from pigments because they’re so messy. Because of this, I don’t own any… and I think I’ve been seriously missing out! I didn’t realize it could be used in so many ways. I think I need to get some so that I can play with them 🙂

    Thanks Vivianna!
    Much love,
    Em from Mascara Warrior blog