I am not a serial depotter of beauty products. I admire people with a more utilitarian approach to makeup, people for whom packaging means little to nothing. But I’m not one of those people, and I probably never will be. I don’t insist on the fanciest, most elaborate compacts and tubes: MAC lipsticks are some of my favorites, design-wise. But I’d rather leave an eyeshadow in its original case, even at the expense of precious shelf space, than depot it into a magnetic palette. There’s just too much risk involved in prying makeup out of its exoskeleton, and the end result is often depressingly ugly.
That said, there are times when I find depotting necessary. If a product’s packaging is damaged to the point that it endangers either the makeup or me, I’d rather depot it than leave it in an unusable shell. When the mirror on my theBalm Nude ‘Tude palette developed a huge crack, I reflected that it was probably a bad idea to have broken glass near a product I put on my eyes, so I moved the pans into a Z-Palette (which also made it easier, physically and psychologically, to destash the Nude ‘Tude shades I never wore). And after reviewing Topshop’s Glow Stick in Otherworldly, I decided that I couldn’t deal any longer with its cheap, cracked packaging. I’d read about people melting down cream products in a double boiler and transferring them to new containers, so I resolved to do the same. Directions for depotting makeup are widely available in the beauty community, and I’m sure there are more effective strategies than my own sloppily improvised one, but I thought it would be fun to give you a little photoessay anyway!
The first task was finding a suitable jar. After fruitless searches of my own attic, a fancy kitchen-supply store, and a health-food store, I struck gold at Michael’s with a set of clear screw-top plastic jars meant for storing beads. Since I didn’t think to bring my highlighter with me, I had a hard time deciding which size to buy. To be safe, I bought two different sizes at $2.99 per set (I figured I could use the extras for travel):
Next I removed the highlighter from its tube. I thought I might have to scoop some product from the bottom of the tube, but the whole thing popped right out, highlighting (if you will) both the shoddiness and the misleading size of the packaging:
This highlighter is practically new (I’ve worn it maybe ten times), but look how tiny it is! The markup must be insane. Needless to say, I ended up using one of the smaller jars.
I put the denuded highlighter in a small ceramic ramekin that I had never used for food, and placed the ramekin in a shallow pan of simmering water. The product started to melt immediately…
…eventually coming to resemble a pool of shimmery vanilla custard:
Now came the tricky part: could I pour the highlighter into the jar before it hardened again? Luckily, the ramekin stayed warm enough that I was able to scrape out almost all of the product while it was still liquid. (It occurs to me now that I could have put the highlighter inside the jar and the jar inside the ramekin while it was in the double boiler, to save myself the trouble of pouring. Damn it!)
The result was less aesthetically pleasing than I’d hoped:
Glossier stickers to the rescue!
Ah, much better.
The whole procedure took maybe ten minutes, and now I’m more excited about Otherworldly than ever. I see how depotting can become addictive: as makeup consumers, we’re used to receiving products already designed, pressed, and packaged for us, and it’s empowering to be on the other end of the manufacturing process, if only in the most amateur way. I doubt I’ll ever make a habit of depotting my makeup, but it’s nice to know I can! What are your thoughts on depotting?