Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anhydrous eye shadow primer - recipe!

I'm having a love affair with this anhydrous eye shadow primer - originally found in this post, but I thought I'd share it again with more detail (with plans for an upcoming SnapGuide visual tutorial). What I've created is a basically a lotion bar with very dry and less greasy feeling oils and butters with some oil soluble titanium dioxide used to create a white background.

What's the point of an eye shadow primer? It's to create a blank, slightly sticky canvas on your eye lid to help your eye shadow adhere well and keep its colour nicely. As you can see on the back of my hand, the titanium dioxide offers some light whitening to help your colours pop. As someone with oily skin, I wasn't sure if adding an oil only product to my eye lids was a good idea, but really helps the colours pop and remain on my eye lid instead of fading over the course of the day.

Most of the primers you see will be an oil-in-water product and it seems like most of them contain silicones. I love silicones and think they're a fantastic addition to this product, too, but I worried that I would have to pour the recipe too hot to include cyclomethicone and dimethicone, both of which are heat sensitive. I have done it before - as you can see in this recipe - but I thought I'd offer a version without them here.

The key to this recipe is using dry feeling oils. I chose mango butter as it will offer stiffness and hardness to the bar without adding a ton of greasiness. I chose fractionated coconut oil because it is very light and not as greasy as some oils, and kukui nut oil because I had quite a bit of it and absolutely love it.

If you want to make tweaks, cocoa butter is a better substitute for mango butter than shea butter. Or choose one of these exotic butters. Coconut oil is not appropriate for this application as it will melt at 24˚C or 76˚C, and that's simply too low. Substitute hazelnut or macadamia nut oil for all of the oils, if you wish. Grapeseed oil would work as well, but the three month shelf life just simply isn't long enough for a product like this. Evening primrose, borage, and a lot of the exotic oils would work well here, and considering you're only making 100 grams at the most of this product, you wouldn't be using much!

Titanium dioxide is a whiter ingredient than zinc oxide - in fact, it's one of the whitest ingredients on earth! - but you can use either. You'll get a whiter product with titanium dioxide than zinc oxide. I've used 15% in this recipe - I don't recommend going higher as it really was too thick to pour at 20%.

Finally, I encourage you to consider making 50 grams of this product rather than 100 grams or more as you will get quite a lot of out of it. I made 9 tubes from 50 grams!

20% beeswax
25% mango butter
40% oils of choice

15% oil soluble titanium dioxide or zinc oxide
0.5% Vitamin E (optional)

Place all the heated phase ingredients into a heatproof container and melt in a double boiler until all the ingredients have melted. Then heat it for another 10 minutes. We want this to be really hot because it needs to be very liquid to pour into the lip balm tubes after adding the titanium dioxide.

In the meantime, set up your lip balm containers. Make sure you've screwed them all the way down and take the tops off. 100 grams of this recipe will make something like 20 - 4.5 ml tubes, so make sure you have more than enough!

Remove from the heat and add the powder. Mix really really well and pour into the tubes. Stop to mix every few tubes because it really wants to sink to the bottom of the jug! Let the tubes sit until hardened. I like to put mine in the fridge after hardening just to make sure they are solid. Rejoice!

The reason for those little divots is that I poured it too warm. But if I poured it cooler, I wouldn't have been able to pour it at all, so I accept the divots. You can pour it a little lower, put a cross in the top of the primer with a small knife, then pour some more on top if you want a perfect top. I don't worry about it, but you might!

In case you were wondering, I buy my lip balm packaging at Voyageur Soap & Candle. Click here for the coloured ones, click here for the clear oval ones. I mention this as someone will ask and I want you to have cute things. I am not affiliated with Voyageur Soap & Candle in any way, other than absolutely loving their products and their constant support of my youth programs, as demonstrated by their discounts and donations! 

Related posts:
Back to the very basics: Defining our terms for anhydrous products
Newbie Tuesday: Formulating lotion bars


Carol said...

Oh thank you so much. I realize you had posted this before, I thank you for bringing it up again. I'm going to have to see if I have some of these oils. I have started to wear more makeup of late and only discovered eye shadow primer recently. I have such oily skin and it is nice to know it worked for you.

Kate McAfee said...

I just use a butane torch (like a creme brulee torch) to reheat the tops of lip balms, it melts and refills the hole then solidifies into a perfect top!

Jen said...

Susan, you're a genius! I've never used eye shadow primer (seemed a little fussy or I'm lazy) but was immediately intrigued by your recipe. I tweaked it a bit (wanted to try it without the whitening bit) and put it in a dispenser better suited to a stain stick. This stuff is amazing and my comically enormous dispenser gets my whole eye in one dab. And now I wish you had a twitter handle so I could give you a proper shout out. :)

Kemi said...

I'm going to try this ASAP, I've tried many store bought eyeshadow primers and they all seem too oily for me. I gave up but I think I'll try making my own. Is there anything that can be used to tint the primer brown?

K Blair said...

Thanks for posting this - I had asked about it - I haven't had a chance to try it, but I will! Do you find it creases at all?

Jing Yi Kenny Tan said...

its difficult to get mango butter where im from. if i were to replace it, do u recommend shea butter or cocoa butter? (i live where its summer the whole year)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi K Blair. Sorry I missed your comment. Yes, it creases a little after a few hours of wearing it, but I find a quick swipe with my finger and everything's back to normal.

As an aside, my mom has taken to wearing this as a white eye shadow and is encouraging me to put colours in it.

Hi Jing Yi Kenny Tan! You can find the answer to your question in today's (early) Weekend Wonderings. The short answer - I'd go with cocoa butter.

Anonymous said...

I'm heartbroken :O
I almost ALWAYS find what I want in your site.. this time I didn't find a formula for face primer :'(

Can you please formulate one with dimethicone please?
thanks so much


Jada said...

I love your blog, Susan! I have a question: I'd like to make my own foundation primer and I was wondering what makes foundation primer different from eyeshadow primer. Is it basically just a regular lotion with pigment? Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jada. Can you post a link to a product like the one you want and post the list of ingredients here? I need some clarification on what you are seeking.

Mary Walton said...

Love anhydrous products, thank you for your recipe Susan. Could we adjust this to make it into an actual creamy eye or lip colour?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Mary. I don't think it would work well as a lip colour - you'd want to decrease the zinc oxide/titanium dioxide - but I have been playing with it as a creamy eye colour and it's working well! You can decrease the whitener in it if you want a darker colour, but definitely leave some of it in to be an opaque colour.

HoneyLady said...

Maybe it's a silly question, but could you not just add your color to this and make it an eyeshadow stick? Majestic Mountain Sage has some wonderful teeny-tiny lip balm tubes -- a handful would give you a half dozen colors of shadow. Add other color, and a larger tube and make a blush stick? Just a thought!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Honey Lady! Sure, why not? As I mention to Mary in the comment above, you'll have to play with the amount of colour to get the brightness you want. I really should post that eye recipe soon!

Dee Dee Egner said...

Hi Susan! I love your blog & really appreciate how you share your knowledge with us in such a factual, well-cited, Intelligent, & selfless manner. I admire you very much.

I would also be interested in a silicone based facial primer recipe similar to elf's (

The ingredients listed on their site is as follows:
Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone,Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Phenoxyethanol May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Red 40 Lake (CI 16035), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Tin Oxide (CI 77861)

I hope this information is sufficient to give you better idea of what we are seeking. Again, thank you for all that you do.

--Dee Dee

Cushla Grace said...

Likewise, I use M.A.C. Prep and Prime facial primer for a very light non-sticky slippery primer that fills the pores and wrinkles etc. I also use M.A.C. Prep and Prime lip liner - I would really like to make the lip primer too as it is VERY expensive. I suspect is is silicone based..... would you have a suggestion for a formulation please? Thanks as ever, Kirsten

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Dee Dee. It looks like what you have there is a silicone serum, which you could make by combining various silicones quite easily. The silica thickens the product. Take a look at this ingredient at Lotioncrafter, then check out this recipe to make your own version!

Hi Cushla. Could you please post a link to the ingredients for this product and we can take a look at it? I need the ingredients to know what you want to make. (No promises, just getting ideas!)

Tegan said...

Thank you so much for this post! Can't wait to try it! My only question would be, woukd it be possible for you to post pictures showing how the eyeshadow looks with and without primer? :)

Erin said...

I'm working on making an eyeshadow primer and don't really want to add fragrance if I can avoid it (maybe thinking about infusing one of my oils with lavender). I'm a newbie at this. I've successfully made a lip balm and it doesn't smell. When I try to make my eye primer though, I'm using the same ingredients pretty much (beeswax, shea butter, castor oil, fractionated coconut oil, and vitamin E oil) but for the primer I'm adding titanium dioxide (oil dispersible) and a little bit of mica - I am thinking of trying dimethicone and cyclomethicone in the future also.(not really sure why a lot of primers have these two ingredient together, but seems like I may need them together in there) The end result is that it smells like strong crayons and it's very unpleasant. I can't find anything much on making eye primers from scratch but lip balms seem to be about the same concept.
Might you have any ideas as to why it smells like crayons? Only thing I can think of is the titanium dioxide. Maybe I'm putting too much in? Wondering if maybe mineral powders start to smell at higher temperatures?
Any advice would help. Thanks! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erin. I'm a bit confused. You say you haven't found anything about making primers from scratch, but you've commented on a post about making primers from scratch.

I'm sorry, I don't know why your product smells like crayons. I would smell each of your ingredients separately and see which one is bringing that smell to the mix. It could be a combination of ingredients when they come together. Sounds like it might be the smell of the titanium dioxide, but as I've never noticed it, I'm afraid I can't help here...

Anonymous said...

I will like to make the eye shadow primer like a more crean lotion type like to out a squeese type packaging por serum packing instead of chapestick style. Please advise how can it be achieve Cordially and God bless stephanie

Anonymous said...

Can this recipe double or be tweaked into a zinc water resistant face sunblock? I'm trying to design a surfers natural zinc face sunblock. Should it be anhydrous or emulsified? I would like to add in some antiaging botanicals as well. Any ideas?

Briana Moore said...

Hi Susan! First off I don't think I could ever thank you enough for everything I've learned from your site. My life is forever changed and skin forever moisturixed!

I know you are not accepting requests to duplicate products but I noticed you have never formulated a recipe for foundation primer. I recently discovered an amazing primer that has topped all others and wanted to share the ingredients with you (in my hopes that someday you might want to formulate one).

The product is called Porefessional by Benefit and here is a list of ingredients:
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Isononyl Isononanoate, Silica, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Isododecane, Phenoxyethanol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Titanium Dioxide, Cyclohexasiloxane, Tocopheryl Acetate, Fragrance (Parfum), Mica, Iron Oxides, Trethoxycaprylylsilane, BHT

I have very oily and acne prone skin and this is one of only a few primers that gives great coverage without breaking me out. I keep thinking I'm going to try and make my own and then chicken out.. That's how I ended up back on your site doing a search for primers. ;)

Thanks again for everything!

A Fajardo said...

Hi Susan, I tried your recipe today and think that it is awesome. I just was thinking maybe it will glide more when applying if there's an added ingredient for that. Was wondering what you think? Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi A! There are tons of ingredients you could add to increase the slip and glide, but many of them will leave a greasy sheen on your eyes. Silicones might be a great addition, and I regularly add 2% dimethicone and 2% cyclomethicone to the mix. I think you'll have to experiment to see what adds slip but doesn't increase greasiness on your skin. This verson works great for my oily skin and the kids in my group with really oily skin report that it doesn't make them feel more greasy. But your skin is different, so you might want to try something else.

Please come back and let us know what you try and how it works out! That's how we make this community better!

Kitty L said...

This looks great. But I would like to make it without the oxides, as I do not have them. Would you recommend a substitute? Or maybe add some food powder as a colorant instead? How would it be just leaving them out?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kitty! If you leave them out, it's just a lip balm or lotion bar. The titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are necessary to provide the white canvas for the eye shadow. Please don't add food colouring as it is water soluble and won't mix in and not appropriate for cosmetics.