Monday, July 14, 2014

How To / Product Review: Depotting and Eyeshadow Storage with the Z Palette

By Randi Reed

FTC Disclosure: I purchased this product myself. Purchases through the Beauty Habit link at the end of this post earn a small commission.

As any cosmetics junkie knows, at some point, we start running out of space for products. Exactly when this occurs depends on the habit of the makeup junkie. For some, critical mass might be reached at twenty products. Others muddle through until suddenly they find themselves with 150 eyeshadows. Whatever the number, depotting products into a palette goes from a fleeting idea to an actual possibility.

Depending on the nature of your makeup habit, the word depotting either strikes fear into you or sounds like an exciting project.

I confess to having had reservations about depotting. I liked a lot of my products' packaging, and I even liked the clickety-click sound the eyeshadows made as I rooted through my train case in search of that day’s look. Still, reality set in. All that rooting through was taking longer, and it would likely damage my products at some point. Also, I’d noticed I was buying duplicate colors without realizing it--albeit by different brands.

Most importantly, I was happy with the size of my faux vintage train case, which sat neatly within easy reach atop my vanity table. I really didn’t want to move up to a larger size. And my yearly purge hadn't yielded much space.

Yep…it was time to give depotting some serious consideration.

After much YouTube surfing, reading reviews of various palette products, and measuring to see what I was getting myself into, I decided to to order the Z Palette Dome Palette. Designed by a makeup artist, I thought it might be more durable than other brands I looked at, while still holding a lot of product.

I knew I’d need at least two Z Palettes, but I wanted to give it a test run before depotting my entire collection. I also, pointedly, decided not to depot my favorite limited editions in case the process was a bust, either figuratively, or literally.

There are many good depotting tutorials out there, and I recommend watching a few different ones before choosing your depotting method. Essentially, you have a choice between the cold method, which involves playing with sharp instruments, or the heat method, which involves either a flat iron,
an oven set on low heat, or a skillet on a low temperature burner.

Sharp objects or fumes of melting plastic…which to choose? Figuring my lungs, migraines and the smoke alarm would thank me later (unless I punctured a vein, anyway), I went with sharp objects.

After inspecting the tiny corner gaps of my intended eyeshadow victims and digging around in several drawers around the house, my chosen tools were a large safety pin, a bent-bladed serrated grapefruit knife, and a pearl-headed straight pin.

I also got out some small pieces of baking parchment for parking the newly-free gluey eyeshadow pans on, and some nail polish remover and cotton swabs for removing extra glue. (So much for no fumes…) Other items I found handy were a sheet of paper for collecting the labels with application diagrams I liked, and a clean empty Altoids tin to use as a temporary holding pen for the newly clean eyeshadow pans as I arranged them in the Z Palette.

My method:

Deciding some sort of assembly line situation was in order, I began each de-pot by removing any labels I wanted to save and adhering them to a sheet of paper. If you're lucky, on the back of the product under the label you'll find a tiny hole, meant for inserting a pin to easily pop out the pan of product.

I wasn't so lucky, except for two Revlons. Prying was in order.

Depending on the size of the tiny gap between the eyeshadow pan and its plastic case,  I began to pry out the eyeshadow pan with either a straight pin or a safety pin, working slowly. When the pan was free enough to insert the grapefruit knife, I used it as a spatula to simultaneously pry and slice through the remaining stringy glue and lift the little pan from its plastic holder.

Then a cleanup on the bottom of the pan with some nail polish remover, and a set aside to dry and to receive their magnetic stickers and labels. A few pans in, I decided to save some cleanup by utilizing remaining glue to help adhere the magnetic stickers. Several times during the process I also found it necessary to use nail polish remover to de-gum my fingers of glue buildup.

The pans that were extremely difficult, I set aside for the heat method.

Depotting without product breakage is not easy and requires extreme care and patience. Unless you want guaranteed product breakage, you cannot go quickly, so I recommend setting aside more time than you think you'll need, with no distractions.

My best depotting advice: if a pan is at all resistant to depotting, set it immediately aside for the heat method.
Toward the end of the pile, I had a few impatience-caused casualties which needed repairing via alcohol (in the eyeshadow, not me-- though by the end of the process, I probably could have used a stiff drink).
Fortunately, I managed to complete the depotting of my eyeshadows without sticking or cutting myself. A few times I came close, so if weaponry is your depotting method of choice, use extreme care.

As to the Z-Palette Dome itself: It's sleek and the right size for home storage.
My travel eyeshadows are part of a Too Faced Glamour to Go palette I wasn't planning to depot, and my blush and bronzer collection is tightly edited, so they weren't a factor. Of the several sizes of Z Palettes available, that made the  Dome Palette the right choice for me, especially for accommodating my thicker, sculpted shadows.

Made of the sturdy coated cardboard similar to the way Urban Decay shadow collections are packaged, The Z Palette lid has a large, clear plastic window which allows you to see what's inside. The lid bends completely backwards around the back of the palette to get it out of the way, which I find very handy. The magnetic bottom has good "grab" and held my eyeshadow pans securely--especially after applying the Z Palette's included metal stickers. 

As to durability, since I don't plan to travel with it, the Z Palette will be fine for home use.  Would I trust it banging around in my luggage? No. Were I to travel with it, I'd add the extra security of wrapping a couple of rubber bands around the outside and secure it snugly in a padded cosmetic case.

My only complaint about the Z Palette is that I haven’t yet found a thin permanent marker that actually writes on its included metal stickers. The thinnest Sharpie might work, but lacking one, I made do by cutting up some Avery labels I already had on hand. A few more square metal stickers in the package might be nice, as I ran out and resorted to round. Skinny rectangles to accommodate certain brands would be a good addition, too.

If I had to do it again, would I de-pot my eyeshadow collection? In terms of time and effort, the jury’s still out, although I did purchase a second Z Palette Dome Palette and completed the process. I certainly gained a lot of space, and by better organizing them, I found previously ignored shadow colors I'll use more often. Plus, by being able to easily see them,  I'll save money by no longer buying duplicates.

Best of all, Terracycle gained about a pound more plastic for their Beauty Brigade makeup case recycling program. Knowing my discarded eyeshadow cases, combined with others, will be a park bench someday is a very cool thing.

Score 8 out of 10.

Pile of empties less than halfway through depotting my collection.
(Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Contents from the empties from the first photo fit in here. See the dark blue Urban
Decay casualty near the top right?  (Photo: Randi Reed / Cosme-Haul.)

Completed Z Palette Dome Palette. (Photo: Randi Reed/ Cosme-Haul.)

Want a Z Palette of your own? You can purchase one here:

Shop Makeup at

Follow me on Twitter @CosmeHaul.