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This is a great project if you have old powder makeup hanging around in bits and pieces. Put it to use by creating a personalized color palette for travel.  You’ll get to customize your colors, and reduce the size of your make up.


How to Make a Travel Makeup Palette


  • Makeup palette (not pictured below)
  • Old powdered makeup (who doesn’t have a bunch of broken or old ones hanging around?)
  • Paper towels
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol (91% works better than 70% rubbing alcohol)
  • Latex gloves
  • Small dish or plate to mix the powders and the alcohol
  • Small spoons
  • Paring knife
  • Dental pick, or toothpick – something with a point!




Prep Your Space and Your Palette

Line workspace with paper towels.  Or work on a big tray. These powders can get messy.


Start with a palette the size you want. I found this palette on clearance at the grocery store for $1.50




Empty out the palette, saving the shadows into small baggies. For my palette, I saved one pan of eye shadow to use as is.  The rest were crushed.




Clean the palette with the alcohol. I also took the labels off mine, using some Goo Gone.




What Cosmetics to Include?

Any powdered cosmetics should work. In my palette, I knew I wanted to have a shared blusher/bronzer, and powder foundation, in addition to the eye shadows. Some cosmetics will “share” a pan in the palette.


Prepare the Powders

Crush up the powder very finely. I used an old plastic mini spoon. I also blended two shades of powder foundation to make my own shade.




Crush up all those little chunks so there are none.




Using an eyedropper or a tiny spoon, slowly add 91% isopropyl alcohol to the powder. Stir with a small spoon to make a paste. You should end up with a consistency like frosting. If you add too much alcohol, you need to wait a few minutes, and the alcohol will start to evaporate, drying the paste.




Filling the Pans

Using a small spoon or spatula, put the paste in the pan in the palette.




The paste should be slightly above the level of the pan. Distribute the paste to all four corners of the pan evenly.




Leveling the Paste and Drying the Powder

Let the paste dry for 2-3 minutes.

Use your finger to tamp down in the corners, and to level out the paste in the pan as you go. You do want enough paste to be a bit above the level of the pan. If there is too much product in the pan (e.g., spilling over the sides), shave some off with the paring knife.




Place a piece of paper towel over the pan, and with your fingertip(s), press down gently to start absorbing the alcohol, and further level the paste. Do this until the paste is almost dried into a pressed powder. This takes some time. Don’t push firmly at this point. Just try to absorb the alcohol, keeping the paste more or less level as it dries, changing paper towel as needed.

Once the product is leveled across the pan (it can still be a bit above the pan at this point) place dry paper towel over the pan and push down firmly with your finger(s) to compress the powder evenly, edges included. Do this several times, replacing the paper towel each time, until the paper towel no longer shows moisture coming up on it. The trick is to be firm, but not too firm; you want your powders pressed, but not compacted to the point where it is hard to use the powder.




If you want a smooth surface, after pressing with the paper towel, cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap and push down to make the surface very smooth.




Allow 24 hours for the pan to dry fully, and for the powder to harden. Leave cover up so that the moisture in the powder evaporates.

Once dry, you can use the tip of a knife, or a toothpick to clean up the edges of each pan.

Continue to add makeup to the pans. Products can share a pan. Just cut a straight line on the edge of one of the products as it dries, before you add another product next to it. Or, add all the different colors at once. It doesn’t matter.


The finished palette.



You can use palettes of any shape to customize what you need.

This palette has a tiny bit of powder concealer, combined with a blusher. I add both pastes to the palette at the same time.




Press and level, clean up the edges with a knife, and clean the palette with alcohol.




My favorite palette is one that is tiny (it normally contains two shadows, see palette on left) but the new palette contains six eye shadows and one powdered concealer. All that contained in a palette size 2.25” long by 1.5” wide.




This one has concealer, two shades of bronzer, and blush.




Pros and Cons:


  • You get to take several of your favorite cosmetics with you in a tiny container.
  • You are not stuck with colors that come in whatever pre-made palette you buy.
  • You can add other products that you wouldn’t normally see in a palette (powder concealer in an eyeshadow palette).
  • Perfect for those who travel only a few times a year.



  • The consistency of the new shadows and powders can vary slightly different from the originals, because of the pressure you apply when the powder is drying. Experiment with how much pressure to apply. You want enough to hold the powder firmly together, but too much will make it hard to put powder on an applicator.


Have fun, experiment, and breathe new life into old cracked powdered makeup.




Please read these posts for more ideas on travel make-up:

I hope you found this post on how to make a travel makeup palette useful. Don’t forget to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!

 photo heidi.jpg

Author Bio: Heidi Barry-Rodriguez is an explorer-librarian with a love of books, travel, her husband, and two cats. She loves train travel and the mobility, serendipity and freedom that are afforded by packing lightly. Check out her podcast episode on packing light!