MAC de-potting project … or how I finally organized my eyeshadow singles

MAC de-potting project opener


I hadn’t realized how many MAC single eyeshadows I owned, until one day they threatened to overflow the container I kept them in. So what did I do? I divided them up into colour groups of 15 shadows (the size of the large MAC palettes), and placed them in baggies to await their new home. And wait, they did. And wait some more.

It came to the point where I didn’t even know what colours I had anymore, and decided to “de-pot” them all; it helped that MAC dropped the price of their palettes (CAD $10.00) and inserts (CAD $2.00), which made this project so much easier on the wallet. Having never attempted this before, I scoured Youtube videos for how-to methods, and found one that worked for me (I don’t remember which video it was now … sorry!)

*Note that some of the photos are grainy and/or a touch blurry – they were taken in a rush with my phone.

The mission:

To de-pot +/- 65 single eyeshadows into 5 palettes


  • paper towels
  • small sharp knife
  • letter opener
  • tweezers
  • heat source (tea light candle)
  • pen & paper
  • 2-sided tape
  • transparent 1″ round stickers
  • Sharpie (I used red ultra-fine; white, silver or gold would be even better)
  • eyeshadows in their pots (like, duh)


  1. After laying down some paper towels on your work surface, begin by inserting the tip of your small sharp knife into the seam found on the eyeshadow pot (fig. 1) and add some pressure by twisting the knife slightly until the eyeshadow in its plastic “sleeve” pops out of the larger container (fig. 2). Remember to keep the knife pointed away from you.
  2. With the tweezers, firmly grip one edge of the eyeshadow (fig. 3) and place it over your candle, staying approximately 2-3 inches above the heat source. Remember that the purpose is for the bottom of the plastic to soften/melt enough, so that you can pop the eyeshadow out of its plastic “sleeve” – that being said, be aware that IT WILL GET VERY HOT. Turn it over often to check the progress – the entire process takes less than a minute.
  3. Once underside of the plastic pot has melted sufficiently (fig. 4), turn the shadow over and still gripping one edge firmly with the tweezers, use the blunted tip of a letter opener to push the shadow out of the plastic sleeve (fig. 5). The glue used to stick the shadow to the plastic pot will have melted and may be stringy – try to avoid it (fig. 6).  DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING WITH YOUR FINGERS AT THIS POINT as the metal will still be very hot.
  4. Keeping the popped eyeshadow upside down on the paper towel, take the original plastic pot & gripping it by the edge of the lid (fig. 7), hold it over the flame once more (slightly higher and moving it around to avoid the paper label from scorching) for about 7-10 seconds, until an edge of the label lifts enough that you can peel it off easily with the tweezers (fig. 8).
  5. Working quickly, place the freshly peeled label onto the back surface of your popped eyeshadow and press into place (fig. 9).
  6. Before inserting your newly prepared eyeshadows in the palette, make sure to write down their names (and type ie: matte, frost, etc) and placement order on a piece of paper – necessary for the last step.
  7. Attach small slivers of 2-sided tape to each eyeshadow label (being careful to avoid placing the tape on the name) and pop each prepared eyeshadow into its place in the palette. With your finger covered by a tissue, add some light pressure onto the eyeshadow’s surface to ensure it adhered well.
  8. With a Sharpie, clearly list each eyeshadow on the transparent stickers (fig. 10), then using your previous written information as a guide, place these new labels on the underside of the palette, in the same order as the shadows appear within the palette (fig. 11).

Helpful tips:

Dividing your eye shadows into the colour groups of your choice BEFORE you begin a project such as this, makes it easier once you begin; this way you know exactly what will go where, with no unnecessary scrambling during the process.

By taking a few extra minutes to write down the eyeshadow names (and the order that they’ll be in their respective palettes), you eliminate the guesswork of what shade you’re dealing with.

Even though these palettes are said to have a magnetic base, I found that the de-potted eyeshadows did NOT stick in their individual slots at all. You can always buy a roll of magnetic tape to affix pieces to each eyeshadow, but that might add bulk; 2-sided tape is much sleeker to work with, and sticks like a charm.

MAC de-potting project shadow pots

the ‘Before’ shot: MAC single eyeshadows living in baggies

MAC shadows

splitting up the eyeshadows into their final colour groups (missing one baggie-full here)

MAC de-potting project empty palettes

a view of the insert (left) and the clear-topped palette

MAC de-potting project palette insert

a closer look at the insert

MAC de-potting project start

fig. 1: first stage in separating the plastic pot

MAC de-potting project shadow removed

fig.  2: eyeshadow in its plastic “sleeve” out of the pot

MAC de-potting project

fig. 3: holding the eyeshadow over the heat source

MAC de-potting project 2

fig. 4: bottom of plastic “sleeve” ready to have its eyeshadow popped out

MAC de-potting project 3

fig. 5: pushing the eyeshadow out of its “sleeve”

MAC de-potting project 4

fig. 6: glue strings

MAC de-potting project heating label

fig. 7: heating the label

MAC de-potting project peeling label

fig. 8: peeling the label

MAC de-potting project label applied

fig. 9: peeled label attached to de-potted eyeshadow

MAC de-potting project 5

fig. 10: writing down each eyeshadow name on transparent stickers

MAC de-potting project palette labels

fig. 11: transparent labels affixed to the back of each palette

MAC de-potting project completed

the completed results!

MAC de-potting project 6 palettes

the bottom right palette was created a few years ago – note the older style

*Click to enlarge each palette photo to view the names clearer

MAC Palette 1 cool shades

Palette 1: Cool Shades

MAC Palette 2 pinks & purples

Palette 2: Pinks & Purples

MAC Palette 3 warm shades

Palette 3: Warm Shades

MAC Palette 4 oceanic shades

Palette 4: Greens & Blues

MAC Palette 5 jewel warm smokey

Palette 5: Warm Smokey

MAC Palette 6 neutrals & staples

Palette 6: (Original) Neutrals & Staples


The only eyeshadows I didn’t de-pot, were the ones that came in limited edition packaging – I didn’t have the heart to ruin those (about 30 more, actually). Each of the 5 new palettes that I put together holds several limited edition shades as well, in case you’re wondering why some of the names aren’t familiar – but as their containers were the regular black kind, I had no qualms taking them apart.

Moral of the story: not only was this project fun to do, but totally cathartic as well to an organizing freak such as myself. The best part? I’m now actually USING my eyeshadows, as opposed to neglecting them. The slim lines of each palette makes them very portable and easily stacked, while the clear transparent lid means I can now see what each palette holds without needing to open it up first. Another unexpected bonus of this project, is being able to take advantage of the “Back to MAC” program so much quicker, where for every six MAC containers you bring back to the store, you can then exchange them for new products (the MAC store nearest me offers a choice of either a lipstick or eyeshadow) – I brought back enough empty pots to pick up about 10 new eyeshadows – which helped to complete my palettes. See? Nothing but benefits all around.

One warning, however: this type of project yields immediate results and becomes kind of, well, addictive. I’m thinking of attacking my blushes next …

MAC de-potting closer

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