Sunday, 25 September 2011

Powder Compact

I've wanted to post about this for a long time.....When I was little I really wanted a powder compact, they always looked so pretty, and something about the solidness of them really appealed to me. That they didn't just get thrown out when the make-up ran out, weren't plastic and cheap. They're truly glamours, combined with matching cigarette case, perfume defuser or lips stick holder it's the sort of thing dreams are made of.

But then as I grew up I wasn't really one of wearing foundation everyday and I didn't really know how to use powder. Until I found a blog post which someone else had written telling you how to re-fill them. The idea of just having a compact case to use as a mirror didn't work for me, I have a real love for practical design rather than just pretty.....

So deciding they were the way forward, I changed how I did my make-up a little. I'm very lucky becuase for the most part I have pretty clear skin so now I use a combination of concealer with powder. Mainly concealer is for my under eye's and occasional blemish, plus around and on my mouth to give my lipstick something to hold on to, then powder on top......

Anyway, I doubt you care about my beauty routine, here is how you can refill your own vintage powder compact. The good news is loose powder is normally cheaper than pressed so you can go 'up' a brand or so for the same amount of money, you'd normally spend. The resulting finish is very soft, once you run a brush over it, the top layer loosens very easily and has the finish of loose powder, with less potential for mess.

You will need
  • 1 powder compact
  • selection of cotton wool and buds,
  • surgical spirit
  • spoon/fork/mixing implement
  • loose powder
1. Use the surgical spirit to clean the whole compact out, if it has a pan in the bottom (which you will need so if the one you buy is missing the original one you can probably get a replacement from here), take it out, clean all parts and leave on a clean surface to dry.
 2. Next gently pour in some of the pressed powder, if you can pour in small spoonfuls of the surgical spirit, other wise pour very carefully. Now mix together to form a paste.

3. Repeat step 2 until the whole tin is full. I was busy nattering away and taking pictures so put way to much alcohol in it...hence why the whole dish is swimming on my table. It's probably worth mentioning here to make sure you do this on a surface which is either protected, covered or on which a little alcohol won't hurt. Glass tops are very good for this as long as they don't have an fancy finishes.

4. If you would like a texture on top you can press a piece for fabric into the draying pan.

5. Leave to dry, this is really important, if you use it too soon the surgical spirit will dry out your skin and give you a break out. The best way I've found to be able to let them dry enough before use, is to have more than one, what a shame!

6. Enjoy!

I first read how to do this over a year ago....and I can't find the blog anywhere, but DC Metro Retro and The Vintage Lifestyle File, both have blogs on this, with the same technique but no pictures. I also found Powder Compacts which is run by the lady behind Vanroe compacts, which sells restored compacts and has a page on refilling with loose of modern pans from various brands. She also talks about the alcohol option detailed above as being messy, it is a little, but I really enjoy the ritual of it, like setting your hair, or cleaning and refilling a zippo lighter, polishing your shoes. It makes sure you look after it, keeps in in use and at it's best performance, it's the chance to clean it all out, take care of any little bits which might need a touch up and get it back to full working order. That said I'm after 2 new mirrors for mine and would love it hear from anyone who knows a UK based company that can help.


  1. Amor,
    I collect vintage compacts too, such a fabulous idea.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. Great idea, I collect vintage compacts as I use of mine as my powder holder but I just use it for the loose. Might have a go with using the surgical liquid with it next time.