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Depotting Urban Decay Flip-Top Eyeshadows!

WARNING: Photos are large and may take some time to download.

This series of photographs documents my procedure for getting Urban Decay eyeshadows out of those little plastic pots and into MAC Pro palettes. The steps are identical to depotting a MAC flip-top eyeshadow, though I've included a couple of tips specifically for Urban Decay eyeshadow depotting.

Urban Decay eyeshadows are usually very soft and delicate eyeshadows -- they tend to chip, crack, and shatter much more easily than other brands like MAC. As a result, handle with great care during the depotting process. Be patient in every step. You'll be glad at the end when it's safe and sound in your palette!

Without further introduction... here we go!

Getting Ready
Gather your supplies. You will need: a soft hand towel, a candle (I like to use taper candles in a tall, sturdy candlestick), tongs (the ones with the hole are perfect), a ballpoint pen (doesn't need to work), a thin pointy paring knife (a scalpel or Xacto craft knife will also work), and magnets (business card magnets or pre-made 1-inch round ones). Work in a well-ventilated area -- I like to do this on top of my glass top stove (cool, of course), since it's next to the kitchen fan that vents to the outside. The towel is very important -- it provides a padded surface that will protect your eyeshadow from bouncing or breaking if you drop it.

Pop Out the Plastic Insert
Open the pot above the soft hand towel. Push the pointy tip of your knife into the groove between the plastic insert and the outside of the pot -- I find that the area near the front latch works well. Force the knife in gently and wiggle a little until it pops apart. Don't do this violently or you'll fling that insert across the room! Urban Decay inserts are made of a more brittle plastic than MAC's, and it often takes more force to get the insert loose. Be careful, and try to get the knife wedged underneath the insert as deeply as you can before you wiggle it and pop out the insert -- this will give you more control and leverage.

The Pot and the Insert
Now you've got two pieces: the outside pot, and the inside plastic insert that holds the metal pan of eyeshadow. Set that outside pot aside (you'll need it later).

Preparing the Insert
Settle the plastic insert securely inside the tongs. You can see in the photograph how perfectly those open-wire tongs fit around the insert. They can hold the outer edges of the plastic insert very tightly without making any contact with the delicate eyeshadow. The open area on the underside is exactly the area you want to heat with the candle, too. Hold the bottom of the plastic insert over the candle, in the top of the flame but not completely in the flame.

Heating the Insert
Here is a side view of the plastic insert over the flame. As you can see, the tip of the flame is directly on the plastic. This will create some stinky smoke, so you'll be happiest if you're in an area with adequate ventilation. Keep the insert over the candle until the bottom is melted. I like to wait until there's a small hole melted in the insert through which I can just begin to see the metal of the eyeshadow pan.

The Melted Insert
Here's a close-up of the melted bottom of the insert. As you can see, it's no longer shiny... it's bumpy and melted. And if you look closely, you can see the small dip in the middle where the insert has melted enough to expose a little bit of the underside of the metal pan. Move quickly (but carefully), because you need to get the pan out before the glue cools again.

My "Patented" Technique
Here's the step where my technique tends to differ from the others. I've tried various ways to remove the pan from the melted insert -- lifting with a knife, using tweezers, etc. -- and this has been, by far, my favorite. I place the plastic insert eyeshadow-side-down on the towel (this is why you want a soft towel, so it won't damage the eyeshadow). Then I use the knife (from my insert removal step) to push up on the side of the plastic insert while simultaneously pushing down on the pan with my ballpoint pen through that little melted hole.

A Close-Up on the Technique
Here's a close-up of that step, with labels. I push down on the pan through the melted hole with my pen tip, while pushing up on the side of the plastic insert. This should easily separate them if the glue is melted. If the pan does not want to come out, go back and heat it some more. Don't force it! The glue should be melted and gooey from the heating, and if it's not, it needs more heat.

The Pan is Out!
Once you've got the pan free of the plastic insert, leave it face-down and let it cool for a minute.

Removing the Label
Now you're ready to label your pan. Prepare your magnet. If you're using a business card magnet, cut yourself a piece of magnet that will fit the bottom of the pan. Bigger is better -- it can cover the entire bottom. I like to use the label off the bottom of the pot, since it's clearly printed. This label is usually well-stuck to the pot and will tear if you try to peel it off. So, just warm it a little to release the adhesive. I use my tongs again, carefully placing one of the bars of the tongs right over the name so it can't get scorched by the flame. Then, gently move the bottom of the pot right over (not in) the flame for a few seconds. Take it out of the tongs and try to peel off the label, starting somewhere away from the name (so you don't mess up the name in case it tears). If it won't come off easily, put it back in the tongs over the candle. Urban Decay labels are often stuck on with a lot of adhesive, so it takes some extra patience to heat the label enough (without burning it) to remove it easily. Peel it off, trim it down to fit your magnet (if necessary), and stick it right on. The glue left on the label should be enough to stick it to the magnet.

Almost Done!
Now you've got three pieces: your pan (now cooled down), your labeled magnet, and your empty eyeshadow pot. Affix the magnet to the bottom of the pan. Sometimes there will be a bit of excess glue on the bottom of the pan -- it's not always enough to stick on a magnet by itself, and it's up to you whether you want to clean it off or not. I'm using a 1-inch round magnet with its own adhesive.

Stick that magnetized pan into your palette and you're through! See, that wasn't too hard! Practice does make perfect, and once you've done a few you'll find a "rhythm" that works for you. Oh, and in case you were wondering... the eyeshadow depotted in this series of photographs was Vert.

Good luck!