Make Your Own Eyeshadow with Spices, Clays and Minerals

Spice Shadow.jpg

If you know me well, you know that I'm not a huge fan the caked-on makeup look. In high school I pretty much never wore makeup, except for once or twice a year, eliciting many shocked and excited comments from friends, especially my mother, when I did. The older I've gotten, the more frequently I wear makeup, but often stick to just mascara and some lip tint. Going shopping at Sephora or any makeup counter, has always been sensory overload for me. Smells and colors and people trying to put things on is not my happy place. That's not to say I don't like the idea of makeup, I actually think it can be really fun to play around with. This time of year there seem to be more reasons to get dressed up and make my face sparkly.   

About 10 years ago I found a recipe online for a homemade face powder and it just so happened I had all the ingredients I needed on hand. The results were pretty great and since that time I have continued to create my own recipes for makeup. The results aren't always perfect and I have had to toss many a failure on the compost pile, but my most recent project I have been really happy with. The first time I made eyeshadow I was experimenting with inorganic pigments, mainly iron oxides. The colors were vibrant and beautiful and I really enjoyed using them. You can be very precise when color matching with inorganic pigments, however not *everyone* has a sample set of iron oxides sitting around the house. I am willing to bet that if you are reading this post, you probably have some cinnamon, cacao and maybe some turmeric in your spice cabinet right now.

Using spices and clays to make eyeshadows are not only convenient, but I feel SO much better about what I'm putting on my face. The ingredients found in common eyeshadows can be pretty nasty: aluminum, coal tar, formaldehyde and parabens, just to name a few. There are also a few companies that use nanoparticles in their mineral makeup. Nanoparticles can enter your bloodstream and accumulate in your body, not something we should expect to happen with makeup. The color from most cosmetic products come from iron oxides. Oxides are generally considered safe and the EWG considers them a low risk. That being said, the process of making pigments from oxides in a laboratory is pretty involved this video gives you an idea of how they are made. I found myself wanting something more accessible that has hopefully gone though less processing.

While lots of companies are starting to change their products due to public pressure, one way to make sure you know what is in your eyeshadow is to make it yourself!


Most of the ingredients I use in these recipes are easy to acquire (especially with the internet) if you don't already have them in your kitchen. 

Gold Mica Dust - Mica is a mineral that adds a bit of sparkle to your eyeshadow. When mica is wet ground it is like a fine glitter dust. A little goes a long way! 

Sericite Mica - Sericite Mica is an incredibly fine mineral that works to help the color adhere to your skin. It also helps to spread the color evenly. 

Beetroot Powder - For pinks and reds. You can purchase (or grow!) your own beets, slice, dehydrate and grind your own powder. Or pick some powder up at your local health food store. I like the Starwest Botanicals brand. Color will vary.

Cinnamon - Not only does it smell good, but it is a lovely warming color. 

Spirulina Powder - A blue-green alge that has numerous health benefits, also is an incredibly vibrant color of green. 

Turmeric - Another powerhouse spice that is amazing internally and externally. Add just a pinch for bright golden yellow. 

Cacao Powder - Cacao adds a light brown color and smells wonderful. 

Allspice - When I want a darker brown, allspice adds a nice depth of color. 

Activated Charcoal - Black. I've been using activated charcoal for years as an eyeliner. It makes a beautifully smokey shadow as well. 

Hibiscus Powder - Reds, pinks and purples. Hibiscus is high in vitamin c and great internally and externally. You can buy dried hibiscus flowers and grind them yourself or buy the powder ready to go. 

Tips and Tricks

Hibiscus eyeshadow dusted and hibiscus sparkle liner

Hibiscus eyeshadow dusted and hibiscus sparkle liner

When using spices for makeup, the effects will be more subtle then store bought products. While adding ingredients like mica help with adhesion and application, they are going to be more understated applied directly. If you are a fan of of the natural look, these recipes will be great on their own. If you would prefer a bolder look, here are some tricks you can use:

Moisturize Well. Applying oil or lotion to your eyelids will help the powder to stay put and adhere better. I like using argan oil. 

Arrowroot Powder. If you really want to show off the color, dusting your eyelid with arrowroot first will give you a good base.

Add Water. For a really clear line, you can wet your brush with a bit of water, dip in the eyeshadow. You can also use this trick with an eyeliner brush to turn your eyeshadow into a liner. 

Aloe Vera. Similar to water, you can use aloe vera juice on your brush to make a little paste with the colors and apply as a liner or eyeshadow. 

Concealer. By adding concealer to your eyelid you can make a nice clean palate to work with. Concealer recipe coming soon!


Activated charcoal eyeliner and smokey shadow

Activated charcoal eyeliner and smokey shadow

As you can tell from the pictures...I am not a makeup artist! I just mess around with techniques until I like what I see. 

Just a note on tools: in the recipes I mention the measurements dash, smidgen, tad, and drop. These are clearly non standard measurements! They come from my favorite tiny measuring spoons. When measuring using such small amounts, it really helps to have a uniform measuring spoon. If you don't have these spoons, just wing it! A tad is about 1/4 teaspoon, a dash is less than that, then a pinch, then a smidgen, then a drop. When you want to get really serious about homemade makeup we can talk about scales and spice grinders, but that will have to be another day. 

I should probably mention brushes as well. When you apply your shadow to a brush as loose powder, tap the end of your brush upside down on the counter before you apply. This will help the powder to set into the brush and help you avoid getting loose powder all over your face. All of these recipes can be used as eyeliners as well. A straight angled brush is a great tool for lining your eye and can work wet or dry. 

Have fun experimenting and don't be shy to make it up as you go!


Homemade Eyeshadow Recipes

Before you get started you want to get set up with a few tools: Small mixing bowls, a small whisk, measuring spoons, mini funnels (or roll a paper funnel), tiny measuring spoons (for all the dashes, smidgens, drops and tads you see below) and a small container to store your powder (old eyeshadow containers that have been sterilized work great!). Who doesn't love working with all these miniature tools?!

Precaution: You want to avoid breathing in the powders, as you are mixing by hand that should be pretty easy. If you want to be extra cautions you can use a dust mask while working. 

 Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour into your jar using a funnel.   

Deep Green

1/2 tsp Spirulina Powder

Pinch Gold Mica Dust

Tad Sericite Mica



1/4 tsp Beetroot Powder

Dash Cinnamon

Dash Sericite Mica

Drop of Gold Mica Dust (Optional)


Golden Brown

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Dash Turmeric

Dash Sericite Mica

Drop of Gold Mica Dust (Optional)



1/4 tsp Cacao Powder

1/4 tsp Allspice

Pinch Activated Charcoal

Dash Sericite Mica

Drop of Gold Mica Dust (Optional)


Hibiscus Sparkle

1/2 tsp Hibiscus Powder 

1/4 tsp Sericite Mica

Drop of Gold Mica Dust 


These recipes are just a place for you to start. Play around with the colors and come up with your own combinations! Make sure to take notes so you can replicate if you like the results! And don't forget to come back and let me know what worked for you!