Because why not?

DIY(ish): Lipstick Palette.

22 January 2014
Last year I had a client who was requesting a pink lip, she specifically said "No dark colours whatsoever!". Not a problem, pink is popular so I have quite a few. I went through every pink I owned, swatching them up my arm and opening the occasional lipstick that was clearly not pink; sometimes I have a hard time remembering what lipstick is what. She spots a lipstick I opened to check what it was and cries excitedly "That pink! That's the one I want, Ohh it's so divine!", I show her the colour again and swatch it on my arm to make sure we are on the same page. Turns out it's definitely what she wants but it's not pink.. It's a deep purple.

While I'm applying the colour I'm stressing a bit because it's clearly a dark colour and she said she "didn't want dark, never wore dark and wasn't about to start". The 'pink' suits her, she absolutely loves it. I don't have the heart to tell her it's not pink and it is certainly dark. She pays for the appointment, takes a few business cards and hugs me tightly. While I'm packing away 20 odd lipsticks and trying to wipe all the swatches off my arm I'm thinking there has to be an easier way..

Clearly there is an easier way, lipstick palettes aren't a new thing. I'd been tossing up options on how to put my own together for a while, most looked so damn messy to create and I just wasn't feeling excited about it but then I had a light bulb moment.

I picked up a cheap palette on ebay and waited for the postie to arrive. I was gonna get this shit done quickly and with as little mess as possible.

Note: This lipstick palette isn't for the average woman, lipsticks are going to get destroyed, tears will be shed and you won't be able to carry this palette around in your hand bag. This is another method of creating a custom palette for MUA's. If something like this excites you and you must, must, must have one then you need to know that this will ruin the tapered tip of your lipstick and I'd only recommend doing this if you apply lipstick with a brush anyway. You can do your initial colour selection and application from the palette then find your selected lipstick tube and brush and take it along with you for the day. Ok, on to the tutorial!


  • Empty palette - Pans MUST be metal and REMOVABLE, if they aren't don't use it.
  • Preheated oven - between 50-75 Celsius is good regardless of whether it's fan forced or convection.
  • Palette knife.
  • Blank adhesive tags.
  • Isopropyl alcohol (100% is best).
  • Baking tray.
  • Aluminium foil.
  • Tissues.
  • Blu tack if your palette isn't magnetised.

First things first; you want to sanitise everything, first your hands then your palette and knife, spray your palette front, back and inside and every single pan, the pans should be wiped with a tissue after spraying with isopropyl to ensure they are free of any crap and then spayed again and allowed to air dry.

See, that's crap right there and you want to get rid of it.

Air drying pans, keeping the non sanitised ones upside down will make keeping track of what you're doing easy.
While everything was drying I started writing the names of the lipsticks on my sticky labels, you don't have to do this but it makes referencing your colours for refills much easier when they are finally in the palette.

Now we get to the part where hearts are broken, I couldn't photograph the actual cutting of the lipstick because I only have so many hands and it was more important to me to keep my eyes on the prize than worry about getting an action shot. The idea is to eyeball how deep and large your pan is and cut a piece of the lipstick off that will melt in to the pan nicely. My only tip here would be to cut one lipstick first, go on with the melting process and see if you were on the money with the amount you chose to cut, adjust if necessary with the following lipsticks until you have satisfactory results.

Try to center the piece of lipstick so that it won't be hanging over the edge of the pan while it's melting, the mess is annoying as you will see in the next photo, although you should know that they can still slide when melting so this isn't a guaranteed way of avoiding spillage.
Line a baking tray with a piece of aluminium foil and place your pans on it, put the tray in the oven, close the door and wait. Check your pans every 10 seconds or so, once they start to melt it should all happen quite quickly, opening the door of the oven every 10 seconds is fine, it won't really slow down the process, what you don't want to do is walk away and forget about them, you can and will destroy the integrity of the lipstick if it is left in there too long.

Before the oven.

After the oven.

The picture above was a perfect shot of how lipsticks can turn out.

  • The one on the left was too a little too close to the edge and moved slightly while it was melting, causing a very small spill while it was still in the oven, while I was trying to remove the baking tray I moved a little too fast and spilt even more - Go slow, be patient!
  • The center lipstick is perfect and ultimately how most turned out.
  • The right lipstick shows that not all lipsticks melt at the same rate, the small bump in the center was still slightly solid, I chose not to put it back in the oven as it was minimal but I did experience some lipsticks that melted in 20 seconds while other took up to 40 seconds. 
If you do this method in small batches and find some melted quicker than others you can take the tray out and after waiting for them to cool remove the ones that have set perfectly and place the ones that haven't back in the oven.

Don't try to pick the pans up as soon as you take them out of the oven. They are fucking hot, the lipstick is even hotter and you will get horrible burns if you spill it on yourself. I'm not even joking, let them cool before you touch them! Placing a cooled pan back in the oven that hasn't melted on the first go is fine, the lipstick won't shit it's self I promise, the idea is to remove them from the heat once they are completely melted, it's when you've left them in there for 10 minutes that you are going to have problems.

If you have spillage as pictured above just gently peel the pan off the foil and wipe with a tissue.

I tried to melt my lipsticks in groups of 3 or 4 with clearly discernible colours amongst them, I also set the lipstick tubes in a row and when the pans were cooled I would sit them in front of their mother lipsticks, this enabled me to colour code my palette with ease when all the pans were filled.

Organisation really floats my boat.

Finally you want to start placing your pans in your palette. Mine wasn't magnetised so I opted to place a little blu tack in the wells to hold the pans in place, I was limited with the amount of tags I had so chose to only use what I had and finish the palette off when I have the chance to get some more labels. I intend to use this as my pink palette but used some contrasting purples, a nude and black to make remembering what was what a bit easier, when you take 3-4 similar colours away from the safety of their tubes it can be a little difficult remembering which lipstick was which.

If anyone was wondering what the 'pink' was that my client in the story chose, it was the second from the left on the bottom row..

Update: After creating this post I did this with my personal lipstick collection but in a smaller, magnetised palette. I am one of those people who likes to apply straight from the tube when using my own lipsticks but when I'm doing my makeup I still find it annoying opening every tube to find the right one, just in case anyone was curious as to whether this would be something they would like to try I thought I would jot down my experience with it on a personal usage level.

  • Made my personal palette following directions above, ensuring that I cut my lipsticks following the angle of the manufactured tip.
  • Started using my palette to choose my colours and for initial application.
  • Used a brush to touch up with original lipstick during the day, ensuring that every time I swiped the brush against the lipstick I was molding the tip of the lipstick back in to a usable shape. Most lipsticks were quickly back to a nice shape for touch ups straight from the tube. Now I have the best of both worlds.

All Products were purchased by myself and I'm in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned unless otherwise stated. Links provided are for shopping examples only, I have personally purchased from some (not all) of these online stores but I highly recommend researching before buying.

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7 comments on "DIY(ish): Lipstick Palette."
  1. What a great idea!
    As for the 'pink' .......LOL!

  2. This looks like fun! The finished product looks so pretty and professional. I don't think I could bear to destroy my beautiful lipsticks haha.

    PS - what the heck, that ain't pink!!

    1. Yeah, destroying the lipsticks is definitely the hardest part and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who didn't feel like they were willing to live with that.

      Hahaha that story always goes down well, I gotta say I've had some weird experiences with clients but I actually appreciate all of them, they make for wonderful stories, peoples quirkiness is what makes them so special :)

  3. Woah what a great idea & organisation skills you got there! Haha I love your tip to not pick them up right after :P I'm guessing it came from experience? Thanks for the tip!
    x Court

    1. Sadly yes, I thought they wouldn't be super hot since I had them in a low oven and they were only in there for a short time, first I burnt my finger tips picking it up then dropped it in my palm spilling the lipstick, not only did it hurt but it made a mess that was difficult to clean up due to the burn, I like to think I'm not the dullest crayon in the box but that was not my finest moment.

  4. Wow yours has to be the neatest one I've ever seen, great job! Definitely easier and better than other tutorials I've seen as well! Thanks for sharing this! xx