Pressed Pigments is Code

Pressed Pigments is Code

Pressed Pigments is Code

In case you don’t know, because I don’t think your average makeup lover does, in the USA pressed pigments is code for ‘these ingredients are not approved by the FDA for use on the eyes but they’re approved for the face’. I recently ranted on this topic a bit regarding the Anastasia Beverly Hills Alyssa Edwards Palette.  I’m sharing much of that information in this post, as many of you requested I make it a separate post to share.

Pressed Pigments is Code Video

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For those of you who don’t know, as I said, pressed pigments is a code phrase used in the USA by makeup brands as a way to put makeup into eyeshadow palettes that are not approved for use in the USA on the eyes. These ingredients are usually approved for use on the eyes in the EU, as the EU’s equivalent to the FDA is much more progressive than the FDA here. However, I think it’s disingenuous of companies to use the phrase pressed pigments in the USA, rather than owning up and saying ‘these colors that we’re showing people using on the eyes are eye safe in Europe but not eye safe in the USA.’ These brands show these eyeshadow palettes as being used on the eyes. I mean, let’s be real, who buys an eyeshadow palette and doesn’t expect to use all the colors sold in the eyeshadow palette as being eye safe?

Eyeshadow Palettes Should Contain Eyeshadow

I absolutely agree with the many people who emailed me, left comments on my blog, or in the PhyrraNyx Facebook Group that an eyeshadow palette should ONLY contain eye products that are eye safe. There should be no pressed pigments is code that you need to know about. I dislike it when companies put crappy pressed glitters (like the Huda Beauty New Neutrals palette) into the palette, or add cream shadows with powders unless the cream is in a separate container, because inevitably the kick up from shadows will end up mixed into the cream product, creating a mess. Pressed pigments can be eye safe, but generally when you see brands using the phrase pressed pigments in a palette name, it’s because they’re specifically referring to eye pigments that are safe in the EU but not approved in the USA.

EU vs. USA

So why are these ingredients considered eye safe in the EU and not in the USA? Because the USA’s FDA is overwhelmed, understaffed and sorely behind on approving ingredients. Things have not changed a ton with the FDA since I reached out to them to write about glitter & neons in cosmetics in 2012! Think about that for a minute. I wrote the FDA in 2012, and it is now almost 2020, and things have not significantly changed.

You can see the list of FDA approved Color Additives here. You can petition about glitter or any other sort of ingredient with the FDA Petition form here. The FDA has a specific page dedicated to Novelty & Neon Makeup. I will warn you, their website is insanely slow and takes forever to load. It’s clearly not a priority to our government, which is a damn shame.

Is Only ABH Alyssa Edwards a Problem?

Is only the Anastasia Beverly Hills Alyssa Edwards palette guilty of this? No, Huda Beauty has done it recently, as has Lorac too. I was just as irritated to learn that the two Huda Beauty Neon Obsessions palettes I purchased had some non-eye safe colors as well.

As someone who almost exclusively shops online, I expect ALL relevant information for a product that I’m purchasing to be on the website that I’m shopping on. So this includes things like ‘how to use X product’ and ingredients listings. I’ve noticed a distinct LACK of ingredients in some listings on Sephora’s website, like with the Alyssa Edwards palette. However, the new ABH Norvina Pro Pigment palette does have this disclaimer on Sephora’s site ‘Shades A2, A3, A5, B1, B3, B4, B5, C4, C5, D2, D3, D4, D5, E1, E2, E4, and E5 are not intended for use around the immediate eye area.’

Are Pressed Pigments Dangerous?

Are pressed pigments dangerous? Not inherently. They’re often what I would refer to as an unfinished eyeshadow format because they usually are lacking binder agents or things like carnuba wax to help with blending. So what will non-eye safe colors in the USA do differently than their eye safe versions in the UK? The answer is nothing. They’re the same product. That said, the non-eye safe colors are more likely to cause irritation and staining, which no one likes.

Can FDA Approved Eyeshadows Cause Issues?

Can products with FDA approved ingredients cause issues? Yes. I’ve actually had a bad reaction to a Stila paint pot years ago that caused the skin under my eyes to get red, swollen, itchy and flaky. Stila used an FDA approved ingredient, I just had a bad reaction to it.

Transparency is Key

Ultimately, just like with animal testing, I expect companies to be transparent about their products and ingredients. Right now, Sephora is not doing its job, and several of the brands are failing too. Sephora, Huda Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills and any other company that decides to use non-FDA approved ingredients in their eyeshadow palettes needs to clearly disclose this information on Sephora’s website in their product description so that consumers can actively make a choice to purchase these products with that knowledge. It shouldn’t only be hidden in fine print on the side of the box.

Additionally, it’s just… wrong, in my opinion, for the brand to show advertorials using all the colors in the eyeshadow palette being used as eyeshadow if they’re not all meant to be eyeshadow.

Neon Eyeshadow Palettes

Look, I love neon colors. I’ve purchased a slew of neon palettes. Not a single one of them had information on Sephora’s product page or the brand’s website that stated the colors were not approved for use around the eyes. This information should be easily available to anyone who is shopping online, like me. I never noticed it in the fine print on the side of the box where it’s hidden. Am I going to use the palettes I purchased? Yes, because I haven’t traditionally had a reaction to these ingredients. Does that mean you won’t have a reaction? No! You could still have a reaction to them. That’s the biggest reason I feel like this information NEEDS to be online from brands.

When UD came out with their Electric Palette, they had a warning. You can see what UD had to say about labeling the Electric Palette. You can also check out my Urban Decay Electric Palette dupes for similar colors that are FDA approved and vegan.

Who is doing it right?

Who is doing it right? You’re going to die laughing but the best brand that I’ve seen lately for disclosing this information is Lime Crime! Lime Crime’s Venus Vivid Palette, while it doesn’t say ‘not approved for use on the eyes’ for specific colors, it does actually say ‘face’ or ‘eyes’ by each color ingredients on both Ulta’s Website & Lime Crime’s website. Sassy, Star Burst, Super Bloom, and Flutter are marked for face. Betty, LUX, Limelight, and Happy Place are marked for eyes. When Lime Crime is the brand I’ve found who’s the closest to doing it right, the rest of the brands are really lacking.

Neon Eyeshadow Recommendations

I was asked what bright eyeshadows do I recommend in lieu of the ABH palette. Below are my recommendations.

  • Sugarpill Eyeshadow Singles – super bright, mostly vegan.
  • Viseart Bright Editorial Palette – literally my favorite rainbow palette! It gives you all the colors of the rainbow to work with. It’s my favorite palette for cosplay and fantasy stuff.
  • Melt Radioactive Palette – I love this!
  • Lime Crime’s Venus Vivid Palette – it’s a fun bright palette
  • Urban Decay Electric Palette – if you have this in your collection, it’s a great palette, though it also has some colors that are not FDA approved for use on the eyes.


  1. I had no idea about any of this!! I just received 2 eyeshadow palettes from Morphe and as I was about to recycle their packacking I noticed a crossed out eye symbol next to the ingredient list for only the presses pigment shades. I completely agree with you! This feels slimy and underhanded. I’ll definitely be reaching out to Morphe to explore this further.

  2. Thank You for posting this. I never even realized any of this about pressed pigments! Adding this one to my Courtney folder!

  3. This concerns me as a person who has given items from these brands to friends. I can’t in good consciousness purchase these products from these brands anymore if they have several shades not fit to use in the eye area. That’s where they are supposed to be used at! Have they ever discussed long term issues that arise from using these shadows? Thank you for sharing.

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