[TIL] “Hard Pan” (or “How I rescued my Orgasm”…)

[TIL] is a new tag for the blog.  It’s an expression my husband uses often, and it means “Today I Learned”.  My usual expression for this is “Every day’s a school day”, but “TIL” is punchier somehow, so it’s here to stay. 🙂

So – today I learnt about “hard pan”.

To roll back a little way, I’ve been having a problem with one of the most beloved items in my collection – my NARS “Orgasm” Blush.  It’s been getting more and more difficult to get colour onto my brush from the pan, and I haven’t been getting anything like the same effect from it as I did to start with.  Given (a) how much I love it, (b) the fact that it’s barely half-used and (c) the fact that it’s freaking expensive, this was starting to cause a certain amount of upset.

So I went Googling.  (Oh Google, whatever did we do before you?)  And on the strength of what I found, I took a good, close look at the surface of my Orgasm. (Yes, I am a complete infant when it come to this kind of thing.  Yes, I am having far too much fun.  No, I am not going to stop. :D)


The surface of the blush is darker than it should be, and also hard and shiny with little bobbly bits on it.  My research this evening has taught me that this is called “hard pan”.

What happens is this:  as you use a powder product. whether that be powder, blush, eyeshadow, bronzer, anything of that type, gradually the oils and moisture from your skin and from any other product which has gone before it on any given day will begin to transfer into the surface of the powder.  It happens over a long period of time, so you don’t see it happening as much as you suddenly notice that it has happened when your product stops performing the way you expect it to.

Obviously this problem is worse if you don’t keep your brushes clean, if you use your fingers to apply a powder product, OR if you routinely apply the product on top of a moist surface – for example if you apply blush on top of tinted moisturiser without using powder in between the two.  Guess what I was doing to begin with…?

I was on the point of chucking my Orgasm in the bin (this just never gets old, I swear…) and replacing it, but help was at hand!

There are, as it happens, as many ways of curing the problem as there are of causing it.

First is to use something such as a plastic knife or a very blunt butter knife to carefully remove the top surface of the powder, and the hard pan with it.  Second is to use a clean mascara wand to scruff away the top surface – essentially the same thing.  Both of these cause quite a lot of wastage of good product underneath the hard pan.

The third technique is the one I went for.  Of all things – Scotch tape! (Other brands are available.)  You cut a small piece of tape, stick it carefully to the surface of the blush and press lightly with your finger, then pull it away.  It gently lifts the hard pan from the top of the powder without damaging the good product around and underneath it.  You do this as many times as needed until the yacky stuff is gone.  Finish by wiping the surface gently with a clean tissue to get rid of any loose bits that the tape didn’t pick up.


Ladies and gentlefolk, my Orgasm is restored!  And my bank account is gleefully keeping hold of the £30 it was about to lose.

So – if one of your powder based products, particularly one you’ve had for a while, is under-performing, have a good hard look at the surface of it.  This might just be your answer.



    • I’ve only just seen this comment. 😦 Blessed WordPress! Did you try it? How did it work out? I shall be doing the same thing again with my pressed powder, my day to day one that lives in my handbag is definitely starting to get the hard pan problem, but given that what it mainly gets used for is repairing shiny patches during the day it’s probably not all that surprising!


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