Review: Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Alluvium

Via Wikipedia:

Alluvium (from the Latin, alluvius, from alluere, “to wash against”) is loose, unconsolidated (not cemented together into a solid rock), soil, or sediments, eroded, deposited, and reshaped by water in some form in a non-marine setting… Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel.

Not to be confused with illuvium, eluvium, or alluvion.

They must have some pretty ritzy sediment over there in Great Britain, because Illamasqua’s “alluvium” is a lovely, glittery, penetrating blue. I’m pretty sure that if you took some alluvium from where I live, you’d get something with a color that was a cross between goose guano and baby spit-up.

(Sorry. That was, perhaps, unnecessarily vivid.)

Pigments are loose powders most commonly used on the eyes and usually with a more saturated level of color than traditional pressed powder eyeshadows. There are exceptions, but that’s a good basic working definition. If makeup is something that you’re new to or less experienced with, using a loose powder pigment might seem daunting, but it’s really not difficult, and the color payoff is often worth the effort.

Most pigments work best when “foiled” — applied with some sort of wet binding agent. The color is more intense and they adhere better to the eyelid without a lot of fallout all over your face (which is very embarrassing, and don’t ask me how I know). Lots of things can be used as foiling agents: plain old water, Visine, etc. My personal agent of choice is Rimmel makeup remover. I think I like the rationality-defying nature of it. You only need a tiny bit of foiling agent, as in “a drop or two.” I anticipate getting through my Rimmel bottle by 2025.


1. Get yourself something to use as a mixing palette: a clean jar lid, a saucer, what have you. Anything small and flat or gently bowl-shaped will do.

2. Put a drop of foiling agent in the palette.

3. Knock out some of the loose pigment into the pigment container cap. Tap some of that into your palette, but NOT right on top of your foiling agent. I suggest the two-stage pigment-shaking-out process because the one drawback of pigments is that they’re always a pain in the tuchus to get out of the container, and it’s easy to shake out too much.

4. If you are working with loose pigment, then you can either dip your brush into the agent first, then into the powder, or vice versa.) You can also foil pressed eyeshadows, but some of them don’t take well to having a wet brush swirled in them, so for those I suggest loading the brush up with powder first and then dipping it into a drop of foiling agent.)

5. Er, apply. That’s kind of it.

Pigments are often more expensive than pressed shadows, but since you’re not likely to ever completely finish one in your lifetime, it’s sort of a moot point. This one by Illamasqua is quite nice — when foiled, it adheres well to lids and doesn’t fall out or lose its color intensity. The packaging is a minor drawback here; Illamasqua’s trademark stylized square containers are visually attractive but bulkier than I’d like, and the lid of the pigment container is unfortunately all too easy to remove. Not that you’re likely to be carrying around a pigment container in your purse, but for those of us who are natural-born klutzes, this is an accident waiting to happen.


Left: wet/foiled; Right: dry. Same amount of pigment each time, but much more vivid when applied wet.


Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Alluvium: $24 at Sephora. Our Foreign Beauty Correspondents can order directly from Illamasqua’s website. (Well, our US Beauty Correspondents can too, but shipping is much more expensive and delivery takes much longer.)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. Other brands give you more pigment for a comparable price, but you’ll never finish it anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.

Purchase again? Not this color, because I’ll never run out, but I just now ordered another one in Ore, which is a scandalously delicious bronze color. It was out of stock at Sephora since well before Christmas, and I’m glad to see it’s available again!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)