You can go ahead and step out of the kitchen—you actually need zero culinary skills to try out “baking” or “cooking” makeup. It’s a makeup application technique that is no doubt a little buzzy—it’s been popping up pretty much everywhere, especially within the vlogger crew. And if the term itself has you feeling like you are supposed to pop blush into the microwave, we get it. It sounds confusing.
To break it down to the very bare basics, baking your makeup (you can use the terms interchangeably) falls under the large umbrella of contouring, which includes highlighting and shading, explains celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. You’re basically applying and taking product off in a manner that will provide coverage as well as highlight a portion of your face. As you may have guessed, it’s a recycled term that’s been around forever.
“The baking/cooking [technique] is kind of so old school, it’s crazy. Like fashion, everything comes back around,” says Greenberg of the technique she taught at beauty school ten years ago. She mentioned that it’s often used by drag queens to shape the face and is used in special effects makeup to set bruises.
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Most commonly, it’s used with concealer and a translucent loose powder to highlight an area of your face. Greenberg says that you’re applying concealer and then a lot of powder over top, letting it sit for about 10 to 20 minutes. She says you can apply the powder by taking a regular sponge, ripping it in half, and pressing it onto the concealer. “You want it to be very visible. The more powder the better,” says Greenberg.
During this time, the concealer will “meld” into your skin, giving you a “natural” and “flawless” finish. Fun fact: Greenberg used to use it while doing eye makeup, so that she could brush away any fall-out along with the “baking” powder.
After you brush off the powder, all you need to do is lightly blend any harsh edges in with a moistened sponge or beauty blender.
We mentioned that it can be used for highlighting, but it can also just be used to correct those annoying under-eye dark circles. How much work you put into it generally is based on what you’re trying to achieve, says Greenberg. “If you are trying to conceal dark circles, you want to stay with your normal skin tone [for the concealer]. If you want an extra highlighted effect, you would tone down the colors, she says. “The point is to meld into your skin and adjust into your skin tone,” explains Greenberg. “It’s going to breathe into the air and oxidize and change the color in that respect. It’s going to meld into your body heat to change the actual texture of your product, too.”
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But what really intrigued us when talking this out with Greenberg is that she said it’s kind of ideal for millennial women who have a thing for “heavy-handed” makeup.
“If you have young skin, you can get away with it. If you are putting a ton of product on an area that has a lot of texture AKA wrinkles, it’s not going to look great. The older you get, the less baking is going to be good for you,” she says. “If you watch some of the YouTube videos, who’s doing it is these girls with amazing, flawless skin.”
Think twice about using it to take better Instagram pics, though. Greenberg says it won’t translate on HD TV and isn’t going to do much for pics taken with your iPhone camera. The time it will work to your benefit is if you’re doing a legit photoshoot with incredible lighting.