The Pros and Cons of "Baking"—The Old-School Concealer and Powder Technique Making a Comeback

It's heavy-handed and takes a long time, but WOW!
Publish date:
July 20, 2015
How-To, Coty, techniques, under-eye bags, baking, powder, tutorial, concealer, Make Up For Ever

We have been seeing a huge switcheroo in the contouring world lately. First came "strobing," the majorly dewy highlighted look, and now there is the resurgence of "baking," which makes things just about as matte as they can get.

Before we get all Sylvia Plath-y, let's have a mini makeup history lesson. Baking is one of those fads that has actually always been a thing in the makeup world, but it was all hush-hush until the likes of Kim Kardashian and many a makeup vlogger/Instagrammer brought it into the spotlight. Baking or "cooking" makeup began as an old-school drag makeup technique used to set concealer and highlight the face all in one go.

The tools for the job are a loose setting powder, a high-coverage concealer (both ideally lighter than your skin color), a sponge (or brush/fingers) for blending, a cosmetic sponge that you don’t mind getting really powdery, and a big fluffy brush.

Here is my face all made up but sans concealer and powder. You can see I don’t have a ton of under-eye darkness but I do have some large bags that I don’t exactly love (Chanel can have em’ back any time they want).

Step one is applying your concealer in a triangle under your eye in the typical Kim K fashion. Here I’m using the Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer because it's long-lasting without being drying. I plopped it on in a semi-circle right on the edge of the baggage and blended it up and out over my cheekbones.

I love blending with my Real Techniques sponge because it makes the concealer really seamless. Plus the texture of the sponge is very springy, so I have to restrain myself from muttering “boing boing boing” like Dory from Finding Nemo while I’m doing it.

After attacking the problem area at hand, I just blended in more concealer where I want to highlight: the center of my chin, nose, and forehead.

I feel like Walter White when I say, “Let’s cook!”

Take a cosmetic sponge and load it up with a loose face powder. I’m using the Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder because it adds a hint of coverage and it is much lighter than my skin, so it will help to highlight. Press all that powder into your face, on top of the concealer. Be generous with the powder—and I can’t actually believe it, but this is the second time in a week that I’ll advise you to glob it on.

I went heavy with the powder over the concealer and other areas I wanted to highlight. I even tried it on my jawline where I didn’t conceal just to see if the powder itself would give a highlight.

And here I am all powdered up and ready to sit 'til I’m done. Baking time all depends on how long you can/want to wait. Some people will only wait a few minutes, some wait up to 20; I met somewhere in the middle(ish) and let my face "cook" for 15 minutes. Now would be an ideal time to do your eye makeup, because the powder catches any fall out that may happen.

At this point, if you are like me, you are dying to get this stuff off your face. Not that it was painful or anything, but having so much heavy powder sitting on your skin is annoying at best.

Take a big, fluffy brush and sweep the powder off of your skin, and don’t be like me and sweep it all directly onto your clothes.

And here’s my face all baked and ready for a night out.

I will say there are a lot of pros and cons to this technique. Let's just get the negatives out of the way first:

  • It does feel a tad drying because of all the powder, and that isn’t something a lot of people want on their eye area.
  • There are a lot of layers of product where you bake, so any fine lines may become more prominent.
  • OMG the time it takes. If you are all set to go, make sure to do this as an in-between step so you aren’t sitting like a powdery monster twiddling your thumbs for 20 minutes.
  • If you like a natural makeup look, this will seem out-of-place because it is very high coverage.
  • If you are very pale you will need to do a lot of contouring to get that Instagram look.

On the plus side:

  • I have never seen my eye bags look so seamless with the rest of my face.
  • Zero concealer creasing. I have these teeny creases right by my lower lash line that always collects concealer, and with this setting technique it didn’t even come close.
  • This technique will up the coverage of less powerful concealers.
  • The wear time of the concealer was a few hours longer. It’s a pretty long-lasting concealer as it is so this was pretty surprising.
  • If you have a darker skin tone, the highlighting effect will be much more pronounced.
  • No oily-skin breakthrough; I was super-matte where I baked my face all day long.

Have you tried this technique?