Baking Makeup, AKA How to Look Like You're Wearing an Instagram Filter
It's easy to fake perfect skin on Instagram. Simply add a filter or two, and your skin takes on a soft, poreless glow. It's a look that's hard to re-create in real life, but not impossible if you know about baking makeup.
What is baking makeup?
Baking makeup is a makeup-application technique that uses large amounts of loose setting powder to simultaneously set and highlight your face. Basically, you apply the setting powder on top of your foundation and concealer and let the powder sit undisturbed on your face for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes before dusting it off. The heat from your face combines with the powder to set your makeup, hence the name "baking."
The result of all that powder and all that waiting is a matte, yet subtly highlighted glow and a crease-free, flawless face.
How to Bake Your Makeup
Step 1: Conceal/Highlight. Apply your foundation as normal. Next, take a liquid concealer that's 1–2 shades lighter than your skin and apply it under your eyes in the shape of an upside-down triangle. Then apply the concealer anywhere you normally highlight your face (chin, forehead, etc.). Blend out all the concealer with a blending sponge or brush.
Step 2: Powder. Dip a damp blending sponge into your loose setting powder. Make sure you pick up a generous amount. Dab a thick layer of the setting powder onto any areas you put concealer on.
Step 3: Bake. Let the powder sit on your skin for a minimum of five minutes. While you wait, continue with the rest of your makeup routine. Now is a good time to apply eye shadow because the powder underneath your eyes will catch any fallout. If you want a more dramatic look, take this time to contour.
Step 4: Dust. Using a fluffy brush, dust off the loose setting powder. Marvel at your baked makeup.
Shop the look by clicking the links below:
- Concealer: Choose a liquid concealer that's 1–2 shades lighter than your skin tone. With thicker concealers, like Tarte Shape Tape, you'll want to use a light hand when applying.
- Loose setting powder: Ideally, you'll pick one that's a touch lighter than your skin tone, though a colorless one—like the popular Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder—works too; the results are just not as dramatic. If you have yellow undertones, try banana powder. Its yellow tones will really help brighten your skin.
- Fluffy brush: Get a big, fluffy brush with loose bristles (read our guide to makeup brushes if you need more help choosing one).
This looks amazing. So why am I just now hearing about it?
Baking has actually been around for a long time, but it was really only well known in the drag community. Then, much like some of the best phrases in the English language ("shade," "werk," "yaaasss"), the technique made its way onto mainstream society's radar. That was thanks to Kimmy K.'s makeup artist and other beauty Instagrammers and YouTubers.
Besides glowing, crease-free skin, are there any other upsides to baking makeup?
Yes! If you have oily skin, this technique helps keep your face matte for hours.
What about the downsides?
Besides the wait, there aren't too many, although if you have very dry skin, it may dry you out even more. Plus, it is a lewk, so if you don't like wearing a lot of makeup, it might be too much for you.
Also, if you use the wrong kind of setting powder, you can look ashy. And if you use a setting powder with silica in it, you'll get flashback, i.e., a white cast on your face that appears in flash pictures. So make sure you look at the ingredients and opt for something that's silica-free.
Makeup We Like
- LA Girl Pro Conceal (from $2.99)
- Tarte Shape Tape
- Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder ($8.31)
- Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
- Sacha Buttercup Powder
Makeup brushes can be intimidating, but our guide explains how to use the different brushes in your collection.
Learn how to contour your face and perfectly complement your baked makeup.
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.