What Exactly is Baked Makeup?

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, we have to ask: What's the deal with baked makeup? After 10+ years as a magazine beauty editor, we still don't get why so many beauty companies and makeup artists make such a fuss over baked eye shadows, blushes, and bronzers. As far as we could tell, the only differences between baked powders and conventional powders are 1) the pressed powder is domed instead of flat, and 2) they're made in Italy. Granted in the past, the latter was enough to convince us that they must be superior to other types of powders, much in the same way that the words "Made in Italy" stamped across a shoe sole are often all it takes for us to hand over our credit card at Barneys. But when The Body Shop's new summer collection landed on our desk—a gorg mix of shimmery, sherbet-colored eye shadows (that's Italian Baked-To-Last Eye Color in Quartz above) and champagne-speckled blushes and bronzers, all of which are baked powders—we were intrigued enough to phone our good friend and Body Shop international makeup artist Chase Aston to ask him what makes these domed powders different. Turns out, it's more than just the schmancy Italian origin: 1. Baked powders are lightweight. The process of slowly baking the ingredients together (as opposed to pressing them all into a pan) reduces the amount of talc, the ingredient that can make some powders feel dry and heavy on your skin. "The Body Shop's baked makeup also contains olive oil and marula oil—moisturizing ingredients that further reduce dryness," says Chase. 2. They're rich in pigment. "When a powder is baked, the pigments become more intense," says Chase. But that doesn't mean you'll get scary-bright color. "The texture of a baked powder is actually somewhat sheer, so it's great for building up color. If you're intimidated by bold hues, a baked eye shadow is a great way to ease into the look. One swipe of the brush across your lid will give you a sheer wash of color, then if you want to intensify it, you can brush on more layers. Baked powders are finely milled, so they don't get cakey even when you apply several layers of color." 3. That dome shape helps the color goes on more evenly. Here's why: Swipe a brush over a bright shadow with a flat surface and the brush will sometimes pick up too much powder in areas, creating heavy color on your skin. Sweep that same brush over a domed surface, and the brush will pick up a more even amount of powder, which helps the color go on your skin more smoothly. 4. The powders don't crumble and fall apart. You know what we're talking about—you get halfway through a pan of eye shadow and suddenly it starts cracking and crumbling all over the place. "The baking process helps the powder's ingredients bind together so this doesn't happen," says Chase. (This also helps reduce flaking, aka those stray sprinkles of powder that fall down on to your cheeks when you're applying eye shadow). Bonus: In The Body Shop's powders, the shimmer is baked all the way through, so you get the same consistency of sparkle from that first application as you do when you’re all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Now that we've given you the 101 on baked makeup, tell us—have you tried it ? If so, do you notice a difference from conventional powders? Let us know what you think. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BODY SHOP
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