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Baking Powder vs. Setting Powder: Which One Is for You?

July 2018 Artistry6746July 2018 Artistry6746

When it comes to makeup must-haves, achieving a flawless makeup look that lasts has always been a coveted goal. Two essential techniques that have become pivotal in this pursuit are baking and setting makeup. These makeup-artist techniques have gained immense popularity in recent years, revolutionizing the way we approach a full-coverage beat. 

But what is the difference between the two? When do you use setting powder instead of baking powder? What about loose setting powder vs. setting spray? It can get confusing! That’s why we enlisted makeup artist Natalie Dresher to help us break down the difference. Don’t worry—we’ve got you. 


About the Expert:

Natalie Dresher is a Miami-based makeup artist from NYC.

What Is Baking Your Makeup?

Baking first gained popularity in the drag community. What literally sounds like you’re baking a cake in the oven is actually a way to get a flawless finish when wearing liquid foundation or powder foundation. “Baking is a process to set the makeup for a ‘heavier’ look,” Dresher says. “It’s usually done to brighten the under-eye area for a more full glam look.”

How to Bake Your Makeup

It looks hard in TikTok tutorials on your FYP, but the process is pretty simple. Apply a thick layer of translucent powder to specific areas of the face with a damp makeup sponge, like a BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge. Let the powder sit for a few minutes before dusting away the excess with a fluffy powder brush, Dresher explains. We love using a yellow-based “banana powder”’ for an extra-bright under-eye area that hides dark circles. This method is particularly effective for achieving a creaseless matte finish and locking in concealer.

What Is Setting Your Makeup?

On the flip side, setting powder (or sometimes called finishing powder), is all about longevity. “Setting your makeup is the process of making sure your makeup is ‘dried down’ and ensuring it won’t move through the day,” Dresher says. You can set your makeup with a loose setting powder or pressed powder. Setting products help prevent makeup from smudging, fading, or melting away due to heat, humidity, or sweat.

How to Set Your Makeup

“My favorite way to set my makeup is to take some powder onto a dry fluffy eyeshadow brush, tap the excess off, and apply it to a desired area,” Dresher says. Opt for a setting powder that matches your skin tone or is translucent. Start in the areas where you tend to have oily skin or where your makeup tends to crease. Common areas include the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and the under-eye area.To set your entire face, lightly dust setting powder over your cheeks, temples, and jawline.

Which One Is Right for You?

You might use both of these techniques when doing your makeup, but there are some important things to keep in mind while doing so. “If someone has fine lines, acne, or scarring, baking may not look the best on them,” Dresher says. This is the same for those with dry skin because the area can look cakey with too much face powder. “Baking is more for nighttime dramatic looks, or if someone is very oily and has trouble having makeup stay on for long periods of time,” she adds. 

Using setting powder, on the other hand, is pretty much a non-negotiable for any glam. “Setting your makeup is definitely a must though, no matter the look and no matter your skin type!” Dresher says. If you have a long day and night out, keep pressed powder in your purse for touch-ups. It comes in handy and works well with all your other beauty products.

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About the author
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Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated October 10, 2023 12:00 AM