What is it?

What Is Baked Eyeshadow? Here’s All You Need to Know

What’s the skinny on this baked eyeshadow thing?

I’ve got what you need to know—and a whole lot more besides.

In this post, I’ll give you the Tl;dr on what makes baked eyeshadow different. Then, I’ll cover things like how it’s made, advice on application and on who it’s best suited for, and the upsides and downsides of choosing a baked eyeshadow.

All right! Let’s get right into what baked eyeshadow is.

What Is Baked Eyeshadow?

Here’s what makes a baked eyeshadow different.

  1. It’s made with lots of emollients, and it’s baked, usually in an oven, to get its texture.
  2. It often has a domed shape and can have swirled or marbled patterns.
  3. It’s generally gentler on the pigmentation when used dry.
  4. It’s smooth and blendable, making it easy to apply.
  5. It‘s conducive to use with a damp brush, if you want more intense color.
  6. It’s a good choice for beginners or for people who are looking for easy, work-friendly looks.

Some brands known to carry baked products include Laura Geller, BH Cosmetics, e.l.f., and Milani.

Laura Geller "The Ultimate" baked eyeshadow palette
Laura Geller’s baked eyeshadow palette

What’s the Difference Between Baked Eyeshadow and Regular Eyeshadow?

There are a few ways that baked and pressed powder eyeshadow differ. Here are some of them.

1.      The Way It’s Made

First off, the two products are made differently, even sporting different ingredients. That’s important because how they’re made affects application.

As I touched on in the first section, baked eyeshadow has pigments and a heavier oil and emollient content. The manufactures takes that and then turns that mixture into a paste. After that, the application of heat turns that paste into powder.

Pressed powder eyeshadow, on the other hand, never gets wet in any stage of the process. That means it doesn’t need to be dried. This eyeshadow has a base of pigment and fillers, like micas, talc, clay, and more. After manufacturers mix these powders, they add some binding agents that moisten the powder just a bit—not enough to make it paste, though. They then press that powder into its final form.

Here are the key things to note about how baked eyeshadows differ from regular eyeshadow in this process:

  • Baked eyeshadows have more emollients—stuff that makes the formula creamy.
  • Baked eyeshadows are dried by heat. Regular eyeshadows aren’t.

Want to see more? Laura Geller, a brand famous for its baked products, made a video on how they make their eyeshadow. It’s a quick one, and I enjoyed it very much.

2.      The Way It Looks in the Pan

You can often recognize a baked product by its rounded, domed shape rising out of the pan.

e.l.f. baked eyeshadow palette with domed shadows
You can see the domed shape in this e.l.f. palette

However, there are some baked imposters out there, so make sure to check the product name and description!.

3.      The Way It Applies

As I briefly touched on earlier, baked shadow is famous for going on smoother and blending better than many regular powder eyeshadows. As a rule, baked eyeshadows are also less pigmented than regular eyeshadows. And finally, you can use always use baked eyeshadow wet, whereas you can’t necessarily do so with your regular pressed powder shadows. In fact, let’s get more into that.

So, What Is This About Using Baked Eyeshadow Wet?

I already gave you a few spoilers in this post, but if you wanted a clear-cut answer, here it is: Yes, you can absolutely use baked eyeshadows wet. In fact, this is the way most people report using this kind of shadow.

The reason people would use an eyeshadow wet instead of dry is to make it more pigmented. Since the main complaint people have about baked eyeshadow is that it isn’t pigmented enough, makeup lovers commonly use this technique.

And since baked eyeshadow starts out as a paste and not a powder, you don’t have to worry about wrecking the surface of the eyeshadow. That’s in contrast to how you might worry with pressed powders that don’t specify “wet/dry” on their packaging.

Want to learn more about how to use eyeshadow wet? Here’s how you do it.

Is Baked Eyeshadow Better?

You know what I’m going to say here:

It really depends on your preference.

Baked eyeshadow will be a good choice for a few types of people:

  • Those who value smooth application.
  • People who feel delight when they look upon lovely marbled or swirled eyeshadow pans. (Don’t discount this! Using things that spark joy will make applying makeup a more luxurious and enjoyable experience.)
  • Eyeshadow beginners or those who aren’t looking for in-your-face pigmentation right off the bat.
  • Those who love to use eyeshadow wet and don’t mind spraying their brush as an extra step.
Colorful baked eyeshadow palette (Galaxy Chic) from BH Cosmetics
Who wouldn’t want to dip into this beauty from BH Cosmetics every day?

The Downsides

Baked eyeshadow can be a little more labor intensive, beyond just the aforementioned spraying of the brush.

Many people report needing to scrape off the top layer of the shadow because it acts like a hard shell, keeping you from the good stuff—pigment—underneath. (Though I suggest trying the hard pan removal technique before you go shaving layers off your shadow.)

The Upsides

That being said, if you want a guaranteed polished eye look, baked may be the way to go.

The trend right now is to find the most pigmented eyeshadow you can, with shimmers being big, glittery, silicone-y affairs and mattes putting full-force color on your eyes right away. But there’s something to be said for gentle color and subtle shimmer. My LORAC Pro I Palette, while not baked, was like this. And every time I used it, I felt like a professional makeup artist had done my eyes.

These softer characteristics are especially valuable if you’re just starting out or are a makeup minimalist.

In Summary…

In short, here’s what we covered in this post on why the baked formula is special:

Baked eyeshadow is made in a specific way. It’s initially a paste that the sun or an oven changes to a powder and is then distributed to consumers.

It’s famous for being a softer, more blendable, and more beginner-friendly formula than other types of shadow. This makes it an easy choice if you’re looking for foolproof, easy looks. But for those looking for more punchy color, you can be used baked eyeshadow wet—if you don’t mind the extra work.

I hope this clears up all the questions you might have about baked eyeshadow.

Next step? Give baked a try! You might find your new favorite formula.

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