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The Rise Of Baking With Banana Powder, Thanks To Drag Culture

Another beauty trend we can credit to the drag community.

  • Posted on 20th Jun, 2022 22:35 PM
The Rise Of Baking With Banana Powder, Thanks To Drag Culture Image

The secret to immaculate concealer? Let it cook. 

No, this does not require any sort of kitchenware—simply let your makeup sit for a few minutes before blending. That way, the formula will settle on your skin, thicken up, and avoid sinking into lines or pores. It’s a reliable technique used by many celebrity makeup artists, particularly those who favor a razor-sharp contour, but “cooking” or “baking” has long been a staple in the drag community in order to help stage makeup stay put during long performances. 

And to properly bake your face, well, you need a good baking powder. Banana powder is frequently hailed for a cushioned, matte look, and again, we have drag culture to thank for its rise in popularity. 

Banana powder as a stage makeup staple. 

Think of banana powder as a setting powder and color corrector combined. It helps absorb excess shine and keep foundation locked into place, but because of the sunshine yellow hue, it also helps neutralize discoloration and offers a brightening effect. It’s perfect for securing a flawless, radiant finish for a long period of time, which is why it remains a hero product in many makeup artists’ beauty bags. “Banana powder has been a staple in the pro makeup artist kit for a while,” notes celebrity makeup artist Dillon Peña

But it wasn’t always so conspicuous. Fun fact: Banana powder actually used to be a film industry secret before Ben Nye, a makeup director for 20th Century Fox, created the very first consumer product. Nye used this setting powder on just about every iconic Hollywood star—Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Julie Andrews, to name a few—in order to highlight their features and keep their makeup looking fresh under hot stage lights. 

And way before banana powder hit the consumer market, it was a must-have for drag. “Drag is about creating illusions using light and shadows,” says Peña. Thanks to banana powder’s highlighting abilities, it can help queens transform into their characters by defining their features onstage, similar to how a chiseled contour can reshape the jawline. 

"The two [facial features] that are most identified with masculine or feminine are the brow bone and the jaw,” Jackie Cox, Season 12 star of RuPaul's Drag Race, previously shared with mbg. “And both of those things we can affect with makeup and change how they're perceived." In addition to gluing down their brows to create a blank canvas, queens can use banana powder to mattify and draw attention to certain regions (under the brow bone, the cheekbones, the chin, etc.). Better yet, the base won’t dare budge. 

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Stage makeup becomes mainstream. 

Like the virality of most beauty trends, influencer culture had a huge impact. “A shift happened with the rise of social media, once we saw [makeup looks from] the Kardashians and Huda Kattan,” notes Peña. Once an industry secret meant for nights onstage, baking with banana powder quickly became democratized on everyone’s feeds.

The shift happened back in the 2010s, but even now the hashtag “baking makeup” has 34 million views on TikTok—a quick search, and you’ll discover a slew of users (now including Kattan) gazing into the camera with a dusting of powder across their features. 

Yet baking with banana powder is not suited for most people’s everyday looks—and by no means is it subtle. No one is trying to pretend they’ve mastered an elusive “no makeup makeup” look after crafting cheekbones so sharp they could cut glass. Rather, it remains a nod to performance art, meant to snatch your bone structure, make a statement, and outlast a long night of, say, dancing in a crowded, glitter-soaked bar. Is there anything more drag-inspired than that?

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