Bakeup Beauty Is All About Self-Expression in the Digital World and IRL

The clean, gender fluid collection is made to be played with.

Grace Gaustad wearing Bakeup eyeshadow

Bakeup

When a beauty line launches with a trio of palm-sized eyeshadow palettes in primaries, pastels and neons, along with a kit of gems and stickers for the face and body, you know it isn’t your average makeup line. Above all, celebrity and editorial makeup artist Jo Baker believes makeup should be fun—and for everyone. Her new line, Bakeup,launching today, is the very embodiment of that philosophy. “We can use makeup in a way that is so much more intelligent, directional and artful,” Baker says. “You get a much stronger message and it can actually be powerful, so I wanted to create a formidable modern beauty brand that allows people to have ammunition to create their own alter egos every day.”

Perhaps nowhere is that art-infused and experimental aesthetic better displayed than with her ongoing collaboration with recording artist Grace Gaustad, the co-founder of Bakeup. Gaustad recalls that the first time they met with Baker to do their makeup, her makeup kit was what Gaustad imagined a painter’s kit would be. “It didn't look like the traditional makeup artist’s set because there was so many colors and glitters—just all this stuff,” Gaustad says. “Jo is one of the only makeup artists—and I've worked with quite a few now—who really sees makeup as an art form, as opposed to something that you put on when you're going to go out, or you put on and feel good about yourself. Jo made makeup something that was very fun and artistic as opposed to something stiff and glamorous. She redefined it for me.”

The Founders

Since working together, Baker has helped Gaustad become more experimental with their makeup and Baker’s goal is for Bakeup to help others do the same. Baker has collaborated with singer-songwriter Gaustad on looks that are an extension of their music. Together, they created 12 looks for Gaustad’s BLKBX albums, songs that focused on topics spanning depression to anxiety, trauma and sexuality. “I would give her the story message [of each song] and we’d figure out how to articulate that message through something as simple as makeup, color, texture and design,” Gaustad says. “Bakeup and makeup was an artistic tool to further along anything that I'm trying to convey. Everyone looks forward to not only the song drops, but they also were dying to see what I'm wearing, or what that makeup looks like, and how it furthers the story and the video—it all comes together so beautifully.”

A few of their favorite looks they’ve created together include "Old Ways," an all-neon look, as well as "Code Black", a 90’s androgynous look with a feminine twist. “I've always loved feminine and masculine in makeup,” Baker says. “To be honest, I think everyone can do both. I love it when we bounce around a lot; we've done a lot of really girly looks on Grace and we've also done androgynous, powerful looks.”

Gaustad adds, “They're special for different reasons. I'm glad to have makeup as a tool of self-expression because as an artist, you're always trying to find ways to express yourself, whether it's your clothing, what you're saying, your music or your hair. Your face tells such a big story. I love that I can essentially tell a story with my eyes; you don't have to see anything else. Those makeup looks are powerful enough to show you exactly what I'm feeling.”

The Products

That spirit of expression and playfulness is immediately apparent in Bakeup. The three credit card-sized Micro Palm Palettes ($24-$28 each) feature buildable shades that are begging to be played with and are all packed with pigment in a soft texture. “Selfishly, I wanted to see mini palettes of all the fun stuff in my kit,” Baker says. “It really is about, why not get people to the candy of my kit. Being known in the industry as someone who's adventurous, courageous and unafraid to create something wild, why not come out with that immediate color hit that makes people fully get attention.” 

Bakeup Beauty Palm Palette

Bakeup

Then there’s Playbox ($24), a kit of self-adhesive prismatic gems and stickers that work as faux piercings and punk adornments, or are ideal for creating crystal constellations around the eyes. Though gemstones might seem intimidating, Gaustad emphasizes how user-friendly they are. “I'm lucky to have someone like Jo who can sit for hours at a time and do very extravagant things on me, but I certainly couldn't do that myself,” they say. “The Playbox really empower the user to have a lot of fun without needing to have a bunch of skill sets.” 

Bakeup wearable gem stones

Bakeup

Bakeup was created to address the white space Baker saw in the makeup world. “In the last 10 years, makeup has gone in such a specific direction,” Baker says. “It's all about attractiveness, very girly girl packaging, hyper feminine. I wanted to bring a level of art and ambiguity to a brand. I wanted there to be a brand that represented the more artful, unisex crowd. I felt there was something missing in that you either get these pro lines that are just for the makeup artist, or you get hyper luxe, beautiful, feminine lines, or you get young lines that feel like they're not sophisticated enough for a widespread market.”

Virtual Reality

As a digital-first brand, Bakeup was soft-launched in the summer in the digital world, offering makeup for avatars and AV filters alongside its decorated mesh Veiler Eye Adornments, which can be worn IRL or in the metaverse. Its 3D Playscape lets people create looks, shop and play with the products, plus they offer digital wearables. Baker envisioned launching digital before the products as a way to start building their community and reaching their audience. 

“The world is going digital and it has been for quite some time,” Gaustad says. “I think it's important to have some of those extravagant makeup looks that Jo and I spent three or four hours on. Although someone might not be able to replicate them in person, they still can wear them in the multiverse space and still participate in that way without having to recreate them in their real life, because they can be definitely tricky. The digital space will always allow you to do things that you can't do IRL. There's so many fun things and opportunities there that are exclusive to that space. We're trying with makeup to make sure that people feel like they have access to all of the incredible things that we've had access to at the touch of their fingertips.” 

Baker also sees their digital presence as a way of being more inclusive and inviting everyone to play with Bakeup and makeup. “I want to reach people that may not feel like they have an invitation to the beauty space,” she says. “Not everyone's going to be able to afford to buy a palette. I want every young person and all who are curious to feel like there's an opportunity to play and explore self-identity. I want people to not take it too seriously but at the same time I also recognize how this is actually super deep and serious for a lot of people who may be feeling a certain way or not understanding if they feel feminine or masculine. As much as I love the products in real life, I want there to be this further reach of people who may be in their bedroom at home as a young teen and wanting to play around but don't have the money and the confidence to walk into a makeup shop.” 

Ultimately, Baker and Gaustad hope Bakeup will encourage truly anyone and everyone to play with makeup and express themselves. “Everybody's welcome to play with bakeup,” Gaustad says. “It's a line with no rules and no boundaries. At the end of the day, Jo and I want people to have fun and want to see all of the art that will come from these products.”

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