Pancake makeup first came about in the 1930s in response to the development of technicolor film and the way actors’ and actresses’ complexions appeared on camera. Its thick, cakey texture hides all blemishes and smooths the look of your skin — but is far too thick for daily wear. In normal day-to-day lighting, pancake makeup appears mask-like; and on older or dry skin, the makeup may appear flaky and floury. If you’re going to perform on stage, though, pancake makeup can help your face look its best. You can also use it to cover scars, skin discoloration or tattoos.

Pancake makeup is water-based pigmented color that’s dehydrated into a very thick powder. Max Factor was the first to produce this makeup that provided far more color and coverage than pressed powders and wasn’t gloppy like grease makeup. Like other foundations, pancake makeup comes in many shades to match your skin tone. Choose one that’s close to your natural coloring to create the best look.

Wash your face thoroughly, and dry. Exfoliate if your skin is especially dry or flaky.

If you have a dark discoloration or tattoo to cover, apply a layer of oil-free foundation and allow it to dry. This additional layer can provide better coverage.

Moisten a sponge so it’s just damp, and pick up some of the pancake makeup. Use more moisture on the sponge for a lighter application, and less water for a heavier and thicker appearance.

Apply the makeup in upward strokes on your cheeks and forehead. Be mindful of the amount you apply around your eyes and any deep wrinkles, because the makeup will settle into and accentuate the lines.

Avoid going over the same area multiple times — this can lead to an uneven looking skin tone.

Once the pancake makeup is dry, use a clean makeup brush designed for applying powder to smooth out any irregularities or dusty areas.

If you have a blemish to cover a break in the smooth pancake sheen, you can use stick forms of pancake makeup. Shaped like a tube of concealer or lipstick, this pancake makeup option provides a quick way to touch up your look or to cover a small discoloration without applying pancake makeup all over. Always choose a stick that blends with your natural coloring, and apply it in natural light. Use your fingers for application, because this warms the foundation and makes for a more smooth, flawless look. Blend the makeup into your skin around the edges to avoid blotches or lines.