Beauty Glossary

Your ultimate guide to makeup terms, techniques & slang. If you don’t know your baking from your bronzing, your contour from your cut crease, this is the page for you!



Angled Eyeshadow Brush

A brush that has short, fluffy, angled bristles; ideal for sweeping eyeshadow over the lid or for crease application when turned on its side.




A method of setting the face to ensure makeup lasts longer, skin stays matte and looks brighter. A thick coat of loose powder is applied to areas of the face, such as under the eyes and on the T-Zone and left to ‘bake’. The natural heat of the body will ‘melt’ the powder in to the skin. The period of ‘baking’ is up to the user but can be anywhere between 1-30 minutes. The excess powder is then brushed away. See my post here about the best affordable loose powders for baking

BB Cream

BB stands for Blemish Balm or Beauty Balm. It is a cream/liquid makeup product with more coverage that a tinted moisturiser but less than a foundation. It is an ‘all-in-one’ combining the properties of a moisturiser, primer, foundation, skincare and sunscreen. It gives a natural finish, which is more about evening out skin tone then covering any serious blemishes. BB Creams became hugely popular in Asian markets, before moving over to the West


Also known as feathering, this is when lipstick settles in to fine lines surrounding the mouth. Often more of a problem with ageing skin. It can generally be fixed by using a lip liner to create a seal around the edge of the lips, preventing the product from bleeding outside the lip line

Blending Sponge

A makeup sponge that is typically egg-shaped and can be used either damp or dry. It is amazing at blending out liquid and cream products, but can also be used for powders (such as loose setting powder under the eye). You can use it to smooth product over your face, but many prefer to use a dabbing motion to stipple product in to the skin. Use the pointed end for smaller areas of your face, such as under your eyes and around your nose, and the wider, rounded end for larger areas such as your cheeks and neck. The most popular blending sponge is the beautyblender®, but there are cheaper options available on the market. You can find a post about Primark beauty sponges here

Blotting Paper

Absorbent sheets used to soak up excess oil on the skin. Often packaged in a way that means they can be used on-the-go. Dab them on any areas that have become oily throughout the day


A powder, cream or liquid product used to warm up the skin to give a tanned, sun-kissed look. Often applied under the cheekbones, on the temples and forehead. They are typically warm-toned and should be a shade or two darker than your natural skin tone. They can be matte or shimmery depending on your preference



Either applying too much foundation so that it looks thick or mask-like, or applying a liquid product (such as concealer) over a powder product, causing the surface to crack and look dry and uneven

CC Cream

CC stands for Colour Correcting and goes slightly further than BB creams, providing colour correction for issues such as redness or sallowness


A product that is powdery, dusty, dry and hard to blend, as opposed to smooth and bendable. It is usually powder products that are described as ‘chalky’, such as eyeshadow, bronzer or highlighter


A flesh-toned cream, liquid, powder or stick used to cover blemishes, under-eye circles and uneven skin tone. Generally more concentrated and pigmented than a foundation, it is generally used in specific areas rather than all over the face

Concealer Brush

Generally a rounded, short-bristled brush great for applying and blending concealer. The rounded edge makes reaching small areas, such as around the nose and inner corners of the eye, easier

Colour Correcting

Using concealers, primers, powders, creams and liquids to counteract any skin discolouration. For instance, use green to counteract redness, peach/orange for any purple/blue discolouration under the eyes and lilac for sallowness. By using the opposing colour on the colour wheel you are counteracting the discolouration, rather than simple masking it


Using a matte powder, cream or pencil product, a couple of shades darker than your skin tone, to define, disguise or reshape certain features

Cream Blush

A blush in cream formula. Apply to the apples of your cheeks with your fingers, before powdering is best as you want to avoid layering cream products on top of powder. Cream blush generally lasts longer than its powder counterpart

Cream Contour

A cream product, a couple of shades darker than your skin tone, used to contour. Can either be in a palette or stick form and is generally longer-lasting than a powder contour

Cream Finish

A mousey, moisturising texture most often found in lipsticks. Although this is more hydrating than matte formulas, it is not as long lasting


The crease of the eye is where the lid folds when you open and close your eye, between the brow bone and the lid. Darker shadows are often blended in to the in order to give the eye definition and make it appear larger


When you foundation balls up on your skin, flaking up when you try and apply it. Can be caused by applying your foundation too soon after moisturiser, applying too much primer or from heat. Read more here about how to prevent this

Cut Crease

An eyeshadow look that focuses on the crease by applying a sharp line where the crease sits – ‘cutting’ the eye at the point where it creases. A lighter shadow is usually applied to the lid and a darker colour applied above the crease

Cupid’s Bow

The area just above the centre of your top lip. Often highlighted to make the lips look fuller and more pouty



Dewy Finish

A skin finish that has a moisturised, glowy appearance. Using hydrating, radiant products formulated for dry skin will help you achieve this finish

Dermatologically – Tested

Often found on makeup packaging, this means that the product has undergone testing to assess how friendly it is to the skin


Dupe is short for ‘duplicate’. In the context of makeup, a dupe is a product that closely mimics either the colour or formula of another. Inexpensive dupes are often sought for high-end or hard to source products in order to get the same effect without having to spend the money



Eyebrow Gel

Can either be clear, to stick down any unruly eyebrow hairs and keep them in place all day, or coloured, to fill in any sparse areas of an eyebrow. Eyebrow gels looks similar to mascaras in that they come in a tube and have a spoolie-like wand

Eyebrow Pencil

Similar to an eyeliner pencil but more waxy, this pencil is used to enhance your brow hairs. You can use it to draw brow hairs if you have none, or simply make your existing brows bolder and more groomed. Many come with spoolies, which is a small brush, to comb through your brows after using the pencil, for a more natural look

Eye Crayon

An eyeshadow packaged in crayon form – generally a cream eyeshadow. It makes application very easy as the product can simple be drawn on to the lid and then blended out

Eyelash Primer

A product that is applied to lashes before mascara in order to enhance the performance of the mascara and give lashes more volume and length. Eyelash primers are generally clear or white and are applied in the same way as mascara

Eyelash Fibres

Small fibres which attach to your eyelashes in order to make them look fuller and longer. They can either be contained within the mascara or you have to wet your eyelashes first with a mascara, brush on the fibres contained in a separate tube, and then seal them on using mascara again over the top

Eyeliner Brush

A thin angled brush with short bristles which can be used with gel, powder, or cream products to create the perfect eyeliner

Eyeshadow Primer

A cream or liquid product applied to the eyelid before eyeshadow. Using an eyeshadow primer has several benefits: eyeshadow sticks to eyelids easier as the formula is generally quite tacky, eyeshadows are more vivid, they last longer, and are less likely to crease. Eyeshadow primers can either be clear or are coloured in order to cover up any discolouration on the eyes and give you a ‘blank canvas’ to work with



Face Mist

A liquid product in a spray bottle which you can spray on your face to add moisture throughout the day. Great for dry skin or to refresh your makeup if it has become dry through excessive use of powder


Any excess powder that falls on to the face when eyeshadow is applied. A powdery eyeshadow product will produce more fallout. To avoid fallout mess you can use creamy eyeshadows or apply your eyeshadow first, wipe away any fallout and then move on to your face. Alternatively, if there is already fallout on your face makeup, wrap a piece of sticky around the end of a brush with the sticky side facing out. Roll this across your skin to pick up any of the fallout


A skin coloured liquid, cream or powder product applied to the face to even out skin tone, cover blemishes and create a blank canvas for other makeup. Choosing the right foundation for you will depend on your skin type – if you have very oily skin, go for a matte foundation, whilst if you have dry skin, a dewy foundation will work better for you



Halo Eye

An eyeshadow look, also called a spotlight eye, which makes eyes look bigger and rounder. A light eyeshadow shade is applied to the centre of the lid and centre of the lower lash line and is surrounded by a darker colour on the inner and outer corners


A shimmery or glowy cream, liquid or powder used to enhance certain areas of the face. Usually applied to the tops of the cheekbones, the brow bone (area just beneath the eyebrow), bridge of the nose, inner corners of the eyes and cupids bow (just above the top of the upper lip)

Holy Grail

A slang term used for must-have or absolute favourite products, e.g. “this is my holy grail foundation”


A claim often found on makeup packaging that means the product is unlikely to cause allergic reactions as it does not contain known irritating substances or allergens



Kabuki Brush

A large makeup brush with dense bristles that can be either flat-topped or rounded. It can be used for a variety of powder products, including foundation, powder and blusher



Lip Brush

An angled, short, firm brush used to get a sharp line when applying lipstick. Ideal if the applicator on your chosen lip product is too large or imprecise

Lip Liner

A pencil product used to outline and sometimes fill in the lips in order to make the lipstick, that is applied over the top, last longer. It also prevents feathering of the lipstick. Lip Liner can also be worn alone on the lips for long-lasting colour

Lip Plumper

A product designed to increase blood flow to the lips creating a plumper pout. Use of such products is usually accompanied by a tingling sensation

Lip Stain

A liquid or cream lip product which colours the lips without adding texture. Once applied to the lips it will dry down to a wash of colour on the lips, with coverage ranging from sheer to intense depending on the product. Perfect for those who want to add colour to their lips, but dislike the feeling of wearing lipsticks

Liquid Eyeliner

Used to line the upper lash line. Generally seen as harder to use than its pencil or gel counterparts but delivering bold, pigmented colour making it ideal for winged or graphic eyeliner



Matte Finish

In terms of skin, this is a silky, powdered finish, with little to no shine – ideal for those with oily skin. When applied to other products, such as eyeshadow or lipsticks, it means that the product has no shimmer, glitter or shine. Such formulas are, in general, more drying but also have great lasting power

Metallic Finish

A highly reflective, foiled finish most often found in lipsticks and eyeshadows

Mineral Makeup

Makeup made up of minerals such as iron and zinc oxides which are crushed in to tiny particles. Mineral makeup does not contain the harsh chemicals used in traditional makeup, such as parabens and fragrances, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin. Mineral makeup tends to have a more sheer, natural finish than full-coverage traditional makeup


Using more than one mask on your face depending on what your skin needs. For instance, you might use a hydrating mask on drier areas and a purifying mask on an oily T-zone


Stands for Makeup Artist




A technique of drawing outside of the natural lip line to make lips appear fuller. Use a matte lip product and overline the centre of your lips rather than the edges to get the most natural look




A set that includes more than one of something. For instance, an eyeshadow palette would contain more than one shadow, all of different colours

Pigments / Pigmented

Pigments, in very simple terms, are the basis for colour in makeup; they are combined with other components to produce the final product. ‘Pigmented’ refers to the coverage and colour pay-off of a product. For instance, if a lipstick is pigmented it will be opaque and true to colour with just one swipe


A liquid, cream or powder product applied to the face before foundation. Different primers serve different purposes. Some have colour in them to even out skin tone, some are smoothing to blur pores and imperfections whilst others are formulated to be very long-lasting, ensuring that any products put over the top will last longer too. Select your primer based on your skin type – if you have oily skin opt for a mattifying primer, if you have dry skin choose a moisturising, illuminating primer


Tiny openings in the skin that serve as outlets for oil and sweat. Enlarged pores are caused when they got blocked by sweat, dirt or makeup. A good skincare regime (including salicylic acid) is needed to unblock pores in the long-term, whilst in the short-term pore smoothing primers can be used in order to provide a smooth canvas on which to apply makeup



Satin Finish

A finish somewhere in the middle of matte and dewy. Although not a flat matte, products with a satin finish will not be glittery either. They have more of a shimmery, glowy finish and can include lipsticks, eyeshadows and face products

Setting Spray

Designed to set and preserve your makeup for longer, setting sprays can be formulated for either oily or dry skin. Spray a light mist over your face, keeping the bottle at arm’s length so you don’t drown your face in product! Setting sprays can also be useful for ‘melting’ all the products on the face together, especially if you’ve gone a bit heavy-handed with the powders


A formula that is thin and not fully opaque, it will add colour but no coverage. For example, a sheer lip colour will add a slight tint to the lips but not much coverage; a sheer coverage foundation will even out skin tone but will not cover blemishes

Smokey Eye

An eyeshadow look where a colour is packed on the lid and then diffused up towards the crease to give a ‘smoked out’, blended appearance


A tool used for brushing through eyebrow hairs. A spoolie looks like a mascara wand with short bristles and a tapered end


A method of applying foundation by dabbing or dotting it across your face instead of swiping. This gives a full-coverage, almost airbrushed finish. A stippling brush is best for this – it is usually a synthetic, flat-topped two-toned brush


A more intense version of highlighting, where multiple different highlighting products of different formulas are layered on the face to give a strong and pigmented finish


Swiping the product somewhere on the skin in order to test the colour or texture. Photos and videos of swatches are often shared in the beauty community to show the product to others and can be a useful way of seeing whether the product would be right for you



Tight Line

Using eyeliner at the very roots of your eyelashes. Darkening this area and filling in any gaps will make your eyelashes appear fuller


The central area of the face including the nose, forehead and chin. This generally tends to be the area of the face that gets oiliest first and so is often targeted by skincare and makeup




The ‘wet’ area of your lower eyelid, between your eyeball and your lashes. Eyeliner can be applied here but be very careful not to get product in your eye and only use products that are eye-safe. Water-proof eyeliners are often used to line the waterline as this area is constantly moistened by the eye and so wears off quickly. A dark eyeliner will define the eyes whilst a white or flesh toned colour will open them up and make them appear bigger and brighter

Warm / Cool / Neutral

These are different skin undertones. You can check the colour of the veins on the inside of your wrist to tell what undertone you have – you have a warm undertone to your skin if you’re veins appear green, a cool undertone if they are blue/purple and neutral undertones if you have trouble telling. Different colours will suit you depending on your undertone (but remember that does not mean you have to limit yourself to those colours!) If you’re cool toned, go for purples, blues and rich greens, if you’re warm-toned red, oranges, yellows and olive greens will look beautiful on you. If you have a neutral undertone, then you can get away with any colour!