Beauty Lingo Explained

In my decade of work as a makeup artist, I noticed we beauty buffs employ a language that is entirely our own; and sometimes to the detriment of our clients. I have decoded some popular terms in beauty lingo so that you can be empowered to make the most of your next encounter with an artist or salesperson. 


This is a common term for where bronzer belongs. In order to get that warm glow, the high points of the face are where the sun naturally tans the most: the top of the forehead, bridge of the nose, tip of the chin, and tops of the cheekbones (not the same place where a contour goes). 


The T shape of the strip across the forehead and straight down the middle of the face. This is where most people tend to get oily, especially later in the day. 


A coat of mascara is not the same as a swipe of mascara. I would assume 2 coats of mascara equals about 20 swipes of mascara per eye. That may be surprising to some, but in order to achieve eye-opening lashes, every lash must be coated, left to dry a few seconds between coats, and coated a second time. This was one of the biggest differences I could make for my clients, especially if they were new to wearing eye makeup regularly. 


The membrane touching the eyeball, adjacent to the lashes. Some makeup looks can be intensified with contrasting dark liner placed on the water line, or a flesh-tone liner on the water line can tone down redness and make the eyes look bigger. 


Tightlining is the action of filling in the the upper and lower water lines with black kohl, cake liner, or waterproof liner to make the eyelashes look fuller without adding liner to the lids. 


The very top middle of the lips, between the two points that come down from the nose. This part of the lip can look fuller by adding a dab of a creamy highlighter, then applying lip color to the rest of the lips. 


This is the most confusing beauty term ever, right? Since the apples of the cheeks change with the size and structure of each individual face, I've devised a formula to teach women where to find their apples. Take your pointer and middle fingers and push them onto the part of the face directly under the middle of your eye (think right below the pupil) resting on the cheekbone, and that is your apple. Use that defined small spot to apply blush, that way is is neither too close to the nose or too close to the sideburns (so 80s). 


Foundation can be light, medium, or full coverage. As you would imagine, light coverage means there is just the slightest bit of color to give the complexion one even base, but still show freckles, beauty marks, and blemishes. Medium coverage foundation will cover redness and most blemishes. Full coverage foundation will completely mask imperfections, cover freckles, beauty marks, and the odd face tattoo. 

I love using full coverage foundation because I have control over how much I use and where I use it. if I want the coverage to be lighter, I can mix it with my moisturizer, or if it's an evening event I can apply it full on. I think this is a great economical option, especially if you splurge on a high end product, like my favorite Make Up Forever HD.


This is the latest beauty craze, but it has been around since the early days of makeup. Using color theory, color correcting uses the opposite color of the problem area to neutralize it. For example, orange and salmon toned correctors make blue and grey under eye circles disappear. You'll need a concealer over top to make the area match the rest of the face. I've been a longtime devotee to Bobbi Brown corrector because it makes me look well-rested even when I'm running on 6 hours of sleep. 


A light coverage foundation that may or may not contain moisturizer. I always recommend wearing moisturizer under any face base, tinted moisturizers included. 


This is a common term for highlighting the high points of the face, used mostly in conjunction with contouring. Strobing is a really nice look for summer nights to add extra glow to the skin. 


This is a term meaning there are plant-derived ingredients included. Be cautious with brands that claim to contain botanicals. It is akin to foods that claim to be natural, when they are neither organic and usually processed. 


The lid is the part of the eyelid that covers the eyeball. The crease is the semi circle shaped line in the skin right above that.


Fallout is what happens when eyeshadow or eyeliner is not high quality finely milled powder, so it falls onto the face. To prevent this, apply eye makeup before face makeup if a product is known for having fallout. 


The action of using a stippling brush or sponge to tap the product over the skin for a delicate application. This works best for adding cream or liquid products to the skin without going too heavy. 


Buffing is pushing the product into the skin with a wide flat brush to get maximum coverage and color. 


The bone above the eye socket where the brows are.


The line of eyelashes that covers each eye from end to end. 


Undertones in the skin can either be pink (warm), yellow (cool), or neutral (both). This is one of the hardest things to nail down, but it makes color matching any foundation or concealer super easy once you know your skintone. There are a few ways to find your undertones. First, think of your skin tone when you are feeling sick-- is it cool green or yellow toned or does your face get warm and red (not the same as a red nose). Second, look at your palms and the skin by the wrist. In contrast with the veins, it might be easier to tell if you are cool or warm. If you are still having a hard time, chances are you are neutral toned, and your skin will be best suited with a base that contains both yellow and pink.