5. Makeup Glossary 2: Technical Terms

Here are the most common technical terms used in Makeup. Unlike the "Lingo" article, these are not slang and you can even find them in most makeup books.

  • Apples of your cheeks are the full, round, fleshy area of each cheek that becomes more prominent when you smile.
  • Ashy describes a dull, chalk-like appearance to the skin. Often more obvious on bronze/ ebony skin.
  • Blotchy refers to unevenness in the skin’s tone and appearance. Having spots, blotches, and skin discoloration definitely ages your appearance and is not cute.
  • Blot is using oil and/or moisture with an absorbent material, such as blotting paper or tissue.
  • Blush is for adding a wonderfully warm glow to the face. It can brighten the dullest of skin. If your cheeks are naturally rosy, you might skip the blush and leave the glow to Mother Nature. But for most, blush definitely can make you look younger.
  • Brighten means to make or become bright, lighten or perk up. For example, to brighten the skin or lip color.
  • Brow bone is the area of the eyelid that is right below the arch of the brow. It really is a bone that is more or less prominent depending on the shape of your skull and eye socket.
  • Building-color is the process of layering one or more colors to create more intensity and depth.
  • Capillaries are tiny blood vessels throughout the body and face that connect arteries and veins. Capillaries form an intricate network around body tissues in order to distribute oxygen and nutrients to the cells and remove waste substances. When damaged (broken), they show up as thin red lines on the face, most commonly around the nose and in the cheek area.
  • Cakey is when a product appears thick, dry, flaky, crusty, and dehydrated after it’s applied. For example, your concealer can look cakey if applied too thickly or if you use a formula that is too dry for the area where you are using it.
  • Concealer is a miracle product that hides everything your foundation doesn’t. It makes broken capillaries, undereye circles, age spots, and skin discolorations disappear like magic. It gives a much heavier coverage and is a thicker consistency than foundation, and it’s this consistency that creates the great coverage.
  • Contour is the opposite of highlight. Everything that we contour (deepen) we push away from the eye to make it appear less visible. A “contour shade” is usually a darker shade that gives your features more depth and definition by contrasting against the lighter shades used on your face and around the eyes. Contouring is also the last step in the three-color layering technique for the eyes.
  • Contrast is the brightness ratio of the lightest to the darkest shade. For example, a light eyeshadow is in high contrast to a dark eyeshadow.
  • Coverage is the amount of opacity a product gives to the skin. Higher coverage products are more opaque.
  • Crepe-like appearance is when an area of skin appears to have many fine lines and looks slightly saggy. For example, when your eyelids appear to be very wrinkled and saggy from excess skin.
  • Cupid's bow of the lip is the rounded, curved area near the center of the top lip, forming a shape much like an M. Some lips have a much more prominent and defined bow than others.
  • Dehydrated means to suffer from loss of moisture. Dehydrated areas of the skin lack moisture and suppleness, making them appear older.
  • Depth level is the lightness or darkness of the appearance of something, such as skin and foundation. It is how light or how dark your skin and foundation appear to the naked eye.
  • Dewy often refers to foundation, blush, or lip color that has a finish that creates a fresh and glowing look with a slight sheen and luminosity. Named after dew on the grasses or flowers in the early morning.
  • Discoloration is when an area of skin has changed from its natural color. For example, dark circles, age spots, and any area of the skin that has changed from your natural skin tone, usually becoming darker, but sometimes lighter in color.
  • Dual-finish refers to a product that can give you multiple finishes when it’s applied. Depending on the tool you choose to use for its application, you will get either more or less coverage.
  • Elasticity describes the skin’s suppleness and its ability to remain firm and taut, visually tight and young. Loss of elasticity can be caused by many circumstances, including sun damage, age, dehydration, and genetics; it allows the skin to start to sag, which makes it look older. Prevention is key: It’s best to start at an early age by staying out of the sun and using products at every age that will help stop or slow down the loss of elasticity.
  • Emollient is an ingredient that helps smooth and soften the skin. It is also an ingredient that, when added to some products, allows them to be pressed into a cake-like form. For example, adding an emollient to a powder allows it to be pressed into a compact and hold together.
  • Exfoliation is the process of using products and actions that will remove the top layer of dead skin from your face. It should be done before bed to allow the skin to replenish itself before applying makeup. Newer skin helps improve the look of all makeup products to follow.
  • Eyeliner is used for defining and "bringing out" the eyes, though it is not always necessary. It is the product most commonly used to really draw attention to the eyes. If used correctly it can be your friend, but if used incorrectly it is definitely your enemy.
  • Eyeshadow is either applied lightly as a gentle color wash or as a more dramatic layering of color and texture to enhance and add shape to the eyes.
  • Facial masking is when there is a visible unevenness to the color of the skin. On bronze/ ebony skin, it’s when the innermost part of the face is drastically lighter than the skin in the outer area, creating a dark masked area around the outside of the face.
  • Finish is the appearance that a product gives to the surface that it is applied to. Eyeshadow can have a matte, shimmer, satin, or frosted finish, while lipstick can have a matte, crème, shimmer, or frosted finish. Some finishes definitely work better for different situations and effects.
  • Foundation is a miracle product that evens out your complexion and covers imperfections. Your foundation’s tone depends entirely on your skin. If your skin is looking radiant and beautiful without help, then, by all means, skip the foundation and go to a light dusting of powder. However, if you do need foundation, it comes in a variety of texture finishes such as matte, satin, and dewy. If you have oily or blemished skin, choose matte. If your skin is normal or dry, you can choose from any of the finishes.
  • Frost is about maximum sparkle and super-shine. It is also sometimes referred to as iridescent. It is a fun, sexy look that works best on young skin because, on more mature skin, it can draw attention to the fine lines. The term is usually used in reference to eyeshadow and lip color.
  • Gloss is a super-high-shine lip color. It can add a punch of color but does not stay on as long as lipstick. It will make lips look fuller and younger.
  • Glow means to create a radiance that seems to come from within. A beautiful glow will immediately create a youthful radiance that will remove years. Glow does not mean shine or shiny, which can look oily and accentuate skin texture flaws, it means radiant and youthful. It is most often created by making the perfect shade and texture choices of foundations, bronzers, and blushes.
  • Gradation is the gradual changing of a shade of color from dark to light or light to dark.
  • Highlight is the opposite of contour. Everything you highlight comes toward you and helps draw attention to a specific area or feature. A highlight shade is usually a lighter shade used on the face and eyes. Highlighting is the first step in the three-color layering technique for the eyes and is the lightest shade in sculpting the face.
  • Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normally colored surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.
  • Hypopigmentation is the loss of skin color. It is caused by melanocyte depletion — a decrease in the amino acid tyrosine, which is used by melanocytes to make melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color.
  • Intensity is a term used to describe the vividness of a product, such as how strong its shade or color might appear. For example, an intense lip color will be very noticeable and attention-grabbing.
  • Layering means to apply multiple layers of a product or products one on top of the other. This technique either creates a greater depth of color or adds to the coverage of the product.
  • Light-reflecting particles are very small, finely ground particles (ingredients) in a formula that are used to reflect light. By reflecting light, they help to disguise the flaws that may lie underneath. Products with these ingredients are great for creating the illusion of flawless skin without heavy coverage.
  • Lip color is one of the quickest ways to set the mood for your overall look. You can go all out and define your lips with color, or you can smear on a clear gloss or healing lip balm for that pared-down, natural look.
  • Luminescence describes a foundation with light-reflecting qualities that creates a glowing, refined look. The light-reflecting properties contain specially shaped particles that bounce light away from imperfections, surface lines, and wrinkles to create a more youthful look.
  • Mascara is a product designed to coat each eyelash with color (and sometimes tiny particles) to give you full, long, thick, and dark lashes. Mascara makes your eyes stand out and look younger. There are many choices of formulas designed to give you a variety of effects.
  • Matte is used to describe lipsticks, eyeshadows, foundations, powders, and blushes that have absolutely no shine and appear flat. Matte lipsticks tend to be drier, but they stay on much longer. Matte foundations are excellent on shiny and oily skins and are best for imperfect complexions. There are also matte products such as powders and crèmes that will help fight oils during the day.
  • Metallic describes lipsticks, eyeshadows, and eye pencils that have a very shiny, reflective metal finish. They are usually trendy and fun. It’s a look that is fantastic on ebony or darker skin because it shows up so well, but it can be too harsh for very, very pale or more mature skin.
  • Melasma is also known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. In this acquired condition, the skin on the face and neck slowly develops brown patches. Melasma usually occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It may also develop in women taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, or people who have had excessive sun exposure. The brown patches are attributed to an increased amount of pigment in the skin.
  • Mica is a small particle used in cosmetics, ground very fine, to produce shine and shimmer in a product. It can be colorless or be a variety of shades. It is most often used in eyeshadows, blushes, and lipsticks.
  • Midtone is a neutral, natural eye color that you sweep across the eyelids to help define and shape the eyes. The midtone shade should be a natural extension of your complexion, and is the second step in the three- color layering technique for the eyes. It is the shade that is in the middle in depth, darker than your highlight eyeshadow shade and lighter than your contour eyeshadow shade.
  • Mousse is a texture that resembles that of a fluffy whipped dessert. It’s most common in foundation and blush, making them lighter in weight and more sheer in coverage, which also tends to help them blend into the skin more completely.
  • Mute or muting is to make a color appear less intense. For example, taking a bright pink and adding or layering another shade (possibly a beige) on top of to tone it down to a much softer pink (a soft beige-pink, more like a skin tone), making it appear more subtle and natural.
  • Oil absorbers are ingredients that, when added to a formula, will help absorb natural oils secreted by your skin throughout the day. For example, some foundations contain oil absorbers to assist you in preventing your face from appearing shiny (oily) and helping your foundation stay in place all day.
  • Oil-free means a product has no added oils in its formula. It does not mean that a product might not contain moisturizers; it simply means that, if it does, they do not get their moisture from any oils.
  • Opaque is a finish that provides absolute coverage, allowing very little skin to show through.
  • Polymer is a small ingredient or particle that, when added to a product, clings to whatever it’s applied to and adds bulk, volume, and length. It’s most commonly used in mascara and is the ingredient that increases the longer, thicker appearance of your lashes.
  • Porosity is the skin’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. Moisturizer can "even out" the porosity of your skin and help your foundation, primer, or concealer go on more smoothly.
  • Powder is a term used to refer to the talc-like form of products like eyeshadow, blush, and face powder. For example, face powder, which is used for setting foundation and concealer, gives your face a smooth finish and keeps shine under control. Powder can come in multiple forms, including loose and pressed.
  • Primer is a product that is designed to be used underneath other products to create a better finish once everything is applied. Makeup primers create a barrier between your skin and anything applied after the product. Some are designed to prevent whatever is applied on top from seeping into fine lines and places they do not need to be. Primers also keep makeup in place much longer as you go through your day.
  • Rosacea is a skin disorder leading to redness and pimples on the nose, forehead, cheekbones, and chin. The inflamed redness of rosacea can look a great deal like acne, but blackheads are never present.
  • Satin refers to a formulation that’s neither as flat as matte nor as shiny as shimmer. A "soft satin finish" is often used to describe foundations and liquid cosmetics that give a soft, smooth finish to the skin. Satin products have a sheen to them but are not shiny. Satin eyeshadows are particularly good for mature skin because they glide on smoothly and add a soft sheen to the skin.
  • Sculpting is a term used to describe the process of reshaping something. In the case of makeup, it means using multiple depth levels of a product (foundation, eyeshadow, or lip colors, for example) to visually reshape how something appears. For example, sculpting a round (or full) face to look thinner, or to make a hooded eyelid look less fleshy. These are very effective techniques that can make you look much more youthful.
  • Sheer is a thinner and more transparent finish that gives the skin a glow. It usually contains silicone that allows makeup to glide on easily. The product clings less and covers more smoothly without being opaque. Sheer products seem to disappear into the skin, giving it a soft, more natural appearance. The sheer foundation is fabulous for mature women since it helps their skin appear brighter and fresher without drawing attention to fine lines. And it’s also perfect for younger women whose skin tones need to be evened out.
  • Silicone refers to any of a number of polymers containing alternate silicon and oxygen atoms that act in cosmetics as adhesives and lubricants, helping them adhere to the skin. This ingredient really helps a product become one with the skin. It can also make a product water-repellent.
  • Skin tone is human skin color, and it can range from very dark brown to nearly colorless (appearing pinkish-white due to the blood in the skin) in different people. Skin tone is determined by the amount (depth) and type (olive, yellow, pink, bronze, or ebony) of the pigment melanin in the skin. On average, women have slightly lighter skin than men.
  • Stippling is a blending technique used for concealers and foundations or crème-type products. It’s especially effective for blending out the edges of concealers. Stippling is also a great way to carefully apply one product over another. Just place some product, such as foundation, on your fingertips or a sponge and apply in a gentle patting motion so as not to disturb or erase the product you’ve already applied underneath, such as concealer.
  • Stripe test is a technique where you take foundation and apply it to the skin in a stripe of color, to test whether or not it is a true color match. You can not get a perfect foundation match without conducting this test--it is a must.
  • T-zone is basically the center of your face, including the center of your forehead, nose, and chin. This area can have a slightly different texture than the rest of your face (larger pores, for example), thus excreting more oils and having a tendency to get shiny or oily more easily than the rest of the face.
  • Temples are the outer edges of your forehead (above the eyes) extending to the hairline.
  • Tinted is used to describe a product that will give the skin the slightest hint of color. The pigments in the product will be very light so as to just slightly add color and give the sheerest coverage possible.
  • Texture is the consistency of a product–the feel or weight of the product on your skin. For example, a blush can have a creamy or a powdery feel to it. Foundation comes in many textures, including crème, powder, and liquid. Texture describes the form of a product but not the finish. Foundation can have a dewy, creamy, sheer, matte, or satin finish, while lipsticks can be glossy, matte, or sheer.
  • Undertone is the underlying tone of a color. It’s the base that the color is formed from. For example, your skin can have an olive undertone. A warm shadow or blush has a yellow undertone, while a cool color has a blue undertone.
  • Vitiligo is when patches of skin lose their pigmentation because the pigment-producing cells, the melanocytes, are attacked and destroyed. It may affect the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, inner ear, or hair, leaving white patches. The usual type of vitiligo is called vitiligo vulgaris. See also Hypopigmentation.
  • Water-based describes the formulation of a product that can be removed with or is soluble in water. These formulas generally are considered to be less irritating to the skin than formulas that require special creams or other removers. This is the formulation most commonly used in foundation.
  • Waterproof describes the fact that a product is totally resistant to water--it does not allow water to penetrate. A product that is waterproof can be totally submerged in water and not smear, smudge, or run.
  • Water-resistant describes a product that will resist water but is not totally resistant. It can have contact with moisture or water and not smudge or smear, but can’t be totally submerged in water without moving (running) or being otherwise affected.

That's it for now. If you find a word you don't know (or that I missed) just