I’ve taken a lot of language classes in my life. Six years of Spanish between middle school and high school. Three years of Latin. (Who cares if I had to take Latin I twice? I couldn’t carpe the diem the first time around.) A few months of Italian at Mount Carmel church in Worcester, MA, with a wonderfully energetic teacher named Angelo Villani. One semester of Italian I in college, the highlight of that being the time my professor asked “Does anyone know what they call ‘The Mafia’ in Italian?” to which I responded “La Cosa Nostra” and then quietly “But there’s no such thing.” (Only 10% of you will get that joke, but I’m still proud of it.)
Even after all of those classes, I was only able to pick up one other language. And it wasn’t even one I studied! It’s called Makeupese, and I’m not only fluent in it, but I’m also a (self certified) translator. Makeup artists, beauty editors, YouTube gurus and just those in the know will often throw out Makeupese beauty terms, forgetting that we are speaking a different language. So I’m here to help you understand the language of my people.
I did a post like this a while back, but there are new terms now, so you deserve an updated post. Let’s do this.
Airbrush Makeup: Makeup applied from a machine that sprays out a fine mist of product via an airbrush “gun” (mechanical applicator). Airbrush is said to be longer lasting than traditional makeup formulations, but I think that depends on the brand of airbrush, the products you are comparing it to and how it is applied.
Baking: A technique created by drag queens to super-set makeup using loose powder. (See below for “setting” definition.) The powder is left on the skin for 5 – 10 minutes while body heat sets it into the previously applied foundation and/or concealer. Then the powder is brushed off.
Buffing Brush: A short bristle dense face brush used to blend face makeup. It can also be used to apply liquid foundation and highlighter. It can be a flat or angled brush.
Contouring: Everyone has heard this term by now (thanks, Kardashians.) Contouring is using a dark color to make an area recede. We use contouring to minimize the width or length of a feature. Keep in mind that contouring is different for each face shape and for the shape of any feature(s) you want to contour, so beware of which contour tutorials you watch. If you have a different face shape than the person contouring and you duplicate that look on yourself, it will backfire.
Cat Eye: An eyeliner look that is thickest and angled at the outer corners. A true cat eye will also feature a thin line of liner all the way in to the tearduct. A cat eye is not for those who want a subtle look, but it’s fire if you can pull it off.
Color Wash: Using one shade of eyeshadow for the entire eye. This the most simple eyeshadow look you can do in terms of steps. It’s perfect for a bold or bright eyeshadow, if you keep the rest of your makeup toned down.
Crease: Also known as the “socket.” It’s the space above the eyelid and under the browbone where skin and bone structure dips in. There is no visible crease present on those with hooded or monolid eyes–and that’s okay! There are no bad eye shapes.
Cupid’s Bow: The curve at the center of the top lip. Highlighting that area of skin between the two peaks makes lips look slightly fuller.
Cut Crease: An eyeshadow technique popularized in the 1960s using a light color on the lid and a much darker color in the crease. This is a go-to look in the drag community, and with Instaglam makeup looks.
Dewy Skin: Skin that has been enhanced with luminizing and radiance-providing skincare and/or makeup to look like there is a sheen on the high points of the face. For more about this look, check out one of my most popular blog posts ever.
Doe Foot Applicator: A spongy tip wand applicator found primarily in lip products and cream eyeshadows. It can flat or angled.
Dupe: Short for “duplicate.” You’ll most often hear this term used when someone has or wants to find a very similar product or shade at a lower price, or when a product has been discontinued and someone has or is looking for its next of kin.
Foiling: Using a powder eyeshadow or eyeshadow pigment with a mixing medium (cream or liquid). This creates a liquid eyeshadow effect.
Fallout: Usually used in reference to eyeshadow. It’s any extra shadow that falls under the eye or onto the face while shadow is being applied. It’s the reason why makeup artists like me do the eyes first!
Flare Lashes: Also known as clusters or individual lashes, these false lashes come in groups of 6-8 lashes instead of strips that are the length of the lashline. They come in different colors, lengths and thicknesses and can be built up. They tend to look more natural and stay on better than strip lashes.
Highlight: Using a light color to draw attention to a feature or area of the face. Commonly used on cheekbones, brownbones, inner corners of eyes and above the Cupid’s Bow.
Hooded Lid: An eye that has no visible crease. Sometimes that’s the way a person’s eye is naturally, and other times it happens as a person ages and the skin under the eyebrow starts to sag and fold over the crease.
Juicy Skin: An amped up version of dewy skin, popularized by pro makeup artist, Katie Jane Hughes.
Kit: A makeup artist’s supply of tools and products.
Illuminating: Products that contain some kind of light reflecting particles. Great for places you want to highlight. Stay away from illuminating products if you have oily skin, because they can make the skin look more oily.
Matte: Products with absolutely no shimmer or shine.
MUA: Stands for “Make Up Artist.” I prefer “Makeup Artist,” but no one says “MA,” because Massachusetts already claimed that.
No Makeup Makeup: A very natural makeup look that is meant to look like the wearer does not have any makeup on. No Makeup Makeup products are meant to match the area they are being applied to. No red lips or black liner with this look!
Non-comedogenic: Means that the product will not clog pores. But I think that any makeup you don’t fully remove at night has the potential to clog pores, so this doesn’t mean “you don’t need to wash it off.”
Outer V: Used in reference to the section of the eye from the outer end of the crease to the outer end of the lashline. Drawing a little “v” here (with the point going towards the hairline) works well with a lot of eye makeup looks.
Prepping The Skin: Applying skincare products to the skin prior to a makeup application so that makeup goes on smoother and looks better than straight away applying makeup to the face.
Primer: A face, eye or lip product put on prior to foundation, eye makeup or lip color to help the products stay on longer. They also give a good base and help provide a smoother, more even surface for the products.
Setting: Using a powder or spray to lock in the makeup that has been applied. Some makeup artists do not consider cream and liquid products to be set until they have been layered over with a powder or setting spray. Setting allows the products underneath the setting product to last longer, as the setting product provides a barrier between the skin and the oils that naturally come through and break down products.
Sheer: Minimal coverage products that have a hint of color, so that you can still see through to the skin.
Spoolie: You know what a standard mascara wand looks like, right? A spoolie is just product-free version of that designed for brushing brow hairs into place and combing through lashes to get rid of clumps.
Smokey Eye: A true smokey eye is an eyeshadow look that is on a gradient with the colors. The darkest color gets applied at the upper lashline with colors in the same color family getting lighter as they go up towards the crease or middle of the eye area. It also includes a gradient effect on at the lower lashline, except the darkest color starts at the top (right at the lashes) with lighter colors in the same family below that. The lighter colors above (top lid) and below (bottom lashline) the darker colors give that “smoke” effect. Contrary to what you’ve probably seen, heard or read before, a smokey eye is not darker shadow at the Outer V or black liner in the waterline.
Smoked Out: This is what we call it when a liner has a lighter color above it at the upper lashline or below it at the lower lashline. (Also, what you might be if you spent some time with Snoop.) This doesn’t have to part of a smokey eye, though. You could have a contoured eye or a cut crease with a smoked out liner.
Stippling: An foundation application technique using a stippling brush (for liquid foundation) or a sponge (for powder foundation) to press the product into the skin. For powder, you load the sponge with product, place it onto the skin, press down, move to the next section and repeat. With a stippling brush…I’ll just let Wayne explain. Stippling generally gives more coverage than a powder puff or flat foundation brush.
Strobing: It’s just layered highlighting without contouring nearby to provide contrast. Strobing is done on the cheekbones, temples, bridge of the nose and on the Cupid’s Bow. Normally a cream or liquid concealer in a shade lighter than the skin is applied first, then set with a powder that matches that concealer, then topped with a powder highlight. Some people also use a cream highlighter layered with a powder highlighter.
Tightlining: Lining the upper inside eyelid with a pencil eyeliner, usually in a black shade. This can help make top lashes look fuller.
Transfer: When a mascara or eyeliner smudges onto the eyelid, crease, or browbone before it has dried.
Waterline: The inside lower eyelid. Lining here with a dark color makes the look more dramatic and makes the eyes look smaller. An off-white liner here will open up the eyes.
Winged Liner: Eyeliner that extends past the end of the eye on the upper lashline and is angled upwards, giving the illusion of a lifted and elongated shape.
Look at you now! Talking like a pro. The quiz will be on Tuesday, so get ready, class…
If you need clarification or have any terms I missed, fire away (aka comment).
Have a beautiful day 🙂