Beauty Jargon Demystified

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  • Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Beauty Jargon Demystified
Beauty Jargon Demystified

Have you ever tried a step-by-step makeup tutorial, and struggled because you simply don’t understand the jargon? What does it mean if a product is highly pigmented? Why is your lipstick ‘bleeding’?!

The beauty industry is filled with specialised terminology and while some words may seem self-explanatory, others will have you reaching for a dictionary. 

The following list is by no means definitive as the beauty industry is vast and ever-evolving. It is, however, a good place to start decoding the language of makeup tutorials!



This refers to applying powder or cream-based products to the face, cheeks, and eyes. Use a soft, fluffy makeup brush (small for the eyes and large for the face) and gentle, quick circular motions to apply the product evenly. The technique is especially useful when blending two different eyeshadow colours into a seamless gradient.

Urban Decay has a huge selection of high-quality makeup brushes, allowing you to buff and blend a professional finish to your heart’s content.



This refers to how well a product covers your natural skin tone and is usually used to describe foundation. High coverage makeup is completely opaque, while light coverage results in a more natural look.


Cut crease

This technique is used to give smoky eye makeup more definition. Eyeshadow is applied over the whole lid and browbone. Then a second, contrasting colour is applied just on the lid, with sharp definition at the crease (so no gradient).


Eyeliner wings


Perfect cat eye makeup requires eyeliner wings. Use liquid eyeliner to draw a sharp, curved line at the outer corner of each eye. This elongates the eyes and gives the impression of an upward tilt. Winged eyeliner is very hard to get right, so you’ll need to practice the technique.

A liquid eyeliner pen is great for creating precision eyeliner wings. Try L’Oreal Paris Perfect Slim Superliner for a fade-resistant colour that glides on smoothly.



This describes how a product will look once applied. Foundation finishes include matte (flat, no shine), dewy (fresh and natural) and satin (glowing, but not shiny). Glitter or shimmer finishes usually describe eyeshadows, while glossy lip colour is a shiny alternative to matte lipstick.


Free edge

The part of your nails that extends over the fingertips. When people refer to your nails as being ‘long’, they’re referring to your free edge.


Lipstick bleed

When your lip colour smudges into the tiny creases in your skin, it’s referred to as bleeding. Using a primer and lip liner can help prevent lipstick bleeding and confine colour inside the border of your lips.




Natural look

Makeup in neutral or skin-toned shades is applied minimally to enhance the natural features of the face. Natural makeup can smooth over any blemishes or imperfections and create the effect that you aren’t wearing any makeup.

Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette is a fantastic collection of colours that allow you to create a wide range of eye looks – from barely there to deep smoky neutrals. The palette includes both matte and shimmer eyeshadows, making it extremely versatile.



This is a technique that is used in hair, lip, eyeshadow and nail colour. Ombre lips are especially in trend right now. To achieve the ombre look, blend hues of the same or complementary colours from dark to light to create a gradient effect.



This is a makeup application technique where a product is lightly dotted onto the face in quick movements, using a small brush or applicator. It keeps makeup minimal and makes blending far easier for an airbrushed look.

As makeup trends evolve and change, it’s important to keep up to date on important terms to stay in the loop. Now go out there and show off your expertise!



This describes how saturated the colour of the makeup is, and usually refers to cheek, lip or eyeshadow colours. Makeup that is highly pigmented will appear as bright on the skin as it appears in the makeup container. It does not fade on application.




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