Indian Makeup and Cosmetics Dictionary

Indian Makeup and Cosmetics Dictionary 3.60/5 (72.00%) 5 votes
AAntioxidants: Nutrients or molecules that protect the skin from free radicals, prevent it from oxidation and help it regain its youthful looks.

Alkaline: There’s a thin layer on our skin’s surface that protects it. This layer, which is termed as “acid mantle.” This layer mixes up with the ingredients in the sweat to make up our skin’s pH level.

The pH levels range between 1 and 14. 1 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline (alkaline is the opposite of acidic). The recommended pH level is about 7.

Allantoin: A natural or lab synthesized chemical compound that soothes and protects the skin.

Astringent: Contracts and draws together facial tissues and reduces pH.


Beeswax: The wax secreted by bees to make honeycombs

Blackhead: It is a mild form of acne that usually forms on the face. These are small bumps that are caused because of clogged hair follicles. These are black in colour.

Blotting Paper: Paper that should be used to absorb the excess oil or moisture on your skin.

Blush: A cosmetic product used to brighten the cheeks and highlight the cheekbones.

Botanical: Products made from plant extracts.

Browbone: The bone area just below your eyebrow. It juts out slightly.


Caked: Thick, flaky and dry makeup. Makeup looks caked when you apply a thick layer or when you apply a dry cosmetic (powder) to dry skin.

Callus: A thick and tough part of the skin.

Candelilla Wax: It is a wax derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub. Used in lipsticks to thicken them and give them a structure.

Cheek Apple or Apple: The round area on your check that shows up when you smile.

Collagen: A protein that holds our bodies together. It is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tissues that attach muscle to bone.

Concealer: A flesh-coloured cosmetic product (in stick or powder form) that is used to hide blemishes such as dark spots, acne scars, crow’s feet, etc.

Contouring: It refers to the practice of  creating a shape on an area of the face with the purpose being to enhance the face’s structure. Contouring is very subtly done, it is not meant to be noticeable.

Contrast: It is the amount of difference between two  colors. High Contrast means a big difference between two colors (one light and the other dark). Low contrast means that the difference between two colors is hardly noticeable.

Cupid’s Bow: The upper outline of your top lip (it is shaped like a bow).


Dehydrated: Lack of moisture. Dry skin appears older.

Depilation: Process of removing the visible part of the hair (as in shaving)

Dewy: Word that is used to describe soft and lustrous skin.

Discoloration: Area on skin that has lost its natural colour. For example, dark circles under the eye, acne scar, ageing spots, etc.


Elasticity: Youthfulness and tightness of your skin. Sun damage, age, dehydration and a few other factors can make the skin lose its elasticity.

Elastin: A protein that helps helps skin return to its original position when it is pulled or pinched.

Emollient: An ingredient that is added to cosmetics to soften and soothe the skin. Emollient allows the cosmetic product to spread and get absorbed into the skin. Such products are good for daytime use.

Emulsifier: A substance that’s added to cosmetics to thicken them.

Epilation: Removal of hair from its roots.

Exfoliation: It is the act of washing or rubbing with a grainy cosmetic product, with the objective being the removal of dead skin cells.

Eyeliner: A cosmetic applied around the eyes in order to highlight/define/accentuate them.

Eyeshadow: Another cosmetic product that is applied to to the skin around the eyes or on eyelids to accentuate the eyes.


Finish: It refers to the type of look the cosmetic product generates. Here’re the different types of finishes:

Matte — smooth, no shine or glitter, dries quickly
Creamy — shinier than matte, rich in texture
Satin — delicate to look at, hydrates the area to which it is applied, moderate shine
Frost — has ingredients that reflect light and draw attention (like frost on products does in the freezer), can be shiny or metallic or even subtle, can highlight flaws if not applied properly

Lustre — More sparkly than Frost finish, ultra-fine finish, very showy

Dewy —  Creates an almost moist appearance. The natural oils in the product make the face radiant.

Velvet — Looks ultra soft and plush

Metallic — resembles metal (foil, silver, gold, etc.), very intense

Mineralized — Wet mineralized finish delivers an intense look while a dry one produces a soft effect

Matte with Glitter — Matte finish with sparkles

Shimmer — shines, twinkles (reflects light)

Glossy — shiny finish

Foundation: It is a skin coloured makeup that creates an even  skin complexion. It is available in many finishes such as matte, satin, dewy, etc. People with dry skin should buy dewy foundation while those with oily skin should opt for matte foundation.

Full Cover: Cosmetics that can disguise birthmarks, hyperpigmentation and scars.


Glow: To create a youthful and radiant — but not shiny — look.


Highlight: Makeup on an area that is intended to draw attention to it. Typically applied on forehead, area below the eyes and chin.

Humectant: Substance that helps the skin retain moisture.

Hyperpigmentation: When parts of skin become darker because of excess melanin (a pigment).

Hypoallergenic: Gentle cosmetic products that do not cause allergies (that’s what manufacturers claim).

Hypopigmentation: White spots on skin. This is an irreversible condition mostly caused by too much exposure to the sun or by any other trauma.


Keratin: A protein that forms the main structural part of hair.


Layers: One application = 1 layer. Another application = 2 layers. And so on.

Light-reflecting Particles: Particles that reflect light. Cosmetic products that contain such particles take away the attention from skin flaws.

Light Cover: Such makeup products help in covering minor blemishes and slight uneven colour, but cannot disguise major stuff like freckles, acne, etc.

Luminescence Cosmetics: Cosmetic products that contain light reflecting particles. Such products make the area look vibrant and crease-proof.


Mascara: A cosmetic product that darkens and thickens eyelashes.

Medium Cover: Disguises freckles, acne, discolourations, blemishes, pimple marks.

Melanin: A dark brown or black pigment that occurs in hair, eye and skin.

Melasma: Brown patches on skin which are likely caused by exposure to estrogen from birth control pills or pregnancy. It is different from hyperpigmentation.

Mica: A shiny mineral found in rocks or as crystals. It is ground and added to makeup products to produce shine/shimmer.

Mid tone colors: Color shades that fall in between two extremes. Say you’re looking at pale and dull red on the left and extremely bright red on the right. The red that falls in between is a mid tone.

Moisturizer: A cosmetic product that hydrates the skin and prevents it from going dry.

Mousse: Mostly used in foundation cosmetics. Mousse foundation implies a majorly liquid foundation (like whipped cream) that is light and smooth. Mousse foundations have a matte finish and work well for people with dry or mature skin. This foundation doesn’t cake.

Mute: To reduce the intensity of a colour.


Noncomedogenic: A product that does not clog your pores. Comedogenic cosmetics clog pores and cause acne.


Oil Absorbing: Cosmetic products that absorb oil secreted by your skin, thereby preventing your face from looking oily.

Opaque: Cosmetics that provide full coverage (they absolutely cover the skin).


pH Level (see Alkaline) (link to Alkaline)

Phytocosmetics: Cosmetics made from plants.

Polymer: Cosmetic product manufacturers add natural, synthetic, organic polymers or silicones to cosmetic products to add volume, make them un-greasy, create a pearl-like finish, strengthen the layer, or nicely trap the active ingredient into the product.

Pore: Tiny opening in skin that lets out sweat.

Porosity: The skin’s ability to take in and retain moisture.

Powder: Powder cosmetics cover any shine and smoothen the skin’s appearance. Powders can be loose or pressed and are available in a variety of finishes such as sheer, matte, etc.

Primer: The cosmetic product that is applied first on the skin before any other makeup product is applied. Primer creates a shield and stops makeup products from entering into wrinkles, lines, depressions, etc. It also helps the makeup hold out longer.


Retinol: An alias for Vitamin A. Hardens skin, prevents ageing and cures acne.

Royal Jelly: Natural product made by bees. Good for skin.


Salicylic Acid: Works by increasing moisture in the skin and gradually dissolves the material that makes skin cells stick together. It is used to treat warts, corns and calluses. Should not be applied on face,

Sheer Cover: Transparent makeup with minimum pigment content. It does not hide skin discolorations, but minimizes the contrast between discoloured areas and the rest of the skin tone.

Skin Tone: Your skin complexion or color. Ranges from White to Black.

SPF: Sun Protection Factor.

Here’s how you calculate SPF: assume you have sensitive skin that burns after exposing it for 10 minutes under the skin. If you buy a SPF 20 screen, it will protect your skin for 10 X 20 = 200 minutes of sun exposure.

Stippling Brush: A brush that efficiently blends foundation and concealer. It has fine fibers at the top.

Stripe Test: Used to test foundation color. It involves applying a small swatch vertically on your face to check if the foundation matches your skin color.

Sunscreen: Forms a protective screen on your face that wards off UV rays.

Sunblock: More powerful than a sunscreen. It blocks UV rays.


T-Zone: draw an imaginary vertical line from your chin till your forehead. Now draw another horizontal imaginary line across your forehead. That’s the T-zone.

Texture: It refers to the form of the product. For example, a makeup product can be in powder, cream, liquid or cream-liquid (mousse) form.

Tinted cosmetics: Lightly coloured makeup products that provide sheer coverage.


Skin Undertone: Your skin is described as fair, light, wheatish or dark, and every skin’s undertone is described as warm (also referred to as yellow or olive), cool (red or pink), or neutral.

You can determine your skin undertone by looking at the veins on your wrist. If the veins look green, your undertone is warm; if  they look blue or purple, your undertone is cool and if you cannot tell, your undertone is neutral.


Water-based: A makeup product that is soluble in water or can be removed by applying water. Such products are gentle.

Waterproof: A makeup product that repels water (does not allow water to penetrate it). The product stays intact even after coming in contact with water.

Water resistant: Resists water up to a certain point but starting smudging if it gets submerged in water.



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