Video – Makeup Vocabulary!

This is an intermediate/advanced vocabulary lesson for people learning English as a foreign language.

In this video, you’ll learn some common makeup vocabulary. You will learn the correct names for different makeup products, parts of the face, as well as verbs and adjectives to use to talk about makeup.

This video is also a good example of natural, spoken English. I spoke partly with a script, and partly without notes. Spoken English is never perfect, and you will hear me start sentences that I don’t finish, or leave out words from a sentence!

Be careful how you use the words cosmetics and makeup. They are interchangeable, because makeup is a type of cosmetics. However, cosmetics are products for the entire body (creams, lotions, powders, etc.) to improve your appearance, while makeup is specifically for the face

[*Normally in written English, you cannot start a sentence with ‘and’ (because ‘and’ is a conjunction). However, in spoken English, it is quite common to start a sentence with ‘and.‘]

Hi, everyone! I’m Melanie. I’m in my bathroom today so [that] I can teach you some common English vocabulary about makeup. By the end of this video, you’ll be able to talk about most of the products in your collection and how to put them on. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Let’s get started from the beginning. Where do you keep your makeup? I like to store my makeup in my bathroom drawer

bathroom drawer = the drawer of the cabinet in my bathroom, underneath the counter

However, you can also use a makeup bag or a makeup case. Makeup bags and makeup cases come in all different shapes and sizes

A case = a container to hold something; a makeup bag is a type of case. A makeup bag is made of a soft, colorful fabric outer lining with a plastic lining inside. A makeup case has a harder, tougher outer shell.

Before you get started putting on your face, make sure you’ve got everything ready. Make sure [that] you’ve got all your brushes ready to go, and, of course, that your brushes are clean. It’s also a good idea to have some cleanup products ready, just in case you make a mistake, for example, kleenex, cotton pads, cotton balls or cotton puffs (the same thing), q-tips, a washcloth, and special cleansing wipes for makeup removal. These are the sheets of tissue that have some makeup remover already on them, and you just wipe the makeup off your face … just in case you make a mistake and you need to take your makeup off.

Makeup remover = a liquid solution with special chemicals to remove makeup from your skin.

It’s important to start with a clean face. It makes [It helps] your makeup look more natural. And, it’s important to moisturize! Moisturizer protects your skin, and it makes it [your skin] look healthier. I’m sure all of you know what moisturizer looks like – it’s a white cream that you put on your face.

A lot of women also like to use primer. Primer acts as a base for your makeup. It preps or prepares or primes your skin for makeup and it helps your makeup stay on longer throughout the day. This primer is called ‘base perfector,’ and it says that it smoothes imperfections on your skin, it minimizes the appearance of pores (pores are those tiny openings that you sometimes see you on your skin), and it minimizes the appearance of fine lines.

1. Skin
OK! Let’s get started with some makeup for your skin!

The first step is to apply foundation. The purpose of foundation is to improve your complexion (the overall appearance of your skin), and to make your skin look as flawless and natural as possible. Flawless just means without any problems, almost perfect! Foundation evens out your skin tone (the color of your skin), and it covers up any dark spots on your skin, like acne marks or blemishes, or any redness in your skin.

To even out = to make everything the same; to make your skin tone one color

Foundation comes in many different shades and it’s important to find the shade that matches your skin tone.

A shade of skin tone = everybody’s skin is ‘flesh’-colored, but there are many different ‘shades’ of ‘flesh.’ Some skin is pink, some is orange, some is olive-colored

If you wear a shade of foundation that’s darker or lighter than your skin, then you end up either with a face that’s a completely different color than your neck, or you end up with this awful line right across your jawline, where you can see where people [you] stopped putting on their [your] makeup – you want to avoid that!

You also want to blend in your makeup [foundation] so that it doesn’t look like you’re wearing any. You don’t want to put on too much foundation – then you end up with really thick foundation. It looks like it’s caked on your skin and it’s not really attractive at all.

caked on = (adjective) when you are wearing so much foundation that it looks like mud stuck to your face – thick, hard, and dry

If you don’t like wearing foundation, you can buy tinted moisturizer or tinted sunscreen. Tinted just means there is a very small amount of color in the moisturizer or sunscreen.

Sunscreen = cream you put on your face to prevent a sunburn.

Not mentioned in the video:
Foundation usually comes in liquid form. To put on your foundation, it’s a good idea to dab some foundation on different parts of your face and then spread the foundation with your fingers or a sponge.

If you have some dark spots on your skin and you need stronger coverage [than foundation], then use concealer. Concealer is most commonly used to cover up the dark circles under your eyes or make them look less obvious. So, this area of your skin that’s purple or blue or just very dark (especially if you haven’t had a lot of sleep), those are called under-eye circles, which is kind of weird because they’re not really circles.

The strongest type of concealer comes in a pot, like this. You can use your finger to get some concealer on your finger, and then lightly dab it [the concealer] underneath your eye. You can use your finger to lightly spread it [the concealer] as well. You can use a brush if you want. You can get some concealer on your brush and paint it on. You can also find liquid concealer, which comes with a built-in brush. Or, if you prefer, you can also use powder.

Concealer is also good if you have some acne and you want to try and cover up the acne on your skin.

To stop your face from shining, you can use powder. Powder comes in two forms. This is pressed powder. Pressed powder comes in a pan, and it usually comes in a compact. A compact is a small case with a mirror, the pan of powder, and a sponge or a powder puff.

You can also buy loose powder. Hopefully you can see this: the powder is just loose in the pot.

Powder is good, like I said, for getting rid of shine. If you don’t like wearing foundation, this is a good way to tone down any redness in your skin or even out your skin tone.

To tone down (something) = make it less noticeable

I don’t like wearing foundation. It always feels very thick on my skin, so I just wear powder.

Re-apply your powder throughout the day to keep makeup looking fresh, and, of course, to reduce shine. You can also use blotting paper. Blotting paper [is] just individual pieces of paper you can use to blot any oil or shine from your skin.

You might hear people talk about the t-zone. The t-zone is the area of your face that forms a T: the forehead nose and chin. These are the places on your face that tend to be the oiliest.

Bronzer is a powder that is darker than your natural skin tone, and you can use bronzer to make your skin look like you’ve been out in the sun all day – give your face a sun-kissed look. You can also use bronzer to contour your face: to add angles to your face, to shape your face, and, some people say, to make your face look thinner.

You can use a brush, for your bronzer, and to contour your face you can brush on the bronzer on your hairline, cheekbone, and your jawline.

One thing I wanted to mention about powder: for both loose powder and pressed powder, you can use a brush. That will give you the lightest coverage. You can also use a sponge, especially with pressed powder. If you’d like a bit stronger coverage, you can use a sponge to apply it, or the powder puff that comes with it [in the compact].

After you’ve used bronzer to contour your face, you can also highlight some facial features. If there’s something on your face you want to stand out, you can use a powder that is a few shades lighter than your skin, just to draw attention to your forehead, nose, chin, or outer corners of your eyes [and your cheekbones].

Finally, you can add a pop of color with blush. Blush comes in many different shades of pink or peach, and it’s usually applied to your cheekbones. Blush comes in cream blush, cheek stain, cheek tint, roll-on blush, but the most common kind is powder.

This part here, the roundest, fullest part of your cheek, that’s called the apple (of your cheek), and that’s where you should start applying your blush.

Finally, after all that, after you’ve got all your makeup on, you can add some shimmer. Shimmer is a bright, sparkly powder that you apply to your face so that it sparkles. It shines when you move in the light, and you sparkle like a diamond.

OK! That’s all I wanted to say about makeup for your skin. So, let’s move onto your eyes.

2. Eyes
First, let’s make sure everybody knows the different parts of the eye:

The hair above your eyes – these are your eyebrows.

You can feel a bone right underneath [your eyebrows]. That’s the brow bone.

The skin that covers your eye, is the eyelid.

The fold, when your opens and the skin folds in – that’s the crease of your eye.

Along the edge of your eye, there are hairs that grow out. Those are your eyelashes.

The lash line is the edge of your eye where your lashes are.

The inner corner of your eye is also your tear duct. And this is the outer corner of your eye.

The waterline is the edge of your eye that is closest to the eyeball.

One way to open up your eyes is to clean up your eyebrows. You can pluck (or remove hairs) from your eyebrows to give them a nice shape with (a pair of) tweezers.

If you have really thin eyebrows or really light-colored eyebrows, you can use eyeliner or a brow pencil or even mascara to fill in your eyebrows and make them look stronger [and darker].

Before you put on your eye makeup, it’s a good idea to put on an eye base. I don’t have any here, but an eye base is similar to primer. It prepares your eyes (the skin on your eyes) for makeup and it helps your eye makeup stay on longer.

I’m sure you have all experienced this: when you’ve been wearing eye shadow all day, but when you look in the mirror, all your eye shadow is gone. You’re just left with this gross, oily line of eyeshadow in the crease. It’s not very attractive. [Eye base helps you avoid this!]

So, you can find a lot of different kinds of eye shadow. You’ve got cream eye shadow, gel eye shadow, but, of course, the most common is powder.

You can buy individual pans of eye shadow, which is what I’ve done here. In this compact, I bought all these pans individually.

Or you can buy a palette of complementary colors. And this is a palette from Clinique. You can see that there are three colors here that match [and] that are meant to be worn together. Palettes usually come with some type of applicator. These are actually really fancy. It’s got a brush and a little sponge on the end.

Most compacts and palettes come with really, really tiny applicators, like this one here. You can see how tiny this applicator is. I don’t like to use them [small applicators] so I use brushes for eye shadow.

Not mentioned in video:
This is where you can really have fun with makeup because you can buy hundreds of different colors and shades of eye shadow.

You can also highlight and contour your eyes just like you did your face. To highlight, you choose a very light shade of eye shadow, and you put it on just underneath your eyebrow. You can use a darker color of eye shadow to contour or even change the shape of your eye by putting it in your crease or outer corner of your eye.

Eyeliner is another great makeup product you can use. You can do a lot with eyeliner. Eyeliner gives your eye more definition and makes your eyes stand out more.

Definition and to define are used a lot to talk about makeup. If something is given definition, it means something is done to make it possible to see something more clearly: a shape or details

You can also use the shape of your eye. Eyeliner comes in … the old-fashioned pencil kind. If you’re using a pencil eyeliner, of course you’re going to need a pencil sharpener, which you can use to sharpen your pencil, especially if you want to draw a thin, crisp line.

You can also buy liquid eyeliner. You can even use eye shadow as eyeliner, which is what I do. You can take a thin, angled brush, like that, and use the powder to line your eye.

Not mentioned in video:
You can do a lot with eyeliner. You can draw a crisp, thin line or use can use your finger or brush or the tiny applicator that usually comes with a palette, to smudge the eyeliner and give it a more dramatic look.

There’s a new style of eyelining called tightlining. That’s where you put your eyeliner directly on the lash line, and it fills in the gaps between your eyelashes. It really makes your eyelashes stand out.

Speaking of eyelashes, you can apply mascara to your eyelashes. First, however, you should curl your eyelashes with an eyelash curler. Usually I just like to do the top lashes. Mascara always comes with a brush. This one is a straight brush – you can also get a curved brush – and you use that brush to coat your eyelashes with mascara. If you want a really dark look, you can apply one coat of mascara, wait for it to dry, and then apply a second coat.

If you’ve got really thin eyelashes, you can buy fake eyelashes and glue them to your eyelids.

Often you’ll see advertisements [like ads in magazines or commercials on tv] that claim mascara will give your eyelashes more volume, [or] make them fuller, which just means that that mascara is going to make your lashes look longer, look darker, or look larger.

If the mascara causes your lashes to stick together or to clump together, you can use a lash comb to separate and de-clump or unclump your lashes.

One more thing: Waterproof mascara just means that the mascara won’t streak down your face if your eyes get wet or if you start crying. And I think that’s all I wanted to say about the eyes, so let’s talk about makeup for your mouth.

3. Mouth
Now, just like you moisturized your face, it’s a good idea to moisturize your lips before you put on your lip gloss or lipstick. You can use lip balm (and you don’t need to pronounce the ‘l’ in ‘balm’). Lip balm softens your lips, and it helps the lip gloss or lipstick stick to your lips and last longer. So, lip balm often comes in a stick, which you can just apply directly to your lips. It also comes in a tube, which you can squeeze out onto your finger and use that [your finger] to put it on your lips.

Not mentioned in video:
You can also find lip balms tinted with a bit of color if you don’t want to wear anything too dark.

I don’t like wearing lipstick. It always feels very heavy on my lips and I’m always paranoid that I’m going to have lipstick on my teeth, so I stick to lip gloss.

And lip gloss comes in many different containers. You can get a tube of lip gloss. (Which) you can squeeze the lip gloss onto your finger and put it on or even use a brush to put it on. There are lip glosses that have the brush built into it [the container] – this is kind of old – but you can use the applicator to put on your lip gloss. I like these the best, where there’s a brush built in and you twist the bottom, the lip gloss comes up, and you can apply it to your lips that way.

Lip gloss makes your lips look shiny, but with less color than lipstick.

There’s not a whole lot you can say about lipstick. It always comes in a tube, and you can twist the base to bring the lipstick up and to retract it.

If you want a very strong lip, you can use lip liner to outline your lips. You can also change the shape of your lips, if you’d like fuller or smaller lips. Some people even like to color in their lips with their lip pencil.

I learned something new when I was researching all the terms the vocabulary and terms I wanted to use in this video. This part of your lip, the upper part, that actually has a name! The double curve at the top of your lip, this is called Cupid’s bow, because, apparently, it looks like a bow! [A hunting bow, like the one Cupid is always pictured with.]

Well, there’s not a whole lot you can say about the lips, so that’s it! That’s all the basic, common vocabulary that I wanted to teach you today. So now I want you to tell me something:

What is the one makeup product that you cannot leave the house without wearing? What is the one makeup product that you have to put on before you can leave the house? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this video, I hope that you learned some new vocabulary. Thank you so much for watching. I’m Melanie, from Bye everyone!


What is the one makeup product that you cannot leave the house without wearing? What is the one makeup product that you have to put on before you can leave the house?


22 Comments on Video – Makeup Vocabulary!

  1. Vanny
    March 27, 2012 at 3:03 am (4 years ago)

    I can't leave my house without wearing makeup base and foundation. I'm getting more freckles. I believe it prevents spots and freckles due to sunburn! ;)

  2. Yasuko
    March 28, 2012 at 7:39 am (4 years ago)

    A makeup product that I don't want to leave the house without wearing is a lipstick because I often look so pale that people ask me if I feel sick or cold!

  3. Melanie
    March 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Are you trying to cover up your freckles? Make sure you get a foundation with some sunscreen in it!

  4. Melanie
    March 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm (4 years ago)

    My mother is the same! For as long as I can remember, she has never left the house without wearing lipstick. She says she looks 'washed-out' if she doesn't!

  5. Yasuko
    March 30, 2012 at 3:13 am (4 years ago)

    'washed-out' is another new expression! I agree with her. :D Thank you!

  6. marcia
    March 30, 2012 at 11:11 am (4 years ago)

    i wonder how men feel watching this video, bored or mystified?

  7. Melanie
    March 31, 2012 at 1:26 am (4 years ago)

    I think a little bit of both! A couple men have told they now know why women take so long to get ready! It's important for men to at least know the words in English for things like 'lipstick' or 'eyeshadow,' as I'm sure they know the basic words for vocabulary in their native language!
    = )

  8. Milena
    May 11, 2012 at 11:16 am (4 years ago)

    Hello Melanie, thank you for sharing this, I really love it.
    what about a second part?


    • Melanie
      May 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Milena!

      I’m glad to hear you loved this video! I have no plans for a second part. What would I include in a second part? What information are looking for?

      = )

  9. Lina
    May 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm (4 years ago)

    I was looking for something like this!!!
    Hello Melanie, I’m trying to take a class of professional makeup, but my little English to put limits on me, so I was trying to buy a makeup DVDs to learn more about vocabulary because I’m scared if I don’t understand nothing in the course. Do you think that is a good idea or just take the risk. Thanksss Melanie

    • Melanie
      May 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Lina!

      There are A LOT of makeup tutorials in English on YouTube! This is a GREAT way for you to learn English. Here are some channels you might like:

      I think that you have a good idea: improve your English by watching videos on YouTube, then, when you feel confident enough, take a professional class! Is the professional class expensive?

      All the best to you,
      = )

      • Lina
        May 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm (4 years ago)

        Thank you Melanie for your reply.
        I really want to take a good course and the price vary between $5000 & $6000 at Manhattan. :(
        Thank you for the links and I Keep in touch with you.

        • Melanie
          May 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm (4 years ago)

          Please keep in touch, Lina! I’d like to hear if the makeup tutorials on YouTube are useful to you. That’s A LOT of money to spend! I would wait until you are more confident with your English. Learn as much as you can on YouTube & then take the course!

          Good luck,
          = )

  10. paola
    September 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm (3 years ago)

    hello melanie, I have a question, We can say wear meakeup or put on makeup?????
    Thank you!!!!

    • admin
      September 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Paola!

      You can say both!

      You put on (and then take off) makeup. After you put on makeup, you are wearing makeup.

      = )

  11. Ellyn
    February 24, 2013 at 1:34 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for you sharing. It’s quite useful!

  12. Samy
    April 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello Melanie, Thanks a lot for share all this vast vocabulary!

    Well, I can´t live without eyeliner!

    That´s it!


  13. Mireia
    November 20, 2013 at 8:59 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for the video! It’s easy understand you :)

  14. Yaser
    December 3, 2013 at 11:57 pm (2 years ago)

    hi melanie.thank you for your good site.if you prepare the pdf of your podcost Transcript, that’ll be so better and we apreciate you.thnaks

  15. Sophie
    December 9, 2013 at 2:00 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this sharing. I was very helpful for me:)

  16. Susan
    June 17, 2014 at 2:06 am (2 years ago)

    I’m an English learner. I really don’t understand what “washed out” means. Would you please help explain to me? Thank you very much.

    • Melanie
      June 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Susan!

      If a woman looks “washed out,” she looks very pale, almost like she is sick.

      Have you ever left something outside in the sun too long and the colours have faded? The colors look washed out!

      = )