Makeup Fridays: The Makeup Dictionary

Today the question is: What do all those makeup products do? I’m going to do a basic summary of the makeup items we see all over drugstores and Sephora. This is to help you decide what you do/don’t need to use on a daily basis, and whether adding some of these products to your shelf will do anything to your glam. Please keep in mind though: I’m giving this advice as a makeup *lover* not as a makeup *expert*. I have not taken professional courses in makeup. I give you my honest advice as someone who wears makeup 24/7, who goes out in this makeup and thus values wearability and comfort, and who lives the university lifestyle and cannot afford crazy expensive makeup all the time!

Products will be listed in the order I (usually, more or less) apply them. This is not set in stone, as there is no “law” with makeup.

1) Primer

What is it? Primer is used to set the face before applying makeup. Depending on your skin type, you can choose a primer that will fight shine, hide pores, blur redness, etc. There are also eyelid primers to help eyeshadow go on brighter/stay longer.

Usefulness: Primer is an easy step to skip. Everything it does can also be done by foundation/BB/CC creams. While I do see a difference when I put primer on my lids before my eyeshadow application, you can also use concealer to get similar results. I use primer sometimes, but you can feel safe if you want to save your money and skip this purchase.

2) Colour Correcting

What is it? Colour corrector is used to fix dark spots, pimples, five o’clock shadows, redness, etc. You use the colour wheel to select the right colour to hide what you want (i.e. you have redness, use green). You use this before foundation, but it is like a concealer.

Usefulness: If you know how to use colour corrector, then it will work wonders. However, novices and general makeup users really don’t need colour corrector. I personally don’t use it. A normal concealer works just as well in most cases.

3) Foundation

What is it? Foundation is used to create an even complexion. Some foundations also work as moisturizers and sunscreens. Foundations vary from light coverage (which will allow your natural skin to show through) to full coverage.

Usefulness: If you want to use foundation, then I say this is useful. However, you then have to dive into the question of what *kind* of foundation you need. There are powders and liquids. There are stick foundations. Matte, satin, sheer. The utility of the foundation can depend on whether you pick up the correct foundation for your skin type. I use a foundation every day, but this is my personal choice.

4) Concealer

What is it? Concealer is used to “spot-check,” that is to cover up pimples and spots, and to hide dark circles. Concealer is also used to highlight the face, shape eyebrows, and correct mistakes in eyeshadow. Concealer is generally thicker than foundation so it can hide dark areas. Use a shade one or two lighter than your foundation.

Usefulness: If you’re using foundation, you should probably be using concealer as well to add dimension to your face. Basically, if you just created a unified skin-tone with your foundation, you need to add in the concealer to highlight areas like under your eyes like they would be if you weren’t wearing makeup. (Of course, in real life, the under eye is darker, but in makeup we can do what we want, haha.)

5) Setting Powder

What is it? Setting powder is used to lock in foundation and concealer. You apply this power lightly all over the skin to reduce the amount of creasing that can occur with foundations/concealers. This is done before blush and bronzer.

Usefulness: I only tried setting powder once, when a Sephora employee tested a concealer on me and put setting powder under my eye after. I have normal to dry skin, and the setting powder enhanced the dryness under my eye. Most beauty gurus on YouTube who use setting powder have oily skin, so it’s hard to gauge if my experience was isolated. My personal opinion is that setting powder is not a necessary step regardless, because it does not set the entire face like setting spray does, so if you are someone who is on the go, you won’t have time to add this step AND it’s hard to budget in something that won’t make a huge difference.

6) Bronzer

What is it? Bronzer is a power that gives skin the appearance of a tan. It can be used on the edges of the face (basically, apply it on the edges of the forehead and around the cheekbones). Bronzer should be one to two shades darker than your foundation/skin tone. If you are going to contour, bronzer helps to create a transition from the darker shades of the contour to the natural shades of your foundation.

Usefulness: I will say that I can’t use foundation without using bronzer. Foundation makes your skin one colour, so bronzer adds definition. If you’re not using foundation, I don’t think bronzer is necessary.

7) Contour

What is it? Contour is a powder or cream that adds definition to your face. Traditionally contour is applied right below the cheekbones to make them look defined and at the edges of the forehead to make the forehead look smaller.

Usefulness: If you’re going for a full glam, contour is a must. But a simple makeup look doesn’t require contour. Also, you don’t *have* to use a product specifically for contour and a product specifically for bronzer. I use my bronzer as a contour (and a lot of other people do as well). Up to you!

8) Blush

What is it? Blush is a powder or liquid that creates a glow on the cheeks. It can be applied to the apples of the cheeks, or more frequently along the cheekbones.

Usefulness: I have seen more and more gurus on Youtube ditch blush, but I think it’s an essential whether you wear foundation or want a completely natural look. It’s very easy to sweep on some blush to hide redness/discoloration on your cheeks (with more redness, I know, haha).

9) Translucent Powder

What is it? Translucent powder gives skin a natural finish. It is what people use to “bake” makeup, a.k.a. let the powder sit on your face for five to ten minutes then dust off to create a smooth finish. This is a term created by the drag community.

Usefulness: Like setting powder, this is a step that I would stay away from if you’re on the go or trying to stick to a budget. I know I don’t have time to wait five minutes (even if it creates a beautiful base for my makeup). BUT from what I see it works wonders, so I wouldn’t say no to trying it out.

10) Eyeshadow

What is it? Eyeshadow is a coloured powder that is applied to the eyelids.

Usefulness: You have to decide for yourself if eyeshadow is for you. It will take practice to blend out a good look, but once you master one or two, you can keep them in your repertoire and use them on replay. If you decide you want to use shadow, try to buy an eye palette instead of eye shadow singles, because that will seriously break your bank.

11) Eyeliner

What is it? Eyeliner can be used to line the waterline of the eye, or on the lashline. Eyeliners can be liquid, gel, ink… There are many options! Eyeliner can be used to make the eyes look bigger or smaller.

Usefulness: Eyeliner is a personal choice. I use it some days and others I can’t be bothered. My advice to you is choose the type of liner that suits your needs and matches your eye shape (ex: if you have smaller eyes, don’t use a black liner on the waterline). Of course, this is not a rigid rule. If you *like* black liner on the waterline… do it!

12) Mascara

What is it? Mascara is used to make eyelashes look longer, thicker and/or darker. When choosing a mascara, you need to look at the wand first and foremost. That will play a major role in how the lashes are separated and lifted.

Usefulness: Mascara plays a key part in opening up the eyes. Most eyelashes grow straight out, so mascara helps to lift them up. For this reason, a lot of mascara users also have a curler (you know, those creepy torture device looking things?). I think mascara makes a difference, especially paired with a curler.

13) Highlighter

What is it? Highlighter is used to highlight features on the face, such as the high points of the cheeks, the inner corners of the eyes, the bridge and tip of the nose, and above the eyebrows.

Usefulness: General makeup wearers might want to ditch highlight, because it can definitely be extra. However, not all highlighters are blinding. Some just create a warm glow on the skin that gives drier/dull skin a healthy look. This is certainly a personal choice, but I know I love adding some highlight!

14) Lip Liner

What is it? A lip product used to add colour to the outer lines of the lips. This can be used to help keep lipstick within the lines, to create lip art, or to create two-toned lip colours.

Usefulness: I have a few lip liners, but I rarely use them to save time. If you have a shaky hand with lipstick, definitely buy a liner. There’s a white lip liner that you can use with *any* lip colour that, no, the white will not show but once you trace the outer lines of your lips, your lipstick will not pass that line. So perfect, right?

15) Lipstick/Gloss/etc

What is it? A product that is applied to the lips to add colour or shine.

Usefulness: If you want to, like the definition says, add colour or shine to your lips, then get yourself a lip product. There is a huge variety of options on the market, so choosing the right product is hella daunting. A major thing to keep in mind is, if you’re going to be out for more than four hours, a lip product needs to be wearable. You don’t want to have dry, peeling lipstick when you’re in class or shopping stores with your friend. This is what you need to consider when you’re choosing over matte lip products, satins, hydrating, etc.

16) Brows

What is it? I kept this product for (almost) last not because I do them last but because there is so much to say and I was trying to figure out how to say it (somewhat) briefly! Brow products are used to enhance the eyebrows. This includes brow pomade, brow gel, brow pencils. You should choose your brow product based on your brows. If you have thick brows, you will probably need less product: maybe just a gel or nothing at all. If you have thin brows, a pomade or pencil. If you have dry skin by your brows, a pencil is better. If you have oily skin, brow powder is better for you.

Usefulness: Brows can be done in five seconds if you choose a gel and just slick them into place, or twenty minutes if you outline, fill and then define with concealer. You need to choose how much time you’re ready to commit to brows. I think it’s also worth mentioning that there is nothing wrong with those unruly brows! Choose what you’re comfortable with and stick with it.

17) Setting Spray

What is it? Setting spray is a spray that is used at the end of makeup application to fix everything in place. A good setting spray will ensure that makeup will not smudge or rub off on clothing. Setting spray can also be used to mattify the face, or add glow.

Usefulness: Yes. You absolutely need setting spray if you plan on wearing makeup. There were three months of my life where I wore a full face of makeup and didn’t know what setting spray was?? I cry for the white shirts I lost.

Alright!! I know this post is hella long, but it has the A-Z of the makeup dictionary. (If I missed anything, let me know!) Next week, I’ll go in-depth on one of these products including how you should use it, some cruelty-free product suggestions, with cheap and more expensive product options.

Comment below which option I should examine in-depth next week!

Happy Friday & stay lovely!
Follow me on insta @shaniasquires

10 thoughts on “Makeup Fridays: The Makeup Dictionary

  1. Thank you so much for this post, Sha! I’ve recently been wanting to do more makeup stuff, and since I know little to nothing about it, this really helps. (The curlers really do look like little torture devices, don’t they? XD)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! The first time I used a curler, it took me a good five minutes to amp up the confidence to get more than the tips of my eyelash hairs in, hahaha. I was so scared! Also, this post helped me, too. I know so little about translucent/setting powders, just don’t have the time for them. And when I Googled them, the information can be so hard to find, they get confused a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s my goal, to help everyone find out the use of at least one of the millions of makeup products out there! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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