Basic Beauty Terms Glossary You Need to Know

basic beauty terms you need to know

Sometimes navigating beauty products is as difficult as navigating the K-beauty skincare routine. With the advent of a some kind of new gadget or formula every season, we decided to get back to the basics and go over what you’re getting yourself into when you look for a product to add to your regiment.

These basic beauty terms a great primer for knowing exactly what your beauty cabinet needs.

Basic Beauty Terms

Ampoule: A concentrated serum full of anti-oxidants and other skin boosters. They’re popular in K-beauty and come in single-use packages. Apply them before any creams.

Astringents: These tighten pores and firm up the skin temporarily by causing a mild inflammation of the skin surface. Common natural astringents include witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and rose water.

Baking: Setting your concealer with a powder, typically a yellow hued ‘banana powder’, and leaving the powder on for at least 10 minutes allows it to melt in and create a seamless finish.

Chemical Peel: Exfoliates the top layer of your skin to increase cell turnover and aid in cell regeneration, providing skin with a youthful glow and decreased appearance of wrinkles. Can be done with common home items like glycolic and lactic acid, or in a doctor’s office.

Clarifying lotions: These are gentle liquid exfoliants that contain antibacterial properties and help problematic and acneic skin. Typically has salicylic acid. They slough away dead skin cells and remove excess oil.

Dermatologically Tested: It’s been tested on humans.

Double cleanse: First coming out of Asian skincare methods, double cleansing involves cleansing skin with an oil-based cleanser before following up with regular cleanser.

Emollients: These include creams, moisturizers and ointments meant to prevent skin from drying out. They soothe and soften the skin. Common emollients are beeswax and shea butter.

Emulsifiers: They bind ingredients that have a tendency to separate. You’ll commonly see them as some sort of sulfate.

Ferulic Acid: This big-daddy of skincare is a plant-derived antioxidant powerhouse that helps skin with its anti-aging effects.

Essence: Balances skin after cleansing and toning. It primes the skin to absorb serums better.

Exfoliants: Rids the skin of dead skin cells and stimulates blood flow. The exfoliant can be chemical or abrasive.

Humectants: Draws moisture from the air to the skin. They draw water molecules from the air and help seal moisture.

Hyaluronic Acid: A humectant molecule which draws in moisture from air to the skin and helps retain moisture.

Moisturizers: They form a seal that prevents moisture from seeping out by coating the skin. They hold the water on the surface of the skin.

Niacinamide: A vitamin that helps with sebum production in the skin, clarifying pores and reducing overall congestion in the skin.

Paraben free: Means the product doesn’t contain any harmful preservatives.

Serums: Products with a high concentration of active ingredients that penetrate deeper into the skin. Used before moisturizing.

Sombré: Subtle + ombré = sombré. When you’re looking for a very subtle, natural gradation in your hair color, you can get this hair term at the salon for a natural transition.

Toners: Regulate and balance the skin’s oil glands. They remove excess dirt and balance the pH of the skin.

Tightlining: Getting your eyeliner as close to the lash root as possible to enhance the eye shape rather than overdraw an eyeliner. Getting a tightline requires placing eyeliner on your upper and lower waterline, close to lash roots, and blending the line into the roots.

From double-cleansing to emollients, you need to know these basic beauty terms to get the most out of your routine.

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Nataliya Ogle


Nataliya Ogle likes making sure others live to their full potential. She publishes articles on her primary website and works as a freelance writer for other women's interest sites. Her physical body is in New York but her presence can almost always be found online. The internet is her first love.

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