Being an explanation of terms you may run into.
“You can be a thousand different women. It’s your choice which one you want to be. It’s about freedom and sovereignty. You celebrate who you are. You say, ‘This is my kingdom.’”— Salma Hayek
Hello and welcome to The Feminist Lipstique. I’m your hostess; today you can call me Ma’Damn Hayek. I’m a feminist in my early 30s who recently became obsessed with makeup, and is trying to keep tabs on all of the terms these young’ns and their jazz music come up with.
Any sufficiently advanced sub-community will create its own jargon and quasi-language. And friends, Beauty YouTube is a sufficiently advanced community. Watching it can feel somewhat like watching a foreign movie where the dubbing isn’t 100%. What the hell is a GRWM? (How do you say that? Gra-worm? Grawm?) What is a cut crease, and why is it a good thing? Dear God why are we talking about baking our faces?
So that you don’t experience the same confusion that I did, I’ve put together a glossary of terms that you’ll likely run into. There are a couple of things to know before we get started:
- A solid portion of what is currently considered “beauty guru” lingo is actually originally “drag queen lingo.” Everything from contouring to baking has its origin in drag, because people who study performative femininity for a living are pretty damn good at it. If you can, do your research on drag history and drag jargon, because A, it is super interesting and cool, and B, US mainstream culture has a looooong history of taking things of interest from marginalized communities, rebranding them, and popularizing them. (Lookin’ at you, Kim Kardashian and your “Bo Derek” braids.) It’s very important that, whenever we can, we pay homage to the words’ origins and make sure that we are giving credit and context. I’m going to be doing my best to do exactly that, but I’m sure I’ll miss some, so if you see anything I’ve overlooked please let me know.
- Some of these will have definitions I’ve plucked from the internet, and I’ll link whenever that is the case. Others are things I’ve gleaned from just watching too much YouTube, so I am considering myself my own authority and you can’t stop me.
On with the list of words! A GLOSS-ary, if you will. (And even if you won’t. It’s happening. This is a GLOSS-ary now. Deal.)
Baking: Baking is a term that comes to us from drag, though going by her website you’d think Charlotte Tilbury had invented it. Baking refers to using translucent powder to set your makeup. The idea is that you put translucent powder over your whole face after foundation and concealer, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the heat from your skin has made the powder meld with your product, then you dust off the excess. Supposedly this makes your makeup creaseless and smudgeproof.
Baking is dark magic, and I have no idea how it is supposed to work. Robert Welsh says we bake too much, but I don’t know how to bake at all (either in this sense or the cooking sense, really). Try at your own risk!
Beat: One of the terms that comes to us from drag, “Beat” has started to have a variety of related meanings. It can mean having a face of amazing, meticulous makeup. It can also refer to the level of makeup application– a “full beat” is a full face of makeup. Having a “beat face” means you have a face full of stunning makeup.
Blend: You will probably hear no word in a makeup tutorial more than you hear the word “blend.” You blend everything. Blush. Eyeshadow. Highlighter. Lip liner. Contour. Foundation. All the Things. Blending is about evening things out and making things seem smooth and seamless. You blend your eyeshadow so that the colors don’t have strict lines. You blend your contour so it seems to be a natural extension of the light and shadow of your face, instead of warpaint. You blend your foundation so that it doesn’t stop at your chin and give you a bad spray tan effect. Depending on what you’re blending, the two best blending motions are either side to side or small circular motions. Watch a lot of tutorials, and figure out what blending techniques work for you!
Buff: Buffing is very similar to blending. It basically means to even out. It is usually used in association with foundation, where it basically means working the foundation into your skin in an even, smooth way.
Bullet Lipstick: This phrase definitely caught me off guard the first time I heard it. A bullet lipstick is a lipstick in the traditional, twist-up lipstick tube most of us think of when we think of lipstick.
Color Story: For a phrase you hear ALL THE TIME in makeup reviews, it took Reddit to give me the best definitions of color story. Color stories refer to the way that various colors in a palette work together to form a cohesive mood/create cohesive looks/work in harmony. This can refer to something like an overall tone or mood (a neutrals palette, a rainbow palette) or colors that work well together (bright pinks with some light pinks and light browns, etc.)
Component: As we discussed before, a component component is the term for the casing or tools that are part of a product–the palette of an eyeshadow, the wand in a mascara, the tube for a lipstick, etc.
Contouring: Contouring was made famous by drag, and then by Kim Kardashian. The basic idea is to use a mix of contour shades (shades darker than your skin tone/seem like a shadow) and highlight (shades lighter than your skin tone/seems like light) to seemingly reshape your face/add depth back to your face after using foundation and concealer.
It is also dark magic and I don’t know how it works.
Cruelty Free: I started defining this, and then things got… complicated. So I’m going to cheat and say I’ll define this one in my first post in my “Ethics in Makeup” series, starting next week!
Cut Crease: A cut crease is an eye look where the crease of the eye is defined or “cut” by having a contrasting eyeshadow look on the lid with little or no blending between the lid and the rest of the eye. It is usually achieved by doing the background eye color, then putting eye primer or concealer over the lid (or part of the lid for a partial cut crease) and then patting eyeshadow onto the lid.
Declutter: Declutter videos are usually videos where a YouTube beauty guru will go through their makeup collection and remove the products they no longer use, that are expired, or that they just didn’t like for whatever reason. Ideally, they give the makeup to a friend or loved one who will like the product, or send it to one of the charities that accept unused or lightly used makeup.
Depotting: Depotting is the practice of removing product from its original casing and putting it into a new, more practical or useful casing. This can be done to get rid of bulky outer packaging, or to combine favorite shades or products from various brands into one container so that all of your favorite or most-used products are in one spot. Please be super careful when depotting, it usually involves sharp things and fire.
Dewy: One of the two main types of “finishes” that face makeup leave on your skin. Dewy skin is usually a near “wet” look, with shine and radiance.
Doe Foot: A type of makeup applicator. Hypothetically, you will swear that a YouTuber is saying “dofa” for a solid three months before you figure out what the hell they are saying. It is used for cream or liquid products like concealer or lipstick. It is usually a slanted, fuzzy end of the applicator stick.
Dupe: As we discussed previously, a dupe is a cheap drugstore or mid-range product that are similar to a luxury product. Some dupes are just other products that are similar to the luxury product– other dupes are products that are intentionally made as cheap copies of the luxury product.
Fallout: Fallout refers to the extraneous powder product that goes where it is not supposed to when you are applying it. There are usually two types of fallout– fallout in the pan (fallout that gets into the casing or other parts of a palette when you are applying your brush to the product) and fallout on the face (fallout that goes somewhere on your face that you didn’t intend it). There are a few techniques to deal with fallout, especially with eyeshadow, that I will talk about… someday.
First Impressions: This is a video type where a YouTuber will put on products for the first time on-camera, and give their opinion of the makeup at the time they are trying it.
For the Gods: Two guesses where this comes from, and the first one doesn’t count. “For the gods” is a phrase to use when something is so amazing that it is worthy of being an offering to the gods or deserving of praise from the heavens.
Formula: As we discussed before, a formula is the name for the chemical recipe of the makeup itself. It is the chemicals and materials that give the makeup its color, consistency, etc.
Full Face of X: “Full Face” videos are ones where a YouTuber will do a full face of makeup that follows some sort of theme– a certain brand, a certain price range, all new makeup, etc.
Giving Life: Also from, you guessed it, drag! It basically means a product or look that is so good that it makes you feel amazing and full of warm fuzzies.
GRWM/Get Ready With Me: A Get Ready With Me or GRWM YouTube video is one where the YouTuber in question will do their makeup while talking about a topic. Sometimes it is their daily makeup, sometimes it is a new thing they are trying out. When I finally get the guts to do my own channel, I will be doing GSGRWM videos, or “Gender Studies Get Ready With Me” videos. Prepare yourselves.
Hardpan: Hardpan is when powder products develop a tough outer film that makes it hard to use and difficult to get to the product underneath. It’s usually the result of face oils or other substances mixing with the powder in the product. This site has a good definition and also a method to fix it.
Hitting pan/Panning: Hitting pan or panning a makeup product means that you have used enough of it that you have hit the bottom of the pan. Hitting pan means that you can see the metal (like getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop in one spot) while panning entirely means using up almost all of the product so that it is basically nothing but metal (like getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop from all sides. Which I can tell you, courtesy of a road trip where I finished my book too early, takes 2,856 licks.)
Holy Grail: Holy Grail products are the products that are the absolute favorites of a reviewer; the type of product they have been looking for their entire lives. The Holy Grail aspect is left to the seeker– it could be a shade of lipstick someone has been searching for forever, a primer that works better than any other primer they’ve used, etc.
Indie Brand: Indie brands are usually defined as makeup brands that don’t have a larger parent company or corporate owner. A lot of the time Indie brands are not sold in the makeup equivalent of “big box” stores like Ulta or Sephora, though some are sold in those stores. It isn’t unusual for an Indie brand to eventually be bought by a larger corporation.
J-Beauty: J-beauty refers to beauty products and routines from Japan.
K-Beauty: K-beauty refers to beauty products and routines from Korea. K-beauty is why we all have 12 step skincare routines now.
Low Buy/No Buy: Low buys and no buys are both attempts to decrease excess spending and hyper-capitalism. They are often associated with challenges, and YouTubers will perform them occasionally with various rules. Low-buys are usually spending or product amount limits for a set period of time (I’ll only spend $50 a month on makeup for six months/I’ll only buy one eyeshadow palette a month for a year) while no buys are usually promises to buy no products (or only buy replacement products) for a set period of time (I’m not going to buy anything besides replacements to my foundation for six months).
Matte: Matte is the other main type of “finish” that face makeup leaves on your skin. It is drier-looking, often almost powdery or velvety, and has little or no shine.
No Tea No Shade: Shade comes to us from the world of drag, and is explained in perfection by Dorian Corey, the coolest drag queen to ever have been revealed to have a dead body in her closet. Tea also comes to us from drag. We have stolen all the best words from drag. “T” or “tea” are stand-ins for “truth,” so phrases like “spilling the tea” mean “telling the truth” or “sharing gossip.” No tea no shade basically means, “no disrespect, but I’m gonna say something you don’t like.” On the other hand, “all tea all shade” means “I’m going to say something you don’t like and also screw you.”
Palette: The name usually given to a flat(ish) product containing multiple colors of product, like a painter’s palette contains multiple colors of paint. Palettes are most often associated with eyeshadow, but can apply to basically any makeup type.
Pan: The pan is the (usually metal) casing for a (usually powder) product. Palettes will often be discussed in terms of how many pans, or colors, the product has, like a quad/four pan, nine-pan palette, etc.
Parts of the Eye: I never took anatomy in high school (I couldn’t dissect a cat, it would crush me) and makeup makes me both glad I didn’t (I would probably have failed) and sad I didn’t (I would maybe understand makeup better if I had). There are, roughly speaking, eleventy billion parts of the eye to apply makeup to, and you will hear them referred to constantly. You can find a really good guide here for all of the upper/inner parts of the eye. But they’re still missing some! Because makeup is insane! This guide includes the lower eyelid parts.
PR: PR is the free product that YouTubers or other reviewers receive from a brand, for reviewing (or bribing) purposes. Some brands will only send new products they want reviewed– some brands will send PR for whatever reason (bribing reasons).
Project Pan: Embarking on a Project Pan means making a concerted effort to use up products that you already own instead of buying new makeup. It’s part of a larger effort among some YouTubers and influencers to tackle mindless consumerism. This site has some helpful guidelines on how long it would take, on average, to get through a few different products.
Serving Face: Also from drag! I bet you’re so surprised. Serving face usually refers to posing intensely in a photograph and looking amazing.
Shade Range: Most often used in reference to foundation and concealer, referencing the range of skin tones and undertones that the product comes in. Many companies are famous or infamous for having shitty shade ranges that discriminate against customers of color, either because they are clueless or because they are deliberately courting black outrage for publicity. YouTuber Nyma Tang made a series called “The Darkest Shade” in which she tested the darkest shades of various foundations.
Sheer Out: Sheering out refers to how products lighten/change color and blend into skintone as you blend the product. When associated with something like highlighter, it refers to how the product lightens and becomes less noticeable (turning from solid lines of shine into a soft glow). When associated with something like highlighter, it usually refers to how a color will change as it is blended (a black eyeshadow may sheer out into grey, for example).
Shop my Stash: A video where a YouTuber goes through products they already own and try out looks with their existing products, rather than trying to review a new product. The idea is to enjoy what a person already owns, rather than always looking for new things or more things.
Slay: I’m sure you know where this is from. Also, try to even think this phrase without also thinking, “Yaaaaas, slay queen!” Slay usually means you are doing something amazingly well, with the implication that you are in fact doing it so well that it is killing others physically or in spirit.
Snatched: This term comes from, you guessed it, drag! If something is “snatched” then it looks amazing/fierce/perfect.
Transition Shade: For a phrase that is used a lot, I see a lot of different definitions for it. Some people use it to refer to an eyeshadow shade used in a particular place (somewhat interchangeable with the term “crease shade”). Others use it to refer to basically a blending shade that helps bridge the gap between lighter and darker eyeshadow colors. It can also be used to refer to basically an “edge” color, where if you have one shade on your lids you blend it into a lighter shade on the edges where it fades into your skintone.
That’s all I have the energy to define for now. Did I miss something? Are there other terms that mystify you? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll attack them in a second edition of the GLOSS-ary.