Decoding Beauty Names

With cosmetic companies trying to be innovative and different, you might have found that there are a slew of product names our there. It can get pretty confusing. “Wait, doesn’t that do that same thing? Then why does it have a different name?” Don’t be afraid to try something just because its title might be a little different that you may have been expecting, but also don’t assume that two-slightly-differently-named products can be used similarly. Here are a few of the most common terms whose differentiations I wanted to address.

Illuminator versus Luminizer versus Highlighter

These babies are all the SAME! Seriously, beauty companies are just getting nutso with all the names.

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They come in a variety of forms, such as powder, liquid, cream etc. They go on the top of your cheekbones, along your tear ducts, above your lips on your cupid’s bow, and even down the length of your nose to give your face a gorgeous glow and slightly chiseled look. They can also me matte or shimmery, and your choice depends on the look you wish to achieve. Colors range from peachy, bronze-y, champagne-y, to icy white shades. It’s best to go with a color that matches your skin’s undertones. If you’re cool, for a more white, peach, or champagne color. If you’re more warm or olive-skinned, go with bronze. Champagne works on nearly everyone. So, when in doubt, grab the bubbly 😉

Bronzer versus Contour

You can think of these as more like sisters that twins. Bronzer goes where the sun naturally kisses your face to add warmth. Contour powders should have a grayer, cooler tone to them and are placed in different places on your face than bronzer. They are cooler in tone (think more blue than yellow), because they are meant to create shadows on your face, which can make your nose look thinner, lift your cheekbones, higher, and make you double chin go bye-bye.

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Both can come in cream or powder formulas (even in sticks that can be draw on the face). Bronzers may be matte or sparkly, and contour powder should ALWAYS be matte. I should note that some bronzers can make adequate contour formulas, but, unless you really know your stuff, be careful.

Serum versus Treatment

These guys can be the same or slightly different. A serum is a liquid formula that should be applied to the face (and neck & décolleté if you’re really ambitious) after cleansing. It will deposit antioxidants, exfoliants, vitamins, and all other sorts of goodies into your skin. It helps repair and prevent skin damage from the environment, free radicals, and hormonal fluctuations. A serum should be used twice a day, morning and night. A treatment can also be a serum, but a treatment can also be a spot treatment, such as for a pimple or a dark spot. Treatments can be liquids or even a pasty mask. They can also come in such small sizes, that it would be insanely expensive to use it all over your face uuurrday (that’s “everyday” for everyone who didn’t catch that).

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Be sure to read the product’s usage instructions to determine if it should/can be used all over or simply as a spot treatment when needed.

Concealer versus Cover-up

Cover-up is basically a less-frequently-used term for concealer. They’re essentially the same. You might find that some use the term “cover-up” in reference to foundation, but this is more rare. So use concealer/cover-up under your eyes, on blemishes, on dark spots, or anywhere else you need a little extra coverage. What makes these guys different than foundation? They’re way more pigmented and drier than foundation. Why do you ask? More pigment makes the formula naturally more dry, which is good in this case, because a drier formula will stick in place better than a super-slippery formula. Concealer/cover-up can come in liquid or solid form, depending on your preference.

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Preach, Lucy Liu. Preach.

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