Beauty Buzz Words: Part 2, Makeup

I’ve spent hours and hours backstage with makeup artists at fashion shows and on photo shoots over the years, and while I’ve picked up enough knowledge to know most of the lingo, some terms still confound me. And if you’re anything like me, then there are some things (like “neutral eye” or “contouring”) that need a little explaining! Below is a handy guide to explain some of the most popular terms in the beauty world so you (just like me), will know exactly what those experts are talking about.

Neutral Eye/Lip

Whether it be eyeshadow or lipstick, neutral refers to a look created by products in the brown color family. Think hues such as taupe, bronze, caramel, and brown.


Contouring with makeup is exactly the same as contouring in drawing. To contour your face means to create definition through light and shadow using bronzer, foundation and powder. Contouring your face can create the illusion of sharper and higher cheekbones, a smaller nose, and a defined jawline.


You know that moist line that runs along your lower lashes and sits right between your eyeball and lashes? It’s called your waterline. Makeup artists love to apply white or cream eyeliner along it to create the illusion of larger eyes.


Essentially, matte is the opposite of shine. Matte can be used to describe lipstick, foundation, blush, and eyeshadow. It means that there is no shine, shimmer, or iridescence in the product.

Cat Eye

When makeup artists refer to a “cat eye” or “cat eyeliner” they are describing the effect that is made when eyeliner is flicked out to a point from the outer corner of your eye. No matter how large or small the flick, it is always called a cat eye.

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