The Byrdie Book of Beauty Terms


Original Illustration by Ellie Benuska

Beauty isn’t just a lifestyle—it’s a language. Even those of us who work in the industry don’t speak it with perfect fluency. With so many products, techniques, and slang terms in constant evolution, sometimes we’re tempted to sit down and make actual flashcards to keep it all straight.

But just like the language of ballet or the language of science, it’s important to have a handle on the most important terms before you can perfect your technique. After all, if you don’t even know what a plié is, how are you supposed to do one? The same applies to beauty.

We are the first to admit that learning the language of skincare, makeup, and hair can be intimidating. To help you out, we put together this master list of important beauty terms you might be confused about. Whether you’re unsure of the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen or are simply looking for the technical definition of strobing, we’ve got you. Here are all the answers to your questions in one convenient place.

Keep scrolling for over 30 beauty terms you need to know (and comment down below for definitions you’d like us to add in the future)!

Is there a beauty term you wish were on this list? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to add it!