Posted on Saturday, at • 246 views

Please pardon the gaps...

The site is in mid-migration now (manual migration of over 7,000 entries, so there's a lot to be done.) The entry stubs are created for older content, but for the most part, the actual content isn't there quite yet. I am working on it. Unfortunately I have no ETA. But feel free to link to any page! When the content does get populated, the URL will stay the same.


I've been blogging since the mid-90s...but I've only really been using makeup since late 2007. I read different blogs and forums, and see terms used...and I don't always know what people mean when they use a particular word. When someone says "such-and-so shadows don't have a lot of color payoff", I know that the colors in question aren't going to be very...well, colored. When someone says "such-and-so shadows are pretty sheer", again - I know that the colors will not be very bright, will not be totally opaque. But when someone says "such-and-so shadows are extremely vivid"...okay, this sounds good. Vivid is better than sheer. But do they mean that the colors are very rich, like jeweltones? Very saturated (dark greens, deep purples, et cetera)? Or...what, precisely?

Here's how I try to talk about colors, especially in relation to makeup. I'd love to hear what other folks mean when they use a given term, or what they think when the read a given term. It's fascinating linguistically...but it might also help me better understand some of the various reviews and writeups I've seen, and might even help me make my own writeups more precise.


It wasn't until I began writing these down that I realized that I classify finishes based on two things: light-reflection intensity (brightness), and clarity of reflection. There are some products that are right at the boundary between a pearl finish (reflects light, softer refraction / partially cloudy-but-smooth finish) and a frost (reflects light, medium refraction / slightly granular appearance). I haven't quite figured out if I would define metallic as a separate finish, and if so, where it would fall in my list of descriptions. Most items described by the manufacturers as 'metallic', I've classed as having a sheen, pearl or shimmer finish.

Only an utter geek would classify makeup-product finishes by the product's albedo. I think I deserve a merit badge or something.

a smooth, flat finish that does not reflect light - therefore, does not appear smooth or slick. Most nail polishes with a smooth finish are defined as 'creme', though there have been some actual matte nail polishes released.
smooth, even finish which is minimally light reflective. I generally will use this for any wet/liquid/semiliquid cosmetic product like nail polishes or lip colors, but not really for powder eyeshadows or blushes.
smooth finish that is partially light-reflective. I often define sheer or semisheer colors as having this finish, as are some metallic colors.
smooth finish that is light-reflective. Most polishes that Zoya describes as "metallic" are what I would define as "pearl".
semi-granular finish that is light-reflective.
even, granular finish that is highly light-reflective. In my lexicon, some glass-fleck polishes are described as "shimmer" while others are described as having a "sparkle" finish.
granular finish that is highly light-reflective. The granular particles (the sparkle) are also light-reflective. In my lexicon, glitter and microglitter nail polishes are both described as "sparkle".

Color Descriptions

This is the section that started this glossary. When I started my site, I'd made the list of finishes I would use in describing products, and the loose definitions of those terms are fairly consistent across all of the makeup sites I've read. These words seem to have a bit more room for individual interpretation. I don't know if that's because the industry uses these terms only in marketing, rather than in product description and classification; or if it's because most people who create and maintain makeup blogs have varying degrees of artistic training - and for most of us, the most we work with terms specifically describing colors and hues might be when we learn how to use the image adjustment functions on our graphics software.

I try not to use this when talking about pigmentation levels in makeup - because I'm not too sure what different people mean by it. Bright colors? Rich colors? Highly-saturated colors? All of my training in colors and graphics is self-taught, so I'm not even sure what "color intensity" means...though I guess a sheer MMU color could be considered intense when it's foiled, and sheer when applied dry.
pigmented, pigmentation
degree of color payoff from an eyeshadow, blush, or lip color. A pastel shade of eyeshadow or lipstick can be highly pigmented (ie Shiro Cosmetics' Kawaii collection, Morgana Cryptoria's pastel vegan lipsticks from winter 2010), just as a dark eyeshadow or lipstick can be rather unpigmented (some lower-end drugstore lipsticks, some of the last-released "dark" colors from various indie MMU companies). Some people use "vibrant" or "intense" when it seems like they mean "pigmented"...but I could be wrong.
bright colors like you might find on a macaw, a toucan, or a parrot (ie fuchsia, bright blue, most neon colors. Pastels, muted colors, or greyed colors are inherently not "vibrant") Synonym: vivid; antonyms: pale, pastel, muted.

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