Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you use a lot of cosmetics?

Do you hear people talking about cosmetics a lot in English?

What are cosmetics anyhow?

They are basically something that you put on your face or use as part of your skin care regimen, and they are a big part of the culture overall.

Today we are talking about cosmetics, exploring common terms in this area, and looking at the role that they play in the culture and in conversations.

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We have a listener question about cosmetics that may be interesting to you as we explore the idea of cosmetics.

Hi ladies,

I started listening to the podcast in the beginning of quarantine, and it helped me to improve my skills and enjoy my free time. I was looking for something like it for a long time, and I can’t believe that I finally found it! It helps me with new vocabulary, as well as with my listening skills. I listened to all the episodes since 2018 and I can’t stop—and I’ve done all of that in about a month!

Spotify recognized me as one of the top 10 All Ears English fans in the world—and there was a day that I listened to more than 50 episodes! Besides that, I’m from Brazil and I work in a multinational cosmetic company and I have to talk with people from all the world. In my first Skype meeting I was desperate and I couldn’t understand more than 30% of the call. It was frustrating, but now I feel more confident and I can understand more than 80%!

I would like to ask you to talk about cosmetic products in the podcast, such as make up and skin care products. I would also like to understand different ways to talk about starting a Skype presentation with small talk and things like that. I feel as if I always go straight to the subject, and people really want to have small talk beforehand. This would really help me in my job, and I feel it could help me in other areas as well.

I can only thank you for creating this amazing content and helping everybody around the world!

Thank you,


Talking About Cosmetics

This is a great question as it’s about something that so many of us talk about.

Sure you might think that cosmetics are something that mostly women use or talk about, but that’s not the case anymore.

Many people want to get into a good skincare regimen for example, so that you can look and feel your best.

You may feel as if you don’t know what you’re doing at first, but with practice and some insight you can really learn to take good care of your skin.

There are some great products out there and learning about them can help.

No matter what your focus though, conversations may turn to cosmetics at some point in time.

There is a lot of vocabulary that goes into this topic, and we’re going to go through some common terms so that you can be part of the conversation.

You may find that some cosmetics and skin care products are expensive, and there are so many options that it may be confusing.

So knowing how to talk about the many products out there and then learning to ask for what you want can help you to get exactly what you want.

This episode is not just for people who wear makeup, as this can be a major point of conversations and point for connection as well.

We did an episode in the past that may be very helpful to you for some background.

We talked about hair care in this episode, and so you’ll want to watch it for a good starting point.

Seven Ways To Describe A Beautiful Woman’s Hair In English

Looking At Common Words In This Area

You may find that knowing what some of the most common terms are within this area can be helpful.

We’re going to get into this vocabulary and then you can see what these words are, how to use them, and you can apply them to your conversations.

Foundation: This is the base or what you put on first in terms of makeup. It gives you some color and is a foundation to work off of for the rest of your makeup regimen. It may hide any blemishes or just give you a general glow that you can enjoy and build the rest of your makeup routine off of.

Mascara: This is used to give the look of fuller eyelashes. This is something that so many want, and if you use just a little bit of mascara on your eyelashes it can give you more volume and make them appear longer and fuller.

Eyeliner: This is used to line the eye, on the top as well as the bottom. This can help your eyes to appear bigger and can give a nice contrast. This is something to be used right under or on top of the eyes just to add a simple or thin line.

Eyeshadow: This is put on the eyelids to add a bit of color, perhaps some shimmer, and a nice contrast. It can help to really open the eyes and be the base of a good eye regimen. This is often an important part of your makeup routine, and it starts with a good eyeshadow and the right colors for the occasion.

Blush: This is used sparingly on the cheeks. It is often used at the “apple of the cheeks” which is the upper area, which can add a touch of color and really enhance your overall makeup. You don’t want to add too much because you want it to still look somewhat natural.

Lipliner: You use this to line the lips and give yourself a good area with which to put lipstick on after. This can help your lips to stand out and even look fuller. You use this sparingly and want to line very close to the lips so that it’s a perfect complement.

Lipstick: This brings color or shimmer or definition to your lips. The right color of lipstick can really make your lips pop and highlight your mouth in a profound way. Lipstick comes in so many different colors and styles and it can really enhance your lips in a beautiful way.

Lip gloss: This is a shinier substitute or addition to lipstick. You may wear it on its own for some shimmer and shine to add to your lips. You may use it with lipstick or on its own for a great look.

Eyebrow pencil: This helps to fill in any gaps in the eyebrows as this is a distinguishable feature on your face. You may use it to add volume, but you usually go lightly with this so that it doesn’t look like too much.

Face lotion (SPF): You need a good face lotion to add moisture into your skin. If you can find one that happens to have a certain SPF that can offer you some protection from the sun as well. You want to combine this with some sort of cleanser to help you get into a good skin care ritual as your face is so important.

Eyelash curler: Many people use this to give curl and definition to the eyelashes, particularly before using mascara. You usually want some good volume with eyelashes, and this allows for that. It’s a really nice touch to add to your regimen.

You may find it useful to think through a couple of conversational questions about makeup.

What do you think about the role makeup plays in our culture? Do people feel pressure to wear makeup?

Will do a follow up on this, as there’s a lot to cover about a topic that is a part of the culture and comes up in conversation quite frequently.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Michelle works for a makeup line and Lindsay is asking her questions.

Lindsay: “So I’m looking to really brighten up my face.”

Michelle: “Ok great! Let’s find you a foundation for your skin tone, and then we can look at blush.”

Lindsay: “Great! What do you think as far as lipstick color for me?”

Michelle: “I’d go with a dep red, and definitely don’t forget a lipliner.”

Lindsay: “Great. Should I go with black or brown mascara?”

Michelle: “I’d say brown. Also, get a matching eyebrow pencil to really bring out those luscious brows- and of course, just some light eyeliner and eyeshadow will do wonders for you.”

Lindsay: “What about for more casual days? Do I always need heavy lipstick?”

Michelle: “No, let’s set you up with a nice lip gloss.”

Lindsay: “Great. Could you show me how to use an eyelash curler?”

Michelle: “Sure, it’s easy! Also, we need to talk about skincare- let’s look into cleansers and face lotion with SPF.”

Lindsay: “Thank you so much!”


You might be surprised at how much you might find yourself talking about makeup.

This is a great possible connection skill, and you now have some helpful vocabulary around it to use.

This may be different all around the world, and we’d love to hear about how it is in your culture.

Whether you work with cosmetics or just like to use them or talk about them, now you have a great way to start and be part of the conversation.

This is a common topic, and you can contribute to the conversation in a fun way moving forward.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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