Italian MAKEUP Vocabulary: Words and Verbs to Talk about Cosmetics

When you study a language, you often start by learning to talk about your routine or your hobbies – for many people, makeup falls into both categories: some people wear makeup to prepare for the day and improve their looks, while others do it to experiment with a form of art that isn’t completely conventional. Whatever the reason, if you want to talk about makeup in Italian, you should learn all the words and verbs required to explain every single step of the process – of course, in this article you will find all the fundamental vocabulary and verbs to talk about cosmetics!


You would like to present you beauty routine to your Italian friends, but you don’t know how? Do not worry, today I will present you with 18 verbs and 20 words through a first person monologue! Are you ready? Let’s start!


Per prima cosa, detergo la pelle con un tonico, massaggio delicatamente la crema idratante su tutto il viso e metto un burro cacao per idratare le labbra. Dato che starò tutto il giorno fuori, applico il primer per far durare il mio trucco più a lungo.

Inizio così a preparare la mia base, stendendo con un pennello o una spugnetta inumidita il fondotinta su tutto il viso, mentre per nascondere imperfezioni della pelle e le occhiaie, applico un po’ di correttore. Per sottolineare maggiormente i lineamenti del mio viso e valorizzarli, applico con un altro pennello la terra e per dar vita all’incarnato metto un po’ di blush e illuminate sulle guance e sugli zigomi.

Una volta terminata la base, passo a definire e a infoltire le sopracciglia con un gel e una matita per sopracciglia. In seguito, passo a truccare gli occhi, applicando e sfumando con un pennello degli ombretti, poi uso un eyeliner liquido e per le ciglia metto un mascara.

Dato che voglio mettere in risalto le mie labbra, rimuovo il burro cacao e utilizzo prima una matita labbra lungo i contorni, poi passo il rossetto e infine applico un lucidalabbra.

Per terminare il mio trucco, passo con un pennello un po’ di cipria traslucida solo nelle zone del viso che voglio opacizzare.

Below you can find a list of all verbs and terms in order of appearance in the dialogue, with their definitions or explanations.


  1. DETERGERE – synonym of “pulire” or “lavare“, it means removing impurities from a surface. > The English translation is Cleanse.
  2. MASSAGGIARE – make circular movements in various directions, on a part of the body. In this case, it means using a circular motion to your face to better apply the product. > The English translation is Massage.
  3. METTERE – this verb, in such a context, is synonymous with “applicare“.
  4. IDRATARE – “make something absorb some water”, “make something richer in water”. Idratare le labbra means preventing or combating dryness, restore softness (to the lips) by applying various products. > In English it’s translated as Moisturize.
  5. APPLICARE – taking a product (or an object) and placing it on a surface in order to make it adhere, stick. >The English translation is Apply.
  6. STENDERE – in this case, “stendere” means making sure that a given amount of product is well distributed over the entire surface, the whole face. > The translation in English would be Distribute or Spread.
  7. NASCONDERE – in this specific case, “nascondere” is synonymous with “coprire“, making sure that something cannot be seen. > In English, you would say Hide, Cover up or even Conceal.
  8. VALORIZZARE – giving more value to a certain thing; highlighting it. > “Valorizzare” means Enhance.
  9. DARE VITA – in general, it means “creating something completely new”, but in this context it means that instead of making the complexion paler, a product is applied to make it rosier, more radiant. > It means Giving color.
  10. DEFINIRE – making the outlines sharper, tracing the edges. It literally means Define.
  11. INFOLTIRE – making something (appear) thicker, denser. > This verb can be translated as Thicken.
  12. TRUCCARE – applying some makeup to a part of your face or body to change its appearance, to either cover some imperfections or to highlight specific parts. > It obviously means Put makeup on.
  13. SFUMARE – reducing the intensity of a color in a gradual manner, making a specific color lighter and lighter. > When it refers to eye shadow, like in this context, it is translated as Blend.
  14. METTERE IN RISALTO – synonym of “enfatizzare” i.e., make a certain element (or part of the face, in this case) more evident so that it stands out from everything that surrounds it. > Just like valorizzare, this verb means Enhance, Emphasize, or Highlight.
  15. RIMUOVERE – removing something or move it somewhere else. In this case, the aim is to remove the lip balm from the lips without leaving residues in order to apply another product. > Clearly, it means Remove.
  16. UTILIZZARE – synonym of “usare“, “make use of something”. > Other than Use, it ca be translated as Utilize but the former is much more common.
  17. PASSARE – in this very specific case, the verb passare indicates the use of a brush (or a tool in general) on a surface to spread a product. > This verb has many meanings and equivalents, but here it can be translated with Pass.
  18. OPACIZZARE – “make something opaque“, which is the contrary of transparent or, like in this case, the contrary of shiny. > This verb also has more equivalent verbs in the English language, but when it comes to makeup it’s more common to translate it as Mattify e.g., voglio opacizzare il mio trucco = I want to mattify my makeup.


  1. TONICO – it’s a product that contributes to the purification of the skin; it counteracts impurities and redness. > In English, it has a similar name: Toner!
  2. CREMA IDRATANTE – it’s a semi-liquid cosmetic product that moisturizes the skin or prevents dehydration. > Obviously, it means Moisturizer.
  3. BURRO CACAO – also written as “burrocacao” or “burro di cacao”, it’s a cosmetic that is applied to the lips to moisturize them and to protect them from the cold. > It means both Lip balm and Chapstick, although the latter is the name of a specific brand that sells a form of said product rather than the name of the product itself.
  4. PRIMER – it’s a generic term for the product that is applied on the face before any other product, to protect the skin; it elasticizes, fills, and revitalizes the skin, as well as making the makeup last longer. It also uniforms the skin color. There are different types of primers, such as foundation primer, eyelid primer, lip primer, and mascara primer. > There is no need to translate this term, for in Italian we use the English term.
  5. PENNELLO – it’s a tool used in art and cosmetics to apply colors and products evenly; it is characterized by one end that consists of a bunch of bristles, natural hair (animal or vegetable), or artificial fibers. > This term means Brush.
  6. SPUGNETTA – it’s a small tool composed of a soft and absorbent material; makes it easier to apply a product on the face thanks to its softness and adaptability to the various creases of the skin. Those used for makeup are usually egg-shaped. > Though in Italian it literally means “small sponge” (spugna + diminutive suffix -etta), in English the term does not evoke a sponge: it’s called Beauty blender.
  7. FONDOTINTA – it’s a liquid (or powder) cosmetic applied to create an even, uniform color to the complexion and to cover flaws. > It means Foundation.
  8. CORRETTORE – it’s a product used to “correggere” (correct, improve), cover dark circles, pimples, and other small spots or imperfections of the skin. > In English, it’s called Concealer.
  9. TERRA – it’s a product that gives tone, color to the face, and emphasizes the contours of the face and accentuates all three dimensions. > The term terra -which literally means “ground”, “soil”- is not used as much as its English counterpart, especially by younger people, who prefer the term Bronzer.
  10. BLUSH – there is no need to translate this term, for we don’t have a translation for it and either use the English term blush or the French term rouge; either way, it indicates a pink-colored product used to give (more) color to the skin, make it rosier, and to give a healthier appearance to the face.
  11. ILLUMINANTE – it’s a product that makes the face appear brighter; thanks to strategic highlights, it emphasizes some parts of the face, such as the cheekbones. > If you already know what illuminare means, you won’t be surprised to know that this term means Highlighter.
  12. GEL PER SOPRACCIGLIA – this is a gel used to fill the eyebrows, so as to create a precise and neat eyebrow arch. > It clearly means Eyebrow gel.
  13. MATITA PER SOPRACCIGLIA – just like the eyebrow gel, this product is used to improve the appearance of the eyebrows, to define their shape in a delicate and natural way (or to make eyebrows appear more defined and sharper, depending on preferences). > Again, if you already know what matita means, you probably already guessed the translation of this term, i.e., Eyebrow pencil.
  14. OMBRETTO – it’s a colored cosmetic that should be applied on the eyelids to give depth to the eyes and to bring out their color; depending on the method of application, it makes the look more defined or the eyes larger. > It means Eye shadow.
  15. EYELINER LIQUIDOeyeliner is yet another term that comes from English. It’s a black-colored liquid product which gives intensity to the look thanks to its application on the eyelids along the upper (external) lash line. > The translation is quite obvious: it means Liquid eyeliner.
  16. MASCARA – this is the fourth term that is used in Italian, but it’s used in English too. It’s an eye makeup which darkens and enhances the upper and lower eyelashes to add intensity to one’s look, or to make eyes appear bigger – it depends on the application technique.
  17. MATITA LABBRA – it’s a cosmetic applied along the edges of the lips to define (or redesign) their shape. > In English, it’s translated as Lip liner or Lip pencil – the latter is much similar to the Italian version!
  18. ROSSETTO – it’s a pigmented, colored cosmetic that is applied to the entire lips. > This term means Lipstick.
  19. LUCIDALABBRA/GLOSS – unlike lipstick, this cosmetic is generally colorless and makes the lips appear shinier; it can contain pigments, giving a little color to the lips without having to use lipstick. > Knowing that it’s a lip product, and that in Italian in can be called gloss too, it’s not a surprise to know that this is the translation of the English term Lip gloss!
  20. CIPRIA TRASLUCIDA – it’s a cosmetic product that is applied to the face; it’s a transparent powder that sets makeup and helps making it last longer, as well as counteracting the skin shine. > In English it’s called Translucent face powder!

Now that you’re done learning the makeup-related vocabulary, you have to check out our article about the Italian vocabulary related to clothing and fashion!

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