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What Is the Difference between Makeup and Cosmetics?

Makeup and cosmetics are often used interchangeably, yet they hold subtle distinctions. Makeup typically refers to products applied to enhance or alter one's appearance, such as foundation and lipstick. Cosmetics, a broader term, includes makeup, skincare, and haircare products. Intrigued by how these nuances affect your beauty routine? Explore the world of beauty with us to uncover more.
Brandon May
Brandon May

Cosmetics are used to enhance or alter the appearance of the face or body through the use of makeup, lotions and cleansers, making it a category with many different subcategories. The main difference between makeup and cosmetics is that makeup is a cosmetic but not all cosmetics are makeup. Many different cosmetics like cleansers and moisturizers are used by both genders, but makeup is usually thought of as used by women on their faces. General cosmetics can include a wide variety of items, including synthetic as well as natural body care items.

The terms makeup and cosmetics cannot be used interchangeably because of their different definitions. "Cosmetics" is often used to describe the wide variety of face and body items in the beauty market, from facial cleansers and eye creams to body moisturizer and shampoo. As cosmetics can include shampoo and hair coloring, the term is not necessarily confined to the use of the product on the skin alone. Other examples of cosmetics include facial toners and astringents, as well as nail polish and varnish.

Eye cream, a type of cosmetic.
Eye cream, a type of cosmetic.

It should be noted that makeup is a cosmetic, yet cosmetics are not defined as makeup due to the many different applications of cosmetics. Even though makeup and cosmetics are usually sold in the same area in certain stores and markets, they have varying features. Makeup is merely a subcategory of cosmetics, as it is a synthetic or natural beauty product used to alter the appearance of the skin on the body or face. This term also includes subcategories of different makeup applications, such as concealer, blush, lipstick and foundation, and is confined to the aspect of the skin.


Natural makeup and cosmetics can include different standards of labeling, due to the fact that makeup requires different ingredients than other forms of cosmetics. Mineral makeups may include minerals from nature to create foundations and concealers, which is not often performed for natural cosmetics such as toner or moisturizer. Makeup and cosmetics are often used at the same time, especially in individuals who wear makeup on a daily basis. The use of cosmetics such as makeup remover and moisturizer are essential for the skin to remain healthy and the pores free of heavy foundations or other makeup products.

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