Beauty salon vocabulary can be just as confusing as hairdressing vocabulary for non-native speakers – and even more important to get right! From waxing and eyebrow threading to tanning, pedicures and make up, there are many treatments with specific beauty vocabulary.
In addition to beauty salon vocabulary and phrases for beauty treatments, it is also useful to know the names of the products and equipment used at a beauty salon.
Achieving the perfect result from your visit to the beauty salon can be easier said than done when trying to communicate as a non-native English speaker! Hopefully this article will explain some common beauty salon language.
We have collected some of the most common beauty salon vocabulary and phrases to help you when you visit a beauty salon, tanning salon or nail shop in an English-speaking country.
Vocabulary for beauty salons
Facial – a treatment for skin on the face to improve tone, appearance and texture
Facial peel – an exfoliating treatment for the face (usually using glycolic acid), which removes the top skin cells to reveal fresh skin beneath (this is supposed to reduce fine lines)
Eyebrow threading – hair removal for eyebrows using cotton thread (this technique creates a strong, neat eyebrow line by removing hair below and above the brow. The technique originated in India and is now a popular beauty treatment in most salons)
Eyelash tinting – colours the eyelashes
Eyebrow tinting – colours the eyelashes
Eyelash perming – curls the eyelashes
Eyelash lifting – lifts the eyelashes and creates a curl
LVL lashes – an eyelash treatment that focuses on increasing lift, volume and length of the eyelashes
False eyelashes – artificial eyelashes which are stuck to your eyelids with special glue (these can come in a set or can be individual lashes)
Ear piercing – creates hole in the ears to enable you to wear earrings
Waxing – a system of hair removal, where warm wax is poured onto the skin and then ripped off taking the hair with it (and hopefully leaving the skin!)
Hot waxing – special wax treatments for delicate areas, which uses an oil treatment before to prepare the skin before waxing
Full leg wax / Half leg wax / Three-quarter leg wax – hair removal for legs
Bikini wax – hair removal for bikini zone (public hair area)
Brazilian wax – type of bikini wax that leaves a small amount of hair
Hollywood wax – type of bikini wax that removes all hair
Arm / Eyebrow / Upper lip / Chin / Underarm wax – hair removal for various body parts
Botox – a medical treatment that beauty salons sometimes offer, which injects Botox into the skin to reduce its movement and therefore soften the appearance of movement-induced wrinkles
Fillers – a medical treatment that beauty salons sometimes offer, which injects a dermal filler under the skin to plump up skin and smooth out wrinkles
- Although we have included Botox and fillers treatments in our beauty salon vocabulary guide, you must always make sure the salon has properly qualified and experienced staff to administer Botox or fillers – this is a sensitive medical procedure and is always best left to cosmetic doctors
Massage – a treatment where the practitioner rubs your skin in firm, sweeping movements to relax the muscles, usually using oils (this can be a ‘full body massage’ / Swedish massage or focusing on one area of the body, such as the back)
Make Up Vocabulary
General make up vocabulary can be useful when shopping for products. It can also come in handy for discussing make up treatments at the make up counter in a department store or when having make up applied in a beauty salon.
To add to our beauty salon vocabulary list, here are some useful words when shopping for items for your make up bag:
Lipstick – a stick of colour for applying to the lips (often red or pink)
Lip liner – a crayon or pencil to outline the lip shape
Mascara – colour for the eyelashes, applied with a wand (usually black or brown colour)
Eyebrow pencil – a crayon or pensil for colouring the eyebrows
Kohl liner – a pencil for creating dark smudge effect arond the eyes
Eye liner – a pencil or pen for outlining the eyes
Eye shadow – colour for the eye lids (usually pressed powder)
Blusher – pink colour for cheeks, which is usually a pressed powder or cream (often added to the ‘apples’ of your cheeks – i.e. the fullest part)
Contour – colour for cheeks in a darker shade than blusher (often used for adding shade beneath cheek bones)
Highlighter – lighter colour for adding highlights (often used above cheek bones)
Bronzer – bronzing powder for adding a tanned, sun-kissed look
Primer – liquid make up that creates a smooth base and prepares the skin for foundation
Foundation – liquid or powder skin-coloured make up for evening the complexion and creating a ‘base’ for the rest of the make up
Cover up – cream or stick for covering up imperfections in the skin (usually used just before or just after foundation)
BB cream – beauty balm / blemish balm, an all-in-one product that acts as primer and light foundation
Tinted moisturiser – a moisturiser / face cream with a subtle colour (often used instead of foundation for a lighter look)
Loose Powder – face powder used after applying make up to ‘set’ and finish the look (loose powder is usually applied using a large brush)
Powder compact – face powder in a small flip-top pot (a ‘compact’), often used for touch-ups during the day
Make up brushes – special brushes for applying make up
(verb) to apply make up
(verb) to put on make up
(verbs) to apply, to smooth in/over, to rub in, to massage in, to add, to dab, to dot – methods of application
Make up is sometimes called ‘slap’ in the UK (a slang expression)
Make up vocabulary examples:
‘You can apply make up using your fingers or with a special make up brush’
‘I put on my make at the mirror’ / ‘I put my make up on using the mirror’
‘Use the mirror to apply your make up’
‘Outline your lips with the lip liner then fill them in with lipstick using the lip brush’
‘Add blush to the apples of your cheeks and then add contour below the cheekbones and a sweep of highlighter above’
‘Can you wait a minute while I put my slap on?’
Beauty vocabulary for tanning salons
Solarium – a room equipped with a sun bed
Sun tan – skin that has gone brown from the sun
Fake tan / artificial tan – a tan from a bottle
(verb) to get a tan
(verb) to catch some rays
Tanning bed / Sun bed – a special bed that helps users acquire a suntan
Spray tan – a type of artificial tan that is applied with a spray (this can be applied manually with a spray gun ir by a machine)
Stand up tanning booth – a tanning booth where you stand up for your tan
Tanning oil – an oil that moisturises the skin and helps to accelerate the tanning process
Tan line – a pale line on the skin where clothes have stopped the skin from tanning
UV rays – ultra violet rays from the sun
UVA – a type of ultra violet ray that causes a sun tan
UVB – a type of ultra violet ray that causes sunburn
Sunburn – red, painful skin that has been damaged by exposure to the sun (bad sunburn can cause blisters)
(verb) to sunbathe
tanned – bronzed / browned
(adj) sunkissed – tanned
a deep tan – a very dark tan
Beauty vocabulary for nail shops
Manicure – a treatment for finger nails (also usually includes beauty treatment for hands, such as cuticle shaping and massage)
Pedicure – a treatment for toe nails (also usually includes beauty treatment for feet, such as hard skin removal and exfoliation)
Paraffin wax treatment – a moisturising treatment for hands or feet involving soaking skin in a combination of paraffin and oils (often before a manicure or pedicure)
French manicure – a type of nail polish treatment that gives a pink/peach nail and white tips
False nails – artificial nails, applied with a special glue
Acrylic nails – a type of artificial nail using acrylic (this is the traditional artificial nail treatment, where plastic tips are placed over your own nails, blended in and acrylic placed over the top)
Gel nails – a type of artificial nail using gel (this is a more modern artificial nail treatment, where a thin, flexible and lightweight gel solution is placed over your own nails for appearance and protection)
Shape and polish – a finishing treatment for the nails, including shaping with an emery board and colouring with your choice of nail varnish
Nail polish / nail varnish – colour for nails
Nail art – decorations that sit on the nail, such as patterns or crystals
Beauty salon vocabulary in practice
Phrases you may want to use at the beauty salon:
Could I book a treatment, please?
Can I book a manicure, please?
I’d like to book a sun bed session for next Monday
What type of tanning beds do you have here?
Do you have stand up tanning booths at this salon?
Which tanning oil would you recommend?
I’d like to get my ears pierced
Could I get my eyebrows threaded, please?
Can I get a leg wax?
How much do you charge for a full leg wax?
Do you do bikini waxes?
I’d like to get my eyelashes tinted and permed
What type of facial peels do you offer?
Does your salon offer Botox treatments?
I’d like to get a gel nail manicure
How much is a classic pedicure with exfoliation treatment?
Can I get a manicure with Swarovski crystals?
Share your thoughts on beauty salon vocabulary
Do you go to the beauty salon regularly?
Would you (or have you) ever got a wax at a salon – or do you think waxing is a painfully crazy idea?
What are your make up essentials? Have we missed any important make up off our list?
Can you think of more useful beauty salon vocabulary?
Are there any expressions you are unsure of? Let us know in the comments!