50 words beauty industry founders should know

Every kind of business has its own jargon – and the beauty industry has plenty. If you’re a first-time beauty brand founder, you might come across some words you haven’t seen or heard of before. Received an email loaded with jargon? Decode it with this list of words, phrases, and abbreviations used in the cosmetic products industry.

Tip from a beauty industry copywriter

If you have anything to do with creating or selling products in the beauty industry, it’s a good idea to be familiar with commonly used words. However, if you’re ever unsure about what someone means, it doesn’t help you to just go along with it. Instead of pretending you know what they’re talking about, be brave and ask. Not only will you learn more, but you’ll potentially avoid miscommunication issues or costly mistakes.

In the case that Googling doesn’t help you, ask the person to clarify what they mean. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know everything. Try these prompts if you need some encouragement:

  • “Thanks for sending me this information, but could I please check what you mean by…?”
  • “That all sounds great. While I have you, would you mind clarifying what … is?”
  • “I want to be sure I understand everything correctly. Does … mean …?”
  • “I’m new to this, so I’m not sure what … is. I appreciate your patience with me!”
  • “I’m figuring out what … means for my business. I’d love your help to learn more about it.”

Common beauty industry words

The following list of abbreviations and phrases are related to creating and selling products in the beauty industry. You’ll likely see these words in the context of product development, beauty copywriting, packaging design, and website development. Depending on your professional background, you might know many of these already since they’re not all specific to the beauty industry.

  • AQS – Average Quantity System. (The e symbol you see on some packaging.)
  • B2B or BTB – Business to business.
  • B2C or BTC – Business to consumer.
  • BOM – Bill of materials.
  • CI – Color Index.
  • CosIng – Cosmetic Ingredients database by the European Commission. (This isn’t the same as the list of substances banned from use in cosmetics in Europe. You can find more information about that here.)
  • CTA – Call to action.
  • GMP – Good Manufacturing Practice.
  • INCI or INCI list – International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients.
  • MoCRA – Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022.
  • MOQ – Minimum order quantity.
  • NPD – New product development.
  • OTC – Over the counter.
  • PAO – Period after opening.
  • PIF – Product information file.
  • QC – Quality control.
  • R&D – Research and development.
  • SDS – Safety data sheet. Also referred to as Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
  • SEO – Search engine optimisation.
  • SKU – Stock keeping unit.
  • TOV – Tone of voice.
  • UGC – User-generated content.
  • USP – Unique selling point or proposition.
  • WIP – Work in progress.
  • Above the fold – On a website, it’s any content that you see before scrolling.
  • Assets – When a copywriter asks to receive assets, they’re usually referring to imagery or files that are relevant to the project. Depending on the context, it could also mean press material or marketing material.
  • Below the fold – On a website, it’s any content you see after scrolling.
  • Body copy – Traditionally, this is a paragraph or multiple paragraphs that follows an introduction and happens before a conclusion. For websites, body copy could refer to whatever the ‘main’ copy is, as introductions and conclusions don’t always exist.
  • Brand deck – A document created by a brand that includes important information about their business and product/s.
  • Brief – This is sent to a beauty copywriter to explain project specifics, what’s required, and how to approach a project or task.
  • Claim – What a brand says to convince a reader of something.
  • Cross-promote – Promoting a similar or related product alongside the main promotion.
  • Cross-sell – Recommending a similar or related product to the one being looked at.
  • Deliverable – The piece of work someone will complete and provide.
  • Direct printing – Printing text and images directly onto product packaging.
  • Evergreen – Content that is always relevant and not time-specific.
  • Formulator – The business or person responsible for creating a cosmetic formula. It could also be referred to as a formulating chemist, cosmetic chemist, or more broadly, the manufacturer.
  • Head or header – Headline.
  • Hero shot/hero image – Main image.
  • Label printing – Printing text and images on a label that sticks to the product packaging.
  • Mock-up – A realistic draft or working version to show how something will be designed.
  • Pitch deck – A document created by a brand with the purpose of pitching their brand or product/s to retailers or investors.
  • Placeholder – Dummy copy (such as Lorem Ipsum) to show where the copy will sit.
  • Raw copy – Unedited copy, usually a first draft.
  • Raw materials – The individual ingredients included in a cosmetic formula. These are purchased from a supplier and manufactured with other raw materials to create a finished product.
  • Regulations – All countries and regions have rules about what cosmetic brands can and can’t do. Cosmetic regulations cover everything from the ingredients used in products to how they’re promoted.
  • Social proof – Customer reviews, testimonials, social media posts, or other third-party ‘proof’ to demonstrate value.
  • Subhead – Copy that sits below a header, with the purpose of engaging the reader.
  • Tagline – A single, compelling line that summarises a brand or product.
  • Wireframe – A draft or working version of a website in development.
Amy Hadley

Amy Hadley is a beauty copywriter with a background in print journalism, digital media, public relations, and eCommerce. As someone contributing to the beauty industry, she encourages her clients to use words creatively, sincerely, and responsibly. This is to promote more honest and thoughtful communication in the beauty industry, and better serve its consumers.

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