Cosmetics designed for skin care can be used to cleanse, exfoliate and protect the skin, as well as replenishing it, through the use of cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, and balms; cosmetics designed for more general personal care, such as shampoo and body wash, can be used to cleanse the body; cosmetics designed to enhance one’s appearance (makeup) can be used to conceal blemishes, enhance one’s natural features (such as the eyebrows and eyelashes), add color to a person’s face and, in the case of more extreme forms of makeup used for performances, fashion shows and people in costume, can be used to change the appearance of the face entirely to resemble a different person, creature or object. Cosmetics can also be designed to add fragrance to the body.
Though there are a large number of differing cosmetics used for a variety of different purposes, all cosmetics are typically intended to be applied externally. These products can be applied to the face (on the skin, lips, eyebrows and eyes), to the body (on the skin, in particular the hands and nails), and to the hair. These products may be intended for use as skincare, personal care or to alter the appearance, with the subset of cosmetics known as makeup primarily referring to products containing colour pigments intended for the purpose of altering the wearer’s appearance; some manufacturers will distinguish only between “decorative” cosmetics intended to alter the appearance and “care” cosmetics designed for skincare and personal care.
Most cosmetics are also distinguished by the area of the body intended for application, with cosmetics designed to be used on the face and eye area usually applied with a brush, a makeup sponge, or the fingertips.