From the French cosmétique, from Greek kosmtikos, skilled in arranging, from kosmtos, well-ordered, from kosmein, to arrange, from kosmos, order.[1]

The definition of cosmetics from most english dictionaries neither fit the usage of the term in the FX industry, nor do they suitably match the word's derivation. Cosmetics, as the word is used in the industry, may be defined as:

Any product adheared directly to the skin for the purpose of altering a subject's appearance.

While this definition blurs the line between cosmetics and costume, it does permit prosthetics to be a subset of cosmetics. Cosmetics do not, as dictionaries define it, need to be for the purpose of beautifying the body. In general, the terms cosmetics and makeup may be used interchangeably; though some may argue the terms have different connotations in different situations

Cosmetics may be divided into subcategories of skin and body care and makeup categories: paints and three dimensional makeup.


  1. cosmetics. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved September 07, 2006, from website: