Makeup or Make Up – What’s the Difference?

When you put cosmetics on your face to look pretty on a date, are you using makeup or make up?

You are probably beautiful just the way you are, and you don’t need to worry about either of those things, but if you work for a cosmetics company and you are in charge of designing ads, you will need to know the difference between these words.

The short story is that one is a noun and one is a verb, but, for a more in-depth discussion, continue reading.

What is the Difference Between Makeup and Make Up?

In this post, I will compare makeup vs. make up. I will use each term in some example sentences, which will give you an idea how they should appear in context.

I will also demonstrate how to use a mnemonic device that makes choosing make up or makeup a little easier.

When to Use Makeup

makeup versus make upWhat does makeup mean? Makeup is a noun. It means decorative cosmetics worn by humans.

For example,

  • Julia spends 45 minutes each morning putting on her makeup in the bathroom, which annoys Aries.
  • Greg’s last job was in the advertising department of company that sells makeup.

Makeup is a category of products. There are several different types of makeup. People use lipstick to color their lips. Eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara all emphasize the eyes. Foundation and blush even out and accentuate the color of facial skin. There are other types of makeup, as well. For a more in-depth discussion, consult a cosmetologist.

Makeup can also refer to the composition of something. For example, the chemical makeup of something.

  • But there are limits to applying the Hawaii model to the rest of the nation, especially considering this state’s unique economy and political makeup. –The Washington Post

When to Use Make Up

definition of makeup definition of make up definitionWhat does make up mean? Make up is a verb phrase. It has several meanings. To make something up is to participate in an event that was postponed. It could also be to fabricate something or to invent something imaginary.

For example,

  • I need to make up a test that I missed last week, or I will not be able to graduate. (Complete something that was postponed)
  • Make up a template for these body routs so that we will be able to make clean, even cuts. (Create something)
  • I asked where he had been all day, but he just made up a story. (Fabricate a false event or story)

Here is another example of make-up being used to indicate the completion of something postponed.

  • With 20 confirmed cases of measles in New York City, now is a good time to check your children’s vaccination records, make up for any shots missed because of illness or travel and reconsider any stance your family might have taken on delaying or refusing vaccinations. –The New York Times

When this term is constructed as the hyphenated compound make-up, it becomes an adjective, like in the phrases make-up game or make-up test. These phrases describe events that had to be postponed, and are now taking place at a later date instead.

Also, make-up artist, make-up remover, make-up bag.

Trick to Remember the Difference

how do you spell makeupMakeup is a noun, while make up is a verb phrase. Which one you use depends on which part of speech you need.

Now, let’s go over a trick to keep track of make up vs. makeup. Since makeup is a compound noun, like the compound nouns takeout and kickoff, the construction of the word is you clue that makeup is a noun.


Is it makeup or make up? As with many compound nouns and phrasal verbs, these terms are only separated by a single space.

  • Makeup is a noun.
  • Make up is a verb phrase.

Their usage cases do not overlap; you can only use make up as a verb and makeup as a noun.