a powder, lotion, lipstick, rouge, or other preparation for beautifying the face, skin, hair, nails, etc.
cosmetics, superficial measures to make something appear better, more attractive, or more impressive:
The budget committee opted for cosmetics instead of a serious urban renewal plan.
serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face.
used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive, or more impressive:
Alterations in the concert hall were only cosmetic and did nothing to improve the acoustics.
Contemporary Examples

Research has shown that cosmetic procedures can enhance self-esteem.
Hey, Ashley Judd: I’m Puffy From Cosmetic Surgery—And Proud of It Samantha Marshall April 13, 2012

The term “cosmetic” is intentionally misleading: look at the brutality of these procedures.
Nicole Kidman Botox Insanity: Why All Women Lose Out When We Obsess Over Stars’ Faces Emma Woolf May 24, 2014

PG has been used in more than 4,000 food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products for more than 50 years.
Europeans Recall Fireball Whiskey Over a Sweetener Also Used in Antifreeze Tim Mak October 27, 2014

Around the world, more than 17 million cosmetic procedures take place every year.
Nicole Kidman Botox Insanity: Why All Women Lose Out When We Obsess Over Stars’ Faces Emma Woolf May 24, 2014

It was window dressing, a cosmetic front to a nefarious situation.
The Crimes of Guantánamo Tara McKelvey April 27, 2009

Historical Examples

The spirit is much esteemed in France as a stomachic, a cosmetic, and a stimulant.
Cooley’s Practical Receipts, Volume II Arnold Cooley

Frank went to the table and came back with the cosmetic set.
Deadly City Paul W. Fairman

Her complexion was like peaches and cream, and needed no cosmetic to enhance its charm.
Polly and Her Friends Abroad Lillian Elizabeth Roy

But she wore a minimum of come-hither in both her cosmetic and personality makeup.
Mate in Two Moves Winston Marks

To disguise himself the more effectually, he procured some hair-dye—a cosmetic known in all ages—and blackened himself.
Uarda, Complete Georg Ebers

any preparation applied to the body, esp the face, with the intention of beautifying it
serving or designed to beautify the body, esp the face
having no other function than to beautify: cosmetic illustrations in a book
(derogatory) designed to cover up a greater flaw or deficiency; superficial: their resignation is a cosmetic exercise

c.1600, “art of beautifying,” from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhne) “the art of dress and ornament,” from fem. of kosmetikos (see cosmetic (adj.)). Meaning “a preparation for beautifying” attested from 1640s (now often cosmetics).

1640s, from French cosmétique (16c.), from Greek kosmetikos “skilled in adornment or arrangement,” from kosmein “to arrange, adorn,” from kosmos “order” (see cosmos). Figurative sense of “superficial” is from 1955. Related: Cosmetically.

cosmetic cos·met·ic (kŏz-mět’ĭk)
A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application. adj.

Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.

Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity.

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