beauty · creativity · culture · fashion · translation

Cosmetics: Translating for a beautiful yet demanding industry


Dear all,

Another quick post between deadlines and amidst dreams of a holiday on a Greek island (not happening) or any other nice place even for just three days. Which translates to… I should be taking that much needed long break away from the computer screen.

I recently started working with a client in the beauty industry and I must admit I have often found myself surfing the net looking and cross-checking terms that obviously are to be found on beauty, fashion and make-up sites. IATE and Linguee excluded. The more I translate or review texts for a variety of beauty products, the more I realise how challenging and intriguing it is to recreate the wording in Greek.

These are the difficulties I encountered:

  • The Greek wording for beauty products tends to call for action orientated more towards emotion and a bit less on facts. Information is provided but it is kept to the basics. On the other hand, the description in Italian covers both aspects. On Italian fashion and beauty brand sites there seems to be more accuracy and details when describing a product, what its benefits are and how to make the best out of it, whereas Greek sites tend to focus a lot more on the result and the final impact. Maybe I am wrong but this is the vibe I am getting so far.
  • The writing style is quite different. Most Italian beauty sites express the concept of a product in a more formal tone than the sites in Greek. The Italian wording is clear, powerful and emotional but at the same time there is a lot of explaining. Nothing is missed. Actually there is sometimes “more” than necessary with repetitions that you will not find either on the English or Greek version of a given product.
  • Not all multilingual beauty sites are available in Greek. This means that some of the terms I look up are not always easily found and I need to go in various round about ways to determine the right or best possible translation. Good cosmetics sites include Maybelline, Pupa and Chanel.

And this is what I do:

  • Translate as accurately and as faithfully as possible by making sure that nothing is missed or overlooked while giving emphasis to rewriting the text as if it was written for the Greek audience. What sounds clear and neat in Italian could potentially sound “stiff” and even irrelevant in the target language. This is one pitfall one should be cautious of.
  • Mediate between the two writing styles, between the formal and more accurate way of the Italian source text and the more creative and capturing style that I know that people in Greece (or who read Greek) would expect to read.
  • Ask the client should something is not clear. This is a practice to follow in all cases anyway but it is always a pleasure to see that clients are willing to support a translator’s work.
  • Read more beauty and fashion sites in Greek and Italian and subscribe to interesting newsletters so that news from this industry get right into my inbox. Some valuable sites in Greek are MadameFigaro,,


Things you really enjoy doing can sometimes prove to be particularly demanding. There is a lot of beauty inside “difficult packages”, after all.


culture · freelancing

Some not-so-obvious pros of living and freelancing in Greece (compared to Italy)

One of the reasons I love Greece: The peripteron (περίπτερο)!


In a few days, I will be on a plane to Greece where I will continue to work throughout July and August. I’m super excited of going and here’s why.

1. To start with, I won’t be eating pizza and pasta everyday. Just joking. I don’t eat pizza or pasta everyday but one of the good things about food in Greece is that you can find cheap and good food anytime you want it if you don’t have time to cook. Good for you and for your children too and especially for freelancers. Even if I believe that people should cook their own food (especially if they have kids) unless they lead a really busy life, I’m exuberant for the fact that for at least during these two Summer months, I will be having OPTIONS when it comes to food. Gyros, souvlaki, ready home-made food, pizza and more. Needless to mention that in Greece, pizza is almost as popular as Greek fast food whereas in Italy – should you require to find Greek fast food – you would need to travel many kilometres to find a place that sells Gyros. But, there’s always the Kebab alternative!

2. The PERIPTERON!! The peripteron is a glorious invention. It’s open all day and night and it has everything. Croissants, milk, books, baby toys. Something that you will not find in Italy. The kiosk version in Italy here sells only newspapers, magazines and toys. No food and no drinks! I will tell you a joke. I remember a friend of mine, who – funny thing – has been living in Italy for ages. One evening, we were in the car together in Milan and she stopped the car scouring a kiosk to locate…the fridge to buy a bottle of water! Her daughter brought her to her senses by saying “mom, you are not in Greece…”. If you live in Italy and want milk at 10pm, you would need to take your car and go to a mall. Provided they don’t close by 9pm. Which translates to…doing your shopping by 7.30pm. Italy has a kind of routine that entraps you time-wise. Not a positive thing for freelancers! However, the situation is changing because lots of “bars” in Italy are now being managed by the Chinese which keep the place open until late. In Italy, a “bar” is a place where you can sit and drink coffee and have a snack during the day and they sometimes sell cigarettes and other useful things.

3. Hearing the Greek language. A major thing for my child who doesn’t get the opportunity to listen to Greek outside the house AND especially with other kids. While in Greece, I will not have to switch into Italian the way I do here when we are interacting with Italian speakers. However, I will be using Italian ..when I want to say something that “stays between us”! 🙂

4. Talking to the people. It’s nice to be able to converse with people in your native tongue once in a while. I find that the conversation flows more naturally and that there’s more spontaneity. Even if I have been living in Italy for many years and I have adapted here like a chameleon, I don’t consider myself exactly integrated into the Italian lifestyle and mentality. It’s like I have two social versions of me, two projected selves, “switching” from one culture to the other completely harmlessly (trust me, there are many differences between Italy and Greece which are not easily spotted by an untrained eye).

5. The Greek sky, sea and sun. Oh yeah. It’s different. Well, I guess if you live in Sardinia, in Italy you witness a natural beauty which is almost identical to the one in Greece but Sardinia is not Italy. Greece, however, is like that all over the place with some minor variations of course. There’s no harsh difference between the North and South of Greece like in Italy. There are many Italies. Milan is another planet compared to Sicily. Trento has nothing to do with Calabria. But go to Thessaloniki and Athens or Nafplio and Nafpaktos and Chios and the Peloponnese and you will see that these places share a “common” sky, sea and sun.

6. All those things I will bring back provided they fit into the luggage – namely Glyko karydaki, masticha chewing gum,  dried oregano – and the things I will enjoy while there. I will open a parenthesis here. There are many Greek (and other foreign) brands I can’t find in Italy. However, in Greece, Italian brands have entered the market and they are very popular and highly esteemed. But there’s more. The Greeks tend to “hellenise” some products of Italian origin in a way that they become part of the Greek culture. They become Greek losing their Italian identity and function. I will give you the best example for this. Coffee. Greeks have created some interesting varieties of cold coffee (based on the tradition of the Greek frappé) and they have given those coffee types ….Italian-like names i.e. “freddocino“. Freddocino is a Greek invention. Click here to find out more about it. If you try order it in Italy, they won’t know what you are talking about. Italians usually drink hot espresso or cappuccino all year long. There’s of course caffè shakerato but it’s not as widely used as frappé).

That’s all!

a presto
(or shall I say απρέστο;)