We all have our favorite beauty brands that we’re loyal to and use every single day. But have you ever stopped mid-mascara application and wondered just who is this Maybelline girl that makes my lashes look so great? Us too. We uncovered the stories behind some of our favorite brands' names and learned what their acronyms actually stand for. Shockingly, many have little to do with actual makeup. Read on to learn the surprising and fascinating histories of ten beloved cosmetic brands and add whole new meaning to your go-to products.
Many of this brand’s products have cult followings, and its shades are often given provocative names, but if you’ve ever questioned how Nars's name came to be, we’re here to help. It’s the last name of the brains behind the products, legendary makeup artist and photographer François Nars.
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, $26; narscosmetics.com
Shiseido is not only one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world, founded in 1872, it’s also one of the oldest. The origin of the Japanese brand's name is just as historic, and comes from the Chinese Yi Jing (Book of Changes in English), an ancient divination manual that’s part of the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism. It’s the perfect fit for the brand’s East-meets-West philosophy on products.
Shiseido IBUKI Softening Concentrate, $24; shiseido.com
3. NYX Cosmetics
NYX, pronounced ‘niks’—if you’ve always fought with your friends over how to say it—references the Greek goddess of night that symbolized beauty and power. Not too different from the line’s vibrant, high-pigmented color offerings and long-lasting formulas.
NYX Cosmetics Soft Matte Lip Cream, $6 each; nyxcosmetics.com
Our trips to the nail salon and DIY manicures wouldn’t be the same without Essie’s chip-resistant formula and rainbow of covetable shades. The story behind the line of polishes is pretty simple: It’s the namesake of founder Essie Weingarten.
Essie Bikini So Teeny Nail Polish, $9; ulta.com
5. Maybelline New York
In 1915 Mabel Williams mixed coal dust and Vaseline together and applied it to her eyelashes and brows to make them darker and fuller—and the rest is eyelash history. Inspired by her concoction, her chemist brother created Maybell Laboratories. He eventually changed the name to Maybelline, based on her name and the Vaseline she used in her mixture.
Maybelline New York Great Lash, $5; target.com
If you’re skin’s sensitive, chances are you’ve relied on an Aveeno product at some point to sooth irritated and inflamed areas. The brand’s name comes from the scientific name for the common oat and avena sativa, which is an active ingredient in all of the company’s products.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion $6; target.com
7. MAC Cosmetics
No one does special collections and collaborations like MAC, which stands for Makeup Art Cosmetics. The company was started by two makeup artists in Toronto, Canada and was initially aimed at industry professionals before it became available to the rest of us—and began sparking mile-long waitlists.
MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $17; maccosmetics.com
8. Lancôme Paris
The origin of Lancôme’s name comes from an unlikely place: ruins of a French castle, Château de Lancosme that founder Armand Petitjean visited on vacation. The yellow flowers at the site also served as inspiration for iconic flower emblem that’s become synonymous with the brand and its products.
Lancôme Miracle Cushion Foundation, $47; lancome-usa.com
GHD makes some of the most efficient hair tools on the market that are favored by many industry stylists, so it’s only fitting the British company’s name is an acronym for “good hair day.”
GHD Platinum Styler, $249; ghdhair.com
Surprisingly, OPI’s name has nothing to do with nails. The company was formerly known as Odontorium Products Inc., and manufactured dental supply products before completely focusing on nails, which is a pretty bland history compared to their infamously creative shade names.
OPI Nail Polish in Lincoln Park After Dark, $10; ulta.com