How do you choose your lipstick shade?

Friday, 8 June 2012

How do you choose your lipstick shade?What draws you to your favourite lipstick? Is it the colour, the packaging or the smell? According to new research many of us are subconsciously swayed by the name on the bottom of the product. A study found those bearing a moniker relating to food and sex were most popular with consumers with Triple Chocolate Parfait and Hot Mama outselling classic nude pinks or reds.

During the recession many cosmetics brands have had to be more imaginative in the labeling department in a bid to set themselves apart.

MAC make-up boasts a spectrum of colours including Creme in your Coffee, High Tea, Popcorn and Reel Sexy while Bobbi Brown offers Salmon, Desert Plum and Rum Raisin.

Lead author Professor Debra Merskin, from the University of Oregon, said: ‘The findings show, beyond simple colour names, that most of the lipsticks are named after food, beverages, sex, and romance. The American cultural imperative of beauty prompts many women to doubt their self-worth and keeps attainment of the beauty ideal just out of reach.’

During the study titled ‘Truly Toffee and Raisin Hell: A Textual Analysis of Lipstick Names’ Prof Merskin categorised the names of 1,722 lipsticks from 52 national brands in order to ‘understand how meaning is constructed through lipstick naming’.

Food related shades were most popular while variants named after birds and animals were least sought-after.

Prof Merskin added: ‘Sugared Plum, Double Fudge, Vanilla Brownie and Raspberry Glace sound like temptations from a dessert cart, but instead these luscious sounding treats are names of lipstick shades. Estee Lauder‘s advertisements for its Clinique brand, for example, invite women to taste ‘deliciously sheer’ shades such as Rich Cherry. Other advertisements invite the wearer to experience “seduction”, be a “tramp”, or “X-pose” herself.’

What the most popular lipstick shades are related to:

Food: 24%
Colour: 20%
Sex and Romance: 10%
Elements and Minerals: 9%
Emotions and Characteristics: 8%
Other: 8%
People and Names: 5%
Flowers: 5%
Places: 4%
Objects: 3%
Dark side: 2%
Arts and Media: 1%
Birds and Animals: 1%
Times and Seasons: <1%

Originally written by Sadie Whitelocks, this article appeared on The Daily Mail.


Other articles you may be interested in:
Different types of lip products
Find the perfect red lipstick
Achieve the perfect winter lip
Pink pout
Your party lips

Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

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  1. Jeanine

    Such a fun article! Just looked at all my lipsticks and had a little laugh

    5 years ago •

  1. Kariwo

    lol! That’s very interesting because I am realising my current favourite is called Colour crush and there is a berry red that i also love.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sue1N

    I think your lipstick colour says a lot about your personality. I also think that a nice darker shade can pick up your mood a bit. Especially when it feels good and taste good on your lips.

    6 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    I never thought about this but how very interesting. Clever marketing.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    I love the more natural colours like brown, peach and pink

    6 years ago •

  1. ProMakeupMe

    Wow, very interesting stats! I would never have guessed that food would rate higher that things like Sex & Romance OR Emotions & Characteristics

    6 years ago •

  1. JamieBaby

    I have always been a fan of browns and natural colours however I like a shocking pink or red lip!!

    7 years ago •

  1. Riekie

    I prefer the more pale lipsticks, but does the bold and bright lips now and again, especially reds with a tint of orange for my skin-tone

    7 years ago •

  1. Antoinette Naidoo

    I always go for natural colours or pink

    7 years ago •

  1. Lorraine

    Good Advice. I like pink and brown shades.

    7 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    informative article and my favourites are pink rose shades

    7 years ago •

  1. Smeda

    My shades depends on the colour of my clothes

    7 years ago •

  1. Guccigirl

    Packaging and smell play a bigger role than I thought. I’m totally hooked on Anna Sui’s rose scented lipsticks.

    7 years ago •

  1. anisha

    I believe that red lips can perk up anyones day and IS flattering on all skin tones

    7 years ago •

  1. CharlieW

    Nice read! I just recently decided that I will dare to wear red. I’ve always opted for a more natural lip, but I like the confidence that the red lips give me :)

    7 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    its just so difficult to pick which shade of lipstick to buy these days so why not make it simple and go with names. great idea by the cosmetics houses

    7 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    that does make sense lol! thinking about it actually i do that too the first thing i want to know is what the lipstick is called! wow

    7 years ago •

  1. Orsmond

    I’m very lucky, with my skin tone, majority of colours suit me. Interesting article

    7 years ago •

  1. Mpbutterfly

    Interesting article. I rarely where lipstick and mostly use gloss as I am never sure which color suits me.

    7 years ago •

  1. honey_child

    Great article…I love natural colours!

    7 years ago •

  1. Visagie

    Great article. I love browns and nude colours.

    7 years ago •

  1. vos

    Great article, still searching for the perfect lipstick shade but after reading this article I’m sure ill find it soon:-)

    7 years ago •

  1. Debsie

    Interesting. I dont like a to dark lipstick.

    7 years ago •

  1. Smal

    Great Article – My absolute favourite is and will always be a gorgeous and striking red lip!

    7 years ago •

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