Can We Talk About How Weird Nail Varnish Names Are?

No, I don’t want my nails to be ‘blush-worthy’ or the colour of ‘after sex’

Can We Talk About How Weird Nail Varnish Names Are

by Lucy Morris |
Published on

For anyone who has ever taken a stroll around Boot’s beauty aisle and found a nail varnish that’s caught their eye and then turned it over and chuckled at its name, just know you’re not the only one. At first glance, it's your average bottle of red polish, but a quick look down and you realise you’re actually cradling ‘After Sex’ in your hands. In public. What you think is a dark burgundy is really ‘Wicked’ and what looks like a sophisticated lilac reveals itself to be a ‘Demure Vixen.’


Some names are funny and clever, like OPI’s ‘Brains & Bronze’ and ‘Act Your Beige’, but others seem so off-the-wall we’re not sure how the brand even came up with them. For instance, OPI also has a muted dusty pink called ‘Don’t Pretzel My Buttons’ and a tape called ‘Can’t Find My Czechbook’. Can someone please explain these bizarre monikers to us?

One lunchtime I had a quick scoot around my local Superdrug and Boots to see what the funniest names I could find were. Hands down, SensatioNail had the most ludicrous, salacious titles. From ‘I Sleek Bare Naked’ grey, to ‘Gimme Your Loot’ gold to ‘Peri-Wink Wink’ duck egg blue they were certifiably off-the-wall.

Keen to figure out if there are a bunch of comedians locked up in a basement somewhere continuously coming up with silly and sexy nail varnish names, I tapped up Barry M Cosmetic’s marketing manager for intel. ‘When planning and developing any product launch for Barry M, a lot of thought and creativity goes into the initial stages as we test and trial different formulas, hues and pigments until we are truly happy with the final product. The same can be said with naming a shade. It has to be 100% right for both the brand and our customer. As a fashion-led brand, we try to keep our names fun, engaging and on trend, that are most importantly, distinctly Barry M. We also love to embrace our team’s unique and original, creative flare; I don’t think there is anyone in the office who hasn’t named at least one shade which keeps things rather exciting!’ Caroline Dawe said.

Deborah Lippmann explained her eponymous brand's polish names come from song titles. She said: 'Singing is a passion of mine and this was a way to incorporate it into another important part of my daily life. When I was getting ready to launch my brand, figuring out how to name the shades, I considered the products that I personally buy. For me, as a consumer, I’m extremely visual but I also found that the name of a shade could make or break whether I bought a product or not. If the name didn’t match my perception of the shade, I would get confused and not buy it. I felt strongly that the names should evoke a feeling rather than a specific shade because we all see colour differently. Whether you know the song or not, the names are just fun! We all see colour differently and I didn't want to dictate to my customer my view of lacquer shades. I wanted it to be what it is for them.'

So, there you have it ‘Penut Butter Nude’, ‘Empire State of Mint’ and ‘Pinking Out Loud’ polish colours were probably the product of a coffee-fueled in-house brainstorming session on a Monday morning or the song that's been stuck in Deborah's head for weeks.

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Follow Lucy on Instagram @lucyalicemorris

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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