Gone are the days when the only names given to blushes are things like "peony" or "dusty rose." We are living in a post-NARS Orgasm world and brands are constantly pushing the envelope and the boundaries of good taste.
At the same time, beauty fans are taking to blogs and social media to call out companies when names go too far. Here are the nine beauty product retail names that roiled up controversy — and it seems sort of on-brand that Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics is the latest company to roll out some questionable product names.
Kylie Jenner's blush collection drop in March had its share of risque names (like X-Rated and Virginity), but Barely Legal is what caused the angry tweets. There's the whole she's-just-18 thing, and then Twitter users brought up Kylie's young fans. Despite it all, Barely Legal is still available online at Kylie Cosmetics.
Debuting almost 20 years ago, Nars's beloved best-selling blush is one of the the original controversial product names. “We launched Orgasm in 1999 with no real expectations. I actually first created the name, then the shade — I wanted something shocking,” founder François Nars told Allure about Orgasm’s beginnings. “At the time, I was naming blushes after sensations and feelings; we had Desire and Amour, so I thought, Why not Orgasm? I wanted people to remember the names. But the shade of Orgasm is also special: It suits all skin tones.”
Kat Von D is no stranger to borderline offensive product names, but she refused to apologize in 2015 for a lipstick called Underage Red. In an impassioned Facebook note, Kat said that the name represented her teenage days when she couldn’t get into concerts and that it wasn’t sexualizing minors.
“So, NO. I refuse to sacrifice my integrity and creative freedom. NO. I will not be pulling "Underage Red" from my collection. And NO. This is not an apology,” she said. You can still buy the shade at Sephora, along with another controversial shade, a chestnut rose called Lolita. Kat did pull a beige shade called Celebutard in 2013 after a chorus of complaints.
MAC has a scandal of its own with the product name "Underage," thanks to a baby pink lip gloss that caused a stir in 2015. But years before that, MAC learned the hard way that creating a beauty collection themed around a drug war is not going to be well-received. In 2010, the brand teamed up with the designers behind Rodarte for a "Juarez" collection inspired by female Mexican factory workers. The collab’s ghostly campaign and a bloody-looking blush called Bordertown creeped out many bloggers and shoppers, leading MAC to cancel the line before its launch after the outcry.
What in the world was indie brand Colourpop thinking in 2016 when it released contouring sticks and named the deepest shades Typo and Yikes. Compare that to lighter shades named things like Gummy Bear. After a boycott, Colourpop changed the names and apologized.
Edgy names are Urban Decay's thing (the brand name itself is edgy), but calling an eyeshadow Druggie this year in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis hit a nerve. The Change.org petition reads: "When you associate the word 'Druggie' with an eyeshadow palette that is intended (or at least marketed as) a "night out" palette, you are glamorizing drug use. This is not okay." Sephora tweeted an apology, but the palette with the Druggie shade is still available for sale on Urban Decay's website. Other controversial UD shades include a deep red called Gash and a soft lavendar called Asphyxia.
Two Faced's cult favorite Better Than Sex mascara, released in 2015, makes a bold claim. We're guessing this one is meant to be worn with Orgasm blush?
It's hard to believe that just four years ago, a haircare line thought it was ok to give its products culturally insensitive names like Miso Knotty Detangler and Geishalicious Shampoo. "Wash that racism out of your hair," bloggers demanded, and Cibu phased out product names that were insensitive to Asian Americans.
In 2010, indie nail polish brand BleachBlack decided to call an irridescent green color "Dickweed." That's plenty ridiculous, but it's tamer than another BleachBlack color with an NSFW name. PS: Illamasqua has a similar color with a similar NSFW name. These are the beauty product names that we're hesitant to Google on a work computer.
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