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Research Says Women Tend to Choose Lipstick Shades Named After Food and Sex

By Kim Anne Jun 7, 2012 7:28PM


We’ve never really sat down and pondered the concept of what prompts us to choose our lipstick shades, but a recent study makes us think.

In a new study, called "Truly Toffee and Raisin Hell: A Textual Analysis of Lipstick Names,” Professor Debra Merskin dives into some heavy research on why women choose certain lipsticks over others. Merskin studied the names of 1,722 lipsticks of 52 national brands, discovering that the names of the lipsticks tend to have a theme.  

As it turns out, lipsticks named after food, color and sex are the top three most popular.

Here’s the professor’s stats of the most popular ways to name lipstick:
•     Food: 24%

•     Color: 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%

•     Darkside: 2%

•     Arts and Media: 1%

•     Birds and Animals: 1%

•     Times and Seasons: <1%

“The findings show, beyond simple color names, that most of the lipsticks are named after food, beverages, sex, and romance,” Merskin writes. “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. Understanding how meaning is constructed through lipstick naming is an important step toward apprehending the role of cosmetics in conflating femininity, self-esteem, and body image with the goals of patriarchal hegemony.”

Tell us: Do you choose your lipstick based on the name?

Photo: Paul Burley Photography/Getty Images


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