What your favourite beauty brand names actually mean.

Image: Supplied.

You may use MAC, OPI, Maybelline, a bit of SK-II and of course your trusty GHD almost every day, but have you ever wondered (to quote a wise guy called Shakespeare) what’s in a name?

Yes, while you can probably name every eyeshadow in their range, do you actually know anything about what the brand’s name actually mean? Refinery 29 posed the question that had never even crossed our mind – and even the beauty obsessed among us won’t know them all.


Sorry to break it to you, buy anyone who says ‘MAC Cosmetics’ has been saying it wrong. That’s because it stands for Makeup Art Cosmetics, making that extra ‘cosmetics’ totally redundant. Who knew?


Founded in 1882, your trusty skincare brand is probably older than you think – and its name has an ancient meaning too. It’s derived from the Latin word “nix, nivis,” which means ‘white as snow’ which refers to the company’s first major product, the pure white NIVEA Creme.


Their polish names may be seriously catchy but the full brand name? It’s more on the serious side. While we were all guessing things like ‘Opulent Polish Inc’, the reality is a lot less out there. It actually stands for the company’s full name ‘Odontorium Products Inc’. Try saying that fast 10 times.

Another fun fact? OPI actually started out as a dental brand, before its polishes took off and they ditched teeth care permanently. Our OPI colour pick? The ultimate summer shade in Where Did Suzi’s Man-go ($19.95) (Watch: Can’t be bothered with the fuss of a lipstick AND lipliner? We’ve found the perfect solution. Post continues after video.)



Proof that your go-to straighteners really are hair lifesavers, the leading haircare brand GHD actually stands for Good Hair Day. Yes, we’re completely serious.


Founded in 1913, Maybelline is named after creator Thomas William’s sister. According to the brand, Maybel used to use petroleum jelly on her lashes and brows to impress the man she was in love. The only problem? He was in love with someone else. (Post continues after gallery.)

Chemist Williams whipped up some carbon dust to mix with her Jelly mix to darken her lashes and increase her allure. And a highly successful cosmetics brand named after her was formed.


The meaning behind the Japanese cult brand’s name is top secret… literally. It stands for ‘Secret Key’ which is what the skincare line was originally going to be called as the scientists were on a quest to find the ‘secret key’ to crystal clear skin. In their research, they found the answer by surprise.

Observing workers at a sake brewery, they noticed that while the elderly workers had wrinkled faces, their hands were smooth and youthful looking – after being constantly submerged in the yeast fermentation process. They discovered this was due to a natural by-product called Pitera, which is a key ingredient in the brand’s products. Our pick? The Stempower Moisturiser ($130).  (Post continues after gallery.)


In 1907, L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller created the first hair dye formula which he called L’Auréale after a fashionable hairstyle at the time called L’Auréole meaning ‘halo’. The spelling was later changed to the name we know it as today.


A favourite brand for bright colours and products at affordable prices, while we had it down as another acronym to crack, Nyx (pronounced like ‘nicks’) is actually named after the Greek goddess of night. Another reason to scrub up on our ancient mythology knowledge perhaps?

How many did you know?