17 Beauty Brand Names We've Been Totally Wrong About

OPI, MAC, Nyx, SK-II: These are cosmetics brands we use — and love! — every day. Yet most of us couldn't tell you what in the world those names actually stand for. In fact, in researching this story, even our most seasoned beauty editors were shocked to find out the true meaning of the acronym ghd. And OPI pretty much blew our minds. Meanwhile, some were still a mystery even to the people working for the brand. (Oops.)
Ahead, find 17 companies with more to their names than meets the eye. Go ahead and take your best guesses — and prepare to be surprised.
1 of 34
You've seen the brand all over YouTube — maybe you even have one (or two, or three) the brand's cult Pro Palettes on your vanity. But did you know the brand's name was created on a whim at a party?
2 of 34
Not to be confused with a palindrome (a word that reads the same forward and backward), a semordnilap is a word or phrase that forms another word when the letters are reversed. "At a family holiday party at Lorac founder and celebrity makeup artist Carol Shaw's house, Carol's uncle came up with the name 'Lorac' — Carol's first name spelled backwards," says Lorac lead artist Dean Fournier. "At the time, Carol was working with Demi Moore and ran a few name choices by her. Demi liked Lorac and Carol went with it."
3 of 34
You've likely lost count of how many times you've walked through Sephora's black-and-white striped doors. But have you ever stopped to think about what its name actually means?
4 of 34
Well, get ready to go back — way back. A publicist for the brand explains that "Sephora" is a combination of the name "Zipporah," the wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus who was renowned for her exceptional beauty, and "sephosis," the Greek term attributed to beauty and vanity. (Makes sense, doesn't it?)
5 of 34
You likely started using this brand's lip glosses in high school. So, here's a pop quiz for you: What does Stila actually mean?
6 of 34
If you guessed that it's a derivative of the Italian word "stilare," which means "to pen," then A+ to you, friend. The name comes from the brand's ethos: “The right makeup can turn even the simplest look into a statement as authentic as your signature." This eyeliner's the perfect example.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, $22, available at Sephora.
7 of 34
This one truly stumped our beauty editors, who all thought Ciaté was simply a cute name for a nail-polish brand.
8 of 34
Wrong. It's an acronym that stands for "Colour, Innovation, Aspiration, Trend, and Extraordinary." You try fitting that on a tiny label.

Ciaté Nail Polish in Geology, $17, available at Ciaté.
9 of 34
No idea? Hint: The name of this brand is "rooted" in the tree in the logo. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)
10 of 34
Nuxe is actually a combination of the words "natural" and "luxury," which couldn't describe this cult French brand any better.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil, $26.10, available at Feel Unique.
11 of 34
Urban Decay
Here's a fun experiment. Google "Urban Decay" and check out the image results.
12 of 34
No, you won't find swatches of Half Baked shadow. Instead, you'll likely see a collection of post-apocalyptic crumbling buildings. That's because "Urban Decay" is actually defined as "the decay and deterioration of an urban area due to neglect or age." A little weird for a makeup brand, no?

UD agrees, crediting this crazy (and now wildly famous) name to its cofounder Sandy Lerner's former husband. "Everyone was saying it had to be named 'Urban' something. Sandy’s husband, who’s totally 'Mr. Computer Scientist' — they invented the router and started Cisco Systems together — just said one day, 'Oh, why don't you call it Urban Decay?' and the name just stuck," says cofounder Wende Zomnir.

Urban Decay Naked Palette, $54, available at Sephora.
13 of 34
You very well might use this nail-polish brand regularly, yet when asked what it stands for...
14 of 34
Our guess is you won't be able to rattle off Odontorium Products Inc. Huh?

With shade names as innovative and catchy as OPI's, we have to say we were a bit shocked to learn the acronym's true meaning. The clinical-sounding name comes from the fact that the brand started as a dental-equipment company. Who knew?

OPI Nail Lacquer in Big Apple Red, $10.50, available at Ulta.
15 of 34
The name alone has the power to spark frenzy and mile-long waiting lists.
16 of 34
And its meaning is simple: Make-up Art Cosmetics. But now that we all know the truth, can we agree to stop saying the redundant phrase "MAC Cosmetics," ASAP?
17 of 34
Beauty editors go bonkers for ghd flat irons, but — truth be told — we were shocked when we discovered the brand's full name at a recent launch event.
18 of 34
Good hair day. But it makes sense, doesn't it?

ghd Classic 1" Styler, $149, available at Ulta.
19 of 34
Cate Blanchett bathes in the stuff — and we're equally obsessed. But in the words of Justin Bieber, "What do you mean?"
20 of 34
Shhh: It's "Secret Key." The name references Pitera, the brand's hero product for skin-brightening that was discovered at a sake brewery in Japan.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $179, available at Sephora.
21 of 34
Clé De Peau Beauté
This brand shares a similar theme...
22 of 34
In French, the name translates as "the key to beautiful skin." (In the case of its flawless brand ambassador Amanda Seyfried, it's that and great genes.)

Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Fluid Foundation, SPF 24, $125, available at Nordstrom.
23 of 34
Drugstore-beauty lovers, hold on to your hats — this one might actually shock you.
24 of 34
Nyx doesn't, in fact, stand for anything — so stop pronouncing it "N-y-x." Nyx (sounds like "nicks") is named after the Greek goddess of night — which is entirely appropriate given the line's massive assortment of rich, evening-friendly makeup.

Nyx Matte Lipstick, $6 each, available at Nyx.
25 of 34
Given that this is a brand known for its exceptional cleansers, its meaning was staring us right in the face.
26 of 34
Ren = "clean" in Swedish. This cleanser is our favorite for achieving just that.

Ren Micro Polish Cleanser, $30, available at Nordstrom.
27 of 34
Although the brand has been hit with recent controversy, owner and hairstylist Chaz Dean stands by its cleansing conditioners.
28 of 34
When launching the company, he took the word "new," flipped it backwards, and came up with Wen. Plus, he liked that it sounded like "zen." (We can't make this stuff up.)

Wen Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner, $32, available at Chaz Dean.
29 of 34
If you're a hot-tool junkie and have been itching to know the meaning behind T and 3, we have sort of bad news...
30 of 34
No one knows. When asked, the brand couldn't pinpoint its origins. But would a flat iron by any other name make our hair as smooth?!
31 of 34
You freak out over every collection, and have the lipstick shades memorized by heart.
32 of 34
And if you're a true fan, you know it's the namesake of genius founder François Nars. (Who happens to have his own island, if that's any incentive to start a beauty empire.)

Nars Laguna Bronzing Powder, $40, available at Sephora.
33 of 34
This hair-care line, developed by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, hits shelves in 2016 — and its name is a bit of a puzzle. But that's just the way Atkin likes it. "I wanted you to be at a lunch with your friend, and they mispronounce it and you say, 'No, it's Ouai,'" Atkin said at the launch event. (Say it with us now: "WAY.")
34 of 34
The actual meaning? It comes from the French word "ouais," which is a casual way of saying "yes," like "yep" or "yup." Atkin dropped the “s” to make it look Hawaiian, which reflects her island upbringing.

More from Makeup