Have you ever stopped and stared at that jar of moisturizer you’re about to apply, and wondered what the brand’s name means? Some are more obvious, like the dozens of eponymous brands launched by celebrities, as well as their makeup artists and aestheticians. Others, however, lend themselves to a bit of mystery, which we wanted to uncover. These are the meanings behind some of the most popular beauty brands in the industry today.
“I grew up in LA and I live not too far from the beach,” says founder and CEO Amy Liu. “Tower 28 is a real lifeguard tower at the intersection of Santa Monica and Venice. The reason why I named the brand that is because to me, the beach is this place where everybody gets to enjoy a clean and healthy lifestyle.
And you see every kind of person. Santa Monica and Venice are so different from each other. At that particular intersection, you can look direction and see the drumming circles and the person getting a tattoo—it’s a whole vibe. And then you look the other direction and it’s like double jogger strollers. I’ve always loved the people-watching at that particular moment.”
Oribe (pronounced OR-bay) Hair Care was named after sought-after celebrity hairstylist Oribe Canales. “He was famous for creating the sexy, big, beautiful hair that became synonymous with the rise of the 90’s supermodel,” says Andreea Disconescu, the brand’s chief marketing and growth officer. “Canales’ work graced the runways of nearly every well-known designer and the covers of major fashion magazines worldwide, as well as countless international ad campaigns and commercials.
With over 40 years of editorial and hairdressing experience, Canales brought his exceptional blend of glamour, dedication, and spirit to the brand he helped found in 2008 with Oribe Hair Care president Daniel Kaner. The two partnered to create a line that would live up to Canales’ high-performance standards. They crafted every detail from scratch, from the formulations to the fragrance to the design.”
“Well, I fell in love at first application with marula oil,” says Tiffany Masterson, brand founder and chief creative officer. “It easily absorbed into my skin and made it feel nourished and balanced without feeling greasy. To learn more about it, I googled the term ‘marula’ and a video came up showing elephants and other animals stumbling around in Africa, appearing tipsy after eating fermented marula fruit that had fallen from the trees. It was a really cute video, and it felt like a relief from all the seriousness involved in developing a skin-care line. I’m no doctor and I’m not French, and I didn’t want to name it ‘Tiffany Masterson.'”
When Drunk Elephant popped into my head, I started asking others what they thought. Not everyone liked it for a skin-care line, but everyone thought it was a cute name and a very ‘me’ name. It also felt right in my gut, so I went with it. If I was going to fail, I thought I may as well find out immediately by being myself. For the first year, there were people who tried to get me to change the name. It’s hardworking, serious skin care with a whimsical name and happy, bright packaging—something that didn’t exist at the time. I’m so happy today that I didn’t listen to the pushback because I do think it’s memorable and that it creates an immediate curiosity and interest!”
“The StriVectin name is reflective of our very first product released as a brand,” says June Risser, general manager of premium skincare for Crown Laboratories, the brand’s parent company. “StriVectin comes from ‘striae distensae’—aka stretch marks—because our first product was the iconic stretch mark cream turned anti-wrinkle phenomenon called StriVectin-SD, launched over 20 years ago. The brand is pronounced ‘stri-VEC-tin’—the syllables rhyme with eye, neck and chin—which are the three key categories our products target to enhance skin.”
“Kosas is named for the five koshas or ‘layers of self’ and the idea that our physical appearance is a manifestation of who we truly are on the inside,” says founder Sheena Zadeh-Daly. “To me, beauty is a feeling in your gut. It’s that unique relationship between you and you and it’s finding what makes you feel alive and feel good.“
“Upon the brand’s creation, founder Vicky Tsai and our team searched for a word that would stand alone in elegant simplicity, yet be substantial enough to convey the passion for the ancient beauty traditions that inspired the collection and the modern science used to perfect the formulations,” says Kylene Campos, chief marketing officer for Tatcha.
“We turned to nature for inspiration, specifically to ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Each branch, leaf and flower is painstakingly selected and placed harmoniously with one another and with nature. The oldest, most formal interpretation of ikebana is a minimalist practice known as tatehana, which translates from Japanese as ‘standing flower.’ It features a stunning single stem positioned alone in the center of a vessel, honoring the bloom’s inherently beautiful essence and intrinsic glamour. Another word that resonated deeply was chabana: arrangements created for use as part of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Tatcha was born from combining the first three letters of each of these deep-rooted phrases. Today, our approach to luxury is informed by these floral timeless disciplines because they honor the Japanese appreciation for the beauty found in simplicity. The combination also mimics the sound of an exhale, simulating the feeling of calm and relaxation that we like to impart on our clients.”
“Though we’re technically a K-beauty brand and our formulas are rooted in Korean heritage and technology, the name Laneige is French for ‘The Snow.’ This signifies our philosophy that hydration is the key to healthy, happy skin,” says Jordyn Levison, senior marketing manager.
“Our mission is to help women and men gain confidence through falling in love with their skin again, so TULA is all about pairing clean and effective ingredients with powerful probiotic extracts for healthy, balanced, glowing skin,” says founder Dr. Roshini Raj. “Our name reflects this, as TULA means ‘balance’ in Sanskrit.”
“Éminence was created as a result of a dream to deliver high-quality, organic skin care,” says brand president Boldijarre Koronczay. “My family and I researched English words meaning ‘best in class’ and ‘best of its kind.’ We knew right away when we found the word ‘Éminence’ that this was the one.”
“In Latin, EADEM means ‘all,’ or ‘the same,’ and we chose it as a reflection of the bond that people of color have with one another,” says cofounder Marie Kouadio Amouzame. “Our brand always comes back to being a celebration of those commonalities, by shining a light on our unique histories.
While Alice and I come from much different backgrounds—I was born in Côte d’Ivoire and raised in Paris, and Alice is a first-generation Taiwanese American—over the years we’ve come to find that we actually have more similarities than we do differences. With EADEM, we wanted to build a community that challenges the conventional beauty conversation while lending a microphone to people of color and amplifying those stories.”
According to Hubert d’Ornano’s book Boundless Beauty, he states the following: “Sisley is the name of a British impressionist painter, Alfred Sisley (1839- 1899). It is also the name of the global brand that I developed with Isabelle. Two of my former colleagues, Roland de Saint-Vincent and Jean-François Laporte had chosen the name Sisley to start a small plant-based cosmetic business.
Two years later they came to see me for financial assistance, which I gave willingly. However, in 1976, I bought back their shares. With my experience and expertise in cosmetics, I made a new start.”
According to the brand: “For Jennifer Aniston, the brand name has a special and personal significance, as a number of her friends affectionately refer to her as ‘Lola.’ To Jen, Lola represents confidence, fearlessness and empowerment. She owns who she is, believes in herself, and does things her way. She’s confident and sexy. She knows what she wants and goes for it.”
“I started ILIA in 2011, out of my parents’ garage,” says founder Sasha Plavsic. “‘ILIA’ is an homage to my great-grandfather, a celebrated shoemaker in Belgrade who was known for his exquisite craftsmanship. Though traditionally used for a man’s name in Slavic culture, I felt it had a feminine feel. The balance of masculine and feminine, with a certain simplicity, speaks to the pragmatic ethos of the brand.”
“FLORA + BAST is a nod to the cannabis plant and its various uses throughout history as both a medicinal herb and industrial material,” says Derek Chase, brand president. “‘Flora signifies flower, and ‘bast’ signifies fiber. Bast fiber is the part of the plant used for making materials like paper.”
“Epionce is rooted in skin barrier health,” says brand founder and clinical dermatologist Carl R. Thornfeldt, MD. “Our name is a play on ‘epidermis’ and ‘once’—one chance for a healthy epithelium.”
“We were looking for a French name connected to our wine-making roots,” says founder Mathilde Thomas. “Caudalie is a wine term that refers to the unit of measurement for the time the flavors of a wine linger on the palate after tasting it.”
“Iris is my mom’s name. The Iris flower also has three petals that symbolize faith, valor and wisdom, which are the qualities a woman needs most on her path to becoming,” says founder Michele Gough Baril. “Romeo was my former horse. At the height of my career in the beauty industry, I became burned out, so I moved with Romeo—a retired racehorse—to my friend’s old dairy farm in Northern California. He helped me find my center again, and decided I wanted to create my own brand that spoke to women differently.”
According to the brand, the name Guerlain dates back to the first founder. “Guerlain was founded in 1828, when Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain opened his first boutique in Paris. Trained as a doctor and chemist, he enjoyed immediate success thanks to his revolutionary work, which led to many innovative firsts.
In 1936, Guerlain created the very first bullet-shaped lipsticks, which was a breakthrough in design for its one-hand gesture and mechanism. The bullet form lipstick went on to become the most popular format in the industry.”