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Who names nail polish colors?

Who names nail polish colors?

Nail polish colors have some of the most creative and unique names out there. From playful monikers like “Bubble Bath” to evocative shades like “Vampire Kiss,” nail lacquer hues never cease to amuse and delight. But have you ever wondered who comes up with these catchy polish names? The naming process involves collaboration between nail polish brands, trend forecasters, color experts, and marketing professionals. There’s more strategy behind it than you might think. Keep reading to find out exactly who names your favorite nail colors and how they select just the right handle.

The Nail Polish Brand

Ultimately, the nail polish brand itself holds responsibility for naming its lacquer shades. Popular brands like OPI, Essie, and Sally Hansen have entire teams dedicated to color naming. These in-house experts brainstorm ideas that fit the brand’s image and style. They aim for names that will grab consumer attention and properly convey a polish’s finish, texture, and personality. For example, a dark vampy red for OPI might be called “Blood Bath” while a similar shade for the more whimsical Essie brand could be dubbed “Wicked.” The brand has final say over all color names before they hit store shelves.

Trend Forecasters

While nail brands internally develop color names, they also rely heavily on trend forecasters. These professionals analyze up-and-coming fashion, consumer preferences, cultural shifts, and color trends. They use this data to predict which nail polish colors and color stories will resonate with target audiences in upcoming seasons. Forecasters recommend color palettes and naming themes to nail brands based on their research. They may suggest a grouping of earthy neutral polishes for fall with names referencing nature like “Forest Floor” and “Autumn Leaf.” Or breezy pastels for spring with names like “Beach Day” and “Cloud Nine.” Brands frequently accept trend forecaster guidance when conceptualizing seasonal collections.

Color Experts

Color experts are also integral to nail polish naming. They have an innate understanding of color theory, context, and psychology. These specialists know which types of monikers best match each polish’s unique shade and finish. For example, jewel-toned colors often take elegant, gem-inspired names like “Ruby Slippers” or “Amethyst Jewel.” Meanwhile, bright creams and shimmers work well with punchy, descriptive titles like “Sunshine Sparkle” and “Electric Daisy.” Color experts have a strong influence over the naming process by advising brands on the titles most likely to resonate with each lacquer’s personality and vibe. Their expertise results in thoughtfully matched color names.

Marketing Professionals

A nail polish name isn’t just about accurately describing the color. It’s also about marketing that drives desire and sales. That’s why brands rely on input from marketing professionals when naming lacquers. These experts evaluate potential titles based on criteria like:

Trendiness Does the name reflect current interests and themes?
Consumer Appeal Will the target audience find this name exciting or intriguing?
Memorability Is the name unique and catchy enough to stand out?
Searchability Will the name perform well in online searches?
Brand Image Does the name align with and enhance our existing brand identity?

Their feedback helps optimize nail color names for maximum commercial impact. Fun, playful titles that spur social media buzz are likely to receive a thumbs-up. Boring or overly confusing names get nixed. The marketing angle is key for driving lacquer sales.


In some cases, nail polish brands collaborate with influencers to co-create shade names. Celebrities like singers and actresses frequently team up with beauty companies to develop collections baring their moniker. For example, a brand may work with a pop star to select fun, flirty names evoking the musician’s style for a limited-edition line. Influencers help generate excitement and connection with fans through inspired color names tailored to their personal brand image. However, the nail company still has final say to ensure appropriateness.

The Process

So how does the nail color naming process work from start to finish? Here are the typical steps:

1. Trend forecasters provide seasonal color and naming direction based on research.

2. Chemists in the nail brand’s lab formulate polish shades for upcoming collections.

3. Focus groups provide feedback on color swatches and sample names through surveys and interviews.

4. The brand’s naming team brainstorms dozens of potential titles for each polish. They consider forecasting guidance, focus group input, and brand style.

5. Color experts advise on names that best match each lacquer’s finish, texture, and hue.

6. Marketing professionals analyze options through a commercial lens.

7. The nail brand narrows down selections to a final color name for every polish.

8. New shades with approved names launch in seasonal collections.

9. Consumers see the fun color names on store displays and make purchases.

10. The cycle repeats for the next seasonal launch.

It’s a collaborative effort that balances art, science, and business.

Notable Color Naming Trends

Nail polish color names reflect the times. Here are some notable trends:

Food-inspired monikers: Delicious food terms like “Sage to Be” (green polish), “Cinnamon Toast” (nude beige), and “Pistachio Ice Cream” (pastel green).

Pop culture references: Capitalizing on trends like naming metallic rose polishes “Rose Gold iPhone” or pale blues “Frozen Over” after the Disney movie.

Innuendos and puns: Cheeky names like “Flashed” (flesh-toned neutral) and “Past Midnight” (dark eggplant purple).

Emotions and attitudes: Feisty polish names that channel confidence like “Bold as Brass” (shimmering gold) and “Viva La Violet” (bright purple).

Geography and travel: Destinations like “Milan Moment” (fashionable red) and “Nice to Meet You” (Cote d’Azur blue).

Shows and movies: Capitalizing on popular entertainment like “Breaking Bad-itude” (meth-blue), “Game of Cones” (gray), and “No More Drama Llama” (neutral).

Nail polish names will continue evolving as cultural trends change. But their witty, evocative flair is here to stay.

Most Popular Nail Polish Names

Certain classic color names become bestsellers year after year. Here are some of the nail polish world’s greatest hits according to sales:

“Bubble Bath” – Sheer pink
“Malibu Barbie” – Barbie pink
“Big Apple Red” – Classic red
“My Private Jet” – Dark gray
“Black Onyx” – Pure black
“Wine Not” – Vampy dark red
“Diamonds Are Forever” – Iridescent glitter
“Bikini So Teeny” – Neon orange
“Mint Candy Apple” – Pastel green
“Lincoln Park After Dark” – Deep purple

These memorable titles stick in consumers’ minds while aptly capturing sought-after shades.


Naming nail polish colors happens through an intricate creative process involving color experts, trend analysts, marketers, and the brands themselves. Their witty, evocative titles help lacquers leap off store shelves into the hands of polish-loving fashionistas. So next time you paint your digits a fun new hue, take a moment to appreciate the thought behind that cheeky color name.