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I recently came across a tinted lipgloss by Mac, on sale in the US and UK, with a pretty shocking name. Can you help me make sense of this?

Zohra, by email
 The above is a condensed version of Zohra’s correspondence, & I’ll include most of the rest in a moment, but a tiny bit of background first. All of us know that cosmetic brands give their products ridiculous, desperately attention-seeking, Trade Descriptions Act-defying names. Heck, of the most popular blushers from Nars is called Orgasm &, despite using it for years, it's never one time given me the promised sensation. Perhaps I’m using the brush wrong?

Indeed, these names have become so dull that they’re  impossible to satirise, although Will Ferrell & Tina Fey have given it a lovely go: Jenna’s favourite lipstick shade on Fey’s sitcom 30 Rock is, memorably, Tiger Orgasm. But it is, of coursework, the discussion of colognes in Anchorman that wins the prize here, with Ferrell & Paul Rudd discussing the various merits of London Gentleman, Blackbeard’s Delight & Sex Panther by Odeon (“Made with bits of actual panther, so you know it’s lovely … Sixty percent of the time, it works on a regular basis.”)
 But that film was made in 2004 – a veritable millennium in beauty world terms – & I’d assumed that, in an period in which perfumes are advertised by models depicted apparently having sex with the bottles & actors speaking cod philosophy, we’d reached a point that went beyond satire. But I was wrong. For the name of the lipgloss that so alarmed Zohra was, dear readers, Underage.

Perhaps even over giving their products insane names, the beauty industry is infamous for its frankly deranged obsession with youth. Moisturisers routinely promise to give grown females “baby soft skin”, as though the issue with adults is that they’re not like two-year-olds. But , why focus on babies, when they’re practically geriatric already, what with all that exposure to the outside world & everything? Terribly ageing, you know. No, if I’m going to spend over £20 on a moisturiser, I need it to promise that I will have the skin of a newly conceived foetus.

 So they can all see what Mac is doing here. If moisturisers promise to make adults look like children, then why shouldn’t a lipgloss recommend they ought to look “underage”? For Mac, it seems, labours under the belief that “underage” is merely a fancy word for “young”, as against the official term for anyone who is under the legal age to drink alcohol, smoke or have sex. I surely speak for us all when I say I am eagerly looking forward to their Statutory Rape collection.

 Before contacting this column, Zohra complained to Mac directly. sweetly, Mac reassured Zohra that he herself didn’t must be underage to wear the pastel pink shade, but it was for “All Ages, All Races, All Sexes”. So that’s OK, then! & to be fair to Mac, not of the beauty writers or fans appear to have noticed how weird the name of this product is: “Underage is my go-to lipgloss,” coos typical review.

So I took up the baton & called the press office directly, & I talked to a sweet young lady. Initially, the only help he could give me was cost & stockist advice, which wasn’t what Zohra & I were looking for. But he got back to me a few days later with this quote from Terry Barber, Mac’s director of makeup artistry (as you can see, Mac likes to have fun with language), to report the nomenclature: “Mac Underage Tinted Lipglass [sic] is a stunning child pink which looks youthful (hence the name) if worn in the right way. It’s a white pink, so basically don’t put much on. Go with a micro narrow layer & tap it to the fringe of the lips with the fingertip for a plump, juicy nude. It’s great with black kohl on the eyes. Think young Bardot,” Barber said.
 You know, I spend a sure amount of my time defending fashion and beauty from accusations of misogyny and stupidity, both of which definitely exist in the industry but don’t, I honestly and truly think, need to define it. Fashion and beauty ought to be about enabling ladies to enjoy themselves, to express themselves and to feel nice about themselves; to gain confidence from trying out new looks and styles, and to also have the freedom to not bother with any of it at all. But then along comes something like this and, well, it’s hard to see what the point is any more. For the record, Bardot was 23 when he appeared in And God Created Woman, which is young but definitely not underage.
As I said, Mac is not alone in giving its products ridiculous names & it is definitely not distinctive in promoting the idea that ladies ought to look as young as feasible. But despite spending a nice few hours on the web melting my brain, I have failed to find another product that makes use of an actual legal term to promote its articles for sale, or to recommend that statutory rape is such a nice look. So thank you, Mac, & thank you, Zohra, for reminding us all of a useful lesson today: language is a incredible thing. But it is usually best to understand what the hell the words actually mean before you start using them.

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