In the beauty world, proprietary secrets abound. JILL DUNN pulls back the cosmetic curtain at CoverGirl HQ to see how makeup moves from conveyor belt to counter.
WHEN COVERGIRL DEBUTED ITS FIRST LIPSTICK line in 1964, it featured shades like Pure Scarlet, which seemed made for Mad Men types, while pinks were a hat tip to the Carnaby Street crowd.
Of course, those hues were jettisoned long ago. Cover Girl constantly assesses its lipstick portfolio to determine when it’s time for a reboot. One such overhaul was recently released: The Colorlicious line ($9 each) is made up of 36 hues categorized by four colour families (nudes, pinks, plums and reds), and boasts lipsticks with names like Decadent Peach (a kiss of pink-meets-peach), Dulce de Leche (a milky nude) and Ravish Raspberry (a punched-up berry). Makeup pro Pat McGrath, CoverGirl global creative design director, helped dream up the new collection and pinpoint holes in the existing one.
We added some corals and oranges that we didn’t really have, says Dr. Sarah Vickery, CoverGirl principal scientist. To develop the most user-friendly spectrum of shades, nude hues were given depth of colour, and reds
were made over with diverse undertones to flatter various complexions. Take Succulent Cherry: The warm tomato-red is ideal for olive skin types. And Seduce Scarlet, an almost currant-coloured hue, is suited for even the fairest skin tones. But some old faves are sticking around, so there’s no need to hoard bestsellers like Hot (a universal red and one of McGrath’s backstage MVPs) and Euphoria (an aubergine, name-checked as Katy Perry’s go-to).
The brand’s headquarters (and birthplace) in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is a veritable beauty think tank with employees dressed in hairnets, white coats and goggles. The lipstick lab’s M.O. is to ace colour and continuity before bullets are blended, poured and moulded. To make it as a colour geek, R&D scientists have to pass muster on visual acuity: putting hues in order from dark to light while time’s ticking (only the sharpest eyes can do it under the gun), as well as deciphering colour chroma ( clean colours, like lemonyellow, have really high chroma and dirtier colours, like mustardyellow, have very low »
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