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I’ve had no less than three conversations recently about whether or not Kylie Jenner “invented” the term lip kit. This week, as legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath launched her fun and glittery limited edition kits (still available in one color at Sephora), the topic came up again: Have lip kits, or at least that term, always been a part of the beauty lexicon, or is it a Snapchat-era phenomenon?
If you dig into pre-2015 Google search results, what pops up is surely not surprising to the car customization enthusiasts among us. According to one car forum I fell deeply into, a lip kit is a type of “embellishment to the bumpers/sideskirts” of a car. So, not that different from lipstick, really.
Fast forward to November 2015 when Kylie debuted her decidedly non-automotive Lip Kits, capital L, capital K. The first Instagram page for her beauty company was even originally called “Lip Kits by Kylie,” then eventually changed to Kylie Cosmetics. She took what was a generic term and branded the hell out of it. Her lip kits include a lip liner and matte liquid lipstick, and retail for $29.
But she wasn’t the first one to brand a lip kit a Lip Kit. Charlotte Tilbury, the A-list celebrity makeup artist who has worked with the likes of Kate Moss and did Amal Clooney’s makeup for her wedding to whatshisname, had lip kits in her eponymous collection, which arrived to the US in fall 2014, before Kylie did. Tilbury’s sell for $69 and include a lipstick, lip liner, and lip gloss. Her whole line, in fact, is built on the premise that you can buy a “kit” of products to attain specific prescribed looks like “The Bombshell” or “The Rock Chick.”
Tilbury isn’t a household name the way the Kardasho-Jenner family is, so calling bundled lip products “lip kits” didn’t take off when Tilbury came out with hers — but there may be a konnection. You see, Tilbury is one of Kim Kardashian’s many glam squad members. The makeup artist even recently named a lipstick after her. Was Kylie inspired by Charlotte Tilbury? We’ll never know, obviously, but what we do know is that if you Google “lip kit” now, it’s pages and pages of Kylie.
Which brings us to 2016. When Pat McGrath announced her lip kits, she didn’t formally call them lip kits. According to the press release, Lust 004, which includes two lipsticks, glitter, gloss, and gold powder, is “perverse lip paraphernalia.” On Sephora’s website, it’s listed as “Lust 004 Lipstick Kit.” But everyone is calling it a lip kit, and Pat uses the term casually on her social media as well. Kylie has essentially turned the phrase into the Kleenex of the cosmetics world.
Despite the seeming ubiquity of the term now, there actually aren’t that many official Lip Kits floating around. Tarte has one at Ulta called the “Tarteist Lip Kit,” which includes a liner and matte liquid lipstick for $25 in very apt shades like “TBT” and “Latergram.” In October, Benefit is launching a lip kit that features four lipsticks that offer a lip liner and lipstick combo in each individual tube. When you search for “lip kits” on Sephora’s site, it changes the query to “lip sets.” There are many lip sets, lip collections, lip duos, lip trios, lip palettes, and lip samplers to choose from.
But now they’re really all just lip kits.