an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Clinique: Whiten Your Teeth with Lipstick

Posted by Rosepixie on April 28, 2010

I came across this magazine ad for Clinique lipstick recently and just had to post it.

The text reads:

Clinique can’t whiten your teeth.

But we can brighten your smile.  Instantly.

Fact: on application, Clinique’s specially designed lipstick colours create a contrast that brightens your smile.  Using a dental colour guide we confirmed it: each smile was at least one shade brighter.

So here you have it: the wow of whiter teeth in pearls and buttery shades in nudes, goldens, pinks, berries.  12 shades in all.

Still not convinced?  See the before and after at  Or see it for yourself.  Stop by any Clinique Counter for a complementary try-on of any and all shades in Clinique’s Brighter Smile Collection.


Allergy tested.  100% fragrance free.

I find this claim very strange.  I have no problem believing that a lipstick and make a smile seem brighter, but I can’t see how it could make any real changes that would show up on a color guide.  Because it’s not actually changing the color of your teeth, it’s just an optical illusion.  And that can work great – I’m not saying it’s not a totally worthwhile way to make teeth appear whiter – but it’s not true shade changing.

The image of the red lipstick with the white toothbrush seems to reinforce the claim that this lipstick can make your teeth look whiter.  It’s a well put together image for the rather deceptive claim.

I just kind of have a problem with that deceptive claim.  Despite starting with the sentence “Clinique can’t whiten your teeth”, the entire block of text seems to be trying to convince the reader that they can do exactly that!  It’s annoying.  So I don’t like this ad very much, despite the fact that I actually think it’s a good angle for a lipstick line to take in their marketing and I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen anyone else using it.


3 Responses to “Clinique: Whiten Your Teeth with Lipstick”

  1. Eva said

    Probably what they were doing is holding a color chart up to the person’s face while they smiled. I think the way the optical illusion works is that surrounding your teeth with the darker color is what makes them look lighter. So the chart of colors won’t look directly comparable, even though they’re nearby. You can see a similar contrast illusion at the bottom of this page (the one with the standing cylinder casting a shadow):

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