Just as with any decade, there were certain 1990s beauty products and accessories that every self-respecting ‘90s girl likely carried in her purse. If we had done the “What’s In My Purse” challenge back in our junior high days, the usual MAC lipsticks, cupcake bakery receipts, and metro cards wouldn’t come tumbling out. Things would get a whole lot more interesting and, uh, let’s say colorful.
As teens, many of us had an honor code of sorts to live up to, and that meant gravitating towards anything glittery, sickly-sweet, slightly tacky, and vaguely Lisa Frank-esque. Our purses were stuffed with survival necessities like '90s beauty must-haves that channeled both the law of J-14 and our favorite teen rom-com stars. We spent our babysitting money on lip gloss and ill-advised jewelry, and packed it all away into our sassy handbags like we were making an angsty-teen starter pack.
Thinking back to those plaid-wearing, choker-adorning middle school days can induce more than a few cringes, but it sure can conjure up some great memories, too. I mean, who can look at Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers without thinking of sleepovers and braces or their first nervous homecoming date dance? Below are seven things every ‘90s girl carried in her purse, from beauty products to gotta-have accessories. Get ready to take a wonderfully embarrassing walk down memory lane.
While our moms sat at vanity mirrors and leaned in to slick on lipstick, we'd do the same in junior high bathroom mirrors with Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers. An assortment of Sugared Plum, Raspberry Chocolate, and Shimmering Ribbon Candy (wut, how is "ribbon" even a flavor?) would roll around in the bottom of our handbags too. We'd likely take one out while talking to our crush in the hallway, slowly swiping it on as he asked us about yesterday's math homework.
2. A Spare Choker In Case An Outfit Needed It
Sometimes an outfit just needs a bit of velvet ribbon running across the neckline and making you look like some Edgar Allen Poe heroine, you know? Whether you were wearing a pair of overalls or a baggy plaid shirt, you just never knew when you might need one. It's better to be safe (with an emergency backup next to your Piña Colada Lipsmackers) than sorry.
You likely wanted to channel Rachel Greene at the coffee shop or Drew Barrymore in her angsty years, but that never really turned out. You mostly just looked like you had metallic brown all over your lips, the sheen looking cough-syrup-purple if the school lights hit it right. Who wouldn't want to kiss a mouth like that?
4. A Spare Butterfly Clip
Do you remember those 3D butterfly clips — the ones that got traded faster and more furiously during recess than Pokémon cards? You probably had at least four on your head at any given time, enjoying the way the wings would bounce as you made your way down the hall to history class. The girl with the most sparkly bugs on her head automatically became the Queen B.
5. A 5-7-9 Receipt
It was the place you got your acid wash jeans and your slinky spaghetti strap tops. Your first attempt at a wardrobe was born there, after all. What else were you going to wear to the movies that Friday night? Something your mom bought you at Sears? I think not.
6. Your Discman
You might have gotten your brother's hand-me-down or you might have skimped your allowance together to buy one like an #independentwoman. However you got it, the important thing was that you had it. You could listen to TLC and Oasis during recess, or pop in the CDs that had the songs you recorded from the radio. There was no satisfaction like finally catching one of your favorite tunes on these guys.
Ah the melon spray, part of the original Girl's Starter Kit. Its cloyingly sweet smell was everything teenage and prepubescent, being synonymous with Stila lipgloss and Friday night dates at the mall food court. You carried it everywhere with you in your purse in case you needed a (dousing) refresher through the day, spritzing it on like you were putting out a fire at your locker before heading to your next class. If your squad came together in the hallway, you'd morph into one solid wall of cucumber-y, toxic sweetness.
It was intense. And totes amazing.
Images: lipsmackerbrand/Instagram; Courtesy Brands