Allow me to set a scene for you, one that is framed by me, my parent's bathroom, and all of my favorite beauty products from the '90s. I am 11 years old and about to head to a friend's house for a day of playing the MASH game, calling into the "Jamming Nine At Nine" radio show, and taking disposable camera photos of ourselves blowing bubbles. It was a simpler time, before silly things like jobs and boys got in the way of our never-ending chillfests.
Before I went out, I had to complete an absolutely crucial and highly-regimented beauty routine, including but not limited to: Coating my lips with Lip Smackers to the point where I basically couldn't feel them anymore, absorbing all the excess oil from my acne-ridden skin with astringent, lining my eyes in inexplicably crumby white liner, and dousing myself in Tommy Girl. What resulted was an amalgamation of '90s beauty ecstasy that was slightly questionable but would never be replicated: I was magnificent, and no one could stop me from being great.
Below are some of my favorite '90s beauty products that will take you down memory lane and remind you of how gorgeous you were as an adolescent — and not just because your roll-on body glitter was reflecting the light of a thousand suns.
I was recently talking with a friend about how shiny and lustrous our hair was when we were kids, and we were trying to figure out what might have gone wrong. Now, I am fundamentally certain that a small percentage of my hair damage over the years was due to Sun-In. I spent at least three or four summers coating my entire head in this hydrogen peroxide-based hair lightening formula, and I have absolutely no regrets.
2. Victoria's Secret Pear Glace
Victoria's Secret Pear Glace, $5, Victorias Secret
As a middle school kid, I stared in slightly horrified wonder at all the lacy bras and corsets that Victoria's Secret had to offer, and then I headed straight back to the fragrance section. This was the scent to have if you were a middle schooler in the '90s, and thankfully it's still available now.
3. Hard Candy Nail Polish
Hard Candy Nail Polish With Ring, $1.75 each, Ebay
Because what could be better than a nail polish that came with a matching ring? Collectors hoarded these bad boys, so you could always get quite a few of them on eBay. In 2015, they were even re-released for the 20th anniversary.
4. Roll-On Glitter
Roll On Body Glitter, $5, Wholesale Party Supplies
Real talk: What would a look be without a final coating of slimy glitter glue? I put this stuff all over my face, arms, and décolletage as a pre-teen. Needless to say, my mom's furniture hated me.
5. Blue Mascara
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Royal Blue, $5, Kmart
This was everything in my middle school world, and not just because wearing makeup at school was against the rules. Blue mascara is a trend that I haven't fully let go of, and thankfully some of your favorite '90s brands still make the royal blue formula these days.
6. White Eyeliner
Jane Eyeliner in Pure White, $6, Amazon
Nothing said glamour like an eye with a wobbly white line drawn around it, the product of our fashion-forward middle school experimentation phase. Don't doubt it for a second, girl: You looked damn good.
7. Sea Breeze Astringent
Today, as I sit at my desk and consider my expensive and precarious nine-step skin care routine, I have mixed feelings about a simpler time — a time when all we were told to do to combat our facial oil was to completely flood it with astringents.
I had acne as a kid, and I swabbed my face in this far more than I should have, only to be confused and horrified when my skin appeared to get worse. Funny how harsh alcohol and camphor can do that to a person, right? While oil-blotting astringents definitely have their place in the skincare hall of fame, this is one '90s beauty product that we should have used more sparingly.
8. Bonne Bell Lip Smackers
Bonne Bell Lip Smacker Trio in Dr. Pepper, $17.50, Amazon
This iconic piece of '90s beauty history needs no explanation, but I will say this: Dr. Pepper was the Lip Smacker Queen Incarnate, and all other flavors fell inferior at her feet.
9. Herbal Essences Shampoo
Herbal Essences Smoothing Shampoo, $9, Amazon
Yeah, sure, this stuff smelled damn good. But that wasn't really our reason for insisting our parents purchase it. No, what drew us young impressionable girls to this particular formula wasn't the shampoo itself, but the commercial. Behold:
Orgasms: Good for you, and good for selling shampoo.
10. Tommy Girl
Tommy Girl was the scent you saved your allowance for — and that was only if you couldn't steal the sample bottle from your cool young aunt or cousin. The perfect blend of floral, fruits, and musk meant that this scent was young, energetic, and ready to learn about the world. Just like you were.
11. Urban Decay Heavy Metal
I lined my eyes with this then, and I line my eyes with it now. Heavily pigmented and perfectly metallic, Urban Decay Heavy Metal carried us from adolescence to adulthood, making us look like badasses all the way through.
These beauty products from the '90s helped us all shine like the stars that we were, despite the lack of winged eyeliner and Sephoras on every corner. Let us carry this greatness with us into adulthood — and never let the younger generations forget what used to be.
Images: Courtesy Brands