From Hard Candy to Caboodles, the '90s Beauty Essentials We Couldn't Live Without
Melissa Joan Hart
“I was one of the millions of teens that bought into the hype of the androgynous scent ck1 in the ‘90s,” says Melissa Joan Hart. The Clarissa Explains It All actress currently stars in Melissa and Joey (yes, with Joey Lawrence) and says she’ll never forget that ck smell. “It was like the Abercrombie & Fitch of my day; I could recognize that scent today in the middle of a 2,000 cow dairy farm.”
Urban Decay & Hard Candy
The decade’s must-have brands were Urban Decay and Hard Candy. The former was badass, with totally inappropriate for school eyeshadow colors and nail polish packaged in tiny liquor-like bottles. The latter was sweet as can be, with glittering polishes topped with rubber rings and an array of color cosmetics delivering sparkles to the masses.
Bonne Belle Lipsmacker ($2) in Dr. Pepper
Although these lip balms came in a variety of flavors, we’re pretty sure the Cher and Dionne’s of the world were Dr. Pepper devotees.
Herbal Essences Shampoo and Conditioner ($5)
The commercials said it all: A beautiful woman having way too much fun in the shower—YES! YES! YES!—obviously thanks to her climax-inducing shampoo and conditioner.
Clinique Lipstick ($15) in Black Honey
This Clinique classic insists on being a makeup bag classic—as it should. The easy-to-wear, super sheer color looks great on everyone.
"The ‘90s were all about my hair. I couldn't live without Infusium 23’s Leave In Moisturizing Treatment ($4), L'Oreal Mousse ($6), the Elchim hair dryer (the brand I still use today), and Super Hold Aqua Net ($4) or Sebastian Shaper Plus Hair Spray ($22),” says Full House’s DJ Tanner, better known today as Candace Cameron Bure, who just penned a book, Balancing It All.
Sun-In Tropical Hair Lightener ($4)
A bottle of this was the go-to warm-weather friend. If you had the right hue, it gave your hair subtle honey streaks or turned blonde locks platinum. If you didn’t, well, you spent the rest of the summer a reluctant red-meets-orange head.
Liz Claiborne Perfume ($20)
This covetable geometric wonder was a must-have accessory in the early ‘90s. We can’t quite remember the scent, but we do remember babysitting every Saturday night until we could buy the bottle in all three primary colors.
Revlon Lipstick ($5)
Depending on the year and your clique—goth, raver, cheerleader—you had your must have shade of Revlon lipstick. Raven Red, Toast of New York, Rum Raisin, Wine with Everything, Cherries in the Snow, and Toasted Brownie were the favorites.
It’s possible that Caboodles were just a grand pastel plot for moms to get their kids to clean up, but it didn’t matter. We schlepped all of our beauty products around in them anyway.
Brow Lip Liner
From highlighting a nude lip to enhancing a bold brown pout, wet ‘n wild Lip Liner ($1) in Brandywine 666 and M.A.C. Lip Liner ($15) in Spice were the best way to say “kiss me.” The second best? “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer.
Sea Breeze Fresh Clean Astringent ($5)
Now that we know a thing or two about beauty, we realize stripping our skin of oil was a bad idea. But back then? We were sure that the sting meant it was working really well.
Colors by Benetton Perfume
This sweet, spicy concoction was the thing to wear on a group movie date to the mall.
Chanel Le Vernis Nail Polish ($27) in Vamp
“Vamp nail polish?” head mean girl Cordelia asks Buffy in the 1997 pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to test just how cool she really is. “Um, over,” Sarah Michelle Gellar answers. Maybe so for the second half of the nineties, but the product flew off the shelves for years and beauty obsessives rejoiced when Chanel brought back the color in the mid-2000s.
Sticky Lip Gloss
Why was the lip gloss of the ‘90s so sticky? Who knows, but we were equal parts obsessed with the Body Shop’s Kiwi Lip Balm and M.A.C.’s Lipglass ($15). The former may have looked like a little pot of green Nickelodeon slime, but this tiny container of awesome gave our lips the perfect sticky shine. (Also, who wouldn’t want to make out with someone who tastes like kiwi?) And Lipglass, let’s just say we still have a tube—for nostalgia’s sake!
The tingle of a scoop of this deep-cleaning face cream was the perfect reminder that you too could have skin like ‘90s Noxzema girl Rebecca Gayheart (who, by the way, played girlfriend to 90210’s Dylan McKay for a hot minute).
Gap Body Fragrance in Grass, Dream, Earth, Om, Day, and Heaven
Hard to believe that a cornerstone of Gap’s ‘90s resurgence was perfume, but it seemed to make sense at the time! How important was your fragrance of choice? People are still writing essays about Heaven versus Dream.
- Next Slideshow
It might not have worked any better than your Bic, but it looked a million times better in the shower—as did all things neon in ‘90s.
There’s a reason New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, N’Sync, The Backstreet Boys, and Boyz II Men all reunited this past summer—we are deep in the middle of '90s nostalgia. Needless to say, our favorite part of the decade was a pink Caboodles full of Hard Candy rings and brown lip liner, a statement we knew our favorite ‘90s stars would agree with. So we asked Melissa Joan Hart and Candace Cameron Bure to help enumerate the decade’s best. From Herbal Essences Shampoo to Chanel’s Vamp nail polish, check out what we miss most, above.
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Tropical Hair Lightener ($,
Fresh Clean Astringent,