There's nothing like a little nostalgia to get you through the workweek, am I right? We've talked about it before, but there's something so delightfully disorienting about a scent that takes you back in time. My first-ever designer fragrance, Ralph Lauren Romance ($63), puts me back in the middle school bathroom touching up my eyeliner. Febreeze Fabric Refresher ($10) smells like my comforter at summer camp. Yankee Candle's Clean Cotton ($10) reminds me of the time my parents let me move to the attic and decorate however I wanted. And, of course, there are all things Bath & Body Works. I attribute much of my kinship with beauty to those body sprays and lotions.
I asked my fellow editors about their scent memories as well, and naturally, everyone had a Bath & Body Works favorite. As for the rest, while many of them are still available (freaking out about this), a few have, sadly, been discontinued. To remedy that devastating fact, I included a few grown-up varieties to replace them. Keep reading for all our favorite '90s scents and why we still love them dearly after all these years.
"The prettiest girl in my middle school used this lotion, so I will forever associate it with enviable tween femininity. The scent was tangy and tropical and girly—I was obsessed and can still smell it in my mind's nose." — Amanda Montell, associate features editor
"Juice Bar perfume was one of the first scents I ever owned (next to a bottle of Ariel perfume that smelled like heaven). It was super sweet and smelled just like a candy store. (Hey, what pre-teen wouldn't want to walk around smelling like a gummy bear?)" — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
If you're interested in a more grown-up version, try Marc Jacobs's Lola Eau de Parfum ($43). It has that same over-the-top floral sweetness that'll bring you right back.
"I received a tiny bottle of Dream body spray (it wasn't even the real perfume—it was in an aluminum tin and had an aerosol top) in some sort of gift swap and treasured like it was the last bottle of Chanel No. 5 on earth. I didn't even particularly like the way it smelled—it was slightly sweet and floral with a musky, almost medicinal tinge—but I considered myself 'a dreamer' at the ripe old age of 13, so it seemed like some sort of cosmic sign that I was bestowed a fragrance/body spray called Dream. The universe was clearly trying to tell me something (what, exactly, I still don't know to this day). Because I lived in a sheltered bubble, I naively thought it was my special little scent for most of my formative years, until I was rudely awakened to the reality that it was one of the most iconic smells of the '90s. That hasn't made me think of any less fondly, though." — Faith Xue, editorial director
"My three siblings and I used the same shampoo and conditioner for the bulk of our childhood. You always knew when someone had just showered in the house because that telltale floral, ultra-clean scent wafted everywhere. It's the golden standard of all great shampoo scents, IMO." — Victoria Hoff, news editor
Cucumber Melon is a scent I'll never forget. It was fresh, sweet, and an integral part of my memories growing up. It was all I ever wanted to smell like—a sugary mix of honeydew and freedom. I remember rearranging all my products, this one included, in my cabinets before throwing my first-ever no-parents party. I applied the lotion gingerly and spritzed myself all over before guests arrived. (My dad found out, FYI.)" — Hallie Gould, senior editor
"This one was given to me by my grandmother during the holidays one year. It was the first time I'd ever owned something 'designer'—it made me feel so grown-up. I'd pair it with my prized petal-pink Lacoste shirt and a whole lot of eyeliner." — Hallie Gould, senior editor
"Amanda called some in for a story she was working on, and damn it brought me back. That was my OG fragrance, so perhaps you might even say that it was the very first thing that fueled my current fragrance obsession—at age 7. Ironically, now I always steer clear of food-related scents—even the fancy 'gourmand' variety by very chic perfume houses." — Victoria Hoff, news editor
"Art Stuff's Blazin' Blueberry Roll-On Glitter smelled like blueberry Pop-Tarts, and for the entirety of third grade, I smelled like blueberry Pop-Tarts." — Victoria Hoff, news editor
For a similar effect, try Nyx's Roll-On Shimmer ($4).
"Every year when the Scholastic Book Fair came to my elementary school, I was excited to get my hands on a stack of new books, sure, but what I really wanted out of that blessed catalog was the pack of Lip Smackers they sold alongside the newest Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events. Watermelon was my hands-down favorite—that sweet, tart, lollipop-esque scent was like a drug for my 7-year-old self." — Amanda Montell, associate features editor
For killer shine (and a similar sweet-as-can-be scent), opt for Stila's Lip Glaze in Watermelon ($22).
Want more '90s? Here's how to channel your favorite supermodel from the decade.