The Best Cult Beauty Products Throughout History

Product collage

Byrdie

As vast and wonderful as the beauty world has become, one of the pitfalls of having so many products available to us on the global marketplace is that it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the good from the great, the great from the phenomenal. It's not the worst problem to have, but it can certainly be a little overwhelming.

But while hive mind can be faulty at times, the general rule is that if a product has an avid, devoted fanbase—or, better yet, has become a household name—it's probably pretty stellar. And there are those select few superstars that have managed to maintain this cult-classic status for years and years—which is pretty remarkable, considering the research, technology, and ingredients that have become so readily available since they first hit the market.

More remarkable still (and perhaps to further emphasize that point): Of all the standout items we compiled here—some originating more than 60 years back—only one is no longer available. One! They're all that good and that beloved.

So take a look back with us at the beauty world's biggest fan favorites throughout the years. Your beauty history lesson begins below.

With icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe in their heyday, it's only natural that women everywhere wanted a piece of Hollywood royalty—even if it was just the same color of lipstick.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

Lait-Crème Concentré
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré $28
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You'd be hard-pressed to find a makeup guru now who doesn't sing the praises of this emollient cream. A staple for such famous faces as screen siren Ingrid Bergman, the iconic Jane Birkin, and modern muse Karlie Kloss, it makes a great base for makeup and also provides the perfect dewy finish when dabbed on top.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant

Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant $24
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Another red carpet powerhouse, Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream technically debuted in 1930, but Marilyn Monroe's love for the product sealed its popularity in the years that followed. Makeup artists today still swear by the stuff, mixing it with foundation to get that perfect dewy finish.

Revlon Lipstick in Ravish Me Red

Lipstick in Ravish Me Red
Revlon Lipstick in Ravish Me Red $5
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Revlon released a variety of scarlet lipstick shades throughout the '50s, and thanks to the vanity-ready gold tubes and celeb endorsers (including—you guessed it—Monroe), women clamored to collect them all. (Not much has changed.)

Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid Lotion

Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid Lotion
Olay Active Hydrating Skin Cream $12
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Launched in South Africa in 1949, Oil of Olay's signature formula quickly became a skincare staple across the globe—even though no one was really quite sure what it did. (That was purposeful marketing, since the founder of the brand wanted it to be perceived as a miracle "beauty fluid.") The brand has since dropped the "Oil of" and expanded to a decidedly more transparent collection of products.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion $33
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True story: Clinique came about as the brainchild of a Vogue editor, Estée Lauder's daughter, Evelyn, and a dermatologist in 1968. Their simple but effective moisturizer was one of their first products, and it's safe to say it's been a lasting success: A bottle is reportedly sold every five seconds. In 2013, the brand rolled out a new formulation, this one fortified with hyaluronic acid. 

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

cetaphil cleanser
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser $9
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Launched in 1947, the OG cleanser was a sleeper hit that started to gain popularity in the '60s thanks to endorsements from dermatologists. (By the '80s, it was the fast-selling staple that it is today.)

La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream

Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream $350
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It's hard to imagine a world where every beautiful celebrity didn't credit their agelessness to La Mer's luxurious formula, but this fountain of youth wasn't around before the 1960s.

L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray 

Elnett Satin Hairspray
L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray $15
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A sculpted, gravity-defying coif was the trademark 'do of the decade, and women relied on Elnett to keep every hair in place. (They still do—though maybe not so heavy-handedly.)

Benefit Benetint

Benefit benetint
Benefit Benetint $18
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We doubt this looks familiar, but you might be surprised to learn that this was the first iteration of Benefit's Benetint. And the revelations don't stop there: The multitasking cheek and lip stain was actually first created for an exotic dancer. 

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Great Lash Mascara
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara $5
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The bottle has changed, but that telltale color combo certainly hasn't: That's the first version of Great Lash mascara, launched in 1971. We don't need to tell you that the rest is history, because you probably have a tube sitting in your makeup bag, right?

Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific Shampoo

Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo
Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific Shampoo $20
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The name says it all: The mother of one Byrdie editor claims that this floral shampoo smelled so delicious it brought all the boys to the yard. It disappeared by the '90s, but the public outcry was so strong that retro supermarket Vermont Country Store brought it back.

Bonne Belle Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker

Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker
Bonne Belle Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker $10
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Bonne Belle gave us the gift of soda-flavored lip balm, and suddenly everything had to smell like a dessert. (This tube remains one of the select few products that actually pulls it off.)

Sun-In Hair Lightening Spray

Hair Lightening Spray
Sun-In Hair Lightening Spray $4
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Ah, the era when blonde-seeking teens began to accidentally dye their hair orange. The rite of passage lives on.

 Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee

 Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee

 Bain de Soleil

Thanks to a successful ad campaign featuring a French-accented jingle, this self-tanner (one of the very first) surged in popularity in the '80s.

Dior Poison

Dior Poison
Dior Poison $62
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This hypnotic, heady blend of coriander, tuberose, and opoponax remains a seductive option for date night. 

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Eau de Toilette

Tommy Girl Eau de Toilette
Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Eau de Toilette $41
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Tommy Hilfiger hit its logo-mania peak (with the help of Aaliyah) circa 1996, the same year this light and energetic fragrance made its debut. (PS: We could watch this ad on loop for hours.)

Calvin Klein CK One

CK One
Calvin Klein CK One $30
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But if Tommy didn't do it for you, chances are nothing came between you and your Calvins… or your CK One, at the very least. (Another must-see commercial, featuring a very young Kate Moss.) 

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat $38
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Makeup kits changed forever when this highlighting pen came on the scene in 1992. Touche Éclat's ability to oh so subtly sculpt bone structure, blur imperfections, and create a lit-from-within glow is still so impressive that a tube is sold every 10 seconds.

Bath & Body Work Cucumber Melon Lotion

Bath & Body Work Cucumber Melon Lotion
Bath & Body Work Cucumber Melon Lotion $14
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The romance might have begun during afternoons at the mall (sniff-testing everything that Bath & Body Works had in stock), but Cucumber Melon remains one of the store's most beloved fragrances for women of all ages.

Nars Blush in Orgasm

Nars Blush in Orgasm
Nars Blush in Orgasm $30
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It technically launched in 1999, but the universal appeal of Nars's Orgasm blush made it a staple of the next decade—and beyond. (The brand has since built a collection around the shade.)

Beautyblender Original

Beautyblender Original
Beautyblender Original $20
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Our foundation technique changed forever (for the so much better) when Rea Ann Silva introduced this smartly shaped sponge in 2003.

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick $48
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Predating the contouring craze that would arrive a few years later, Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick made sculpting and bronzing more accessible than ever...and it's just so pretty.

Lancôme Juicy Tubes

Lancôme Juicy Tubes
Lancôme Juicy Tubes $15
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Our focus has always been on that rainbow of colors, but did you know that Juicy Tubes were the first-ever tube lip gloss when they hit the market in 2000?

 MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Lipstick in Ruby Woo
MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo $19
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A long-lasting red that flatters all skin tones (and makes teeth look whiter to boot) was obviously destined for stardom. Ruby Woo, we love you.

Moroccanoil Hair Treatment

Moroccanoil Hair Treatment
Moroccanoil Hair Treatment $44
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This year marks Moroccanoil's 10th anniversary—though it's pretty hard to believe that this frizz-fighting game-changer has only been around for a decade since it arguably put hair and body oils back on the beauty trend map. (Psst: Try using it on your skin.)

Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Cleansing Solution

Sensibio Micellar Cleansing Solution
Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Cleansing Solution $15
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We're not exaggerating when we say that editors used to hoard bottles of Bioderma after trips to Paris—the gentle water-based cleanser is that good. Thanks to e-commerce, now we can all adopt the French drugstore staple.

Rodin Olio Lusso

Rodin Olio Lusso

Rodin

Niche brand? Check. Gorgeous, photo-ready packaging? Check. Effective formula? Check. If there's a perfect storm for gaining cult status, this is it. (Though Linda Rodin definitely didn't know her body oil would be such a hit when she formulated it for herself.) Why this oil was officially discontinued in early 2021, we'll never know.

Byredo Gypsy Water

Byredo Gypsy Water
Byredo Gypsy Water $190
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Byredo has rolled out hit after hit since Ben Gorham founded the brand in Sweden in 2006. Featuring minimalist packaging, poetic names (like the wildly popular Gypsy Water), and distinctly beautiful, complex, and sometimes polarizing scents, the brand has yet to leave us feeling unimpressed. (Its avid fanbase would probably agree.)

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum $185
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We're practicing a little foresight here since this miracle serum only just arrived on the scene a few years ago. But its rise to success has been fast and furious—and the story behind it is both fascinating and the very essence of the artisanal beauty movement that's still in full force here in the U.S.

The short version: April Gargiulo, looking for a natural solution for her acne-prone skin, recruited some smart friends in the biz to help her concoct the ultimate botanical solution. In just a matter of months, she had beauty editors declaring her final formula "the face oil to end all face oils."

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