It's August of 2002, and sixth grade is about to start (or fourth or maybe ninth, depending on where you fall in the millennial birth order). The end of summer definitely sucks, but there's one thing that makes it better: back-to-school shopping. To take the sting off another nine months of homework, math tests, and unrequited crushes, you get to go to the mall for the one shopping spree of the year where you actually get almost everything you want. The part you're most excited about? Beauty shopping: Claire's, Bath & Body Works, The Body Shop, the beauty sections of Limited Too and Victoria's Secret over there by the register.
Normally, there's no way you'd get to pick out all the body glitters, hair tools, and lip glosses it'll take to look like Lizzie McGuire's long-lost sister, but this is a day like no other. It's a back-to-school beauty shopping day.
Here are 15 back-to-school beauty products from the early aughts that will make you feel all kinds of nostalgia.
1. Roll-On Body Glitter
Britney Spears wore it, Drew Barrymore in Ever After wore it, and you begged your parents to let you wear it to school. They probably didn't, except to the dance, when you'd smear that fruity-smelling sparkly gunk all over your arms, chest, and midriff until that babe in your language arts class had no choice but to ask you to grind to Yeah! by Usher.
2. Quick Wrap
"It's Quick Wrap from Conair!" Can't you just hear the chipper theme song in your head right now? If your folks were really cool, they let you order this irresistible hair device straight from the commercial so you could look like you just got back from vacationing in the Caribbean all school year long.
3. Victoria's Secret Love Spell
Every single Byrdie editor was once the proud owner of Victoria's Secret's iconic cherry blossom– and peach-scented Love Spell perfume, which seems to have ushered an entire generation into womanhood. Here is an actual conversation about the scent among our editors, stolen from our ongoing Byrdie chat:
Lindsey: "When I think of the early 2000s, I always think of gym class and being in a haze of Love Spell."
Faith: "Can we do an investigative piece about the universal appeal of Love Spell and why every teenage girl loved it? Like, why was it so popular over the rest no matter where you lived? What even is the scent of it?"
Lindsey: "Notes of teen angst and eighth-grade dances."
Victoria: "Omggg I want to write that piece. So funny you mentioned gym class Lindsey bc that's literally what it reminds me of. The middle school locker room and training bras. Will include in next week's pitches!!"
Faith: "Omg so excited."
4. Lip Smackers
I know the Scholastic Book Fair was supposed to be about books, but every year, I was most excited to order a new set of Lip Smackers lip balms out of the catalog. My favorite flavor was Watermelon; our social media editor Olivia's was Dr. Pepper. By the grace of the early 2000s gods, these products are still available.
These were like the hair accessory version of slap bracelets, and the commercials were mesmerizing. I never actually got my hands on one (#beautyregrets), but ugh, those buns were endlessly cool.
6. Britney Spears Curious
This was the perfume my beautiful middle school best friend wore, and all the boys flocked like moths to a floral-scented (slightly cloying) flame. Her mom would buy her a new bottle at the end of every summer, and I'd steal spritzes whenever I came over to watch Laguna Beach and eat Bagel Bites.
7. Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar
Bath & Body Works was a tween girl's mecca, and goodness knows I was not done with my back-to-school shopping unless I was fully stocked up on body butter, hand lotion, and body splash. Sweet Pea and Coconut Lime Verbena were also good, but nothing could beat the addictive frosting-esque scent of Warm Vanilla Sugar.
8. Roll-On Glitter Eye Shadow
Depositing glitter all over your body via roll-on stick was apparently the early 2000s' greatest invention because we definitely did that on our eyes too. For better or for worse, I can't tell you how many middle school mornings I spent caking my lids in purple glitter.
9. Hot Stamps
Another as-seen-on-TV hair tool I wasn't cool enough to buy or even ask for but that I desperately wanted (even though my hair was so dark at the time, those sparkly little butterflies probably just would've looked like I got some purple EZ Squirt ketchup in my hair).
10. Pink Sugar
Sephora still sells this vanilla-sugar scent, which apparently Vanessa Hudgens wore during the High School Musical era.
11. Juicy Tubes
I had but one precious Juicy Tube and would apply it on my lips every morning (along with some black kohl eyeliner and Covergirl Great Lash) in an attempt to feel like the fabulous, flirty grown-up I so wanted to be.
12. Butterfly Clips
I will never forget the girls who pulled out all the stops after the summer between fifth and sixth grade, showing up to the first day of school with matching comb headbands decorated with sparkly blue and pink butterfly clips. Legends in my mind to this day.
13. Fake-Hair Scrunchies
Why did we think these slightly creepy accessories were cool? Unclear. But we definitely all embellished our buns and ponytails with these in attempts to re-create the funky-girl aesthetic of Miranda Sanchez/That's So Raven/Riley from So Little Time.
14. Sparkle Nail Polish
Byrdie's assistant editor Erin personally forbade me from making this list without including "those nail polishes with the rectangular-shaped glitter." Good call, girl. These were hands down the coolest nail polishes of the early aughts.
And of course, you needed a cute caboodle to store it all. Did you know caboodles are kind of back? Traveling has never been more nostalgic.
Want more nostalgic beauty content? Don't miss the most iconic beauty looks of the 90s.