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I was scrolling through the New Arrivals of beauty at Nordstrom and see… hey I know that bottle of perfume. I know it very well, I wore the heck out of it… several decades ago. Estee Lauder's ‘Pleasures' was an Alison mainstay in the '90s and early '00s. Created in 1995, ‘Pleasures' was a scent to represent flowers after a rain and I wore it until I replaced it with Burberry ‘London' in the late oughts.
‘Pleasures' is clearly not a new fragrance, but I have seen with the return of '90s fashion trends there has also been a return of some '90s beauty trends.
'90s Beauty is Back: Nostalgic Beauty Products to Use Now
It's hard shopping for a tween who isn't into sports, isn't into makeup, isn't into a specific art or craft, no longer plays with dolls and little toys. When searching for Christmas gifts I found that Caboodles are back (or maybe they never left).
Caboodles are plastic storage boxes that are inspired by fishing tackle boxes. They open to offer a variety of little compartments, and while they are promoted to organize beauty products, they are also great for storing hair accessories, jewelry, craft supplies, and much more. I loved my Caboodles, and hoped my kid would as well.
She, like me, didn't use her Caboodle to organize makeup, but all the other little special trinkets in her room. And it reminded me how useful Caboodles are for travel (they snap shut and have a handle), and for keeping a bathroom organized (they're easy to stack in an under-sink cabinet or linen closet and you can choose different colored Caboodles for different products).
Caboodles can organize reusable cotton rounds and face brushes, beauty samples that come with your Sephora orders, manicure and pedicure supplies, the makeup you keep for special occasions, and much more. Who says we need to leave such a handle product in the past with our Bonne Bell lip smackers?
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in 'Toast of New York'
While brown lipstick was hot for several years during the '90s, I remember it most clearly in 1994. I moved into an off-campus apartment with one of my best friends. She worked at Contempo Casuals and scored us to coolest clothes. We'd iron our hair with a clothing iron and we'd choose between Revlon's 'Toast of New York' or 'Coffee Bean' as our lipstick to go with our velvet bodysuits, oversized CK jeans, flannel shirts, and Doc Martens.
Over the past few seasons, brown makeup has returned. The lip is matte, but more like velvet than the '90s over-dry longwear looks. While some of GenZ has gone hardcore into the past with streaks of brown blush and contoured brown shadow, it's possible to revisit this lipstick trend at any age without looking like you're stuck in the past.
Revlon's 'Toast of New York' feels very modern and fresh when paired with a hint of bronzer and defined lashes. And since this is a color that also looks great blotted into a stain, it's a lipcolor that can look great even after taking off your mask.
Seeing this tub of Stridex pads may provide horrific flashbacks from high school trying to battle acne. Hopefully, you have won that battle and moved forward with better skin and better products. But this red box of Stridex pads is pretty fabulous for life beyond acne.
Packed with salicylic acid, the red box of Stridex pads is a secret beauty gamechanger. I learned about their benefits when researching natural deodorants. Many use Stridex pads in place of deodorant; the acids not only kill the bacteria that cause body odor, these pads will also improve your skin by getting rid of ingrown hairs, darkness, and breakouts that plague many people's armpits.
These pads are also great for exfoliating knees and parts of legs that get ingrown hairs or irritation from shaving, for killing foot odor, evening out self-tanner streaks, and much more!
Estee Lauder 'Pleasures' Eau de Parfum Spray
The website describes this perfume as, "the rare essence of baie rose to reflect a modern woman's desire to experience life's little pleasures every day. Created in 1995, pleasures set the trend for uplifting, airy fragrances and introduced the sheer floral fragrance style. Evelyn Lauder created this fragrance to have a sheer, elusive, luminous quality, capturing the clarity of flowers just after a spring rain."
That description makes me wonder why I stopped wearing 'Pleasures.' I think I changed it when I got engaged; I wanted to have a signature scent that I wore on my wedding day and for the rest of time. I was always inspired by my mom who has always worn Chanel No. 5 and it became her signature, something we always purchased as a gift for her on holidays.
It's funny, I wore Burberry 'London' for my wedding, on our honeymoon, and so long I wore it through my pregnancy years later. I stopped wearing it because I got tired of it. I realized I wasn't a signature fragrance sort of person, I like variety, and I like a lot of days with no scent. I need to check out Estee Lauder 'Pleasures' again and see what my 40-something self would now think of it!
Clinique Almost Lipstick in 'Black Honey'
Dude, I wore the heck out of some 'Black Honey' in my day. I had one in my car, one at my desk, one in my purse... and they weren't cheap but I knew I couldn't be without.
The color 'Black Honey' was launched by Clinique in 1971, but achieved cult status after 1989 when the color was used for the brand's Almost Lipstick. During a time when makeup was complicated (sounds a bit like today), Clinique's Almost Lipstick was an easy to apply, no mirror needed combo of color and moisture in a balm-like consistency. 'Black Honey' was a transformative color that seemed to work with most any skintone.
Just as it was a literal and figurative balm for a high-intensity time, Clinique's Almost Lipstick in 'Black Honey' is a great choice for our current times. Easy to swipe on, hydrating while offering a hint of color, goes with everything while also looking beautiful on its own... I am tempted to get it again and have one in my car, one at my desk, and one in my purse at the ready to look polished with little effort.
Ohora Semcured Gel Nails
In the '90s, press-on nails were a THING. I can't recall how many times I bought a set swearing they would work, they would look natural, I'd no longer be the girl with the chewed nails but the woman with elegant hands.
And now it's 2021 and after a year without a visit to the nail salon, I am again that kid with the gnawed-on fingers. And social media can tell because it's having ads for Ohora nails following me from Instagram to Facebook to Pinterest.
Unlike the Lee Press-on Nails from our past, Ohora's nails are stretchy semi-cured gel that you stretch over your current nails and use a light to fully cure to glossy (or matte if that's your thing) hardness.
Knowing I am less likely to chew if my nails look pretty and are too tough to bite, I ordered some of these for me and my kid (maybe she'll keep them in her Caboodle). I'll be sure to do a full review once we use them, but I can't help but think of how impressed my '90s self would be with this new nail technology.
Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter
I remember getting my first bottle of Benefit's High Beam. I don't recall the year, but I do know I had a MySpace account. High Beam was this pink shimmery liquid and I'd do a bit on my cheek bones and a bit down my nose. A little went a very long way; I don't even think I finished that first bottle because makeup started getting matte and heavier and this just seemed too shiny for the times.
Since then, I have bought illuminating powder, highlight products from eco-friendly and high-end brands, wands and sticks, and tubes of glowy products that essentially are achieving the same thing that High Beam was making happen decades ago.
While the beauty brand Benefit started in 1976, it gained international popularity by starting a catalog in 1989, having a counter at Henri Bendel in 1991, and opening in Harrods in 1997. It makes sense that every beauty lover in the late '90s and early '00s had at least one product by Benefit in their makeup case (or maybe it was a Caboodle!).
With so many confusing products on the market, when I run out of my current illuminating product I may go back to High Beam, which seems to be one of the OGs, achieving that dewy look decades before the rest.
Benefit's Tinted Cheek & Lip Stain
In 1977, an exotic dancer came into the Benefit store and asked for a nipple stain. That began the history of BeneTint, which was first called "Rose Tint" for the dancer. Now available in three different colors (BeneTint is the original rose color, there is also GogoTint and LoveTint), this lip and cheek stain has achieved cult status.
I bought my first bottle of BeneTint around the same time I purchased High Beam; I got them from the Benefit catalog and loved the cheeky whimsical names and packaging.
I never mastered the art of the stain for my lips or cheeks, but did appreciate that during a time when many longwear products tasted and smelled terrible and dried lips out terribly, BeneTint smelled like roses, tasted mild, and didn't leave my lips feeling like sandpaper. Now that I am more skilled with cosmetics and desiring simple "set it and forget it" makeup, it's appealing to try Benefit's cheek and lip stain again.
What do you think of the return of '90s trends, and along with it, some of the beauty products we used back then? Do you plan revisiting? Are there any products you used in the '90s that you still use today?
Kelly-Lynne Guy says
I loooove benefit high beam and benetint. I’ve been using both for like 10 years and no matter how much makeup I get I keep coming back. High beam is the perfect pinky gold color for me, and no other highlighters ever look as natural or as pretty. I also really like their super red stain. It’s perfect for under masks and also thins out easily and wears well. Kinda mad that they made the benetint and high beam a doe-tipped applicator instead of the brush but…whatever.
I had not heard about Clinique Black Honey until this post but added it to my recent Sephora order because it sounded like something I might like. I love it so much I placed another order and got two more. It’s hydrating and perfect for just wearing around the house, which is mostly my life right now. Thanks for the recommendation!
OMG Alison! I loved Pleasures too! Was all I wore for all of my late 20’s and 30’s!!
Book Goddess says
Caboodles! I’m looking at mine right now. Blue, green, and fuchsia – and I still love it. I’ve always used it as a sewing kit. Almost certainly from the 80s. I see that the new ones have mirrors, and I’m pretty excited.
Paula Spizziri says
Fun post! I’m a little older so I was into Jean Nate (sp?) – until I dropped it in the bathroom and it sprayed all over! A little too much of a good thing. Also thought Yardley of London products were cool and wanted to be like the women in their commercials. Sort of Jean Shrimpton.
1983 here. I remember the year I decided my birthday present was going to be a Caboodle and I picked out a purple one at Big Lots. Then I used my label maker and put my name in the groove under the handle.
And you know what?
I still have that sucker and pull it out EVERY DAY to do my makeup. I only grab a few items these days: brow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, blush. But I love storing all of my treasured makeup inside the compartments. I hate when it gets difficult to close and I have to make decisions!
Oh. And my color was Rum Raisin. 🙂
Joy Anzalone says
I could smell Pleasures as soon as I read this. I loved it and wore it for a long time. I was a brown lipstick wearer too. It started with a bronze shade in 1986. Great memories here!
I have a collection of OLD Seventeen magazines from the 1940’s thru 1970’s. What strikes me when I look at them is how many things circle back around. Okay, NOT girdles and super pointy bras…but lots of things! Fun post.
I love this post! I have been devoted to Black Honey since 1998, and I definitely tucked it away in a Caboodle once upon a time. I wore Pleasures to the prom, but never had the money for Benetint so I made do with the Sonia Kashuk version.
So funny, I recently went looking for a cruelty free dupe for Black Honey as it was a FAV of mine for a long time. I found Fenty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick (could the name be any longer??) in Goji Gang and it’s really good! Not sure if it’s an exact dupe but it’s really pretty and the formulation is great.
I have had Caboodles for decades and still love them!
Another member of team Black Honey. Have worn it for years, and still get compliments on my “great lipstick”!
I remember having a Caboodle in the early 90s but it got purged somewhere along the way. And while I don’t remember wearing that Revlon lipstick, I do recall wearing a brown shade of lipstick in the later 90s. I didn’t discover Black Honey until about 10 years later and it was Ok. But I loved a Sephora lipstick that was very similar which of corse was discontinued shortly after I discovered it. Wish I had kept that Caboodle…
For those rare occasions when I wear makeup, I wear black honey.
I jumped back on the Black Honey train a few years ago and have no regrets. Do it!
Same! I am a very low maintenance makeup person and bought black honey as my signature a few years ago. I grew up using Clinique products (my mom always did) and I still love them. And Stridex! Having a 14 and 12 year old in the house, I think I need to get these. The tea tree pads don’t seem to do squat (for this perimenopausal mom who gets a big old chin zit like clockwork every month, either)!
It’s funny- I actually am wearing more make up than ever in the pandemic. Eye stuff, curling eyelashes, using concealer. I don’t know why. More time maybe?
Black honey! I wore it for years and don’t know why I stopped.
Your first sentence struck me — we used to STROLL through Nordstrom, now we SCROLL through.
I love nostalgia items. I’m probably dating myself here but I still wear and own Coty’s Wild Musk fragrance. Anyone hear of that?
Karen O says
I’ve heard of that Marie! I remember seeing it in Seventeen magazine and even though I did not have Coty’s, I did have Jovan Musk. And as long as we’re dating ourselves, I’m a Calvin Klein Obsession girl myself, lol.
The best graduation gift I received was a black and white Caboodle. That thing sat in my dorm vanity for years then went along for the ride when I got married. And I have used Black Honey since the first time I tried it, n and off for better than 25 years. While I no longer wear perfume regularly (migraines) when I do I still reach for Angel in the glass star shaped bottle.
Perfume gives me migraines and nausea too. Is there any formula or scent that works for you? I can tolerate citrusy more than floral. But anything and God forbid, scented lotion, make me immediately sick.
I still have a caboodle, a hand-me-down (up?) from my daughter. It serves well for a tool box for the limited amount of tools a single woman needs. It’s neon colors, but who cares, as it sits in a closet when not in use. Just goes to show that everything old is new again.
This really makes me want to try Black Honey. I had a brown lip balm from Jane (remember them?) that acheived a similar look!
Here is where I will freely admit that I never stopped wearing the Clinique Black Honey almost lipstick. I started wearing it in the 90s and am never without it. I wore the Revlon lipstick and stored it in a teal Cabbodle, next to my Stridex pads, but gave all those up long ago. The Cabbodle became a storage garage for my son’s Matchbox cars when he was little. I loved your description of your college outfits. It took me back to that same time. I was at Nordstrom’s shoe department the other day and a teenage girl was trying on her first Doc Marten’s. I smiled inside my mask remembering that time in my life. Thanks for this fun post.
My younger sister had a caboodle (she had a ton of makeup and hair stuff). I am thinking about getting one now. I’m pretty sure I had that Revlon lipstick in grad school in the mid-90s and loved it.
Going back a stretch further, to my jr high years in the 80s, I wonder if they still make Love’s Baby Soft. I wore the hell out of that to some 8th grade dances.
This takes me back. I had everything but the benefit highlighter.
And I swapped out Pleasures for Burberry too.