NOSTALGIC BEAUTY: An Ode To The Products That Conjure Up Good Memories

I'm in a REALLY foul mood and need to focus on happy things, like shampoo that reminds me of being a kid.
Publish date:
June 4, 2012
shoppables, childhood, perfume, memories, L'oreal, make-up, nars

So, I'm in a terrible mood. I don't want to get into it because for me, writing articles isn't a form of therapy and there are some things I'd rather keep to myself, but basically, things are frustrating right now.

However, multiple times on this website we've touched on the power of beauty products to make us feel better or transport us someplace a little safer and happier, even if just for a short while. So I'm going to talk about that and take deep breaths and maybe I'll feel a little better.

Recently I picked up a bottle of L'Oreal Kids' 2-in-1 Smoothie Shampoo in Burst of Orange-Mango (around $4, or drugstores) and almost passed out when the overwhelming scent of childhood baths wafted over me. I purchased it and got to washing my hair. It smelled the same as it did when I was a kid, it untangled my mass of disgusting knots and it reminded me of sitting in the tub as a kid, usually against my will. (I was a grimy, outdoors-loving, tomboy-ish kid for a good part of my childhood).

However, the shampoo made my baths tolerable, and when it ran out I'd use the fish-shaped bottle as a bath toy, pretending it was a whale or something stupid. I don't know, I was 6! I had a very active imagination.

Still smells like the 90s. Still looks like a fish.

Using that shampoo got me thinking about other products that bring back memories for me, and how it's usually scent-based. As a kid I had this pot of lip gloss from Avon with Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" emblazoned on the lid. It was a thick, goopy, watermelon-toned gloss with a very distinct smell that I couldn't quite pinpoint.

Years went by, the pot of gloss was misplaced, and as a beauty devotee I moved on to hundreds of other lip products. Then, one day in a Sephora I happened upon NARS' Lip Lacquer in Chelsea Girls ($28, and when I unscrewed the pot to try it on I was hit with a waft of indescribable scent that hadn't come across my nostrils in over 10 years.

It smelled exactly like that Avon gloss. I immediately remembered sitting on the counter of the bathroom at my parents' house and smearing that lipgloss all over my mouth with wild abandon. Every once in awhile I'll pop into a Sephora and open a pot of Lip Lacquer just to smell that comforting, like-a-kid-again scent.

Ah, the smell of childhood. NARS' Lip Lacquer in Chelsea Girls.

Then, when I really think about it, there are so many smells that take me down memory lane. Clinique's Aromatics Elixir reminds me of the smell of my mother's coats in the early 90s. Looking at a bottle of that same brand's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion reminds me of the bottle that rested on my grandmother's vanity. The smell of Estée Lauder lip gloss reminds me of a childhood friend's mom who used to let us play "dress-up" with her exclusively E.L. make-up collection. RALPH by Ralph Lauren reminds me of sample strips in the pages from my Teen People (R.I.P.) subscription I so eagerly awaited each month in junior high.

Mom was probably wearing Aromatics Elxir when this was taken. Gee whiz, look how happy I was.

I thought writing this article might make me feel better but it turns out it just bummed me out even more so ... tell me about which products bring up happy memories for you. Tell me a nice story. I'm listening (or reading, rather).

I complain on Twitter a lot: @hannahejo