5 Gen X Beauty Products That Totally Hold Up
Cue the '90s nostalgia.
It's hard to think about the iconic beauty products of our Gen X adolescence without thinking about the ones that were, in retrospect, officially Bad Ideas: Sun-In does not turn your dark brown hair blonde, no matter how much you spray it; SPF 8 will make your pale skin burn at the beach; and being a fanatic about everything we put on our faces being "oil-free" was not, in fact, beneficial for our acne-prone skin.
That said, there are some Gen X beauty products that, against all odds, have stood the test of time (or almost). These are our faves.
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Vamp
POV: It's 1994, you're a junior in high school, and Chanel has just released a brand new nail polish that is the darkest red you've ever seen. When you go to Bloomingdale's in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts with your friends, you linger at the Chanel counter, gazing at this $15 a bottle nail polish and wondering if you can sneak painting one of your nails with the tester. Spending $15 on a bottle of nail polish seems obscene, absurd, and completely out of the question because it is nearly three times what you make in an hour working at your uncle's candy store. But there is something mysterious, sexy, and so, so alluring about this color. It's like nothing you've ever seen before, and you think that if you manage to get ahold of a bottle then you will suddenly be the effortlessly cool, incredibly chic, takes-no-crap woman you are destined to be.
Twenty-seven years later and Chanel Vamp is still iconic, and somehow, still radiates the same effortless cool it did back when I was a teenager. It's still expensive — at $28 a bottle, the price has almost doubled — but 100% worth it.
— Doree Shafrir
To shop: $28; chanel.com
Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
Clinique's iconic Black Honey Almost Lipstick was not the first lipstick I ever owned in the '90s, but it was the first one purchased at a department store, which placed it in the Extremely Fancy and Special category of my teen makeup products. And it lived up to the hype. There was something so incredibly special about it: the slender silver tube, the smooth, soft texture, and most importantly, the way in which the color appeared so deep and dark in its tube but was sheer on the lips.
Black Honey was and is the perfect berry shade lip tint. The color, the coverage, the formula is still unbeatable. You can give your lips one or two swipes for barely-there color, or layer it on for a bit more pop. If you owned this back in the day, trust us, you're going to want to pick one up now.
— Kate Spencer
To shop: $20; macys.com
Calvin Klein CK One
Launched in 1994, CK One was one of the peak moments of '90s grunge-chic pop culture. You surely remember the black and white commercial that ran for it, with that line of brooding hot models (Stella Tennant! Jenny Shimizu!) kissing and cavorting, and ending with Kate Moss sulking in a pair of black cut-offs, announcing "The only one, CK One." The sleek, minimalistic bottle was a reflection of Gen X's played-down cool, a total rebuttal of the excess of the '80s. And the fragrance -- fresh, citrus heavy, a little spicy, and unisex. I remember just how cutting edge it felt at the time, how revolutionary it seemed to wear a scent that was not assigned to a gender. Nothing made me feel cooler than spritzing this all over my giant flannel shirts.
Fragrance trends have gone all over the place since then, but what truly made CK One – its intoxicating, inclusive scent – still holds up today. And with Gen Z grabbing onto everything trend we embraced in the '90s, what could make you cooler than rocking the perfume of your generation?
— Kate Spencer
To shop: $65; sephora.com
VIDEO: How to Properly Apply Perfume So It Will Last All Day Long
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
When you grow up in Boston like we did, you begin using hand cream in elementary school to combat the cracked dry skin that comes along with cold winters and over-excited radiators. This was always the hand cream of choice, and it's so concentrated, it felt like one small bottle would last you an entire decade. Though the powdery scent we used to love about this hand cream is long gone (it's now fragrance-free), it's retained it's magical healing power, thanks to the plentiful amount of glycerin packed inside each tube. There are so many hand creams on the market these days, some with exorbitant price tags. But Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula will make you nostalgic for your youth, and solve all your middle-aged dry skin drama. And at just $4, the price is still straight out of the '90s.
— Kate Spencer
To shop: $4; walmart.com
Herbal Essences Shampoo
Anyone of TV-watching age in the '90s would have had a hard time avoiding the ubiquitous commercials for Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo — you know, the ones that showed women using Herbal Essences in the shower and having what sounded suspiciously like an orgasm? I never personally had that experience, but that sweet, sweet scent of Herbal Essences is forever imprinted in my sense memory. Clairol sold the brand to Procter & Gamble in 2001, and P&G has since relaunched Herbal Essences as a standalone brand with a botanical bent. It's not exactly the same, to be sure, but buying the new Herbal Essences might still give you that little kick of nostalgia your hair needs right now.
— Doree Shafrir
To shop: $6; walmart.com
The New Age is a column about beauty over 40, written by women who are over 40. Revolutionary, when you think about it! Kate Spencer and Doree Shafrir are the hosts of Forever35 Podcast. Doree's memoir, THANKS FOR WAITING: THE JOY & WEIRDNESS OF BEING A LATE BLOOMER, is out now, and Kate's rom-com, IN A NEW YORK MINUTE, will be published in March. Learn more at doree-shafrir.com and katespencerwrites.com.