The beauty world is in the midst of a major pop-culture moment and arguably undergoing a huge transformation. It’s gone from being viewed as a superficial and vain industry to being an inclusive conduit of creative and personal expression. With this quasi social shift going on right now, however, comes a slew of new marketing campaigns, constant product launches and drops, and a whole new entertainment sector of beauty bloggers and YouTubers garnering more attention and collab opportunities than even well-established editorial makeup artists who have been revered for decades.
However, despite the revamping of skin care, color cosmetics and grooming products, there are some tried-and-true gold standards that have withstood the test of time without having to be repackaged in millennial-pink colorways or having to rely on pricey beauty blogger sponsorships to endure as best-sellers.
Of course, there’s a slew of old-fashioned products we used back in the day that we would never revisit again because there are so many better options now available at a wide range of price points. In fact, I’m still scarred by the the tangerine-hued locks I struggled to grow out for more than a year in middle school, courtesy of iconic Sun-In spray.
Many may also remember another ’90s favorite: the no-B.S. Sea Breeze “Toner” that stripped the skin of excess oil, dirt, and well, everything. However, while we’re happy to leave some of the now-“vintage” beauty products we loved back in the day in our past, there are plenty of legacy products that still hold their own against the fancy new products in today’s delightfully saturated market that are, frankly, irreplaceable.
We’re all for innovative products, and we, too, live to hear about new product drops, but we’d also like to make a case for the simple old=school products that are still used for a reason despite their lack of marketing allure.
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1. Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser
This is the O.G. of cleansing balms, which have become a skin-care staple in the beauty world within the last couple of years. While new cult classics like Clinique’s best-selling Take off the Day Cleansing balm make recurrent appearances in YouTuber’s empty’s videos and certainly do wonders for makeup removal sans the dryness, this no-frills cream does an equally stellar job for a fraction of the cost.
2. John Frieda Frizz Ease Serum
Look, we’re not trying to say that applying this ’90s-favorite hair-care product feels like a luxe experience or looks IG-worthy enough for your bathroom #sheflie. However, when it comes to combating frizz and taming those unruly flyaways (thanks, bleach-born breakage!), this old-school product actually works—even in the the most humid of climates.
3. L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray
This classic hairspray is a staple in nearly any hairstylist’s kit—and for good reason. The lightweight spray holds the style but remains brushable and soft to the touch, rather than crunchy and stiff.
4. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
Even the pink and lime green packaging of this cult-status drugstore mascara screams 1994: The retro packaging still hasn’t been updated (which the nostalgic side of us kind of appreciates), and the formula remains untouched. Makeup artists still swear by this cheap mascara because it has an ultra-thin and liquidy formula that makes it super to build up from natural to glam without clumping up or looking spidery on the lashes.
5. Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Another multifunctional cult classic, Smith’s Original Rosebud Salve was originally formulated in 1892 and is still coveted by loyal beauty fans and professional makeup artists alike. With a deliciously mild rose fragrance and lightweight balm texture, this balm moisturizes the lips with a touch of pink, soothes burns and irritation, and can even be used on blemishes.
6. Thayer’s Witch Hazel Rose Water Toner
This all-natural, alcohol-free toner is not the Sea Breeze you used to combat your acne as a teen. This rose-infused toner cleanses without overdrying or stripping the skin of virtually all moisture. We’re not going to lie, we also love the shabby-chic, vintage-inspired packaging too.