When I look at teenagers today, I can't help but feel like they're missing out. Sure, most of them can do their hair better than I can, and with literally millions of makeup tutorials at their fingertips, they can absolutely apply, blend, and buff more innately than I ever could at their age.
Still, I can't help but feel like they're being deprived of "fun" beauty. Where's the roll-on body glitter or Lancôme's Juicy Tubes (which were so sticky there was a genuine fear of debris getting stuck in your excessively slicked pout every time you stepped out the door)? And don't even get me started on the anticipation of arriving at Superdrug in the hope that Barry M's Dazzle Dusts had been restocked.
Nostalgia is a great thing. And while there are some beauty products that should ultimately remain in our pasts, there are some which stuck with us throughout our teens and into adulthood, products that have stood the test of time and that outperform even the flashiest of new launches. Here, our editors reveal the teenage beauty products they still love and use today and would recommend to you in a heartbeat.
NELL BLOCK, ASSISTANT EDITOR
This, for me, was the holy grail of makeup when I was a teenager. I didn't go in for packing on the foundation but always wanted a healthy glow (I read a lot of J17, RIP). Even now as I type this, I don't know why I don't have a vial of the stuff in my makeup bag. It gives you just the right amount of rouge—just dab on a small amount and blend with your fingers—and it lasts a long time.
If there's one thing I've learnt about eyeliner over the 20 years I've used it, it's that you can always give yourself a quick smoky eye with a touch of kohl. While I'd always invest a bit more in an eyeliner pen, I don't think you need to spend big bucks on eyeliner pencils, such as Rimmel's classic kohl. Try it in brown for a more subtle look if you're wearing it during the day.
GISELLE LA POMPE-MOORE, CONTRIBUTOR
In an effort to have the shiniest shins in my group of friends, I spent many nights slathering on thick coats of this stuff until I could nearly see my reflection in the glossy finish on my skin. I'm not sure if it's the comforting chocolate scent that's instantly recognisable as belonging to Palmer's or the fact that it's just so incredibly nourishing, but I've been using this again and absolutely loving it, especially now that I've learned some restraint with how much I actually need to apply. I usually use body oils and butters that are more than 10 times the price, but this drugstore classic has me enamoured again.
This is actually the first time I've bought this hand cream with my own money, as my teenage years were spent borrowing it from my mum's bag. She always had a tub of this cream on her, ready and willing to rescue my hands from imminent dryness. While I have dozens of hand creams at home, I forgot to pack one in my bag recently and found myself rediscovering this in Boots. The dense and hydrating cream has knocked my other hand creams to the side, such is its ability to deeply soften both my hands and neglected cuticles.
This was one of the first "big girl" foundations that I ever bought, and I rather rudely forgot all about it, as I spent all of my 20s searching for the perfect foundation. When I used up all of my favourites, I found a bottle in my stash and remembered just how excellent it is. It lasts all day with minimal touch-ups and has matte coverage without looking unrealistic, and I can build the coverage up depending on what look I'm going for. So Studio Fix, consider this my public apology for forgetting you. You're back in the fold.
SHANNON LAWLOR, CONTRIBUTOR
This was probably the first beauty product I ever fell in love with. I had used makeup before but not religiously enough to really appreciate its power. I remember being in my early teens, sitting down in front of the mirror, and applying this super-lengthening formula carefully to each individual lash. When I sat back, I couldn't believe just how much it opened up my face. Because it kick-started my obsession with makeup, I moved on to different mascaras as time went on, but recently, I picked up a tube in Boots and fell back in love all over again. It gives lashes a weightless length that even the newest, most high-tech formulas can't compete with.
I'm basically The Body Shop's number one fan and have been since I first stepped foot in one of the stores when I was a child. Like most pre-teens, I was obsessed with White Musk, Strawberry Body Butter, and Mango Shower Gel. However, from the age of 12 or so, The Body Shop's Vitamin C Microdermabrasion was also a hot favourite. I'm not entirely sure how it ever came into my possession at such a young age, but I have used it once a week since I got my first case of serious breakouts as a teenager. It leaves skin glowing beyond belief and buffs away at dead skin cells to prevent blocked pores. It's probably the only product in my skincare stash that has truly stood the test of time.
I'm a total perfume hoarder. My obsession with scent started at a very young age, and while my friends were misting Charlie Red and D&G Light Blue, I was saving up my pocket money for EDPs. I vividly recall smelling Dior's now-iconic J'adore in Debenhams when I was out shopping with my mum one day. When I was 14, I got a job, and I remember heading out with my first pay cheque to buy a 100ml bottle. In hindsight, its soapy freshness was far too sophisticated for my rough-around-the-edges teenage aesthetic, but I loved it nonetheless. This year, a bottle came my way in the post (something my 14-year-old self would totally lose her cool over), and I've fallen in love with it all over again. It might be one of the most popular scents out there, but to me, it's so much more than a piece of beauty hall furniture.
L'ORÉAL BLACKETT, CONTRIBUTOR
It’s funny how trends come around. Much like Gen Z, much of my teen years were spent trying to create cool swirly patterns in my baby hairs. A colossal tub of Eco Styler was a necessity for the curly girls in my neighbourhood. You’d be surprised how quickly we’d get through this.
Back in the day, when I was obsessed with Destiny’s Child and sticking diamantes on myself, my makeup skills weren’t as advanced as today’s generation of young people. But to my credit, I did find many creative ways to use a kohl eyeliner pencil—along the waterline, a cat-eye flick… I even used it to fill in my eyebrows.
MAXINE EGGENBERGER, CONTRIBUTOR
As glossy lips began to come into play again last year, I found myself tempted to try the trend. So I added MAC’s Lipglass to my next beauty order, not thinking much of it. When it arrived, it instantly became my go-to lip enhancer. One Saturday, pre-lockdown, I was having some mid-afternoon drinks with my best friend who, when I took my tube of Lipglass out of my handbag to reapply, told me that she used to be so jealous of the fact I had this in our youth. I have the memory of a goldfish, but as soon as she said this, visions of applying it over concealer-clad lips came flooding back. Yes, I concealed and glossed. Thankfully, I now use it on bare lips for a plumped finish, without the usual tackiness typically associated with lip gloss.
There are a few places where teenagers are known to congregate. Coffee shops are one, and The Body Shop’s lip balm section is another. Then, of course, there’s Lush, the bath and body emporium in which you could spend just five minutes and still smell the effects of its unmistakable scent a week later. My friends and I would spend hours deliberating over which bath bomb to buy. For me, much to my mother’s dismay, it always came down to whichever one was the sparkliest. One Christmas, I can’t remember which, I was given a Lush gift set from my grandparents which contained the brand’s limited-edition Rose Jam body wash—easily the best-smelling body wash on the planet. As it was only available during the festive period, stocking up on the stuff became an annual endeavour—that was until 2018 when Lush finally gave the people what they wanted: year-round access to Rose Jam. Now whenever I pass a Lush store, I have to go in and buy it. It’s an obsession. Heed my advice. Only try it if you’re prepared to commit, for you’ll never want to use anything else.
I grew up in the north of Scotland, and let’s just say the beauty selection in our shops was… limited. Of course, there were brands like Esteé Lauder, Clinique, and Clarins, but they all felt too sophisticated for my teenage palate. But Benefit? It was the height of cool. I remember signing my name on wait lists for new releases and saving every single penny I had in preparation for them. Now discontinued, perhaps my all-time favourite Benefit buy (aside from its Gimme Brow gel, which is in a league of its own) was Moon Beam Liquid Illuminator. Effectively, it was highlighter before highlighters were even a thing. I pinched a half-used bottle from my aunt (who was suitably cool and, as such, used Benefit), and I was hooked. It was part of my beauty regimen for years until one day when it simply wasn’t. By the time highlighters burst onto the beauty scene, it was retired, and only its "daytime" sister product, High Beam, remained. It is pinkier in pay-off than Moon Beam, and I stand by this product for its instant glow-bestowing capabilities. I hear the bottle size and brush have changed of late, which is causing uproar amongst High Beam devotees. Still, if you’re on the hunt for your perfect highlighter match, I’d recommend giving it a whirl.