Hello, students! It’s time for Beauty 101: Cult Products. When I say cult products, I don’t mean things used in the Heaven’s Gate dorm room. I mean beauty products that have a rabid, devoted, loyal following. They’re best-sellers, beloved favorites, eternal stars. You might use a few, or know someone who does. Maybe you love them, or maybe they drive you insane (like me and Maybelline Great Lash). These products have touched my life in some way.
The sisters behind Benefit created rosy, just-kissed lip and cheek stain Benetint for strippers in San Francisco. The dancers used it to tint their nipples a pretty pink. Once it caught on, they bottled it and sold it to everyone. Benetint basically built the Benefit brand we know and love today.
Vamp is probably the most famous nail polish of all time. Created in 1994, Vamp started a frenzy for dark, moody polishes perfect for the grunge trend occurring in both music and fashion. Chanel couldn’t keep it in stock. They discontinued it for awhile, but it’s available again at any Chanel counter. Of course, it was $15 in the ’90s and it’s $27 now.
OG Herbal Essences
Herbal Essences was popular in the ’70s, and when it was brought back to life in the mid-’90s we couldn’t get enough of it. Those “Yes, yes, YES!” commercials were ubiquitous. Though the brand was revamped in 2006, it’s the originals in their familiar bottles that have our hearts. You can still buy them, don’t worry!
Love it or hate it, Cetaphil is a legendary product. Some tout it as a gentle cleanser perfect for acne-prone skin, while others rag on it for its chemical content.
This peachy, shimmery blush is definitely NARS’ most famous product; its popularity launched an entire Orgasm range of nail polishes, lip colors and an ultra-glittery version called Super Orgasm. Creator Francois Nars chose the name first, then developed the color, which looks great on tons of skintones. Apparently one is sold every two minutes.
Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
Much like Chanel’s Vamp, Black Honey found initial popularity in the ’90s. The sheer blackberry stain was universally flattering and the texture, not quite a lipstick but not a balm, either, was innovative. And like NARS’ Orgasm, Black Honey spawned an entire color collection from Clinique a few years ago.
YSL Touche Eclat
It’s French for “radiant touch,” and that’s what this handy little pen does to your skin. It’s often referred to as the product to reach for when you want to look like you’ve slept a perfect eight hours, because it illuminates your entire face with just a few strokes. It’s over 20 years old now and still selling like hotcakes; YSL recently added several new shades and a foundation line based around it.
Chanel No. 5
The most famous perfume in the world was created by rebellious Chanel, who was tired of one-note floral perfumes. She and her perfumer created something complex, something that smelled like a real woman, and that concoction became Chanel No. 5. It’s a masterpiece, but you have to be ready for No. 5 to appreciate its beauty. Its iconic ad campaigns have featured Marilyn Monroe, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve and many, many more. Someone in your family definitely owns a bottle.
Maybelline Great Lash
Maybelline claims a pink and green tube of this drugstore favorite sells every two minutes. It’s a simple mascara with an easy to use wand and a dark, shiny formula to lift and separate your lashes. Maybelline was named after creator Tom Williams’ sister Mabel; in 1915, she gave him the inspiration to create cosmetics after he watched her applying Vaseline and coal to her lashes to make them darker.
Love’s Baby Soft
Did you have a small pink bottle of this powdery fragrance as a young girl? I sure did. Baby Soft was created in the ’70s to appeal to adults and their ads were controversial, featuring very young models dressed like children. Baby Soft endures on drugstore shelves and in packaged sets with its contemporaries, like Soft Jasmin and Lemon Fresh.
Runners-up: Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, Rosebud Salve, MAC Russian Red matte lipstick, Revlon Cherries in the Snow lipstick. What are your favorites?