Beauty Like It's 1989!

Yep. There it is. 1989 in all it's permed, teased, and Aqua-Netted glory. When I think about my high school days, I don't necessarily remember the plays, the basketball team, the band trips to Florida...okay, yes...I do remember those…two busses full of high school kids (plus an equipment truck) driving non-stop from Wisconsin to Florida to march at a Disney parade in our dark purple, 100% wool band uniforms. Non-stop to Florida from Wisconsin. When I think of it now, I just can't even. I think we maybe stopped in Ruby Falls, Tennessee and toured an underground cave for like an hour, then back on the bus! We even had two drivers per bus and they would take turns sleeping in this little bunk behind the driver's seat (lucky bastards…they had a bunk!) I mean, can you imagine chaperoning something like that!? Those poor, poor adults. The stink of two busses full of teenagers who haven't slept. What were they thinking, taking that on!?

Okay, besides band trips to Florida, the thing I remember most about my high school years are the beauty products. There is just something about an 80s beauty product that gets me every time. It was then that my fascination with a well-appointed beauty product was born. To this day, I'm a sucker for marketing; I often put sleek packaging and lofty claims before efficacy (hey, it's about the experience, okay?) I've written about my love of old school beauty before, but unbeknownst to me, I had only just skimmed the surface. Many of my old favourite products are still out there.

Coty Emeraude Cologne 

I think I actually liked the idea of Emeraude more than I actually liked the way it smelled. My teenaged mind associated that hypnotic green elixir with a rich, velvety sophistication. Emerald green was the color of sophistication back in the 80s after all, as many a present-day restaurant or country club screaming for a remodel can attest. I wanted to be the woman that could wear such a strong (and man it was strong) scent as a signature... not that I had that kind of insight at the time. It would be years before I realised that I am more of a clean, sporty, single-note kind of a perfume gal. 

Funny story. In the 80s, I found myself in Walgreens with my bestie, and decided I wanted to give the newly-launched Emeraude bath gel a sniff. I unscrewed the lid of the plastic bottle, but couldn't quite get a fix on the subtle (!?) nuanced difference between it and the namesake cologne, so to get a little airflow going (the very thing they always tell you NOT to do in chemistry class) I gave the bottle just the tiniest of squeezes…just enough to launch about a quarter of the bottle's product straight up my nose. Every part of my face immediately began to excrete velvety Emeraude sophistication, and I think I may even have been rendered temporarily blind. My friend was of no help whatsoever, although I don't see why - her tears (of laughter) were clear. I can't speak for the 2016 permutation of Emeraude, but in 1989, that shit burned

Jean Naté after bath splash was like an aftershave for your entire body, and I suppose the precursor to all of those Bath & Body Works sprays that come in weird "flavours" like chocolate sugar cake and root beer verbena patchouli rat pee. For the record, Jean Naté now comes in a spray as well…how thoroughly modern indeed!

The highlight for me in finding Jean Naté again was reading the product description, which Bluefly refers to as "the designer's notes".
Launched by the design house of Revlon in 1935, Jean Nate for Women is recommended for evening use.
Ahhh yes. The Design House of Revlon. I remember fondly sitting in my PJs with my 80s school mates on a wintery night, the air thick with the House of Revlon's Jean Naté as we delicately nibbled crispy pointes de Doritoes and washed them down with a robust 1986 Chateaux Monsieur Pibb.

Oh, and it's recommended for evening use. Snort.

Flavored Lip Balm in a Tin

While I don't think that this is the original lip balm in a tin company, Tinte cosmetics has done a reproduction of the lip balm in a tin of my youth, right down to the flavors. Pre-teen classics like bubblegum, root beer, and my personal  favourite, cream soda. We used to have a rather off-label use for our lip balm in a tin; we'd put the tins on top of this vintage potbellied wood-burning stove that was in the neighbourhood's outdoor ice rink warm-up shed and reduce the contents to a liquid, then make wax lips.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

Swiss Formula St. Ives Apricot Scrub is all the proof I need to reinforce my theory that Switzerland is not, in fact, a neutral country - this exfoliating scrub was very clearly an act of war. 

One part your Grandma's cold cream, two parts fibreglass insulation batting, this scrub felt a lot like you'd covered yourself in Greek yogurt, put a bag of angry bees over your head, and then sat down and allowed the situation to percolate naturally. 

"But I feel something…so it must be working", we said to ourselves, tears running down our blood-stained cheeks, taking with them bits of razor-sharp apricot pit shard, which cascaded into the sink with the soft splat, splat, splat of unfulfilled dreams.


  1. Wow, I graduated high school in '86 and those people in your photo could be straight outta my own yearbook. In fact some of them look like the EXACT SAME PEOPLE!

    My poor mother made the mistake of wearing Jean Nate when we kids were little, and had to put up with getting a ginormous bottle of it for every birthday and Christmas until she died in 2007.

    By the way, right now as I write I have a Dr. Pepper LipSmacker balm in my makeup drawer. It is the only tinted lip product I'll use - long live Bonne Bell!

  2. Those village lip tins brought me right back! And that apricot scrub, OMG. The worst product ever, absolutely an act of war.

  3. I had a tin of that lip sour apple!

    I graduated in 83 but the hairstyles were almost the same.


  4. Ah, a blast from the past .. what a fun post. I remember those lip glosses in the glass bottle with the roller ball. They had all kinds of 'flavors'. All I remember is that they made my throat sore (gawd, wonder what was in those products!).


  5. I kind of liked the apricot scrub. It was real good for taking dirt out from under your fingernails, and scrubbing red clay stains off your summertime bare feet.

    My mother wore Emeraude, she smelled like a freshly-mown lawn most of the time. Or freshly-mown onions ... or maybe that was because she'd usually just finished mowing the lawn.

    Only really, really old people wore Jean Naté. Like my grandmother's older sister.

    By 1989, I had graduated out of dowsing myself in Opium into the lighter scents of Jontue and Pavlova. I still wear Pavlova. Darling Daughter gave me a big bottle of Opium for Christmas last year and we all nearly choked when I opened the bottle for us to smell it. Even a tiny bit on a cotton ball in the back of the linen cupboard is too much. But it has kept out any mice and other varmints.

  6. Oh 80's hair. Gotta love it. I'm still emotionally scarred from several perms gone wrong. Jean Nate. Wow. I could actually smell it as I read your blog. And I don't even want to talk about shoulder pads. Yoiks!

    1. Remember Shoulder Pad Build-up? When your bra, and your slip, and your blouse, and your sweater, and your overcoat all had shoulder pads ... and your head sat lower than the level of your shoulders?

    2. LOL, as an avid thrifter, I spend a lot of time removing shoulder pads from perfectly serviceable garments.

  7. Awesome blog post and pretty pic...Really made me smile! I'm class of '89, graduated in MN, and your yearbook looks exactly like mine! Some of my coveted 80's beauty products were Aquanet Hairspray, Love's Babysoft perfume, and Cover Girl Pressed Powder. Those were the days indeed!

  8. OMG we had those exact same products in Australia. A beautician told me years later they had to have bits of apricot shell surgically removed from client's faces!

  9. Oh I used to love Jean Nate. And Heaven Scent by Yardley. Wonderful nostalgia, xo


  10. Yep, apricot scrub more effective than Swarfega, they were in the wrong market, all those burly mechanics would have been really grateful. However being a little older than you I was a sophisticated Opium girl in the 80s! Great post


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