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My Favorite Old Beauty Products from the Back of the Drawer

A vintage image of a woman wearing vintage looking rollers in her hair

Don't worry. I don't mean "old school" as in waxing nostalgic about the days of bullet bras and talcum powder; this isn't a piece about foundation garments or cosmetic safety. In fact, it's quite the opposite of that. (But since it came up, go ahead and rely on the Environmental Working Group's database/website for all your cosmetic safety needs.) No, this piece is a keepin' it real love letter to the cosmetics in my collection that are old. Like, really old. My favorite old beauty products from the back of the drawer.


The Comfort of Favorite Old Beauty Products

So much of what we see and read on social media is based around the model of influencers marketing the next best thing. And don't get me wrong, I love trying new things, but inevitably, I seem to find myself ending up reaching for the back of the drawer.

I imagine cosmetic years are at least as exponentially ageing as dog years, and I'm quite certain that at this point I have more than one centenarian eyeshadow palette in my makeup collection. But isn't that the mark of a real holy grail product? From where I'm sitting, there is a lot of value in a product that you are willing to pick the lint out of repeatedly so that you can keep right on using it until you can see your reflection in the empty tin. With that in mind, here I present to you a couple of my trusty old standbys. Hopefully lint free, but probably not.

Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Telluride (Matte)

A discontinued Bobbi Brown bronzing powder in the shade Telluride

I purchased this Bobbi Brown Telluride bronzer in a bargain bin at TK Maxx in Glasgow, not realizing that it was a limited edition piece. I am now in the midst of a full-blown existential crisis. I'm freaking out because I can see that the end is near for this product, and a brief internet search has shown me that I'm never going to be able to find it again. This is the matte version of this bronzer, and I use it virtually every day in varying amounts, mostly just to create a bit of warmth to my look as well as ensure that whatever stage of tan I may be at, my makeup blends well. It keeps me from having to have 800 shades of BB cream in my colleciton.

With my increasingly silver hair, bronzers tend to go very orange on me, so finding one like this - one that's just the right amount of warmth to complement my warm skin tone while avoiding the ubiquitous orange-based brown cast...that has been at least a decade-long quest. There are a few of the illuminating versions of this bronzer still floating around out there, but I have not been able to secure the matte version. With matte bronzers, you are really able to create a more natural look, and you always have the option to add shimmer over the top to change-up the look. I have subsequently launched into a campaign of trying to find a dupe, so this is going to be a watch this space kind of situation here folks. It's hard to find matte bronzers at the best of times, let alone in the shade I'm looking for. A few potential replacements that show early promise that I will definitely be trying in the future (not limited to matte): Korres Zea Mays Blush in Pupple Brown (hard to find - also probably discontinued), Stila Convertible Color Lip and Cheek Stain in Magnolia (discontinued in the UK, can still find it in the USA), and Guerlain Bronzing Powder in Medium Cool.

Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadow in Praline

This is my second pot of this cream eyeshadow by Revlon. This one is a no brainer for me. It's a lovely warm pinkish shade that blends well with my skin tone. Yes, it's shimmery which can be problematic for those of us who aren't 25, but the creamy formula dries down and sort of sets in such a way that you don't need to worry about it settling into your creases. I get a lot of wear out of this stuff, and I use this most days. It's quick and easy, and I just stick a finger in, do a quick few swipes on each lid, and it gives me a bit of a glow without looking too "done", which I am not a fan of. This stuff gets me out the door fast, and I'm not messing with a bunch of brushes and colors and blending tools. I haven't tried any of the other shades yet, because quite frankly, I don't feel the need to. If I want a more dramatic eye, I often use this as a base, then build up with some of my other ancient eyeshadows on top of this to get the desired effect. But these days, this is pretty much what I wear every single day. These are available just about anywhere that carries Revlon products.

Mischa Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 20

This is a Korean product, and it has been on the scene for a while. Finding the right shade can be a bit tricky with very little to go on other than online research and watching YouTubers half your age apply twice as much product as you would use, but with a relatively low price tag of around $10-$15 in the US, you can afford to experiment. It's a bit more in the UK through mainstream beauty suppliers, but there is a workaround. More on that in a minute

The coverage of this product is quite sheer despite the very rich texture, so even if you get the shade slightly wrong as I did initially, you can still kind of get away with it. (For the record, Shade 23 was too light for me, and is a very cool undertoned light to medium shade that looks grey in the tube - but don't let it scare you. it would be perfect for someone with a light/medium complexion and cool undertones ).

Shade 27 was the shade that I ultimately landed on, and it is a perfect match for my yellow-undertoned and often tanned skin. This product has a way of sort of emulsifying once it's on your skin and it really becomes quite seamless. Even if you feel initially that the shade may not be ideal, sit with it a moment, it takes a few minutes to fully settle. Incidentally, this photo is a representation of their older shade offerings. I believe they have since expanded it a bit more.

This stuff has a good SPF comprised of a combo of a common chemical sunscreen and a mineral zinc oxide physical sunscreen. A little goes a very long way with this product; it lasts all day, has buildable coverage, and I absolutely love it. As I said earlier, it can be slightly more expensive (not much more) and harder to find in the UK, but if you can wait a few weeks, order it from Korean sites like YesStyle and you'll get it for half of what they sell it for on Amazon and other UK beauty sites.


Jan 20

I’m still grieving over the loss of Bobbi Browns Telluride.. the only bronzer that actually looks natural and not orangy like the rest which appear to just vary into varying shades of orange. I still remember the day I walked through Nordstrom’s and saw it. I knew without even trying it on it was a win. I wish I could ask Bobbi herself WHYYYY did she have to remove the ONE while all the others look the same. 😞😞😞


Kim Forgey
Kim Forgey
Sep 10, 2021

Revlon Colorstay creme eyeshadow is my one and only! I have a few colors - espresso and chocolate are matte, not shimmery, but I agree the shimmer seems to calm down after it's applied.

Replying to

I have been thinking about getting the espresso, but I'm not sure how warm it might be on me. I tend to turn brown based colors really orange and need to get something a bit cooler. I may relent though, lol.

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