I’m sure you are all laughing at me as I tell you that cosmetics keep me sane. How could such a seemingly superficial aspect of life bring me such joy, and even serenity in times of clusterfuck-ness? I don’t know, but what I do know that is that it has been that way my entire life. The world of beauty is something that has always fascinated me. At the age of three I was caught playing with my mom’s Avon makeup. My favorite things were those little teeny, tiny lipstick samples. I figured they were meant for little kids…they were the perfect size! My favorite shade was the Soft Shell Pink, a hideous coral-pink frosty disaster. By the time I was four, I was sampling any perfume I could get my grubby little hands on. The first perfume I ever fell in love with was my mom’s Samba perfume. The packaging was as deliciously 80’s as one could get, bright and tacky. The scent was undoubtedly a heavy oriental headache, but at the time, it was heaven.
A few short years later, I discovered Bath and Body Works. Oh, Bath and Body Works, how many fond memories I have of you. My first ever scent from BBW was the elusive Iced Pineapple. It was only around for a short time, but was it seriously one of the best scents to ever come out of that place. Most pineapple scents have the tendency to have a bit of a tart, musty smell – but not this bad boy. It was the perfect juicy scent of fresh-cut pineapple. From then on, I have been hunting for the perfect pineapple scent. While some have come close, nothing will ever replace the glorious Iced Pineapple in my book. Bath and Body Works was always a “must stop” mall location for me, as I always enjoyed seeing what they would come up with next. This is when my obsession with all things yummy smelling really took off.
Really, I have just always loved shopping. One of my favorite shopping locales as a young child was the little historic downtown shopping center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In the 90’s, it had everything I could ever desire. There was a toy store, a candy store, a store with fairy dust on the floor and tropical fish lining the walls, a bookstore with a superb kid’s section, a Bath and Body Works (of course), and most importantly, Plymouth Candle Company. It was there that I was introduced to Yankee Candles. The first Yankee I ever bought was a French Vanilla tart. I never burned it, since I had no idea what a tart was, but hey, it was little and cute and it smelled like vanilla cake and I was all over it. I have tried many, many candles over the years but I always will have some Yankees hanging out with the rest of my stash.
And then came the Lip Smacker collection. When I first discovered Lip Smackers at the age of 7, my mom gave me the Bonne Bell rundown: she had them when she was a kid, her favorite flavor was Dr. Pepper (isn’t everyone’s?) and they were made right here in Cleveland. Say no more mom, you had me at Dr. Pepper! From then on, I would scour every drugstore, Marc’s, Wal-Mart and K-Mart in the area for new Lip Smackers. I had them all. I had all the necklaces with 7 different flavors each, I had the special edition holiday ones, I had the giant ones, I had the lipglosses, the perfumes…EVERYTHING. I probably stopped a few years later with the craziness, but to this day, whenever I see new Lipsmackers at Target I have to pick them up. They’re not the best lip balms by any means, but they definitely bring back some fond memories. I’m partial to anything jelly bean or marshmallow flavored anyways.
Nail polish probably came next. When the weather would get nice, my friends and I would save up our pennies and make a hike to Revco to pick up some Wet and Wild nail polishes. This is the time when nail polishes were still mostly all pink and red, so Wet and Wild’s colors seemed so crazy! They had orange, blue, black, purple, even GLITTER. It was a dream come true for a young beauty junkie like myself. And then a few years later, Hard Candy was born. I saw those ads for it in YM and Seventeen Magazines and I was obsessed with finding it; I had to have that Sky blue nail polish! I had heard rumblings about it being sold in a place called Sephora, so I checked it out. My first step into Sephora, and it was all over. It had EVERYTHING: perfume, nail polish, bath and body products, skincare, and of course, makeup.
I can’t talk about Hard Candy without talking about Urban Decay! Before those two brands were around, makeup was kind of a boring market. Everything was mauve, peach, rose…but with Hard Candy and Urban Decay, we now had Mildew green, Trailer Trash silver, Roach brown, Gash blood red, Toxin blue, and Oil Slick black. As an angtsy pre-teen, these brands were just what the doctor ordered. I had a friend named Elizabeth in middle school, a beautiful and sassy diva of beauty products. I always admired her massive makeup stash, her shower full of shampoo, and her Philosophy shower gel collection. She actually won an Urban Decay contest and got to name a lipstick. I forgot what it was, and I’m not sure if the color is still around, but at the time, it was one of the coolest things ever. She even got a t-shirt out of the deal. Man, was I jealous of that t-shirt!
Into high school, I began experimenting with other mid-to-high end makeup brands such as Stila, Clinique, Prescriptives (may you RIP), Bobbi Brown and MAC. I was never really great at actually applying the makeup, but did I sure love trying! High school was also when I started dying my hair. Red was usually a favorite, but I seemed to often end up with tinges of orange or purple in there. However it turned out, I generally didn’t care. The fun part was getting together with my girlfriends and ruining the bathroom sink with hair dye. This is when the acrylic nails started as well. OH THE HORRORS! Those terrible FRENCH TIP ACRYLICS. *gag* I always have had such nice nails, I’m not sure what ever possessed me to go with acrylics. Ugh, and how they would get yellow after tanning. Sick. Hey, I never said my beauty journey was a pretty one.
After high school began my career in retail beauty stores. My first real job was at the Body Shop. My manager was amazing and coming to work every day was a blast. I loved playing with all the body butters, doing makeovers on customers and coming up with fragrance oil combinations. Sadly, the Body Shop was later bought out by L’Oreal and they just haven’t been the same since. After the Body Shop, I worked at Trade Secret. True, Trade Secret is a salon but the main source of revenue is the retail section. Hair products and nail polish galore! The best part was having first pick of the 75% off nail polish markdowns. After Trade Secret was Bath and Body Works. To this day, that was my favorite job ever. After years and years of shopping there, I was finally behind the scenes. When I worked there, BBW was at the height of its innovation. There was the regular Pleasures line and the Anti-Bac line of course, but there was also Breathe, Aromatherapy, True Blue Spa, Tutti Dolci, C.O. Bigelow, Savannah Bee Company, Le Couvent des Minimes, Temptations, and White Barn Candle Company. Those were the days for sure. After that, there was a short stint at Yankee Candle and later a run at Perfumania. I just couldn’t stay away from beauty products!
During that time, I experimented with making my own bath and products as well. I soon realized that it was just more fun buying what other people had made. And so I discovered bath and body e-tailers. These are companies that hand make their own products, and they often have over 500 different scents available to purchase! I loved slathering myself in the Blueberry Pancake, Strawberry Margarita, Raspberry Cheesecake, and Pineapple Buttercream Cupcake fragrances that e-tailers would offer. It became a very expensive habit, since every fragrance these companies had sounded so flipping delicious! The orders were made from scratch, so once you placed the order, it would be a good month or so wait before receiving the products. Once that package came, it was like Christmas all over again.
And here I am today, an equal opportunity offender. My current love is nail polish, but I still have a wonderful makeup, perfume and body and body stash as well. Now with beauty blogs, communities like Makeup Alley and the YouTube beauty community, I am able to share my love for products with people from all over the world! It’s wonderful talking to people who are as obsessed, and often times MUCH MORE obsessed with the beauty world as I am. I’m sure most of you stopped reading about 20 paragraphs ago, but I really enjoyed sharing this with you all and I encourage you to share your beauty story with the world as well!! I tag EVERYONE, beauty nut or not, to do the same!!