I Resurrected My Exact '90s Beauty Routine to See How It Would Hold Up in 2016

Between the return of the supermodels, a Clinton running for President, Fuller House and renewed interest in OJ Simpson, there’s no denying that the '90s are back in a big way. We’re seeing the trend as well in beauty: Even though thin eyebrows might be out for good (hopefully!), many of the beauty staples from that era are back and bigger than ever. Whether you were 30 or 13 in 1999, you probably remember these iconic makeup, skin and body products. Seventeen (!) years later, I put them all to the test—again—to see if they still hold up in today’s ever-changing beauty landscape.

To make the most of this experiment, I test-drove some nostalgic beauty staples for seven days straight—all while documenting all my thoughts and progress in between. Here’s what actually happened when I took a trip down memory lane and brought back 14 favorites from my old routine.

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Day 1: Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers and Maybelline Great Lash
Although Maybelline Great Lash ($6) has been around since the '60s, it’s one classic formula that has withstood the test of time. I should know, as I definitely snuck my mom’s trusty tube before rushing off to school in the late '90s. In addition, Lip Smacker ($3) was definitely a favorite of '90s girls everywhere, as the popular tinted chapstick (Coconut Cake was always my favorite!) found it’s way into every cool girl’s backpack or purse.

However, using these products in 2016 still has its benefits. Maybelline Great Lash still proves to be a great buildable mascara, as just a few sweeps of the product took my lashes from simple to dramatic. Similarly, my lips adjusted well to the Lip Smacker balm, as I didn’t have to deal with any dryness or flaking several hours later.


Day 2: Dove White Beauty Bar and Neutrogena Foaming Face Wash
While the iconic Dove White Beauty Bar ($6) has been around for decades, (both my mother and grandmother used it) the Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($7) was first launched in 1993. But even with two very different release dates, both products definitely were tucked inside my bathroom cabinet in the '90s. 

Again, these products still work wonders in 2016, as the Neutrogena cleanser effectively clarified my face without any dryness or itching. Similarly, my Dove Beauty Bar also proved to be gentle yet cleansing powerhouse, as it left my complexion and body silky-smooth without any leftover residue on my face. An oldie but a goodie, as they say. 


Day 3: Clinique Black Honey Lipstick and Hard Candy Nail Polish
Makeup was another highlight of the '90s, as brown lips and funky-colored nails definitely stole the show. But even in 2016, these same looks are definitely making a comeback, as Kylie Jenner has definitely proved that brown lips are still chic. In addition, nail looks from the '90s are making a buzzworthy return, as cult-classic Hard Candy shades have returned 20 years later.

The good news is, trying these trends out today actually looks modern, not dated! Clinique Almost Lipstick In Black Honey ($17) gave my lips a sheer berry-brown tint that didn't look too moody or vampy. The Hard Candy 20th Anniversary Nail Polish ($4) also works well in 2016. White is in for summer and the polish didn’t budge or chip, even if I skipped out on a topcoat.


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Day 4: St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub and Olay All Day UV Moisturizer SPF 15 Sensitive Skin
Once day four came around, it was time to test more skin care essentials. My household loved the St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub ($4) and Olay All Day UV Moisturizer SPF 15 Sensitive Skin ($8) back then, as both products ensured soft, smooth skin. And while it’s no surprise that both of these products are still readily available, it’s more surprising that they still work great after 20 years.

My skin can be really sensitive, but thankfully the hypoallergenic St. Ives formula didn’t irritate or inflame my skin. Even though scrubs have evolved a lot over the past few decades, the apricot and corn kernel meal formula still left my skin soft and free of rough patches. The Olay cream was a nice pick-me-up after using the scrub, as it’s intensively hydrating formula gave my skin boost whenever it started feeling dull or dry. Are these my holy grail products of 2016? No. But do they still work? Yes.


Day 5: Herbal Essences and Bioré Pore Strips
On day five, I was ready to introduce some Herbal Essences Smooth Collection Shampoo ($5) into my routine. But even after getting a bit nostalgic about those cheeky commericals, I’m pleased to report that the timeless Herbal Essences formula still stands tall in 2016. Not only did my hair smell lovely after shampooing, but the clarifying formula also busted yucky greasiness and buildup right from my scalp.

Like Herbal Essences shampoos, Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($7) proved to be another product that still gets the job done. Of course I really couldn’t benefit from them back then, but now as an adult, I definitely see more noticable results.


Day 6: Tommy Girl and Scunci Hair Accessories
Taking the '90s throwback concept to a new level, I reintroduced Tommy Girl ($13), (yes I still have it) one of my all-time '90s favorites into my routine. My aunt gave me this classic scent back when it was first released in 1996 and I still remember it’s pungent citrusy scent. But despite being at least 20 years old, the perfume still delivers in 2016, as notes of black tea and honeysuckle still prove to be strong throughout the day.

And, while hair scrunchies were also a big '90s fad, it’s safe that this look may be best left in the past. I used this Scunci scrunchie ($4) to give my hair that nostalgic edge for this sake of this experiment, and while it was great for keeping my hair off my face during my morning and evening bathroom routines, this is one better left in the house.


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Day 7: Johnson’s Baby Oil and Infusium 23

Like other products I’ve used during this experiment, I fondly remember using Johnson’s Baby Oil ($4) and Infusium 23 when I was young. Both products served as post-shower staples I would religiously use.

Johnson’s Baby Oil has been going strong since 1938, so it’s no real surprise why I used it back in the '90s. Infusium was another staple in my house, as my mom would use the popular leave-in-treatment on my hair to bust any tangles or knots.

While product formulas have greatly improved in the last 20 years, they still work just as well today in 2016. Just a few sprays of the Infusium Repair & Renew Treatment ($4) left my tresses soft and tangle-free. In addition, my Baby Oil made a nice body treatment that left my skin supple and super hydrated.


What The Expert Says
Cult classics from the '90s are definitely making a comeback, but as time progresses, product formulas are always improving. Mount Kisco, NY, dermatologist David Bank, MD, notes that while iconic products are still available at drugstores, skin care and makeup products have changed for the better, as new information and technology make it possible to develop more effective formulas.

Skin care has changed for the better over the years, as we have more information about what products help stimulate collagen and reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Bank. “Many skin care products, like moisturizers and foundations for instance, now have SPF 15 or higher in them, which help protect people’s skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the risk of skin cancer.”

2 Comments
  • SG
    Posted on

    I started buying that (Oil of!) Olay lotion (Oil free, Sensitive Skin) again as well as other "classic" Olay products and there's a reason their products stuck in my memory. I realized they work better than any other products I'd used in a long time and they are so affordable. I think they are the best over the counter products you can get when you don't want to spend a lot of $ and the products last forever! Even if you prefer to shell out for other products it's a no-brainer to keep a few Olay products around since they're so cheap, often on sale and always come in handy. I love that they run the gamut of all skin types. They have so many products for sensitive skin, oil-free and of course anti-aging so there's something for everyone.

  • Jky
    Posted on

    Ok most of this stuff is already on my list of beauty routine.

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