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The Daily Dish Shopping

10 Old-School Beauty Products That Are Just as Good (and Cheap!) as Ever

Dig out your allowance! They ring up at less than $11 a pop.

By Katherine Kluznik

We're willing to admit that we occasionally exercised poor judgement in the past when it came to beauty trends. Blue shimmer shadow, crimped hair, over-plucked eyebrows — they were never good, despite what we would have told you at the time. When it comes to old-school beauty products, though, we have no regrets. We loved those scrubs, sprays, and lipsticks for a reason. Well, actually for two reasons: they were affordable and they worked.

Ahead, 10 throwbacks that are worth remembering again, especially since each rings up at less than $11 — affordable even if you were still living off an allowance.

Still on the fence? Maybe the original ‘60s, '70s, '80s or '90s commercial for each product below will convince you (or possibly just make you want to leave the past in the past forever).

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

A very brief beauty history lesson: A teenage entrepreneur founded the world’s best-selling beauty brand — Maybelline — in 1915, naming the company after his big sis (Mabel, obvs.). But it took until 1971 before the brand introduced the blinding green-and-pink tube that everyone’s been carrying in their makeup bags since.

Old-school commercial: If this 1988 ad is anything to go on, the ‘80s can be summed up by the following: perms, housecats, neon, jazzercise. Sounds about right.

Revlon Cherries in the Snow Super Lustrous Lipstick

Remember that time when you were in the hall changing classes and you spotted your very best BFF wearing this vivid hue, and you thought, maybe it would make me look that pretty too? You weren’t the first to steal the universally flattering color and claim it as your own — Cherries in the Snow has been on almost everyone's lips since 1952.

Old-school commercial: Is that Claudia Schiffer there beneath that explosion of 1990s hair? Why, yes it is.

Vaseline Lip Therapy

Medicinal flavored Carmex might have been your balm of choice in middle school, but once you hit high school chances are you moved on to Vaseline Lip Therapy (because, you know, you might actually end up making out with someone). And today it keeps lips just as soft as it ever did. Toss one in your (far more grown-up) backpack and you're set for whatever.

Old-school commercial:  Watch a poodle-coiffed model set a tube of Chapstick on fire in this odd ad for the balm.

Aquanet Hair Spray

Aquanet was the Ellnet of hairsprays long before the French-beauty must-have landed Stateside, and there was nothing like it for keeping your back-combed 'do in place right through 8th period.

Old-school commercial: The stars of this ‘60s commercial for the iconic hairspray: The Three Stooges. We’re not sure why.

Sun In Hair Lightener

Sun In let you go a little bit blonder without your mom getting mad. Plus, it was the perfect excuse to bake in the sun to "activate" it. (A note: A hairdryer works just as well.)

Old-school commercial: Set on a beach with an appropriately blonde model and a jarringly cheery ‘rap’ soundtrack that definitely was just as cringy then as it is now.

Aapri Facial Scrub

When you think of old-school exfoliators, your mind probably jumps to St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub ... but remember Aapri, which felt so much fancier, with its two a’s that just made it seem so European? The original luxury-on-the-cheap exfoliator is still at it buffing away dead skin like a pro.

Old-school commercialThis weirdly unsettling ’80s ad features frogs hopping, cats lounging, and a fresh-faced lady encouraging you to “wake up the Aapri way.”

Dove Beauty Bar

If this facial bar didn’t have a permanent spot in your bathroom, well, you probably didn’t grow up in America — at least not during the past six decades. It’s still at work getting off all that grime without throwing off your skin’s pH.

Old-school commercial: A slightly ominous classical soundtrack plays over footage of pH test strips touching down on various competitors’ bars of soap. The music cheers up, though when a strip lands on Dove Beauty Bar (it’s pH balanced!). A happy ending if there ever was one.

Herbal Essences Shampoo

Back in the day, Herbal Essences' iconic commercials (below) either convinced you it was the shampoo for you or ensured it would never find itself in your shower, thank you very much. The stuff actually worked great though — and still does, leaving hair silky and soft.

Old-school commercial: Geriatric sexpert, Dr. Ruth makes a cameo in this racy, suds-filled ad with the euphemistic tagline: “It’s a totally organic experience.”

Noxzema Cream

Long before we ever considered shelling out on $100 on a face mask (our allowance was $15 a week, after all) we slathered our faces in Noxzema — and really, it worked just as well. 

Old-school commercial: This ‘90s spot stars Rebecca Gayheart of Jawbreaker fame feeling all nervous when she spots the guy she likes. Oh, god, is her face oily? Nah, she used Noxzema, so she can just relax and not worry that he thinks she’s a greaseball.

Sea Breeze Astringent

If you're like us, you never really knew what toner was for back in the day — but that didn't stop you from using it, mostly because your friend with the really good skin said it was essential. Sea Breeze was decades ahead of the K-beauty trend, giving skin an extra little cleansing and reducing shine.

Old-school commercial: “Beautiful skin can be a breeze with Sea Breeze,” the jingle singer assures us. What he doesn't mention: Using the product also causes umbrellas, newspapers, decks of cards — and anything else that’s not nailed down — to blow away when you stroll by.

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