You know how certain things just make you feel more informed about people, like their yearly Spotify Wrapped reveal or their favorite comfort food? In the realm of beauty, the equivalent to that are the
luxury products that have stuck in people’s minds for years. When I meet a fellow beauty lover, I love asking them which high-end products have burrowed themselves into their minds and taken hold.
When I was young, I spent my weekends milling around through
Sephora, bee-lining to the luxury face creams and creating a full face with the samples. When I first started being able to buy higher-end beauty products (or beg for them as gifts) I shopped strategically—so much so that the luxury products I was obsessed with at age 16 are still mainstays in my beauty routine. I decided to ask the beauty editors on my team if there were products they felt the same way about, and their answers did not disappoint. Keep reading for the first luxury beauty products we ever purchased and just can’t seem to shake.
I’ll never forget that one year for Christmas, my high school boyfriend’s mom gave me a $50 Sephora gift card, and I felt like I’d struck gold. I did tons of research on the best products to buy at Sephora (obviously I’ve always been a budding beauty editor) and landed on Nars Orgasm blush. I was promised by the many, many raving reviews that it would look natural and glowy on all skin tones, and once I bought it for myself, it lived up to the hype. Until I started working in beauty when I was 23, this was the only blush that I would ever use. After dabbling in many other formulas, I’ve actually found my way back to the cream version, which I wear religiously and choose over nearly every single one of my other blushes to this day.”
I’m not sure when I got it in my head that I absolutely needed a signature scent, but when I graduated high school, finding one was my top priority. After years of wearing Victoria’s Secret Noir Tease (now discontinued), I wanted to find something sophisticated. I took the fragrance quiz at Sephora (yes, I essentially lived at Sephora growing up) and landed on this Tom Ford perfume. I took a sample home and immediately fell in love—I ended up pooling my tips from my waitress job that week to buy it for myself. While I now reserve it for nights out, I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving this hypnotizing blend of black truffle, ylang ylang, bergamot, bitter orange, rum-soaked black plum, and black orchid extract.
I received a sample of this bouncy moisturizer when I was in high school, and I became obsessed. It smells like grape vines and it makes your skin incredibly soft, even though it sinks in instantly. I have dry skin that I never took care of properly in my formative years, so discovering this soothing moisturizer really changed everything for me.
“The first luxury fragrance I purchased was this classic eau de parfum by Chloé. It’s the perfect everyday clean and floral fragrance featuring key notes of pink peonies, freesia, lychee, amber, and honey. This is one of the perfumes I always reach for as I’m heading out the door for the perfect finishing touch.”
“For me, before there was Dior’s TikTok trending Lip Oil, there was their Lip Glow Balm. Before being introduced to this one, I was struggling to find a lip balm that could add a hint of color to my natural lip tone while also bringing on the glow and moisture. Diro’s Addict Lip Glow Balm does all this and more with an ultra-hydrating blend of cherry oil, shea butter, and sunflower wax. I now own this one in almost every color.”
“I have such a randomly specific anecdote that goes along with this first luxury purchase, but here we are! As I’ve talked about before, I was completely addicted to magazines growing up. I had at least 10 subscriptions to all of the classics—Allure, Cosmo, InStyle, Seventeen, the list goes on—and would collect any and all fragrance samples that were folded into the glossy pages to test out on my junior high classmates. (Lucky them.) One day, during the Presidential Fitness Tests (remember those?!) I was mid sit-up when my crush—who was holding down my feet during the test—not sure how I wrangled that—commented on how good I smelled each time I came up per rep. I had already loved the smell of Miss Dior (which was actually Miss Dior Cherie at the time and was sadly discontinued) but the fact that my crush loved it sealed the deal for me. I’m such a fragrance girl, and compliments are one of my favorite ways to test a perfume’s intrigue, so I guess this history shouldn’t be surprising. The current iteration, Miss Dior, smells somewhat similar to Cherie, but it’s definitely different. If you want something closer to the now unavailable OG, try Dossier’s dupe—the mix of bergamot, lychee, orange, rose, jasmine, pink pepper, patchouli, blond woods, and vanilla is uncannily spot-on.”
“Anyone who grows up in the midwest knows there’s nothing better to do during the doldrums of winter (when temperatures are unbelievably frigid) than go to the mall. So, there I was, almost every damn day after school with my friends. Even though our final destinations usually included Delia’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, or Hot Topic (during my one-month stint attempting to be a Goth girl, anyway), we’d always walk through Macy’s en route. I’ve been obsessed with beauty and products since my age was in the single digits, and because I’m also a Taurus (with disgustingly expensive taste), the Bath & Body Works lotions my friends would buy by the dozens, didn’t impress me. No, no, I wanted a body cream that smelled almost identical (yummy, and gourmand) but with a fancier label and slightly more elevated curb appeal for my vanity. After months of lusting over the rows of deliciously-scented creams at the Laura Mercier counter, I threw all of my babysitting money at this yummy cream. Sweet, gourmand scents are having a major comeback, which just increases my love (and nostalgia!) for this product. MY OG favorite scent—pistachio—has since been discontinued, but this almondy coconut concoction is equally good.”
“This was one of the first beauty items I ever bought when I was a young teenager ($25 was a big splurge for me at the time, thank you). I fell in love with MAC pigments because they showed up so well on my skin tone, were so fun and easy to work with, and looked insanely sparkly once on. I’d wear them any chance I got—holidays, birth celebrations—you name it! I still love these pigments because they’re so, well, pigmented and look just as stunning on the lids as they used to.”
“I’m not sure if this was the exact one, but one of the first luxury lipsticks I ever bought was an Estée Lauder formula. I begged my mom to let me stop and browse the Macy’s luxury makeup counters and I decided to buy one of these! I still use and love Estée Lauder lipsticks because they’re so creamy, hydrating, and pigmented. I wear this formula in the shade Irresistable—it’s the perfect nude-mauve shade.”
“As the name implies, this perfume was created in 1974, and it was the design house’s very first fragrance. It just so happened to be the perfume my mom wore when I was growing up. I don’t know if I started to associate the scent with her and my nostalgic childhood days, but as soon as I turned 16 and had money to burn from my first job, I bought it. Over time, I realized it was a fairly controversial scent. It’s centered around a base of tuberose, so it has a very warm, mature, and sophisticated vibe. Some people love it (like me) and others…well, not so much. I’ve been told it’s a “grandma” scent, but I’m a loyalist, so I continue to wear it (and mostly in the winter). The strong, warm scent is so comforting to me.”
“As a young twenty-something living through Michigan winters, I was always looking for a foolproof bronzer to warm up my skin from November through April. This is the one I sprung for, and I’ve never looked back. The creamy formula blends easily on my skin, and it’s buildable so I can wear as little (or as much) as I want. I apply it everywhere—my cheeks, my temples, my nose, my jaw, and even my neck. It always brings a sun-kissed glow to my skin.”
Next, Laneige Is Known for Its Viral Lip Mask, But These 10 Products Are Sleeper Hits