I was oohing and aahing over my latest eyeshadow palette (the Zoeva Cocoa Blend, for the record) and started thinking about my first eye kit. It was a little Maybelline set that came with three shadows, mascara, a brow pencil and cake eyeliner. I didn’t ask for it. I’d just turned 14 and my mother surprised me, saying it was for special occasions and church on Sundays. I came home from school and it was lying on my bed in all of its glamorous glory. Somehow it was more special because it was so unexpected.
I’m a child of the 70s and makeup was different then. There were no Ultas or Sephoras, so there weren’t as many options to choose from. Most of us — mid-70s high schoolers just starting to sample cosmetics — were drugstore shoppers. Maybelline, Cover Girl, Coty, Bonne Bell … their ads and the models who appeared in them are etched on our brains.
While most of the products of my youth live only in memory, a few have stood the test of time. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, for example, was the holy grail of mascaras back then. I remember devoting myself to applying coat after coat, because long lashes were the thing. No one I knew wore false lashes in the 70s. The look was supposed to be fresh and natural — think Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley and Cybill Shepherd. While blue and green eyeshadows were de rigeur in the early 70s, by the mid-70s the eye look was more subdued. Subtle browns with heavy mascara and lightly smudged eyeliner were the thing. Speaking of eyeliner, the heavy lifter from my college days is still sold today: Maybelline Expert Wear Twin Brow & Eye Pencils. They were particularly good on the lower lash line. (The girl in the photo is me, demonstrating the mid-70s natural look! Notice the bare lips. If I wore anything on my lips at all, it was a sheer wash of color.)
Next, let’s talk about the hair. In my high school years, it was all about scent. There was Body on Tap (beer enhanced!); Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific; and my personal favorite, the heavily fragranced Sunshine Harvest Shampoo from Clairol. It came in almost overpowering scents including raspberry, peach, lime, strawberry, honeydew and tangerine. I remember thinking the bathroom and hallway smelled delicious for hours after I showered!
When I entered college, my love for fruity shampoos dissipated. I loved the Flex brand — and the commercials featuring Jerry Hall in a magnificent white satin cowboy suit with blowdryers in the holsters — and Farrah Fawcett shampoo from Wella Balsam. I was almost embarrassed to buy it, but my college roommate and bestie swore it did wonders for my hair!
When it comes to fragrances, my high school days were marked by Avon’s Sweet Honesty, Love’s Fresh Lemon and Love’s Baby Soft. Actually, I loved the Baby Soft ad more than I loved the product. I wanted to wear the dress modeled in the ad to my junior prom and my mom did her best to replicate it. I remember being unhappy because she modified the neckline to make it more modest. (Yep, that’s me again in the photo at left.) When I reached college age, I went for scents that in my mind were more adult: Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps, Halston — I think every female college student in the 70s had a bottle of Halston — and Cinnabar by Estee Lauder. I have a bottle of Cinnabar in my collection today and still love it, but my college roommate (her again) says it smells like an old lady.
I hope you enjoyed my little trip down cosmetics memory lane and that it reminded you of your own early experiments with makeup. What about you? Are there any products you recall with particular fondness?