What were some of the first makeup products you purchased?

I believe it was a bunch of makeup from Benefit and then a few eyeshadows from MAC – I remember Benefit Show Offs! and an eyeshadow brush (the latter I still have) along with MAC Amber Lights, Antiqued, and Bronze (I think those were the three).

— Christine


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Mariella Avatar

Going back a LOOONG way (as I’m older than many here) – it would be stuff from Mary Quant – a face set of highlighter and contour (with my round 13 years old face, that contour looked DREADFUL) and an eye shadow trio. In my 20’s and 30’s, an eyeshadow from Revlon that was HG for me – Guilty Grey. I was a huge Estee Lauder fan as well and really loved their eyeshadows that applied with a doe foot. This was long before eyeshadow primers and these shadows actually lasted all day. Elizabeth Arden was the first company I recall coming out with chubby pencils for lips, cheeks and eyes. I love them but those eye shadow pencils didn’t last…again, this was the 70’s and eye shadow bases/primers didn’t exist.

Lesley Avatar

I did not realize there were actual. contour products back then. The magazines told us to buy three foundations—-the skin shade and then one three shades darker and one three shades lighter in order to contour. and highlight. I could never afford three foundations back then.

Mariella Avatar

I can picture it so clearly. One square pan of pearly highlight powder (on the left side – I can still see it, honestly!) and a pan of matte brown powder on the right, both packaged in a rectangular white compact with the MQ signature flower in silver on the lid. Lord knows what I looked like with this stuff sort of troweled on my face (the concept of “blending” was foreign to me!)

Bonnie Avatar

There were definitely contour products by the 80s – idk about the 60s though. That whole Nagel trend. Cover Girl had these 3 pan deals that I think they still have, with contour, blush, and highlight, but NOTHING like what we use today for highlight.

Tara Avatar

Lol. MUFE Ultra HD foundation, which I ended up picking out the perfect shade for me even though I purchased online without swatching because I didn’t know there was a Sephora near me. It was the first ever real foundation I had ever tried, and my first makeup purchase as an adult. I love that foundation, and I’m still impressed/grateful that I somehow picked a great shade without any knowledge besides a slight understanding of undertones.

Also, my first eyeshadow palettes were Tarteist pro and Soft glam, and highlighter sticks from Milk Makeup. Fenty Gloss Bomb ignited a gloss monster inside of me very early on in my makeup journey as it had launched a few months after I got into makeup. It’s still my favorite gloss. MAC Brave was my first bullet lipstick, and it’s like a perfect My Lips But Better shade for me. It is what sparked my love for bullet lipstick.

Lesley Avatar

As a pre-teen in the JFK years: Maybelline eye pencil in blue, Maybelline mascara in a tube or in a cake that you applied with a tiny toothbrush, Max Factor Erase, white lipstick (Revlon, if I went without lunch to save up the money), Cover Girl foundation, which we thought would help acne because it was owned by the company that made Noxema. Finally mascara wands were invented in the LBJ years.

Mariella Avatar

I remember that cake mascara and the little brush that came with it. A lot of makeup artists maintain(ed) that cake mascara was the BEST mascara and I had a little frisson of “blast-from-the-past-ness” recently listening to an audio book where the narrator (now in her 40’s and experiencing an event that takes her back to her pre-teen years) recalls putting on mascara with her friends as pre-teens and spitting on the cake the way they saw the older girls do it (I’m not for one moment suggesting this as a good idea, by the way).

Mariella Avatar

…oh, and I remember well using Max Factor Erase as lipstick (that was the look in the 60’s) and I so clearly recall the smell of Cover Girl foundation. Does anyone else remember Cutex flavoured lipsticks from the early 60’s? I had Peppermint Pink (it was cooling and minty tasting) and also a caramel or butterscotch one (that taste was harder to fake).

Seraphine Avatar

Tough question! Well, the first makeup I remember having that was my own was a Yardley Slickers lip gloss when I was a preteen. Most likely, my mom bought it for me, though. Regarding the first actual purchase I made, it was probably something by Revlon or Mary Quant, but it was so long ago I don’t remember. I also had little pots of loose shimmery eyeshadow called Stagelights (I think), but I don’t think that was a first purchase.

Jess Avatar

Cover Girl pressed powder that I saved up my allowance for in middle school. Cover Girl was the only brand I used all through my school years in the 90s. I went through many of those powders.

Lucie Avatar

I know I carried a make-up bag with me in junior and senior high school, but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to what I used. Make-up was kind of a crutch to make me feel less self-conscious and I didn’t really know how to use it properly. It was all stuff I could buy at Kmart or Target – I’m sure it was primarily Cover Girl (I know the foundation and mascara were) and maybe some kind of purpley eyeshadow quad from either CG or Maybelline and a mauvey plum lipstick sometimes, but I always had TONS of lip balms. It was years before I discovered blush though.

However, once I started paying more attention and wanting make-up to enhance and built a more polished routine, it was Bare Escentuals (Minerals?). My grandma watched QVC a lot and this was back in the day and Leslie Blodgett had just hit the scene with the mineral make-up in the mid to late 90s and was on QVC constantly. You could really only find it on QVC and maybe direct mail order from the “club” so my grandma would order it for me. So I used the mineral foundation, warmth, blush in Golden Gate, and I had five of their eyeshadows (Vanilla Sugar, Camp, Cupcake, Celestine, and Queen Tiffany) and those were the only make-up products I used for a solid 5-7 years until I discovered make-up counters at department stores and started incorporating Clinique because it was the only brand my grandma trusted.

Christina Avatar

Makeup child of the EARLY 80s here – the days of ignorance and bliss(?). My first makeup purchases were from the neighborhood drug store, where my primary brand choices were Cover Girl (who remembers the unique smell of their foundation?), Maybelline – both of whom marketed heavily to teenage girls. Both L’Oreal and Revlon were available, but they marketed more to adult women, so their products and prices reflected that.

Here’s what I remember was in my makeup bag at the time:
Foundation: I tried a lot of them, and discarded all of them (no return policies then). Shade ranges weren’t what they are today. At the time, the tanner you were, the better, and the shade ranges reflected that. And most foundations had either neutral or warm (yellow) undertones. I could never find a match for my pale, pink-undertoned skin.
Concealer: What concealer? If you had zits (as we called them), you attempted to cover them with a heavier layer of foundation.
Powder Compact: Cover Girl, mostly because I liked the smell 🙂
Blusher: Maybelline – because they sold the lightest, “pinkest” shades. (I had an unfortunate incident with applying WAAAAYYYYY TOO MUCH BLUSH very early in my makeup years. No one corrected me, and I wore it that way. All day. It was only after seeing a picture that I realized just how bad it was. Forever after and to this day, I have a phobia about too much blush.)
Eyeshadow Quads: I usually had the plum/purple quads from BOTH Cover Girl & Maybelline. I tried others quads, but the colors were just “wrong” with my brown eyes. Of note: there were NO matte shades in either quad. Every color had some sort of shimmer to it!
Mascara: I started with Maybelline Great Lash because everyone used that one. I eventually switched to L’Oreal Volminous because I liked it better.
Lips: “Real” lipstick was mostly worn by our mothers – teenage girls in my small town didn’t wear it. We wore flavored lip balms or glosses. Bonne Belle!!!
Perfume: I just have to mention this one because what teenage girl DIDN’T have a bottle of either Jean Nate, Love’s Baby Soft, or Jovan’s Musk? And whose mother didn’t have a bottle of Charlie on her dresser?
Skin care: Soap & water. And we’re not talking special facial soap, we’re talking whatever soap your mom happened to buy at the grocery store. (I had stinky brothers – my mom bought Dial.) When my skin was broken out, I might “tone” my skin with a little rubbing alcohol. I did try Sea Breeze at one point, but in hindsight, it didn’t do much more for my skin than the alchol!

Deborah S. Avatar

This is a fun question as I can definitely track my makeup purchases and growing addiction through when and what I purchased. To be fair, my first makeup was pretty high end. As I have mentioned on the blog before, my best friends mother was a cosmetologist and as she wouldn’t allow her own daughter to wear makeup, I was the recipient of a lot of really nice makeup and skin care. In those days the House of Borghese was a very high end brand and that was pretty much what I used. When I started buying my own makeup in my early twenties, I could only afford drugstore makeup and can remember that Max Factor and Cover Girl were my staples. There was a particular brown shade of eye shadow that I purchased from Revlon. They were suppose to be very long wearing shadow and they came in a small pot with a clear lid to see the colour and a yellow base. They were like glue on the lids, I mean nothing creased or moved at all and that was before the days of primer. Oh, and a Bonnie Belle lip gloss. In the 60’s and 70’s Bonnie Belle lip gloss was in everyone’s bag. I feel like they were the ColourPop of my youth! My favorite perfume back then was Ben Hur from the drugstore. There was a Coronet close to my home in S. Cal and they only carried Ben Hur and one other perfume. Can’t pull the name up but from there I graduated to Charlie and a little later, Jean Nate. Can you imagine a young woman walking around smelling of Jean Nate. I thought I was so cool!
In my 80’s it was Shiseido, Chanel and my Cover Girl mascara!! In the 90’s I used Bare Minerals for pretty much everything except lipstick and mascara. It was my first mineral makeup and I really liked it. It also started my collection in that it exposed me to a brand that wasn’t mainstream, initially. I realized that there were so many other brands out there and started delving into them. I was working very long hours at the hospital and the Bare Minerals lasted the full 12 hours and then some.
After that I never looked back, LOL!

Rachel R. Avatar

I was 14 in 1983, so this is going back a ways: A Maybelline eyeliner pencil with a smudger tool on one end, in brown; a drug store palette with 12 or 16 tiny pans of mostly shimmery eyeshadows, mostly pastels (the shadows were crap), Maybelline Great Lash Mascara (it’s what my mom used, plus all the magazines touted it as the best). My BFF and I bought the eyeliner and eyeshadow together, which made it special and fun. And yes, we’re still friends.

Bonnie Avatar

That’s so cute. My cousin (she’s one year younger than me, so your age) and I used to shop at McCrory’s which was a dime store. They had Wet n Wild, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Aziza. Bonne Belle, and I think Maxi, the teen line from Max Factor. I’m sure I had that same stuff. We used to go every Saturday. My grandfather would give us each 10 bucks and we would shop for “personal items.” I was always all about checking out the very newest makeup, and she was into Lee Press On nails.

Carmen Avatar

My first makeup purchases were Wet and Wild lip gloss that they later discontinued (and I’m still sad about it lol) and these eye shadow stacks that I saw at a booth at the mall. I got a lot of use out of both, but more out of the lip gloss that I wore on the daily. I occasionally used my mom’s foundation if I had a face rash even though we were totally different shades so I looked silly lol. Ah. High school wouldn’t be high school if we weren’t all wearing the wrong foundation shade at some point.

Karine Avatar

It was white single eyeshadow from L’Oreal. I remember I had a pale pink eyeshadow (from an unknown brand), but my mom bought it for me when I dressed up as a princess at Halloween

kjh Avatar

Aside from the l/s I got at Woolwoth’s in 4th grade, in hs, got an EA l/s in Candlelight, frosty pale pink, the pink Revlon Blush On. Powder blush was a newish thing, and the hand me down rouges from my mgm raised havoc with my oily skin. And a set of Revlon lippies with Bare Beige, Naked Pink, Cape Coral?, and a midrange pink (pink carnation?) and one I don’t recall. After all, it was 54 years ago. Never wore m/u to junior, or even HS. But, boy, did I need concealer badly! The only one I remember was Erase, and, as now, all the colors were flat out wrong. My mgm did Germaine Monteil, and my mum wore only l/s: classics like a Revlon Fire and Ice and Cherries in the Snow.

Nancy T Avatar

For my 13th birthday, my Mom brought me to our local drugstore which had a very large selection of cosmetics. What I remember us picking out was: an aqua matte e/s, 2 cream e/s’s in a mint green and a lavender, black liquid eyeliner, black mascara, a peachy blush, and lipgloss. There was also a pink-peach lipstick. And a bunch of very cool nail polishes, including a jet black, a mint green, silvery black, yellow, and a vivid purple berry!
For foundation, I seem to remember us having one helluva time finding a shade match! So, I just used hers, because it was close enough. Max Factor Cool Olive, i think? It has been 47 years, and my memory for names has been flushed down the drain!

Pearl Avatar

Ultima II from J.C. Penney’s back in the early 90’s. A really silicone-y brown lipstick stick (like the CP lippies) and an eyeshadow duo in creams and browns. Ultima II closed down shortly after and I found MAC at Broadway (now Macy’s) a few stores down and fell down a rabbit hole. I remember going in for my first makeover and was amazed at how it just transformed things with a little shade here, a little glimmer there and red lips! I bought everything the makeup artist used on me:
Studio Fix foundation
A pressed powder (C3, I think)
Blush brush
Eyeshadow brushes (a blender, a liner brush, something to pat it down with and a longer scratchier version of something to pat it down with)
Eyeshadows Bliss (like All That Glitters but more peachy), Swiss Chocolate, Espresso and Mylar
Cubic blush
Spice and Auburn lip pencils
Exposed (kind of like Modesty) and Viva Glam 1 lipstick

I felt like a million bucks and was completely smitten. I think MAC had just came on the scene in the states back then and I could have been a spokesperson for how much I was “modeling” their makeup. I went back the next week and bought:

Blackberry, Fake and Concrete eyeshadows
Prism blush
Cork and Plum lip pencils
Twig, Plastique and Sequin lipsticks

Phoebe Avatar

Probably a Rimmel black kohl pencil, Maybelline dream matte mousse, a Bourjois pink shimmery blush and Maybelline great lash mascara. There were probably a few more things, some earlier, but these are the ones I remember most!

Wendy Avatar

I was 13 in 1981 and obsessed with makeup and magazines, particularly Seventeen. The only makeup I was allowed to wear was Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and a Maybelline Slim tint lipgloss that I used up in about a month. We had a Rite Aid at the main corner in town and I’d go there during lunch with my friends (my kids don’t quite believe me that we were allowed to roam freely around town during our lunch period). Like Lesley above, I realized that if I skipped hot lunch and saved I’d have money for color cosmetics. Most Fridays, I’d have enough to buy a makeup item. I liked Maybelline “blushers” and Aziza eyeshadows. I had this one Aziza duo that was coppery on one side and a frosty color on the other. It was my favorite. I was the only person wearing orange eye makeup. I’d wipe it off on my way home from school!

Karen Johnston Avatar

Aziza had a trio of light, medium and darker brown eyeshadows, all with some shimmer. I only used the middle shade and only on the lid, nothing in the crease or above, nonetheless I went through 3 or 4 quads. Then Aziza disappeared from the stores around me, I was devastated! I finally found a Covergirl that would do but I never thought it was as good and I eventually stopped wearing eyeshadow for years.

Stacey Avatar

This is a often a repeat question on this blog.
So I am going to answer it differently this time with the same answer.
Not much of a selection in the late 70s as an emerging teen….as today.
Bought some Covergirl, Maybelline and Drugstore brands.
Realized the quality was not there…and could not swatch.
Clinique was my go-to brand. Today, Clinique is subpar, but not then for the price.
I had bad acne then…and alcohol base was to resolve it.
Very different game plan then as compared to today. I would address my skin differently today.

WildDove Avatar

Yardley Cake Eyeliner.
Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline lipsticks and blush.
Cutex nail polish.
Avon, Faberge’, Yardley fragrances.

Gilad Avatar

Early 70’s was HS for me, and when I started to wear make-up, though not a lot. Bonnie Bell gel blush or bronzer. omg that stuff was great, and would wear it today if I could find it. Sheer, believable color, lasted forever (in tube and on face). Sometimes BB tinted lip balm. Sometimes colored mascara – blue, green, purple. Made me very happy. Adventurous and simple at the same time.
4711 from the frig in the hot LA summer.

Kathy Avatar

I remember in early eighties being in h/s and wearing cover girl eyeshadow trio in pink and purple with blue mascara. I sometimes wore a powder base but not always as I was fortunate to have good skin. I don’t recall any lipstick at all

Vicky Avatar

My very first make-up purchases were in the early 80’s as a pre-teen, I bought Maybelline Kissing Potions, they tasted so good and a Bonne Belle face palette that had eyeshadow, blush, and eyeliner in it. Also I had Love’s Baby Soft, many Cutex nail polishes and 10-0-6 cleanser. Later in the 80’s I frequently purchased Maybelline eyeshadows in a frosted pink and frosted light blue, Covergirl contour blush palette in plums and Max Factor almost mascara in navy blue. I also used an Almay eye brightening pencil in blue on my waterline. That was my go to look for most of high school.

Stacey Avatar

Those were very good purchases. Fun products. Made the beauty of self shine through. Not the makeup look…but there is makeup. Kissing potions in many flavors. Mascara in blue. So many good memories.

Karen Johnston Avatar

Kissing Potions! Those were the ones in the rollerball weren’t they? I remember being so happy that I could afford to buy the strawberry one, I think my friend bought the cinnamon. Crushed when her mom saw us and said it looked like we had slobber all over our lips, just crushed! 😉

brendacr1 Avatar

It would have been the usual Maybelline, CG and Revlon, I know for sure that Maybelline Great Lash Mascara was my go to for many years and most likely my first purchase knowing myself and mascara. Then in my late teens I graduated to department store makeup and never looked back. I had forgotten about Seventeen Magazine! I feel so old now lol!

Ana Maria Avatar

My first make-up item purchased was an eyeshadow palette purchased from a local bazar or small shop, something Turkish or Chinese, cheap as heck. The next one was one of those Oriflame concealers, half green, half beige, meant to cover pimples. And yes, foundation for me came way later on. 😆

Eileen Avatar

It was Max Factor’s Cream Puff compact powder, Revlon’s Mocha Polka lipstick, and Maybelline’s black cake mascara. What year? 1957 ?

Helene Avatar

Not counting the blood red lipstick my grandmother bought me after me going on and on about wanting one, it was Revlon, I think.
The first makeup I bought for my own money was all Rimmel, I know I had a blue mascara, probably a cake one, not sure. I have no recollection of what else I bought back then, it was in my early teens and a long time ago. Later I know I loved a silvery grey eye shadow, I have no idea what brand it was.
My first high end products came from YSL, I was then about 19 or 20 years old and stayed true to YSL for a long time, then moving on to Chanel and later Dior. Now I buy from all over the price spectra as drugstore is so much better these days, I even buy stuff from Rimmel again. (I like their mascara, my makeup circle is complete, maybe.)

DVa Avatar

When I was 13, my mother took me to Merle Norman and I got a shimmer eyeshadow duo that was (of course) pink, and a purple.
I likely bought all drugstore brands in my teens+ along with some Mary Kay and Aloette (same kind of home party sales as MK).
I finally “splurged” in my 30s on Benefit’s Bathina Body Shimmer (the old packaging), Benetint, and She Lac Magical Makeup Sealer.
After that, likely TARTE or a Smashbox item.

Bonnie Avatar

I always wanted to go to Merle Norman! The ads promising a makeover really lured me in. But I was too young, didn’t live anywhere near one, and there was no way my mom was spending anything more than drugstore prices for makeup, or anything really. Still true, btw, of her.

Ilene Avatar

Hi, reading the responses triggered some memories. Very first product was a Maybelline mascara,not great lash but I do remember owning one in dark green. I remember loving the Charlie line of makeup and buying an eyeshadow and a lipgloss( mocha) that came in a compact and a foundation that I did not need at 13/14. A good undereye concealer I could’ve used! I do remember an EL trio of pale lilac, dark green and plum that I wore for my wedding(1986) and a shimmery melon blush. Fast forward to 1998 and the discovery of Mac plastique lipstick with cork lip liner, Mac symmetry large shadow to slim my face as I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter and I swear 10 pounds were gained in my face! There was also the Clarins incident where I remember spending 150 on a skincare regimen( I was so dry during this pregnancy) and this sheer peche lipstick that I’d buy again in a heartbeat. Also the Trish Mcevoy quads with the thin strip of powdered liner and the flat brush. These were the gateway products. Fun poll!

JillyinOC Avatar

I used a Covergirl foundation and pressed powder. I had a cream blush I was given by Grandmother from Clinique that I LOVED. To this day blush is one of my favorite products to play with. I used an eyeshadow single from Revlon (I think, may have been Covergirl or Maybelline) called mink for years. It was a nice satin taupe which I still remember fondly. For mascara it was Loreal/ Maybelline.

In lieu of lipstick I would use lipsmackers over Wet n Wild lip pencil #666 which was in every girl’s makeup arsenal at the time. It was early to mid 90s and that raisin/wine color went well with our flannels and scrunchies lol.

Alecto Avatar

I believe the *VERY* first makeup product I purchased was a blue eyeshadow quad from Covergirl.

This question (or something very like it) has cropped up a few times, and every time I go to answer it, I think I’m refining my memories a bit more. I believe foundation (clean makeup!) came after the eyeshadow, then powder. I may have gone with mascara after that. I believe all my initial forays were Covergirl. I don’t believe I bought a lipstick until I was in the Army, and only then because i went to a formal ball where military dress was not required, and my red ball gown required a lipstick for balance. I remember believing that Revlon was a step up from Covergirl, but I’m not sure why I thought that. I know for a fact that the colors I chose (and my abysmal lack of technique) meant I generally looked better without makeup (with the possible exception of the red ballgown lipstick).

Nikki Avatar

The items I remember from my teen years, bought first for dance recitals and then for regular use:
CoverGirl-cream-to-powder foundation in the best fair/cool shade they made, LashBlast Luxe mascaras in Black Cabernet (basically a fancy name for burgundy) and Black Royale (blue)
Revlon-Smoky Plum blush, Paparazzi Pink Super Lustrous lipstick

Cil Avatar

MAC Ruby Woo. I was on a mission to love myself. I’ve always wanted to use lipstick and I wanted to do it with a bang. What is better than a red lipstick for this?

Bonnie Avatar

My first altogether was an Avon lipstick called Plum Pink – a very bright cool pink. My first after childhood was probably the entire wet n wild line, first these cream shadow sticks that came in 6 colors, then some powder shadow duos, and some glitter nail polishes, then lipsticks.

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