We Followed Beauty Advice From 15 Years Ago — & Things Got Weird

My initiation into makeup happened in a Limited Too. I was 11, and my best friend decided that the sixth-grade dance was the perfect opportunity to experiment with glittery eyeshadow. We bought two twist-up tubes of creamy, sparkly shadow — one in pink, one in blue — and stashed them in our backpacks for the next day.

It was a surreptitious purchase; makeup was strictly off-limits for me. Per my parents' rules, I’d never been allowed to curl my hair, wear lip gloss, or paint my nails. So on the day of the dance, I went to school barefaced. When the final bell rang, signalling the dance was about to start (middle school was tame, man), I smeared the sparkly stuff onto my eyelids and lined up outside the gym.

But my rebellion didn't last long. The instant I spotted a teacher on chaperone duty, I frantically rubbed off the shadow, sure I'd get in trouble for daring to wear makeup. I felt that guilty.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t touch makeup again until high school, and only for special occasions. Even after I started wearing it daily post-college, its purpose was mainly to cover up blemishes. Now, I wear a full face to work — tinted sunscreen, brow powder, mascara, blush, and an occasional swipe of eyeliner — but lately, I've felt like I need a little more cosmetic excitement. My eyeshadows all fall under the brown category, my lipsticks are safe pinks and soft reds, and while I've bought a few blue and purple eyeliners on a whim, I've never even removed their caps.

So, I challenged myself to go back in time and revisit the world in which body glitter and pastel shadows were all the rage. First things first: I needed to get the beauty advice I could never follow as a teen. Enter: The New York Public Library, which just so happens to have stacks and stacks of vintage YM magazines. I scanned some pages from the early 2000s, and got to copying all the looks I wish I had tried the first time around.

Could I pull off purple lips? Crimped hair and sticky gloss? I sure as hell tried. Ahead, see how I re-created seven hair-and-makeup looks made popular on the pages of the teen mag that died in 2004 (RIP, print).

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