Kickin’ It Old School: The How I Did My Makeup In High School Challenge

Published on October 2, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

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I love the wave of makeup challenges that is sweeping over the YouTubes, but there is one that I’m just not sure I can get behind: “How I Did My Makeup In High School.”  I’m not sure why this one is rubbing me the wrong way, but it just doesn’t do it for me.  Maybe it’s because there are so many YouTubers who were only in high school a few years ago, and I detest anyone who does something “retro” that’s less than at least ten years old.  There was a moment on Absolutely Fabulous (a show that I fell in love with right around the end of high school thanks to my Medora work buddy, Tiffany) where they are talking about how people bring things back too early in fashion and Patsy says, “Get your clothes back from the dry cleaners, it’s a revival!”  That’s how I feel about some of these kids today (did you hear that?  I just said, “these kids today.”  I’m officially a bitter old queen!).

But given that this year marks the 20th anniversary of when I graduated from High School, I thought it might be fun to show off some of these challenge videos as well as revisit some of the things I loved from high school and what I remember of glamour, fashion, and makeup from that time.  Let’s go!

If you’re going to explore a type of video you’re not sure you’re actually that into, you can’t go wrong starting with Jenna Marbles.  This video is a joke, but there are some things in here that make me laugh.  The layered chokers is totally 90s.  Made me miss the Delia catalogs with their pastel lipsticks, jelly shoes, and plastic chokers.

So of course, you can’t talk about 90s beauty and not talk about Hard Candy nail polish.  My friend Melanie helped fill in some of the beauty history behind the change in nail colors from your basic pinks, reds, and peaches to the veritable rainbow we see today and it start with a little thing called Vamp by Chanel. Uma Thurman wore it in Pulp Fiction.  Buffy declared it “over” during Cordelia’s coolness quiz on the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And it turned things upside for a cosmetic product that had been basic and boring for way too long.  I’m sure other things happened along the way, and someone else could explain them way better than me, but then along came Hard Candy (which was apparently back in a special 20th anniversary celebration – oh, how I’m behind on the times…or rather the old times…or….whatever).

Hard Candy came in a crazy array of colors and each bottle came with a coordinating plastic ring (which was obviously too small for my monster fingers, but cute nonetheless).  I had a gorgeous green shade – I’m not sure if it was Mermaid or Chronic – and I loved it.  It was everything!  Technically this wasn’t until college, because I didn’t really discover makeup until then, but it’s off that era.  Instead of the cheap Walmart brand that it’s become, I would love to see some of these colors, with the same great formulas, same kitschy ads, and same fun packaging make a comeback.  I’m not sure if the 20th anniversary collection lived up to the original, but here’s hoping.  And of course we always have Smith & Cult…

I loved this video because this girl is rocking some serious “chola look” makeup, and I remember when I first turned 21 and started going to El Roco on the weekends there would be women (both white and Hispanic) rocking the lip so freaking hard: deep chocolate brown lip liner with a beige or light pink lipstick.  Many of the Native women I saw rocked a similar style, though they tended to go more for slightly blushier pinks or even light peaches (which frankly was a softer, more feminine look and what inspired me to go for it).  That sort of lip is still in my repertoire (remember where you came from, diva!) – I have such a skinny top lip that if I don’t give it some darker definition, it basically disappears.  There is no shame in my game.  And with super skinny brows…I’m dying!  That was the shit!  And yes, that is a white model below, because that’s the majority of who you saw in the El Roco acting the fool on a Friday night (or the odd birthday Monday).

Chola Lip

Of course I loved a ton of angsty music back then – I sweat I just about wore through the CD of Alanis’ Jagged Little Pill, and I had a programmable CD player (for real!) and would set up a play list of the most self-indulgent Cheryl Crow you could imagine.  Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”?  Repeat.  All.  Damn.  Day.  Everything that I thought was so cool and relevant and explained my life is now the afternoon set on the “adult contemporary” station that also sometimes features life lessons from John Tesch.  Jesus fuck.

I do have to say that I sort of enjoyed Jaclyn Hill’s High School Makeup video – I’m developing a little bit of an appreciation for her. There is something about her that reminds me of some of the girls I went to high school with, although in a much more amped up version. Like a fungus, she grows on you. I also picked this video because, as she says at the beginning, it is basically a MAC Cosmetics commercial!

When I discovered makeup (and I don’t mean just the cheap discount store type, but real honest to gawd makeup) I fell for MAC – and I fell hard.  I remember the first time I got myself a MAC lipstick: I was in Winnipeg with my friends Maxine and Ramonica and we went to the Hudson’s Bay Company so that I could pick up a MAC Viva Glam lipstick.  That day!  I felt so fabulously gay that day, holding that black tube (the old style, before the tubes took on the rounded bullet shape they have today) that had the same color I’d seen on the amazing RuPaul from the same brand that featured butch lesbian k.d. lang in the ad for their second Viva Glam shade.  I was in heaven.  (It wasn’t as great later that night when I got locked out on the street outside Club 200 with nothing in my pocket except a “two-nie,” a couple of quarters, and a lipstick and my ride didn’t show up…but that’s a really funny story for another time!).

Those chunky heeled boots!  I.  Can’t.  Even.

Of course, it wasn’t all gloom and doom – I also had a soft spot for the Spice Girls.  That’s right I saw Spice World in the dollar theatre 5 times – don’t fucking judge me.  I loved Ginger and Scary the most (and I loved them equally) and it really hurt my heart when it came out that it was problems between those two that caused Geri to leave and signaled the end of Spice.  That “Goodbye” song they did was ok for the time, but anything else they did post-Ginger was a wash.

So I don’t know that I’ve ever watched that video until I was researching this post and I have to say – it’s creepy af.  I prefer the more up beat, intact Spice Girls!

And of course I couldn’t talk about my 90s makeup awakening without once again calling out the gritty glory that was Urban Decay (no matter how much I love them now, especially their new Vice lipstick collection, I just will never get over losing Burnout lipstick in the old bullet tube!).  I found some great pictures of the old school UD packaging, including the infamous bullet casing tubes, though I wasn’t able to find a good pic of my Holy Grail shade.  I did however see the collection that they’ve released for the 20th anniversary of UD – why Burnout and Uzi weren’t in this collection I will never understand.

Urban Decay recently did a collab with pop princess Gwen Stefani, though she’s another of my icons from the 90s.  I used to perform “Just a Girl” on the reg because I loved it’s commentary on sexism and the pains (and pleasures) of being a woman and being unapologetically femme while also being strong.  But even more than that song, I was obsessed (OB. SESSED.) with “Ex-Girlfriend” and that crazy pink hair…I bought pink and blue extensions once hoping that I’d be able to get my friend Maxine to braid them into my hair like she did on that same trip with the MAC lipstick (another great story for another time!) but it never happened.  Le sigh.

And finally I will leave you with another of these High School Makeup Challenge videos…just because I like her work and I think she’s gorgeous!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into nostalgia as much as I did.  I don’t think about high school very often, but with the 20 year mark passing this last May, I’ve been thinking about it more and more.  I’ve connected back up with some of my friends from high school and it’s amazing to see where they are, see pictures of their kids (I can’t believe that my classmates can be the parents of teenagers?!), and see what they are up to.  But to prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same I recently pulled out my senior yearbook and realized that because I’ve been trying to decide on a new direction with my hair, it’s actually grown out to almost the same style I had in my senior pics.  Gawd Shave the Queen.

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Now Go Forth & Get Painted

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