Every day, the beauty-scape changes and Team Byrdie closely observes those many transformations. We try the latest innovations (introducing our complexions and hair to never-before-seen formulas and technologies), identify and dissect trends, and explore the topic’s many facets, including its role in culture and politics. Needless to say, we love beauty. A lot.
It makes sense, as beauty has impacted each of us in such an immense way. It has inspired us to chase our dreams, brought us closer to our loved ones, and made us feel like our best selves. And it all started with a singular moment with a particular product. Ahead, we reflect on and celebrate our firsts: The picks that have sparked our love of the category.
"Growing up, I had a hard time wrapping my head around my medium-coarse, wavy hair texture. It was voluminous and difficult to style. My mother, who had similar hair to mine, often reminded me to be grateful for my hair texture. "It’s different from your friends', but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful," she’d say in Tagalog (the language she primarily spoke), before imparting lessons on how to style it.
"Every weekday, before she left for her evening shift, I’d help her style her hair. She'd end the session asking me to hold out my hands and squeezing a few drops of a serum—usually Rusk's Deepshine Oil Protective Treatment—onto my palms. "You only need a little," she said, as I smoothed it onto her ends. I’d ask her for a few more drops for my own strands, and she’d emphasize how this stuff was liquid gold for our waves, smoothing them and adding shine, and how we should use it sparingly.
"Beauty bonded us. This evening ritual would start as discussions about our hair and the latest trends and go onto other topics like what my goals were for myself, how my relationship with my sister was, and of course, boys (who I definitely didn’t like… because I wasn’t allowed to date). These moments inevitably helped inspire the woman I am today."
"The story of my love for Heat Wave goes like this: I was holding down a job for the first time (I worked seven days a week to afford rent and my unpaid internship) when my then-boss asked me to cover a fashion show during NYFW. Fashion Week is a time when style and beauty choices are marketed like currency and I definitely didn't feel like I fit in. So I stopped into Sephora.
"There, right before me, was the perfect red lipstick. I'd never felt I could pull off red lipstick before—but it practically grabbed me and wouldn't let me move on without trying it. I swatched a section of my hand with the orange-red formula, perfectly semi-matte yet still luscious and creamy, and swiped it on my lips. I practically skipped out the door, feeling confidence I'm not sure I'd owned previous to that moment. I went on to become a beauty editor (clearly) and have worn this very lipstick through job interviews, big meetings, beach vacations, first dates, and late nights ever since."
"It was my grandmother who introduced me to Pond’s Facial Cream. Well, she didn't actually let me use it. Whenever the coast was clear, I'd sneak into her room and dip my fingers in the jar she kept on her vanity and dot the cream onto my cheeks, chin, and forehead—the way she would. It felt incredible, and the moments I'd watch her put it on ultimately taught me the importance of a good daily skincare routine. Over a decade has gone by since I first snuck into her room to try the stuff for myself—and we both still use it to this day."
"Growing up, makeup was never really a thing for me. Then, 2009 rolled around and I entered high school. In an effort to impress, I would layer my face with Maybelline's Dream Matte Mousse Foundation in a mismatched shade (these were the days where tanning beds were practically an after-school activity). I never blended it into my neck and the look was entirely foundation—no blush, highlighter, or any type of dimension.
"Fast forward ten years and I became a beauty editor. Looking back, this product sparked my love for beauty because at the time, although I looked absolutely ridiculous, I felt amazing inside and out, and that's what beauty is all about."
"Sneaking off into the bathroom to play with my mom's makeup was one of my favorite pastimes as a kid. I'd quietly grab her products to not only use on myself, but my dolls too. (Sorry, mom!) I vividly remember being entranced by her Physician's Formula Color Corrective powder palette—it was a mix of neutrals, light pink, and mint green (the latter of which was intended to counteract redness) and I'd use them all as eyeshadow. Ever so gently, I'd press my finger into each shade so it wasn't too obvious I had used it (though I'm sure she was able to tell) and wipe the product across my lids before marveling at my work in the mirror. Looking back, it's so clear I've always been enamored with beauty products and no wonder I ended up working in the industry."
"In the mid 2000s, makeup was still all about glossy lips and frosty shadow. And while I now have nostalgic love for that era, at the time it just didn’t speak to me. Then, in 2006, Amy Winehouse came into my life wearing an exaggerated ‘60s beehive and dramatic cat eye. Her signature look made beauty finally click for me: Makeup wasn’t a candy coating, it was armor. With a flick of Maybelline (I discovered the Stiletto eyeliner at my local drugstore and never looked back), I could make myself look how I felt. More than a decade later, winged liner is still my go-to, and I have this Maybelline classic, Amy, and countless hours of practice to thank."
"I used to always accompany my mom to the grocery store when I was a kid and, usually, we'd end up in the beauty and personal care aisles to pick up things like shampoo or nail polish. On one occasion, my eye happened to catch a glimpse of the colorful Lip Smacker Liquid Lip Gloss packaging. I begged my mom to buy one for me, and it quickly became a part of my daily routine after that.
"As a kid, it was fun to coat my lips with the sweet and shiny glosses. It was also exciting to have a beauty ritual of my own—even if it was just a clear gloss. While I couldn't articulate it as a child, I credit my experiences using Lip Smacker Lip Gloss as the point I began to see beauty as a form of self-expression and self-care."
"When I think of beauty products that transformed my adolescence, so many different products come to mind (many of which are candy and vanilla-flavored ones, of course.) But there was one product that left the biggest impression—PacSun's Lilu perfume.
"In the eighth grade, my eyes had been opened to surf culture (thanks, The O.C.) and PacSun became a staple on my mall trips. There, I found a small bottle of the freshest, most floral-scented perfume. It was a departure from the vanilla spice sprays from my elementary school days. It smelled ever-so-slightly sweet but clean, and I felt like I had found my first adult scent.
"I didn't realize it then, but it left a huge impression on me because it birthed my love of fresh, floral scents. Florals can now be found all over my perfume drawer today—but Lilu was there first."
"Not only was Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil one of my first purchases from Sephora, but it was also the product I repurchased the most throughout my teens. Back when tightlining was the eyeliner look to sport, I regularly made trips to the mall just to pick up a fresh pencil when I worked my previous one down to the very end. Every time I stepped into Sephora to repurchase, I inevitably ended up buying an additional product that caught my eye, which helped inspire my obsession with new beauty finds and ultimately led me to a career in beauty."