What didn’t you get wrong in high school?


High school was a dark time in my life—just look at the photo. Yes, those are my parents, no I wasn't adopted, don't adjust your screen. Look, there was no Rookie back then (Tavi was probably just learning to type), only snarky Perez Hilton posts with farm-hopping Paris and Nicole as the most exquisite (or at least most prolific) exemplifications of the female form. Tanning was a common hobby, and the glitter-flecked Nars Laguna bronzer was more essential than oxygen. Somehow convinced that tangerine skin as the result of UV rays encapsulated in a glass tube of radiation was "natural," but that colored hair was glaringly unnatural, I didn't do anything drastic to my hair—thank God. That came later, in my twenties.

So hair was the main thing I didn't entirely screw up in high school—I even used the good stuff: Kerastase Oleo Relax, Davines Love Shampoo and Nou Nou mask, castor oil deep conditioning treatments. It was shiny, soft, virginal. And my skin stayed in pretty decent shape despite microwaving myself on a regular basis, thanks in no small part to liberal coatings of Banana Boat Aloe After Sun Lotion, still a favorite if only for the scent. And makeup, ignoring the body glitter and lashes (prom glamour, don't worry about it) and the crispy burnt umber shade of skin, wasn't totally wrong. I had to steal it all from my classy mom, who preferred Bobbi Brown and Chanel neutrals, so I got a pretty good subtle smokey eye routine down—Taupe shadow along the crease and Espresso smudged into the lash line.

It's easy to look back and rag on every beauty misstep in high school. I even once gave an intern my Facebook password to go through and untag any photos of me prior to 2009. But most of us come out on top, with a healthier sense of self-awareness and enough experimentation to inform a more sophisticated look and routine. In celebration of the journey that is youth, and recognizing that being young doesn't simply translate to being dumb, I ask: what did you get right?

Kick it off, ITG:

"I got into the habit of washing and moisturizing my face pretty early on, so my skin was generally in good shape. I ate too much pizza though, which made me break out from time to time. Wait, I still do that...oops." —Eunice Lee

"I was pretty good about not applying too much foundation overeagerly—I just dusted Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder all over, which kept me looking dewy and clean, and prevented me from having makeup-related breakouts on the regular. I was hyper-conscious not to age myself with too many products, so looking back at the pictures, I'm not mortified by really bad eyeliner or bronzer mistakes. Those mishaps happened later, in college." —Emily Ferber

"I got a ton of things wrong in high school, but I really mastered the art of moisturization, especially growing up in harsh Michigan winters. I used a lot of Eucerin! I have pretty nonexistent lashes, so I learned to use mascaras with mini brushes early on—L’Oréal used to make a good one." —Claire Knebl

"I definitely got more wrong than right. But I was super duper into Hard Candy and Stila, and they kept me on track. " —Emily Weiss

"My beauty regimen was dedicated to perfecting my devil lock, so looking back, I'm particularly proud of how bad ass I was. I also learned the art of preserving any hair color possible—pink, purple, green, blue—how to transform myself into the female Robert Smith with the right smudge of eyeliner." —Lindsey Manas

"Even though I way over-bronzed, with powder, I never wore—and still don't wear!—caked-on foundation, and I think it kept my skin nice and clear." —Margaret McCarthy

"I may have worn too much eyeliner and silver eye shadow in high school but the one thing I did right was constantly smother my lips with ChapStick and Vaseline.​" —Umaimah Sharwani

"My high school beauty routine was filled with things that gave me glowing, tan skin. Bronzer daily, self tanner weekly, and occasional visits to the tanning bed. I'm much more toned down and natural now. The one thing that has stayed the same is that I never really screwed with was my hair color. After seeing a few friends with dark Asian hair who've tried to dye it light and then dye it back black and end up with a strange green/blue black hair that is less than healthy, I always just left my hair color alone." —Rebecca Zhou

"I was pretty lazy beauty-wise and school started at 7am, so I just applied moisturizer, curled my lashes with Shu Uemura curler, and used whatever mascara I had on hand—usually Maybelline Full 'N Soft in Very Black. The only thing I ever changed up was my nail polish, a habit that continues to this day." —Christine Banawa

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

    I figured out early I was allergic to sulphates which cut down my body acne substantially when I stopped using them. I also was hooked on L'Oreal Voluminous early and I still use it to this day! Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey and Chanel nail polish in Vamp were my staples. I did a lot of other things wrong but these were more "zeitgeist" 80's and 90's things. Oh I also let my hair be how it wanted and I brushed and flossed daily. This is why I've only ever had one cavity and I'm 35!

  • Haiku Jew

    I was natural
    emphasizing earthiness
    a look I still love!

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager


  • moi

    I wasn't allowed to wear makeup. One thing I did right: wore the right amount of makeup so that my dad wouldn't notice. I still stick to a more natural and minimal look. (I have large features, so wearing a lot of makeup has this clown effect.) Other things: I used hair conditioner as shaving cream. It was really nice for my dry skin. And I put olive oil on my eyebrows to stimulate growth.

  • Bella

    Uhm, I was in high school in the late 80's. I was saved from makeup disasters by the fact that we had to wear school uniforms and makeup was strictly not allowed, and fashion disasters (then known as terminally hip outfits) were restricted to weekends. Fortunately having terribly curly hair naturally, I couldn't understand why all my straight haired friends were trying to recreate the look I loathed. I am not guilty of the curly perm. And while I enthusiastically matched my purple nail polish to huge my plastic earrings (+ side ponytail holders, leg warmers, the full catastrophe) I took very good care of my skin even then! I was also a proponent of good dental hygiene.
    PS: Nars Laguna is not glittery in the very slightest and is still very relevant in 2014, though I suppose any product can be abused LOL!

  • Molly Lyon

    I may have dabbled, and felt peer-pressured into the world of dreadful caking foundation, but more often than not I wore very little makeup on the skin especially. I like to think that's the one thing I got right.

  • circafashion

    I only wore makeup to the prom. i thought i looked great without any makeup in high school. Now i cant keep makeup products off my face. I have to at least do my brows. SMH, LOL

  • Ann

    I ve never used make up in HS, I started using really light stuff when I turned 30! I only had a turquoise eye shadow that I applied badly and surely looked terrible.

  • Lily

    Medicated coconut oil hair massages every week+ a skincare routine that involved at least 3 homemade face masks a week. Oh, and no hair dye (my hair is too dark and I saw way too many people ruining dark Asian hair with bleach).

    I have a strict and hair/skincare-obsessed mother to thank for the first two and draconian Catholic school policy to thank for the third. ( they outlawed makeup too, I remember even our chapsticks getting confiscated because they came in liptick tubes)

  • bluesky557

    Emily Weiss looks like a baby Posh Spice in that photo. So cute!

    • sashi

      yes, although way too smiley to be Posh.

  • http://www.atdorsia.com/ Eliza

    Me and Umaimah made the same mistake--eyeliner on just the bottom lash line (WHY?! WHY did I ever think this looked good?!). I also used to wear hot pink (HOT PINK!) eyeshadow with black winged liner on top, and I flatironed my hair within an inch of its life and wore it in a hideous middle part with all of it in my face...I have always loved makeup but I honestly didn't really figure out what looked good on me until, oh, junior year of college (but had a temporary misstep when I got involved with fake tanner senior year of college--grad pictures are CUTE).

    Only for the past few years has my solid skincare-and-makeup routine evolved (I think I'm a little too willing to "try new looks" for my own good). But better late than never, right?

    • umaimah sharwani

      I would also re-apply during lunch! Glad those days are over :)

  • http://intothegloss.com/ ITG Annie

    Jokes, people! Also, probably way more of a learning experience than some of the internships I've had in the past...

  • Lauren Ann Long

    Only thing I didn't mess up in high school was my hair. Everything else was about as messy as you could get.

  • http://thelifestylecreep.tumblr.com/ The Lifestyle Creep

    Chunky blonde highlights were easily my biggest adolescent mistake, but my greatest achievement was training myself to always, always, ALWAYS take my makeup off before bed. No matter how tired I am, I can always manage to motivate myself to at least reach for the cleansing cloths before turning in. My skincare routine isn't perfect, but at least my pores get to breathe every night

  • http://www.yazzyscorner.blogspot.co.uk/ Yazmin

    I didn't wear any makeup at all in high school, and when I look back at my photos I think I should have made more of an effort! My mum used to encourage me all the time but I didn't take any notice. I didn't even wear any makeup in college, I was 23 when I started to use any other product on my face other than moisturizer! I think you look great in that picture though :)

    Yazmin xx

  • Kristen

    I didn't overpluck my eyebrows – I was in high school in the '90s, and pencil-thin brows were de rigueur. Some of my classmates plucked and waxed so much that they're still stuck with their high school brows. Now I'm glad that I wasn't so trendy!

  • ModernGrace

    The last time I went home my parents pulled old HS pics of me out of their wallets. Lots of brown lipstick and kohl eyeliner. c/o 2000

    • Shawna

      Yes! For me, it was brown lipstick and pale blue eyeshadow. Way too much of both.

  • http://milkandinkbeautyblog.blogspot.ca/ kat

    the good: discovering cat-eye liner

    the bad: wonky pencil cat eyes every day

  • starryhye

    In high school (mid 90's for me) I had yet to fully embrace my curly hair. My head rocked the dreaded triangle haircut for too many years. There also wasn't the plethora of curly hair care products on the market in the 90's, unless you wanted shiny, crunchy gelled hair. I remember using this really really pale blue metallic Wet N Wild eyeliner, thinking it was *so* cool. And dusting M.A.C.'s iridescent powder on everything. So. Much. Sparkle.

  • CherHorowitz

    IDK, you look fabulous to me, Annie.

  • http://coocooforcoco.blogspot.com/ Colleen

    Aw you guys all looked adorable in high school! I learned how to do a cat eye in high school and I've never looked back.

  • A.J. Thompson Zielike

    I didn't have shiny straight hair that was in style circa 2000 (at least in the small town where I grew up). I also didn't know how to style my thick wavy hair until I went to the beach one year and scrunched it and let it air dry and figured out "hey...this is what my hair is supposed to do". I still have virgin hair at 31, so it's pretty healthy, but as I've gotten older my hair has lost its thickness/volume/curl that I fought for so many years and I want it back so badly!

    As for the bad, I tanned and used glitter. My bff and I would spray our hair this glitter spray we got at Walmart, and I can still remember the smell of that aerosol glitter.

  • KC

    no doubt tragic kingdom-era gwen stefani was my high school beauty icon (though i was actually in high school in the no doubt rock steady-era). while i will never call my year+ of wearing red lipstick every day a mistake, i've since learned that that's not my BEST look and i can't handle high maintenance lips.

    thanks to gwen stefani though, i mastered perfect eyeliner on the upper lash line in high school / perfect cat eye, and for that i'm forever grateful.

  • http://www.lelalondon.com/ Lela London

    Oil of Olay.

    Everything else was a biiiiig fail.


  • andee

    I did every single thing wrong. I was a total dweeb. My hairdo was UGLY. I was so shy I would not even fight for a spot in the mirror in the Girl's Room to comb my hair. But this was the mid-60's and unless you were a gorgeous cheerleader, you probably only looked slightly better than me. This was the dark ages before blow dryers. Either you used soup cans for rollers or ironed your hair if you wanted to look cool. Shampoo was Breck or Prell or if you were really cool, the first Redken shampoo, called Amino-Pon. Estee Lauder or Ultima by Revlon were the "good" cosmetic brands. Lancome didn't even come to this country until after I finished college. It was truly the Dark Ages. I would say that every decade since then, I have come to know myself and my style better, although I was probably the best looking in my late 20's - early 30's. Thanks to the internet and a few really good websites, I know more about cosmetics and get a million times more right than in high school.

  • Ria B

    Went to an all-girls high school- uniformed; no makeup (some girls got away with what they could); no nail-polish, hair to be in a ponytail or plait at all times. High school was a breeze for me in that sense but I think I was TOO low maintenance. To the extent of being almost unhygienic where my hair was concerned...would pretty much wear and sleep in the same ponytail for days on end. My mum was always irate about how messy it was in school photos.

  • Mairi Friesen-Escandell

    Things I got wrong: blue eyeliner in spades (every shade from baby blue to full on aqua), endless glitter, and consistently buying the wrong (read the most orange) shade of drugstore foundation/concealer. Amazingly I was considered the go to girl for make-up tips and tricks and frequently had a line of girls asking me to do their make-up before a party. LOL.

    Things I got right: a simple skin care regime from the get go, mostly using Liz Earle cleanse and polish and Simple moisturiser and then FINALLY a trip to Bobbi Brown with my mother which brought me to my senses and opened up the world of tinted moisturiser and cream blush from which I've never looked back. A NARS palette for my 16th birthday was also one of my most prized possessions for years, weaning me off the blue and sending me to more neutral shores.

  • Cinamaron

    I think the BEST thing I did was probably leaving my eyebrows alone! They are pretty full, but I never over-plucked them. Otherwise I don't know that I got a lot right- I used drying facial cleaners without moisturizing afterwards, wore bright blue eyeshadow with no mascara (occasionally), my hair was a frizzy mess because I didn't take care of it, etc. By the end of high school I had figured out makeup better but it took me until after college to realize I should be moisturizing my face! My mom never wore makeup or had any kind of beauty routine so I had to figure it out for myself.

  • Olivia

    Well, seeing as I am in high school, the one thing I'm doing right is regularly reading ITG!

    • http://www.atdorsia.com/ Eliza

      You're already way ahead of the curve :)

  • llama

    really thinking about this...i got most of it wrong, let's say 90/10. i'm still all about the tiny dab of shimmer on the inside corners of my eyes. and there was a niche perfume that i still rock to this day but that's about it.

    HOWEVER. most of my high school beauty misadventures lead me to where i am today. i wouldn't have mastered the art of at-home bleaching or diy haircuts as an adult if it weren't for the less-than-successful trials of my teenage years. call it tenacity, or maybe just stubbornness, but getting things wrong just made me that much more determined to do it right.

  • http://www.abeautymark.com/ NazNYC

    Lined my eyes on the regular..and wore Docs. You could technically do no wrong at my school (LaGuardia in NYC...aka FAME) Everyone did their own thing. Quite satisfying.

  • Olivia

    Most of what I got wrong was fashion- paul frank trucker hats? Super low rise flared jeans that were too long for me and got all ratted at the bottom? Polo baby tees from Abercrombie and Fitch? Pleated denim miniskirts? Oversized hoodies from Pac Sun? Yikes. Luckily I didn't mess with my face or hair, and despite it being terribly trendy, I never fell victim to tanning beds (though, I did have more than a brief tango with self-tanner, lesser of two evils I suppose). I didn't even go overboard with eyeliner, which is saying a lot considering that my freshman year of high school was also the year of Avril Lavigne and her raccoon eyes. No, all of my makeup errors would come later, in college, when I discovered foundation, eyebrow pencils, and the siren call of the perfect cat eye.

    • http://www.atdorsia.com/ Eliza

      Omgggg I am loving the nostalgia of this thread--I remember Paul Frank! I had some "super cool" monkey t-shirts -_____-

  • Shawna

    The only thing I did right in high school (junior high, really) was start a decent skincare routine (cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen all day, every day), and that was only because I started breaking out even before I hit my teenage years.

    Otherwise, waaaay too much makeup, frizzy hair, overdose of perfume, weird clothing choices--but no one could tell teenage me what to do!

  • Veronica

    I think all of you look adorable!

    I'm really racking my brain to think of anything I did RIGHT in high school (as far as beauty goes), and I'm coming up empty. I slept with makeup on, then scrubbed it off the next morning with a wet washcloth, causing needless wear-and-tear to the undereye area. I drank no water and got no sleep. I didn't do anything to my brows until I was in college, and then I over-plucked them into uneven oblivion. I applied drugstore eyeshadow with the accompanying sponge, instead of a brush. I over-washed my face, picked my zits, and bit my nails (not in that order). I box-dyed my hair all sorts of monstrously unflattering colors.

    tl;dr: All bad.

  • allhailandhallelujah

    I still pat high school age-me on the back for not losing my retainer in the Forever-21-strewn blackhole that was my bedroom floor. My teeth look the same as they did when I got my braces off.

    I still cringe at high school-age me for a deep and alarming love of flowing tunic shirts and writing the lyrics to Lua on my arm...

    • http://badoutfitgreatlipstick.blogspot.com Nae

      Ditto on the retainer! My brother and sister stopped wearing theirs and really regret it now. I wear mine at least once a week. There's been some slight shifting (retainers can't stop teeth from moving up or down unless they're glued in), but beyond that, my teeth still look great, and I'm so thankful.

  • luly

    winged eyeliner. I started doing it in 2008 when it was still the style to have charcoal rings around the eyes. Also, letting my wavy hair just BE.

  • Veronica Shields

    I didn't wear makeup until my twenties and was way too fair to tan, so I actually got to avoid many of the photography disasters that live in infamy. The one thing I'm glad I never did was pluck my brows extensively. I kept them more or less natural, which saved me the pain of thin brows later in life.

  • Hannah

    I became a cat-eye genius in high school, and also started wearing SPF regularly.

    And dropping out twice proved to be a good idea. I eventually graduated, and then went on the graduate college, but that extra bit of time to clear my head was very necessary.

  • Erin

    I agreed to enter treatment for my eating disorder. That's about the best I can come up with.

  • Phoebe

    oh my gosh why are we not talking about the medals Eunice is wearing in that picture? you were clearly doing everything right :)

  • – –

    I stayed makeup-free until I was 17, which I think was good for my youthful skin in retrospect. Pre-teens don't need any foundation anyway. In my final year, though, I managed to perfect an Amy Winehouse-like cateye... too bad it couldn't be seen through my horrible thick fringe.

  • Lavang

    Wrong: Such thin eyebrows. Acrylic nails with french tips. Tanning beds. What was I thinking?!

    Right: Forgoing looking like everyone else for homecoming court my junior year. Instead of a stiff and contrived updo and frosty makeup (this was the 2000s), I chose to wear my long, dark hair straight, sleek, and side-parted, with a classic red lip and a simple black eyeliner, bit of highlighter, and my Voluminous mascara. Paired with my black column length dress, I felt like a movie star!