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
'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
'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