I Got It From My Mama: The Beauty Products

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Author's maternal grandmother (center) and friends

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The author on the beach with her aunt, mother, grandmother

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Author's maternal grandmother (center) and friends

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The author on the beach with her aunt, mother, grandmother

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‘Tis the season for family togetherness, roaring fires, and gracefully fending off parental requests for grandchildren. It’s a time to stuff one's face and share wisdom (and wine) across the generations. It also happens to be when I do my best “borrowing' of family members’ beauty products and various other things.

This Thanksgiving, while rifling through my mother’s bathroom, I noticed a fresh tube of Embryolisse on the counter, a recommendation of mine she’d taken to heart. “I love it!” she said, when I pressed for a review. “So rich and velvety—but my favorite is still Decléor’s Night Balm. Maybe I’ll get you some for Christmas!” Then she warned me to keep my grubby mitts off her makeup.

Later in the weekend, I found myself with my mom and sister at my maternal grandmother’s house, where some vanity cabinet excavation uncovered what must be the world’s largest cache of Revlon Moon Drops lipstick tubes. Apparently, she only bought her signature (now discontinued) color: 708 Apple Polish, and used each one down the very last (moon) drop. A bright, frosted coral—its scent alone was enough to warp speed me back to 1989. My mom described how she used to watch my grandmother and great grandmother blot their lips with tissues, then swipe them across their cheeks to create a matching blush.

But being people of the Jersey Shore, regularly exposed to sunshine and salty sea air, the collective MVP across all branches of our family tree has to be sunscreen. NO-AD was our household staple, but the '60s and '70s saw a proliferation of brown-bottled Coppertone with questionably low SPF levels for our forebears. Hard lessons have been learned from those simpler, tanner times.

It’s clear that the tides of intergenerational beauty flow both ways, and there’s no better time than the holidays to seek out best practices for your particular bloodline. So tell us, friends and family, what does your mama say you better shop around for? What beauty tricks and tools do you treasure as much as your family jewels?

—Lauren Maas

Photos courtesy of the author.

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