This week, nostalgia struck me upside the head—in the shower (it isn’t the first time, won’t be the last). Ever the budget shampooer, I was test-sudsing Suave Professionals' Rosemary + Mintofferings and— eureka—my adolescent haircare routine came rushing back to me. That time of my life was marked by a steadfast dedication to The Body Shop’s Ice Blue Shampoo—a tingly, mentholated formula the color of antifreeze; it was my first “adult” (read: non-drugstore/not picked out by mom) bath product. It’s long been off the market in America; and like lessons learned from Madeleines and paved parking lots, it seems I didn’t know what I’d got 'til it had gone. I started to miss that old, clean-freeze feeling a few years ago. The dull longing became hard to ignore. Online hunts suggested The Body Shop had revived Ice Blue abroad, but some shelf-searching during travel turned up nothing, and I had to come to grips with the ‘poo of my youth continuing to be discontinued. Then Suave swooped in with the dupe. Am I satisfied? Well, sort of.
Discontinuation is an inevitability of the beauty market; but that fact doesn’t make the disappearance of a longtime favorite easier to bear—there’s the mythic allure of Essie’s Starry Starry Night (which has fetched over $200 on eBay) and the crowdsourced 2015 return of John Frieda’s Y2K-era Beach Blonde Sea Waves. There are message boards with Bain de Soleil fans threatening embargo if the Orange Gelèe is ever tampered with and Pears Transparent Soap loyalists still can’t forgive Unilever for their 2009 reformulation.
For my part, The Body Shop has proven to be the biggest heartbreaker. Beyond Ice Blue, I also miss Cucumber Water and, like Annie, hold a soft spot in my heart for their jewel-toned bath beads of yore (despite the fact that they inevitably went unused and melted into a gooey rainbow mass in my Caboodle). I also have fond memories of Salon Selectives Lighten Up Subtle Highlighting Foam, which didn’t turn my hair orange quite as readily as Sun In and thus was a constant in my backpack during my teenaged summer when I taught kids how not to drown at a local swim school.
While working on this piece, I canvassed a few friends and strangers for their own personal deep-cut phase-outs and the tales of love and loss were myriad, so I’ll share a few with you. One seasonally scours eBay for remaining bottles of Versace’s Yellow Jeans (“so '90s, but it’s really the perfect summer scent”). Another sheds a tear for the passing of Clinique’s City Base Compact Foundation SPF 15 (she’s not alone; compacts are going for well over a Benjamin on Amazon). Jean Naté’s retirement of Petite Naté has one friend (and new mom) bereft that her daughter won’t someday share that magical, pink bath time experience. And the loudest complaints came from hometown matriarchs (my own mother among them), who cannot forgive Bonne Bell for discontinuing the best-ever Gel Blush. I can attest to its charms, having sampled the tubes myself—sparkle-free and quick drying, it came in no-fuss colors like Sheer Red and Sheer Peach and left a lovely glow (even in the middle of winter in the middle of New Jersey). No small feat.
There is a silver lining, of course, in the age of the internet. Get enough voices together and companies can see the error of their ways—after all, Always Be Closing, right? So fellow Douceur-devotees, maybe Nars will hear our pleas if you say them in French, en masse? Here we go now: S’il vous plaît?
— Lauren Maas