Staff Obsessions: The Discontinued Products That Have Stuck with Us


It always happens. The minute you find your dream product—the cleanser that can exfoliate your face like never before or the lipstick that just makes your whole face pop—the manufacturer goes and discontinues it. Yes, like all things in life, beauty products come and go, and while we should probably just get over it by now and find a suitable replacement, we can’t help but return to the vault and revisit some of our favorite beauty obsessions from the past.

For me it’s Gap’s “Heaven” perfume which was my go-to scent in the ’90s, a quick spritz for after gym class or my special touch for a date at the mall. With its crisp, light scent of jasmine and white blossoms, just thinking about it fills my head with The Cranberries’ “Dream” and brings me back to sniffing perfume ads while flipping though Jane magazine. If I learned anything from this experience, it’s to stock up when you find something you really like—or be willing to do some digging on eBay. Here’s what the rest of our staff had to say.

I totally miss…

“…Hard Candy Nail Polish. When I was 12, every girl needed two things in her makeup bag: Bonne Belle Lip Smackers and Hard Candy Nail Polish. Not the Hard Candy polishes you see in Walmart today, but the coveted shades topped with plastic or rubber rings sold circa 1996. The shades were so innovative for their time and the print ads in Seventeen magazine made for great collage material on my bedroom wall next to photos of Leo DiCaprio. That’s not to say that Hard Candy’s new line isn’t fantastic, but it doesn’t bring the same sense of giddiness and excitement those little bottles with the rubber gem once did.” –Alicia Hentemann, customer care/brand ambassador 

“…Hard Candy Nail Polish (take II). Each bottle came with a Pretty Pretty Princess–looking plastic ring attached to the lid, made to match the polish shade. Everyone would always steal the rings off the bottles at Sephora. I miss those things."–Stella Rose Saint Clair, contributing writer

“…Lola Cosmetic’s Glo La Shimmering Dry Body Oil. Years ago I had a friend who worked at a beauty store, and she’d give me samples. One of them was this full-size bottle of perfume oil by Lola Cosmetics. It was made of green tea, almond oil, and vitamin E, and smelled like honeysuckle and magnolia. I loved the scent and how well it moisturized my skin. I wish they still made it but luckily, a little goes a long I still have a lot left!” –Marie Lodi, contributing writer

“…Essie Instant Hot Nail Polish. I LOVED this polish. It was part of Essie’s 2012 Bridal Collection. I thought my mom was the only person getting on me about not being married yet, now my nail polish, too?! Yet it was the perfect white with a tinge of peach and a super subtle shimmer, and didn’t seem bride-y at all. I can randomly find it on Amazon from time to time, but I still regret not buying in bulk when it was all over store shelves two years ago.” –Jamie Gaul, contributing writer

“…Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer. When I was younger I used this product religiously. It was lightweight, made with good-for-skin ingredients, and kept my complexion looking radiant. But once BB Creams started to become popular, Tarte changed up the product to be a “BB Tinted Moisturizer.” It’s just not the same—the formula feels heavier and more than I like to wear on a daily basis." –Caitie Schlisserman, assistant editor

“...John Frieda Beach Blonde Ocean Waves. Discontinued sometime in the mid-2000s, this remains the best-ever sea salt spray I’ve ever used. It was 2003 when I discovered this magical hair product, and at the time the only other option out there was Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. I found Frieda’s version worked WAY better, and it was a fraction of the price. All it took was a few spritzes for perfect ropey waves. I could skip heat styling entirely. Total miracle. So when, one day, I spotted my beloved potion on the ‘Clearance: Discontinued’ shelf at CVS, I silently wept and snapped up three bottles. I’m just down to the last few drops of the final bottle today. And I want to cry. But there’s hope! XOVain writer Danielle Guercio—like, apparently a bunch of other beachy-hair enthusiasts—shares my affection for this old gem and started an online petition calling for Kao Brands (current owners of John Frieda) to bring back Beach Blonde. Sign it won’t you? And we can all enjoy better hair days, forever.” –Jill Russell, managing editor

“…Shu Uemura Pot Lip Gloss. As a makeup artist that got his start during the ’90s neutral phase, lip color was always an easy way to add a pop of glamour. Two of the products I would always save my money and splurge on were Shu Uemura’s Pot Lip Gloss in “Disco Smoke” and “Good Red.” Disco Smoke was the perfect shade of opalescent fuschia that looked fantastic from the lightest to the darkest skin and Good Red sounds exactly like its name, an ideal red for giving that just-kissed lip look. Each had a slight shine that gave life and a lift to any makeup application, and they were super long-lasting. It’s my life’s goal to find something similar.” –James Vincent, contributing writer and columnist 

“…Burt’s Bees Green Goddess Herbal Spa Clay Mask. When I was in college, I discovered possibly the finest facial mask known to humankind. It was a green dry powder of French clay, which you mixed in your hand with water and spread onto your face. It helped clear up my face, tightened pores, never went bad, and generally made my skin look amazing—plus, it smelled so nice and herbally. I loved it so much that when I heard it was discontinued, I wrote Burt’s Bees a letter to plead with them, but never heard back. This was years ago. And then three months ago, I went to my first estate sale and GUESS WHAT WAS IN THE BATHROOM, FOR SALE? Four beautiful, unopened jars of Green Goddess for 50 cents each. I briefly debated whether or not it was bad juju to use the facial mask of a dead woman, but I figured since she, too, had obviously hoarded the stuff, she would understand and want them to go to an appreciative home.” –Krista Burton, contributing writer